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Appeared on: Thursday, October 20, 2011
Gigabyte Z68X-UD3P-B3 review


1. Features

Today we will test the Z68X-UD3P-B3 motherboard released by Gigabyte. The board has been designed to offer great performance and headroom for easy overclocking - at a reasonable price. As part of the company's Z68 series of motherboards, the Z68X-UD3P-B3 provide all the overclocking features users have come to know about the GIGABYTE P67 series motherboards including increasing processor core ratios, increasing DDR3 memory ratios and increasing power and current limits. In addition, GIGABYTE Z68 motherboards also allow users to increase the graphics core clock speed, for even greater graphics performance.

Intel's second-generation chipset for the Sandy bridge processors, the Intel Z68 Express, packs all the new features of the H67 and P67 chipsets into a single chip. Intel's H67 can tap Sandy's QuickSync logic for video transcoding, while the P67 holds the keys to CPU overclocking. However, you can't adjust CPU multipliers with the H67 or enjoy QuickSync with the P67, though. Intel has finally seen fit to roll back the restrictions with its Z68 Express chipset. The platform combines full support for Sandy Bridge's built-in GPU with unfettered CPU overclocking controls. Intel has also given the Z68 a little something extra in the form of an SSD caching scheme dubbed Smart Response Technology, as we will see later on.

The Z68 chipset also features dual Serial ATA controllers: one with a pair of 6Gbps ports and a second with four 3Gbps ports. Eight PCI Express 2.0 lanes provide bandwidth for expansion slots and peripherals, while 14 USB 2.0 ports highlight the lack of built-in SuperSpeed connectivity. The Z68 Express also has an HD audio interface and a Gigabit Ethernet MAC.

Although Sandy Bridge's 16 PCI Express 2.0 lanes are built into the CPU and make no contact with the chipset, Intel hasn't let them be split evenly in a dual-x8 configuration on H67 motherboards. The P67 has no such limitation for CrossFire or SLI setups, and neither does the Z68.

Intel Quick Sync Video is also supported by the Z68 chipset for faster video transcoding and the performance of the latest NVIDIA and AMD graphics cards. However, Gigabyte's motherboard does not include Lucid's Virtu GPU Virtu switchable graphics software to harness the capabilities of Intel Quick Sync Video. Generally, the Virtu graphics virtualization engine works in conjunction with Intel Quick Sync Video and promises to deliver up to three times faster and smoother video transcoding and playback. This is achieved by instantly switching between integrated Sandy Bridge graphics and a discrete graphics card on demand.

Intel Smart Response Technology is also available to accelerate hard drive performance and reduce energy consumption. This uses a solid-state cache to deliver the combined benefits of SSD speed and traditional hard drive storage capacity, cutting down on lengthy data access and system boot times in the process. This feature also reduces redundant hard drive spin, which lowers energy consumption and PC running costs.

 

- Features

- GIGABYTE Touch BIOS (Patent Pending)
Navigating through the BIOS to change system settings can be a daunting task for users not familiar with control "F" functions and mouse-less navigation. While some EFI BIOS try to address this with a mouse friendly environment, many implementations still lack a certain ease-of-use necessary for most people. GIGABYTE's Touch BIOS has been designed to offer a new way to interact with BIOS. With a touch screen monitor, GIGABYTE Touch BIOS is as easy to use as most apps on your iPhone.

-Supports Intel Smart Response Technology

GIGABYTE Z68 series motherboards are equipped with the Intel Smart Response Technology, allowing users to experience system performance similar to SSD only systems. Intel Smart Response technology works by using intelligent block-based caching of frequently used applications to improve system performance and responsiveness. The feature is an intelligent caching technology that puts an SSD between the hard drive and operating system. The scheme uses logic built into the chipset's storage controller and drivers to populate a solid-state drive with frequently accessed data and incoming writes. Smart Response is capable of caching writes immediately, but data must be read at least once to make it onto the SSD. According to GIGABYTE, the company's Z68 motherboards with Intel Smart Response Technology are able to outperform hybrid drive systems by more than 2X (PC Mark Vantage HDD test) and HDD-only systems by as much as 4X (PC Mark Vantage HDD test) and deliver a 60% performance improvement over HDD-only systems in PC Mark Vantage Suite.

