Another Z68 motherboard from ASRock; boom or bust?

Subject: Motherboards | December 9, 2011 - 01:15 PM |
Tagged: asrock, z68, z68 pro3

Earlier in the month Steve reviewed the ASRock Z68 Extreme 7 Gen 3 motherboard and handed it a Silver Award.  This so called budget brand has been steadily improving over the years and the Extreme 7 was ahead of the curve.  Was that a one off success or can they match the performance of that board with the ASRock Z68 Pro3?  [H]ard|OCP just polished off a review of that board, much less intricate than the Extreme 7 but still based on the same chipset so it should be capable of similar performance.  Will this board live up to the quality we have seen recently or is this board bargain bin bound?  Read on and see.

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"It’s easy to get hung up on the high end boards. Despite the flare, the coverage, and the amazing features, the bulk of the population and even the bulk of the enthusiast community rarely buys such boards. It is with this in mind that we examine a budget solution in the form of the ASRock Z68 Pro3. Low budget, low expectations?"

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP
Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Various

Introduction

Back in 2006, storage tech talk was intermittently buzzy with a few different innovations. One was wrapped around the pending release of Windows Vista, particularly two bullets on its feature list: ReadyBoost and ReadyDrive. In parallel with all of the Ready_____ talk, many tech pundits asked why it would be necessary to have the flash talk to Windows through special drivers. Why couldn't the flash memory just act like a larger RAM cache already present on?

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A prototype ReadyBoost-enabled HDD by Samsung.

The answer, which nobody was aware of at that time, was that management of flash memory was a tricky thing to do successfully. It would not be until several years later that SSD's would (mostly) beat the issues of Long Term Performance and other issues that crop up when attempting to store randomly written data onto a device that can only be erased in relatively large blocks.

ReadyDrive required a special 'Hybrid' disk drive to be connected to and recognized by Windows Vista, containing both spinning platters and flash memory. Vista would then place frequently used small files on the flash. Since flash memory has negligible access times when compared to seek times of a HDD, the drive overall would boot significantly faster. Other tasks using those cached system files also saw a benefit. While ReadyDrive looked great on paper, there were very few devices ever released that could take advantage of it. Seagate was the earliest to release such a drive, and their Momentus 5400 PSD laptop drive did not see the light of day until Vista was nearly a full year old.

Continue reading our roundup of the best hybrid storage solutions on the market today!!

Author:
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ASRock

Introduction and Features

Introduction

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Courtesy of ASRock

Our test bench has seen a flood of Z68-based enthusiast motherboards this fall and ASRock added their flagship Z68 Extreme 7 Gen 3 board to the top of the pile for testing. The Extreme 7 Gen 3 pulls out all the stops for extreme enthusiasts and ultra overclockers by arming this board with next-gen PCI-E 3.0 support and an NVIDIA NF200 chip to allow users to run dual graphics cards at PCI-E x16/x16 mode and three graphics cards at x16/x8/x8 respectively.

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Courtesy of ASRock

This $275 board brings with it a lot of features that users have been begging for like a graphical Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI), Intel's Smart Response techology, dual gigabit LAN capabilities, and support for six USB 3.0 and six SATA 3 devices. They also didn't skimp on the power components by adding premium gold caps that are made in Japan and considered by many to be luxury capacitors. 

Read our entire review of the ASRock Z68 Extreme 7 Gen 3 motherboard!

Gear Up with MSI: Win Intel Motherboards, GeForce Graphics Cards

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Motherboards | November 30, 2011 - 11:13 AM |
Tagged: z68, x79, sandy bridge-e, msi, GTX 580, GTX 560, giveaway, contest

This is a pretty big week here at PC Perspective as we released our highly anticipated review of the Intel Sandy Bridge-E and X79 platform.  If you haven't read that over, you need to do so, right away!!  But we also have some impressive gear to giveaway thanks to our friends at MSI and their "Gear Up with MSI" campaign!

What are the prizes?  I know that's what you want to know first...

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Wow, these are some stellar prizes!  First prize basically gets the components required for one of the fastest gaming rigs on the planet while the 2nd prize will be able to play Batman: Arkham City with all the top settings! 

So what do you have to do to win these prizes?  The steps are simple:

  1. Make a comment on this post thanking MSI for this kick ass contest!!  That's pretty simple right?  You don't have to register, though we would appreciate it!
  2. Like MSI on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MSI.ComputerUS
    1. (Just a hint, they have a lot of Facebook-specific contests throughout the year!)
  3. Like PC Perspective on Facebook: http://facebook.com/pcper
  4. Follow PC Perspective on Twitter: http://twitter.com/pcper
  5. Circle PC Perspective on Google+: http://gplus.to/pcper
    1. (Another hint, comments on our G+ post about this contest get another entry!)

