Z68 Motherboard Roundup: ASUS, EVGA, ASRock, GB, MSI, ZOTAC

Gigabyte Z68XP-UD3-iSSD

We looked at a pair of Gigabyte boards in this roundup, and the Z68XP-UD3-iSSD is the first up of the two; the Z68XP-UD4 is on deck.

It’s safe to say that this is one of the least flashy motherboards we’ve ever seen. In a market where boards are packed with flashing LEDs, onboard buttons and switches, and themed color schemes and heatsinks (such as Gigabyte’s Sniper series), the Z68XP-UD3-iSSD sticks out like a sore thumb. It has virtually none of the above; even the color scheme is a dated royal blue PCB with cream and sky blue slots and ports.

All the above is not a knock on this board, as the complete lack of bling makes for a clean, uncluttered layout where everything is clearly labelled.

Gigabyte Z68XP-UD3-iSSD

Gigabyte Z68XP-UD3-iSSD
Specifications & Features

CPU: Support for LGA1155 Intel Core i7/i5/i3, Pentium, and Celeron processors
L3 cache varies with CPU
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
Onboard Graphics: Integrated Graphics Processor: 1 x HDMI port, supporting a maximum resolution of 1920x1200
Audio Realtek ALC889 codec, High Definition Audio, 2/4/5.1/7.1-channel
LAN 1 x Realtek RTL8111E chip (10/100/1000 Mbit)
Slots 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16 (PCIEX16)
1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x8 (PCIEX8)
3 x PCI Express x1 slots
2 x PCI slots
Multi-GPU: Support for AMD CrossFireX / NVIDIA SLI technology
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 RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10
1 x 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
2 x Etron EJ168 chips:
Up to 4 USB 3.0/2.0 ports
IEEE 1394: VIA VT6308 chip:
Up to 2 IEEE 1394a ports
I/O Controller: iTE IT8728 chip
Form Factor: ATX Form Factor, 30.5cm x 24.4cm

The Z68XP-UD3-iSSD supports not just the 2nd generation Core i7/i5/i3 chips, but also LGA1155 Pentium and Celeron processors. You can slap in up to 32GB of DDR3-2133 memory, but the board only supports up to two SLI/CrossFireX cards at x8 each.

For expansion, this motherboard has a PCI-E x16 slot, PCI-E x8 slot, three PCI-E x1 slots, and two PCI slots. It also sports a total of four SATA 6gbps ports (two apiece by the Z68 chipset and Marvell 88SE9172 chip) and four SATA 3Gbps ports, as well as up to fourteen USB 2.0 ports and four USB 3.0 ports (the latter available courtesy of a pair of Etron EJ168 chips). The board also has two FireWire ports. The back panel also offers a PS/2 port, HDMI port, and S/PDIF Out.


The Z68XP-UD3-iSSD has the old AWARD BIOS, but Gigabyte included its Touch BIOS utility to make adjusting BIOS settings easier, and its DualBIOS both enables support for over 3TB of storage and two BIOS ROM chips for easy recovery from any BIOS failures or corruption.

Other useful extras include On/Off Charge, which lets you charge USB devices even when the PC is off; USB Power Boost for better USB performance; Smart 6, which includes several sub-utilities for performance enhancement, recovery, and more; and Cloud OC, which lets you overclock the system with a different device over a Web connection.

The board includes its EZ Smart Response utility to automatically take advantage of Intel’s Smart Response Technology without requiring any tinkering in the BIOS, which is a good thing as the Z68XP-UD3-iSSD has one doozy of a surprise that you're going to want to spend time with: an on-board 20GB SSD.

This is a logical use of Intel’s Smart Response Technology, especially as it keeps the overall cost of the system down for those who want the speed of an SSD to complement a bulk storage drive but don’t want to pony up the cash. In fact, when you take that into consideration, its $224.99 price tag makes this board a steal.

Tags:  Asus, MSI, Gigabyte, Zotac, evga, Z68, ARock

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