- GIGABYTE EZ Smart Response
The GIGABYTE EZ Smart Response utility is a simple application that allows users to quickly configure their system for Intel Smart Response Technology. In the past, enabling Intel Smart Response meant users needed to enter the BIOS in order to configure their system for RAID mode, which then required a complete reinstall of the operating system. Once that processes was complete, users then needed to install the Intel Rapid Storage Utility as well as configure Intel's Smart Response Technology. GIGABYTE EZ Smart Response does all of this automatically, without users having to perform a complicated install process.

- Maximum Power Delivery
Like the pistons and cylinders of a car engine, the design of the motherboard Voltage Regulator Module (VRM), component quality and number of power phases greatly affects motherboard performance. GIGABYTE engineers have realized the importance of using the best quality components for this critical area, and also that with more power phases, there can be more power available to your CPU. GIGABYTE 6 series motherboards with their new redesigned VRM, promise to deliver first class system performance and power stability. With a design incorporating Dual CPU Power and Power Phase Boost with Multi-gear Switching, the CPU can enjoy better power than what was available from previous motherboards.

- 12 Phase Power Design
GIGABYTE's 12 phase power VRM design utilizes the highest caliber components to provide smooth power to the CPU. The 12 phase power VRM has been designed and engineered to deliver fast transient response times through quick power delivery during extensive CPU loading variations. In addition, heat from the VRM is reduced by spreading the load between the 12 power phases, resulting in a cooler, more stable platform.

- New 100% Hardware VRD 12 Compliant CPU Power Design
GIGABYTE 6 series motherboards incorporate an Intel approved Intersil PWM controller that is VRD 12 (Voltage Regulator Down) compliant. This means that it offers new features that include SerialVID (SVID) which transfers power management information between the processor and voltage regulator controller, allowing more robust and efficient signaling control between the CPU and PWM controller – hence, delivering a more energy efficient platform.

The motherboard also has several other features as found over Gigabyte's website

- Full Specifications

CPU
  • Support for Intel Core i7 processors/Intel Core i5 processors/ Intel Core i3 processors/Intel Pentium processors/Intel Celeron processors in the LGA1155 package.
  • L3 cache varies with CPU
Chipset

Intel® Z68 Express Chipset

Memory
  • 4 x 1.5V DDR3 DIMM sockets supporting up to 32 GB of system memory
  • Dual channel memory architecture
  • Support for DDR3 2133/1866/1600/1333/1066 MHz memory modules
  • Support for non-ECC memory modules
  • Support for Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) memory modules
Audio
  • Realtek ALC889 codec
  • High Definition Audio
  • 2/4/5.1/7.1-channel
  • Support for Dolby® Home Theater
  • Support for S/PDIF Out
LAN

1 x Realtek RTL8111E chip (10/100/1000 Mbit)

Expansion Slots
  • 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16 (PCIEX16)
    * For optimum performance, if only one PCI Express graphics card is to be installed, be sure to install it in the PCIEX16 slot.
  • 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x8 (PCIEX8)
    * The PCIEX8 slot shares bandwidth with the PCIEX16 slot. When the PCIEX8 slot is populated, the PCIEX16 slot will operate at up to x8 mode.
  • 3 x PCI Express x1 slots (All PCI Express slots conform to PCI Express 2.0 standard.)
  • 2 x PCI slots
Multi-Graphics Technology

Support for ATI CrossFireX/NVIDIA SLI technology
* The PCIEX16 slot operates at up to x8 mode when ATI CrossFireX/NVIDIA SLI is enabled.

Storage Interface

Chipset:

  • 2 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors (SATA3_0~SATA3_1) supporting up to 2 SATA 6Gb/s devices
  • 4 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors (SATA2_2~SATA2_5) supporting up to 4 SATA 3Gb/s devices
  • Support for SATA RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10
    * When a RAID set is built across the SATA 6Gb/s and SATA 3Gb/s channels, the system performance of the RAID set may vary depending on the devices being connected.

Marvell 88SE9172 chip:

  • 2 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors (GSATA3_6, GSATA3_7) supporting up to 2 SATA 6Gb/s devices
  • Support for SATA RAID 0 and RAID 1
USB

Chipset:

  • Up to 14 USB 2.0/1.1 ports (8 on the back panel, 6 via the USB brackets connected to the internal USB headers)2 x

Etron EJ168 chips:

  • Up to 4 USB 3.0/2.0 ports (2 on the back panel, 2 via the USB bracket connected to the internal USB header)
IEEE 1394

VIA VT6308 chip:

