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Intel Z68 Chipset Review: dGPU and iGPU living together, SSD Caching and Overclocking

Author: Ryan Shrout
Manufacturer: ASUS

The ASUS P8Z68-V Pro Motherboard: Bringing it all together

In most cases, what you will find on the Z68 motherboards on the market are going to look very similar to those of the second round of P67 motherboards that we are already familiar with. As I mentioned and detailed on the previous page, we are really only adding support for video output as well as new SSD caching technology that will utilize existing SATA connections. It should be no surprise then that the new ASUS P8Z68-V Pro motherboard that we are using in our review today bears a striking resemblance to its P67 cousin.

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The P8Z68-V Pro follows with ASUS’ new black/blue color scheme for enthusiast class offerings and also continues with the passive-only cooling solutions.

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There are three PCI Express x16 slots on this board, two of which will utilize the x16 lanes from the 2nd Generation Core Processors family while the third one stems from the PCIe lanes on the Z68 chipset. These primary PCIe slots support both and SLI and CrossFire configurations so users that want to dive into the world of multi-GPU configurations are still encouraged to do so. There are also two PCIe x1 slots for expansion options and two legacy PCI slots for other add-in cards.

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The bottom of the board features a lot of headers for additional connectivity including three for USB 2.0 ports and two more for FireWire. Looking to the left here you will see the included power and reset buttons that enable easy out-of-case use on testbeds or overclocking setup.

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Here we can see some of the multitude of the SATA ports that the ASUS P8Z68-V Pro offers including four SATA 3.0 Gb/s ports (light blue) and two SATA 6.0 Gb/s ports (white) provided by the Intel chipset directly. Don’t worry here – the Z68 chipset features the fixed and revised version of the SATA 3.0 Gb/s ports that will not potentially die on you in the future. Two more SATA 6.0 Gb/s ports are provided to complete the set.

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There are four DIMM slots for DDR3 memory and a pair of switches that enable power saving voltage adjustments in the BIOS when enabled.  Also on the far left you will see the header for the USB 3.0 expansion port that uses the custom built Asmedia (ASUS subsidiary) USB 3.0 chipset for all four ports.  

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The LGA1155 CPU socket area includes the power management and MOSFETs under the dual heatsinks. 

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External connections on the P8Z68-V Pro motherboard include 6 standard USB 2.0 ports, a pair of USB 3.0 ports, Intel-based Gigabit Ethernet, 8-channel audio analog and digital output and an eSATA connection, all of which we are used to seeing in today's motherboard market.  However, new to many will be the Bluetooth connection (seen above the red USB ports) and the collection of display outputs including VGA, dual-link DVI and HDMI ports.  This addition is what makes the Z68 chipset different than the P67 before it.

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Because this is the Pro version of the motherboard, and thus is one of the lower cost options, there aren't a lot of included extras.  Rather than getting the cables to take advantage of all of those USB/FireWire headers on the board we are only given the front mountable dual USB 3.0 port dongle, some SATA cables, SLI connection, etc.

May 11, 2011 | 12:18 AM - Posted by Tim Verry

Finally, the NDA is over :D

May 11, 2011 | 02:36 AM - Posted by Chaitanya Shukla (not verified)

I will wait the ROG motherboard from Asus for my next PC, lets hope the wait will be worth it.

May 11, 2011 | 08:07 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

No mention of USB-3 eh? What gives?

May 11, 2011 | 10:59 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

What do you mean? It is mentioned on the second page of the review and the chipset itself continues to NOT implement it directly making it a motherboard vendors choice.

May 11, 2011 | 03:36 PM - Posted by klatch

I've noticed that MSI is promoting their "Military Class" features and Giga-Byte is pushing their "Ultra Durable 3" stuff, with each of them talking about things like solid capaciters and other things that make the boards more durable and have a longer life expectancy. I don't see any of this from ASUS; is this just a marketing failure on their side or do they not use the same quality of components etc that MSI and Giga-Byte do? Or is it not a big deal in the first place. I looked at their site and only the "Deluxe" Z68 board lists solid capacitors.

Side note: I posted this before but I must not have put the verification code in after submitting before closing the screen. Is there not a way to make the verification code be on-screen at the time I compose the post or will that make things bad for the site with spammers?

May 11, 2011 | 01:34 PM - Posted by klatch

Additionally, I saw that in the hardocp review they talk about having an issue where the processor wouldn't do anything other than max frequency and idle frequency if there were any changes made to default bios settings (ie: it woudln't scale between those properly. Did you guys notice this also? They say it isn't a big deal but for me, even though I do intend to overclock, I also want to be as smart as possible with power usage. Details here, about 3/4 of the way down in the under the heading called "Note": http://www.hardocp.com/article/2011/05/11/asus_p8z68v_pro_z68_chipset_mo...

May 12, 2011 | 08:27 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Nope, I definitely did not see this. When I overclocked the CPU manually or through the OC Tuner, it always clocked back down to the 1600 MHz idle state.

May 12, 2011 | 09:51 AM - Posted by klatch

Yeah, it goes down to 1600 when idle but I think what they are saying is that it is either 100% or idle - never anything in between and apparently it should be hitting in between. Did you take a look at their article? I'm really close to buying this board when I am off work but I'm wondering whether this is an issue just with their board or if it is something that should make me look elsewhere.

May 12, 2011 | 12:18 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Ah okay, interesting, I didn't specifically see that or NOT see that either. I'll take a look.

May 12, 2011 | 01:30 PM - Posted by klatch

Thanks. I think they basically are saying that turbo mode is always fully engaged any time the CPU isn't idling. I'm planning on buying this board in about 5 hours so bang out that test. =)

May 11, 2011 | 04:48 PM - Posted by SpeedyVV (not verified)

It looks like the DVI is single link. Can you confirm it is Dual? ie support 2560x1600?

May 11, 2011 | 05:01 PM - Posted by klatch

Based on the pin layout it looks like Dual Link DVI-D to me.

May 12, 2011 | 08:27 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Yes, it can handle 2560x1600 resolutions without issue.

May 12, 2011 | 07:21 PM - Posted by AParsh335i (not verified)

Here is a big question for me which could get me to return a whole bunch of stuff i just bought - if you team an Nvidia graphics card like the GTX 560ti (which does not support 3x monitors without SLI) and combine it with this motherboard will you be able to use the 2 DVI on the 560ti and the 1 DVI on the motherboard and now have 3x monitors for a resolution like 5760x1080? This could be a big selling point for some people if they are debating Nvidia VS AMD because AMD is adding it as a standard feature on most cards if you buy the $30 adapter.

May 12, 2011 | 07:25 PM - Posted by AParsh335i (not verified)

I'm going to add a second part to my question that is only applicable if the answer to the first part was yes. If, in fact, you can do do nvidia surround (3x monitors) now without needing SLI thanks to this motherboard it would be great to see a comparison of a p67 + 6950 2GB @ 5760x1080 vs a z68 + 560ti @ 5760x1080.

May 14, 2011 | 04:18 PM - Posted by Max (not verified)

Asus got TUF bot only for sabertooth.

October 7, 2011 | 10:52 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I'm building a PC with mostly Corsair, ASUS P8Z-Pro, Intel 2500K, ect. I had problems with the LAN not working. The internet connection was On/Off, so returned it and got another new ASUS MB Pro and new 2500K from Fry's, Guess waht the exact same thing. I called ASUS and the rep. said they had a big problem with that same issue and to get the Maxium MB instead?????

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