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Home > Hardware Reviews > PC Parts

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

  • 108dB Signal-to-Noise ratio playback
  • DualBIOS™ 3TB+ HDD Support (Hybrid EFI Technology)
  • Ultra Durable 3
  • On/Off Charge Technology
  • SuperSpeed USB 3.0
  • SATA 6 Gbps
  • 3x USB Power Boost
  • Turbo XHD- Full Automatic RAID 0
  • Multi-display support with CrossFireX and SLI
  • Smart 6 – Smarter PC system Management
  • Cloud OC
  • AutoGreen- Greening your PC via Bluetooth cellphone
  • Hardware OverVoltage Control IC - Enabling Extreme Overclocking
  • Dolby Home Theater - Enjoy a Rich Home Theater Surround Sound Experience

- 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




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