  • Up to 2 IEEE 1394a ports (1 on the back panel, 1 via the IEEE 1394a bracket connected to the internal IEEE 1394a header)
Internal I/O Connectors
  • 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
  • 1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
  • 4 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
  • 4 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors
  • 1 x CPU fan header
  • 2 x system fan headers
  • 1 x power fan header
  • 1 x front panel header
  • 1 x front panel audio header
  • 1 x S/PDIF Out header
  • 3 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers
  • 1 x USB 3.0/2.0 header
  • 1 x IEEE 1394a header
  • 1 x serial port header
  • 1 x clearing CMOS jumper
  • 1 x Trusted Platform Module (TPM) header
I/O Controller

iTE IT8728 chip

H/W Monitoring
  • System voltage detection
  • CPU/System temperature detection
  • CPU/System/Power fan speed detection
  • CPU overheating warning
  • CPU/System/Power fan fail warning
  • CPU/System fan speed control
BIOS
  • 2 x 32 Mbit flash
  • Use of licensed AWARD BIOS
  • Support for DualBIOS™
  • PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.0, SM BIOS 2.4, ACPI 1.0b
Unique Features
  • Support for @BIOS
  • Support for Q-Flash
  • Support for Xpress BIOS Rescue
  • Support for Download Center
  • Support for Xpress Install
  • Support for Xpress Recovery2
  • Support for EasyTune
    * Available functions in EasyTune may differ by motherboard model.
  • Support for Dynamic Energy Saver™ 2
  • Support for Smart 6™
  • Support for Auto Green
  • Support for eXtreme Hard Drive (X.H.D)
  • Support for ON/OFF Charge
  • Support for Cloud OC
  • Support for Q-Share
Bundle Software

Norton Internet Security (OEM version)

Operating System

Support for Microsoft Windows 7/Vista/XP

Form Factor

ATX Form Factor; 30.5cm x 24.4cm


2. A closer look

The Gigabyte Z68X-UD3P-B3 can be purchased online for about € 153~170. It's price is very close to what you 'll have to pay for a P67 solution.

The packaging of the Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD3P-B3 is covered with various logotypes. A picture of the mainboard and a brief description of its features can be found on the back of the box:

The mainboard is shipped with the following accessories. For sure we would expect something more from Gigabyte:

- 3x manuals
- 2 x SATA 6.0Gb/s cables
- 1 x shield for the back panel
- 1x CrossFire/SLI adapter
- 1x DVD with software and drivers
- "Dolby Home Theater" and "Gigabyte" logo stickers for the system case

Gigabyte has retained its traditional black-and-white color scheme for this model . Although it looks cool, we would prefer to see a different color for the memory slots that belong to the same memory channel for easier installation.

The main parts and components of the motherboard can be easily identified in the following scheme:

The mainboard features a CPU voltage regulator that incorporates 12 power phases. The number of active phases can be dynamically changed depending on CPU load. The CPU voltage regulator features a couple of MOSFETs and a driver are all packed into a single Driver MOSFET chip. The components of the regulator are cooled with two aluminum heatsinks.

As you see in the picture below, the heatsinks are not interfering with the CPU area allowing for easy installation of large CPU coolers:

Four memory slots are can accept up to 32GB of DDR3 memory, clocked at 2133MHz (XMP profiles supported).

The backplate panel of I/Os includes:

The motherboard also supports:

  1. 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16 (PCIEX16)
  2. 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x8 (PCIEX8)
  3. 3 x PCI Express x1 slots
  4. 2 x PCI slots

The mainboard is equipped with two graphics slots and supports CrossFireX and SLI technologies. A single graphics card will operate in full-speed PCI Express 2.0 x16 mode. When two graphics cards are in use, each will have half the 16 PCIe lanes.

The PCI slot area is free to easily accommodate SLI or Crossfire setups:

On the left part of the mainboard there are two SATA 6 Gbps (white) and four SATA 3 Gbps (black) ports. These are handled by Intel's Z68 chipset . An onboard Marvell 88SE9172 controller adds two more SATA 3 Gbps ports (gray):

Many additional internal I/O ports are also available:

The Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD3P-B3 mainboard is designed cleverly and is very easy to use and the component layout makes installation of the cards, memory and CPU easy. On the weak side, we would like to see an eSATA port.


3. BIOS, software

The Gigabyte Z68X-UD3P-B3 comes with the standard Award Bios design and not the UEFI BIOS met in some new motherboards.

Let's describe the main options of the BIOS. At the main screen the mainboard shows you the actual frequency of your overclocked CPU.

The first section is the MB Intelligent Tweaker (M.I.T.), which includes all the options for overclocking your system. The Advanced Frequency Settings are related to the clock rates and multipliers. The Advanced CPU Core Features page is where you can control CPU-related technologies.