We will pick random winners in our pool of entries on Wednesday, the 7th of December!  Sorry, US and Canada residents only for this one!  If you don't have a Facebook/Twitter/Google+ account commenting here will still enter you.

Oh, and if you haven't seen the other contest MSI is running around the release of Batman: Arkham City, you should check out this page on their site.  Posting a photo of yourself dressed up like Batman has never been so lucrative! 

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The Grand Prize for MSI's Batman Photo Contest!!

Winners Announced!!  Sorry about the late update, but we did pick our winners!  The first prize went to use "Equinox2355" and the second prize went to "Deman".  Thanks to everyone for participating and we'll have more contests very soon!!!

ASUS P8Z68 Deluxe GEN3 Board Spotted with PCI Express 3.0 Support

Subject: Motherboards | October 14, 2011 - 04:09 PM |
Tagged: z68, pcie 3.0, gen3, asus

Spending time the San Francisco bay area usually results in some interesting finds.  The first one I can talk about?  An upcoming launch of refreshed Z68 motherboards from ASUS that include support for PCI Express 3.0 technology coming next year.

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At first glance the board doesn't appear to be anything really different - it looks much like the Z68 boards currently on the market and the P67 boards before that.  The heatsink and blue/black color scheme and the Deluxe moniker has been in use by ASUS since the initial Sandy Bridge processor releases.  There are still 4 DIMM slots, 8 SATA ports, USB 3.0, Bluetooth, dual Gigabit Ethernet and more sitting right there, easy for us to see.

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But unlike previous boards from ASUS, this one is the first we have seen to offer and validate support for the upcoming PCI Express 3.0 standard rated at 32GB/s rather than 16GB/s.  ASUS is actually the last to market with the so-called "PCIe 3.0 ready boards" as we have seen boards from MSI, Gigabyte, ASRock and others on PC Perspective previously.  In fact, we just published a review of the MSI Z68A-GD80 (G3) board yesterday that offers the same feature. 

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Still, ASUS isn't one to sit by and let the competition pass so they built their own Z68 board that is now 100% ready for PCIe 3.0 devices and the pending Ivy Bridge processor from Intel.  The board will support full speed PCIe 3.0 speeds in both single GPU and SLI/CrossFire configurations.  In fact, ASUS says that both the BIOS and PCIe switches are ready, out of the box, with this new P8Z68 Deluxe GEN3 model, something that some other vendors' boards may not actually be.  That would mean the necessity to have a Sandy Bridge processor on-hand to flash the BIOS before an Ivy Bridge CPU would POST.  Just something to keep in mind.

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ASUS is hesitant to call the PCIe 3.0 support anything but future-proofing for consumers worried about the next-generation of graphics solutions from NVIDIA and AMD, though I would point out to our readers that any cards that come out in 2012 that do run PCIe 3.0 will still work just fine on PCIe 2.0 boards. 

That being said, an ASUS rep did mention in passing that they MIGHT have found another benefit to PCIe 3.0 on current systems and graphics cards: a reduction in microstuttering in PC gaming.  Now, I have yet to see this benefit in person and my initial thought was that this was simply a placebo effect, but I am eager to try it out when I get this board at the labs.  

Source: ASUS
Author:
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: MSI

Introduction and Features

Introduction

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Courtesy of MSI

Micro-Star International, better known as MSI, has been busy little bees in 2011 to fend off fierce competition from ASUS, Gigabyte and other motherboard vendors. This year's launch of the Z68 chipset from Intel combined the capabilities and features from the H67 and P67 chipsets, and MSI capitalized on this when they joined forces with LucidLogix to include their Virtu technology in their latest Z68A-GD80 motherboard. Lucid's Virtu tech provides users with switchable graphics, which allows users to enjoy both graphics power of integrated GPU and discrete GPU.

 

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Courtesy of MSI

MSI also used the Z68A-GD80 as their first motherboard to support PCI Express 3.0, which boosts 32GB/s of transfer bandwidth and makes this mobo a bit more future proof for users looking for their next hardware upgrade. MSI also upgraded their BIOS system to ClickBIOS II, which  provides a consistent user interface both in the UEFI BIOS and in Windows. Users can control their system settings directly from Windows and the GUI also supports touchscreen controls.

Continue reading our review of the MSI Z68A-GD80 G3 motherboard!!

