For the purposes of this article, we acquired a handful of enthusiast-class Z68 Express-based motherboards to give you all an idea as to what type of boards would be hitting the scene when the Z68 Express is first made available.
First up, we have the MSI Z68A-GD80. Like the other Z68 Express-based motherboards featured here, all of the Z68 chipset’s features are available on the Z68A-GD80, but MSI works a bit of their own magic as well. The MSI Z68A-GD80 features a mouse-friendly EFI BIOS that’s much easier to navigate than traditional text-based BIOS menus. The board is also in MSI’s “Military Class II” family and features super ferrite chokes, highly conductive polymer capacitors and / or solid capacitors throughout, which should offer increases stability and longevity.
The MSI Z68A-GD80 also supports “1 second overclocking” thanks to its OC Genie feature, but the BIOS sports all of the overclocker-friendly features we’ve come to expect from MSI for manual tweaking as well. MSI also includes their new Instant OC Control Center software which gives users the ability the monitor and control system parameters from within Windows, with no need to reboot when making changes.
Other features of the MSI Z68A-GD80 include USB3.0 and CrossFire / SLI support, along with “Super Charger” which allows users to charge USB devices even when the system is powered down. We found the layout of the MSI Z68A-GD805 to be quite good and also like the dark blue and black features on the board.
Next, we have the Asus P8Z68-V PRO. The P8Z68-V PRO is one of the more feature rich a motherboards we have come across. In addition to exploiting all of the features inherent to the Z68 Express chipset, the P8Z68-V PRO offers USB 3.0 support (with front panel USB 3.0 ports included), Bluetooth connectivity, additional SATA 6Gbps ports, and what Asus calls its “Dual Intelligent Processors 2”. The Dual Intelligent Processors consist of Asus’ EPU unit, which we’ve covered in the past, and the TurboV processing unit. The processors work together with the P8Z68-V PRO’s digital VRM (DIGI+ VRM) and give users the ability to monitor and adjust power delivery. According to Asus, the combination of the programmable digital VRM and Dual Intelligent Processors 2 results in superior efficiency and longevity.
The Asus P8Z68-V PRO Deluxe also supports SLI and CrossFireX, DTS Surround, and Asus includes a copy of their AI Suite II, which gives users easy access to all of the Asus-proprietary features mentioned here in a single software package. In addition to the aforementioned features, the P8Z68-V PRO also sports an EFI BIOS with one-click overclocking and tuning that’s navigable using a mouse.