The Advanced Memory Settings allow you to fine-tune your memory. You can set up timings for the two memory channels simultaneously or individually.

System voltages can be adjusted in the Advanced Voltage Settings subsection. The CPU voltage can be either fixed at a specific level or be increased by adding a certain value to it. The voltages can be also lowered compared to the default level.

The Multi-Steps Load-Line option can be used to counteract the drop in CPU voltage under load.

The following video gives a quick overview of the bios' options/features:

- Gigabyte Touch Bios

GIGABYTE's Touch BIOS has been designed to offer a new way to interact with BIOS. With the software you can see and change the Bios settings through Windows.

The layout of the software is based on the settings you will also find after booting through the BIOS. Notice that any change to the BIOS settings made through the software require a system reboot. Nevertheless its a useful tool.

The main program window contains a few large buttons with descriptive captions:

- Gigabyte Easy Tune 6

Gigabyte is also offering the Easy Tune 6 application software, an easy way to overclock your system . We have seen this software in past working and until today we haven't seen any major changes in its GUI. The software remind us of the CPU-Z utility and comes with many tabs. In each of them there is information about the CPU, the memory, and the graphics card. You can overclock the graphics card by adjusting the core, memory and shaders, control the CPU fan speed, monitor the temperatures, voltages and fan speeds:

Through the Tuner tab you are able to take advantage of the Quick Boost mode and automatically overclock your computer. In our case, our Intel Core i5 2500K CPU (3.4GHz) can be set to run at 3.71GHz, 3.91GHz and 4.26GHz, by simply pushing the three available buttons. That's not the best t approach in our opinion since it would boost the BCLK only and our unlocked processor has higher potentials to overclock:

The "Easy" mode is also offering limited options to adjust the frequency and the ratio of your CPU:

The "Advance" mode includes more options to play with (frequency, ratio, voltage):

Remember that any change made - including the ratio - will take effect rebooting your system, meaning that overclocking becomes a test and trial procedure:

- Gigabyte's Smart 6

Smart 6 allow you to speed up system performance, reduce boot-up time, manage a secure platform and recover previous system settings easily.

Smart Quickboot speeds up the system boot-up process and shortens time it takes to enter the operating system. This is done in two ways. Part one is a BIOS QuickBoot. Normally, every time you boot up your PC, your BIOS checks your hardware to make sure everything is working properly. This takes time, as your system checks the memory, hard drives, etc. By enabling Smart QuickBoot, your BIOS will only run through the hardware scan once. If all your hardware checks out ok, the next time you boot, your PC will only scan the most critical components. This allows for a time saving of up to 3-5 seconds on the BIOS boot time alone.

The second part of Smart QuickBoot is OS QuickBoot. This utility allows you to power down your PC into a combination of Suspend Mode (S3) and Hibernate Mode (S4). By putting your PC into S3 and S4 mode is like putting your PC to sleep, allowing you to maintain your data, while at the same time, saving energy. When you power your PC back on, Smart QuickBoot will resume from Suspend Mode in a matter of seconds, rather than the time it takes to boot the OS. The great thing about OS QuickBoot is that your data is stored in both the memory thanks to the S3 state as well as being stored on your hard drive for the even deeper S4 state. This means that even if your PC is unplugged or you lose power, the next time when you boot your PC, it will resume from S4 automatically, using the data that was stored on the hard drive:

SMART QuickBoost is a tool that allows for quick CPU overclocking. Featuring three different levels of CPU performance including Faster, Turbo and Twin Turbo, Smart QuickBoost takes the guesswork out of overclocking with the simple click of a button:

Smart Recovery takes a daily 'snap shot' of your hard drive and makes a record of any added, deleted or modified files. In the settings, you can set the time for the backup and also reserve the amount of space on your hard drive for the backup. An entirely new copy of the data is not created, only the changes that have been made from the previous day, which helps conserve hard drive space. With the existing settings, you can save up to 60 snap shots:

GIGABYTE's Smart DualBIOS allows up to 12 passwords to be stored for safe keeping, along with a short description. This makes it much easier to manage all your passwords. Smart DualBIOS is also password protected for security, so you still need to remember one password, but this is much easier than having to remember all 12.