Putting the PCIe 3.0 slot before the card, MSI's new Z68 board

Subject: Motherboards | September 26, 2011 - 04:56 PM |
Tagged: z68, msi, Z68A-GD65-G3, sandy bridge, lga1155

When [H]ard|OCP reviewed the MSI Z68A-UD3H B3, they took some time examining MSI's version of UEFI called Click BIOS; it did not come out well, they panned it as horrible.  MSI listened to their suggestions as well as comments from other sites and users and developed the Click BIOS 2, which is first hitting the market in the Z68A-GD65-G3.  That BIOS, barring a few small issues, came out much better and seemed more in line with the other main release of the UEFI from ASUS.  Apart from that feature, the board also a pair of PCIe 16x slots (which happen to be Version 3.0) as well as three PCIe 1x slots.  Externally it sports HDMI and DVI out, as well optical and analog SP/DIF ports, two USB 3.0 ports as well as four USB 2.0 ports; internally four SATA 6GB/s and four SATA II ports will keep storage fanatics happy.  The bundled control software received poor marks but for manual overclockers [H] leaves you with this comment ... "the only motherboard we have ever tested that allowed us to stably overclock our 2500K CPUs to 5GHz"

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"In the motherboard business, it’s about differentiating the product. Once in awhile a motherboard manufacturer like MSI does just that before "the other guy." And that’s where the Z68A-GD65-G3 comes in bringing PCI-Express Generation 3 support and a new UEFI interface to the table."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Just Delivered: MSI Z68A-GD65 G3 Motherboard with PCI Express 3.0 Support

Subject: Editorial, Motherboards | July 29, 2011 - 02:03 PM |
Tagged: z68, pcie 3.0, msi

Just Delivered is a section of PC Perspective where we share some of the goodies that pass through our labs that may or may not see a review, but are pretty cool none the less.

As we gear up for the PC Perspective Hardware Workshop at Quakecon 2011 next weekend, August 6th, we are starting to get in some very interesting products.  The coolest part?  All of this is going to be GIVEN AWAY to attendees!! 

MSI is supplying us with a pair of new motherboards for our system build contest that will be held during the workshop - faster person to get a system up and running will get some killer prizes.  Even better, these are some of the FIRST Z68A-GD65 G3 boards in the US - the very same ones we saw at Computex in June sporting the world's first PCIe 3.0 implementation.

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Sporting an LGA1155 socket and the new Z68 chipset, you get all the features associated with it including SSD caching and integrated graphics support.

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The classic features from MSI continue to exist here with the Military Class II components as well as the always well-received OC Genie button.

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It sports a total of 4 USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, DVI and VGA outputs and a lot more.  

One thing to note: this motherboard will ONLY support PCIE 3.0 speeds once the Ivy Bridge processors are released later this year so unless you have some unreleased hardware (and please do share!) then you aren't going to be seeing the advantages of this tech quite yet.  

Still, future proofing is good news!! 

Thanks to MSI for these boards and if you are coming to our workshop be prepared for your chance to win one before the rest of the worlds gets their hands on them!

Source: MSI

Gigabyte's new Z68 board with added NF200 goodness

Subject: Motherboards | July 22, 2011 - 12:12 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, gigabyte Z68X-UD7-B3, NF200, z68

ASUS is not the only company with extra PCIe lanes on their X68 board anymore, as Gigabyte's new Z68X-UD7-B3 hits the market.  With an included NF200 chip there are four PCIe 16x slots, two of which run at 8x speeds.  You even get a PCIe x1 slots, and 2 PCI slots though the PCIe 1x is slightly blocked by the heatsink on the NF200.  [H]ard|OCP were very happy with this board, it survived 3 days in their torture chamber before finally crashing when most boards are considered solid it they can survive 24 hours.   If you need a high end SLI board, take a look at this review.

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"The Z68X-UD7-B3 is GIGABYTE's latest release supporting LGA1155 processors and new Z68 Intel Express Chipset. This motherboard looks to be gunning for a top spot with is mix of performance and features. Is the UD7 worth your hard earned dollars?"

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Zotac thinks small with their new Z68 motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | July 15, 2011 - 01:50 PM |
Tagged: zotac, mini-itx, z68

If you are looking to bring the benefits of the Z68 chipset to your LAN box, look no further than Zotac's Z68-ITX WiFi mini-ITX board.  They've done everything possible to trim down the size while keeping the functionality you need to play games. While there is only a single PCIe 16x slot and 4 SATA ports in total, you have 8 USB 2.0 ports and a pair of USB 3.0 as well as a variety of audio and video output ports.  As well there is a serious WiFi add on card with dual antenna to get you connected to your friends and enemies.  Check out the full review that TechPowerUp posted here.

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"ZOTAC recently announced their mini-ITX Z68 motherboard. Supporting standard desktop parts for expansion, the ZOTAC Z68-ITX WiFi offers all the features of the Intel Z68 chipset, including some decent overclocking. We put the Z68-ITX WiFi through the paces, and take this little roadster for a wild ZOTAC ride."

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Source: TechPowerUp