The second component of Smart DualBIOS allows you to store important dates along with a description to help you remember things such as birthdays and anniversaries. You can also set up a reminder with up to three intervals: one week, three days and on the day:

SMART Recorder is a utility that monitors and records certain activity on your system, such as the time when it was turned on or off. It also records when large amounts of data have been copied from your PC. Smart Recorder helps to monitor system activity so you will always know when someone else has accessed your PC without your permission and you will also be able to tell if any important data was copied:

Smart TimeLock allows you to schedule when your computer can or can't be used. It's done via a simple user interface that allows you to set between which times of the day that the computer can be used and for how many hours it can be used during that time. This is a good tool especially for parents who want to limit their children's PC usage. Smart TimeLock also allows for different usage scenarios during weekdays and the weekend:


4. Benchmarks

We installed the motherboard in the following system:

- Motherboard: Gigabyte Z68X-UD3P-B3 with F06 BIOS
- CPU: Intel i5-2500K retail
- CPU Cooler: Arctic Cooling Freezer 13 Extreme
- Memory: Crucial Ballistix DDR3 PC3-17000 (BL2KIT25664FN2139)
- VGA: Gigabyte GT-430 (Nvidia Based)
- HDD: WD 5001ALLS (500GB, 7200rpm Black Scorpio series)
- OS: Windows 7 x64 SP1 with all the latest updates installed
- VGA driver: Nvidia 275.33 x64 drivers

The Gigabyte Z68X-UD3P-B3 came in our labs with the F3 bios installed. We updated it to the latest stable Ver.F6 . After powering up the system, it automatically set the Intel i5-2500K processor to 1.6~3.7GHz (Speedstep Enabled) and the memory was locked to 1333MHz.

In order to get higher memory clocks and provided that your memory modules are compatible, you may adjust the the memory divider at 2133MHz through the the M.I.T menu.

We ran PCMark 7, CineBench R11.5 the Sandra Memory benchmarks and below you how the performance of the Gigabyte Z68X-UD3P-B3 is compared with two P67 motherboards:

 
PCMark 7
CineBench R11.5
Sandra Memory
Foxconn Rattler Intel i5-2500k @ 1.6~3.4GHz with DDR3-2133
3120
5.19pts
27.00MB/sec
Asus Sabertooth Intel i5-2500k @ 3.7GHz with DDR3-2133
3272
5.90pts
27.72MB/sec
Gigabyte Z68X-UD3P-B3 Intel i5-2500K @ 1.6~3.7GHz with DDR3-2133

Looking at the PCMark 7's sub tests, it is obvious that the Asus Sabertooth motherboard is much faster than the Gigabyte Z68X-UD3P-B3 and gets a higher overall PCMark score:

PCMark 7 Test
Asus Sabertooth Intel i5-2500k @ 3.7GHz with DDR3-2133
Gigabyte Z68X-UD3P-B3 Intel i5-2500K @ 1.6~3.7GHz with DDR3-2133
PCMark Score
3272
2974
Lightweight Score
2644
2383
Productivity Score
2477
2228
Creativity Score
3579
3241
Entertainment Score
3218
3024
Computation Score
4447
4278
System Storage Score
2003
1762

Let's move on to some tests taking advantage of the Intel's Smart Response Technology, supported by the Z68 chipset. The feature is an intelligent caching technology that puts an SSD between the hard drive and operating system. The scheme uses logic built into the chipset's storage controller and drivers to populate a solid-state drive with frequently accessed data and incoming writes.

Smart Response is capable of caching writes immediately, but data must be read at least once to make it onto the SSD.

To enable Smart Response, the Z68's SATA controller must first be put into RAID mode. From there, one selects the hard drive to accelerate and how much of the SSD's capacity the cache will occupy. The cache needs at least 18GB and will only consume up to 64GB. You can use any SSD you'd like.

Smart Response process runs in maximized or enhanced mode. Enhanced mode is the default mode and it used the write-through cache method to write data to the cache memory and the disk simultaneously. In the even that the accelerated disk or volume becomes inaccessible, fails, or is disconnected, there is no risk of data loss because data on the disk is always synchronized with the data in the cache memory. The user can move his hard drive to a new system without bringing the SSD in tow.

Write caching is available in maximized mode. To guard against data loss, Smart Response works constantly to push cached writes to the hard drive and freshen the data it has stored for reads. The hard drive won't be perfectly in sync with the SSD in maximized mode, so migrating that kind of setup to a new system requires moving the SSD and hard drive together or disabling the cache beforehand.

In order to accelerate your disk subsystem by making use of Intel's Smart Response technology it is not enough just to connect an SSD to your computer. You'll get an error message telling you that the system doesn't meet the minimum requirements, unless you have previously set your SATA ports to RAID Mode before installing your operating system. The next step would be to install the Intel Rapid Storage driver and then configure the Intel Smart Response.

Gigabyte is offering the EZ Smart Response utility in order to save you the trouble of getting through all these steps on your own. You only have to launch the program and get Intel Smart Response up and running in a couple of reboots.

Once you are ready to configure the Intel Rapid Storage utility, push the "Accelerate" button:

In our case we installed a Crucial m400 256GB SSD to our system. The system will allocate 64GB of SSD space. We selected the "Enhanced Mode" :

The PCMark 7 test benchmark suite showed that the Intel Smart Response technology gave a serious boost to our system's performance:

PCMark 7 Test
Asus Sabertooth Intel i5-2500k @ 3.7GHz with DDR3-2133
Gigabyte Z68X-UD3P-B3 Intel i5-2500K @ 1.6~3.7GHz with DDR3-2133
PCMark Score
3272
2974
4418
Lightweight Score
2644
2383
4548
Productivity Score
2477
2228
4813
Creativity Score
3579
3241
4561
Entertainment Score
3218
3024
3606
Computation Score
4447
4278
4450
System Storage Score
2003
1762
4441

5. Overclocking

Gigabyte claims that the Z68X-UD3P-B3 motherboard is a great performer and can be easily overclocked.

There are several ways to overclock the motherboard, depending on the processor you are using. We will skip the overclocking under Windows and we will go directly to the Bios settings. Under the M.I.T tab you may set the CPU Clock ratio to the desired value (45X in our case). Then disable the "Real Time Ratio Changes In OS" under the Advanced Frequency Settings->Advanced CPU core features menu. You can leave all other options to their default "Auto " mode. These BIOS settings resulted to a totally stable system running at 4,5GHz with the memory clocked at 2133MHz:

You can use the EasyTune6 software in order to monitor the Voltages and the Fan/Temperatures:

However, the latest RealTemp utility showed much lower temperatures:

Click To Enlarge!
Click to Enlarge!

In order to get higher frequencies you will need to play a bit with the voltages. In order to get a stable 4.7GHz, we manually increased the CPU Vcore to 1.400V and the Multi-Steps Load-Line to Level 10. All other settings were left to default. We didn't want to push our system any higher since our cooling system was not that efficient at higher CPU clocks. However it is clear that the Gigabyte Z68X-UD3P-B3 has a great overclocking potential:

Click To Enlarge!
Click To Enlarge!

With the system running at 4.7GHz, the PCMark 7 results looked very encouraging and the Gigabyte Z68X-UD3P-B3 motherboard scored 4887 points:


6. Final thoughts

The Gigabyte Z68X-UD3P-B3 is an affordable Z68 motherboard for LGA 1155 socket processors. It comes with a great packaging and bundles, as well as a clean a flawless PCB design, although is lacks fancy features such as leds/buttons. O the top of that, the Z68X-UD3P-B3 offer a number of Gigabyte’s exclusive technologies. The Touch BIOS utility is a very useful Windows-based tool for quick and easy accessing and adjusting BIOS settings. It's Gigabyte's response to the UEFI BIOS found in competitive motherboards. The utility works well, although we prefer the manual BIOS setup in demanding cases such as overclocking.

In addition, the EZ Smart Response utility allows you to quickly configure their system for Intel Smart Response Technology, without having to perform a complicated install process.

On the other hand, the Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD3P-B3 does not have video outputs and therefore you cannot take advantage of your CPU's integrated graphics. It lacks Lucid's Virtu switchable graphics software, which would harness the capabilities of Intel Quick Sync Video for faster video transcoding and the performance of the latest NVIDIA and AMD graphics cards. The Virtu graphics virtualization engine works in conjunction with Intel Quick Sync Video and promises to deliver up to three times faster and smoother video transcoding and playback. This is achieved by instantly switching between integrated Sandy Bridge graphics and a discrete graphics card on demand.

At default CPU clock speeds, the performance figures were decent although sometimes lower than some other P67 motherboards. But don't forget that the Z68X-UD3P-B3 is available at the same price range of a P67 motherboard.

We easily got our Intel i5-2500K processor running at 4.5GHz and we even pushed it further up to 4.7GHz, after making some manual adjustments through the BIOS (Voltage etc). However, the system did not got any further, at least with our CPU cooling system.

For sure, it is recommended to spend some extra cash in order to get an SSD and take advantage of the Intel Smart Response technology and enjoy a significant performance boost.

 

+ Positive

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