Z68 Review: Gigabyte Z68XP-UD3-iSSD vs ASUS P8Z68-V Pro

By on July 6, 2011
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The Sandy Bridge platform is fully unleashed.

Good: Combining the features of P67 & H67 motherboards; Lucid Virtu allows for multiple GPU configurations and Quick Sync use; SSD Caching allows cheap speed upgrades
Bad: Setting up SSD caching is not a straightforward process (need to reinstall Windows 7); CUDA is still faster than QuickSync; iGPU doesn't allow SLI or CF in Lucid Virtu
Price: AED 1,050 (P8Z68-V Pro) and AED 1,250 (Z68XP-UD3-iSSD)
* The price is the Suggested Retail Price at the time of review. Please call a retailer to confirm the latest price for this product.

Intel’s Sandy Bridge platform launched with much gusto and fanfare earlier this year with significant advancements in performance. And while the updated Core-i3/i5/i7 processors showed both computing and onboard graphical prowess, to complete unleash all of its powers meant the consumer base had to be split. Not any more.

Basically, if you want to overclock a Sandy Bridge processor, first of all it has to be a “K” series CPU, meaning that all the cores are unlocked. Hence a Core i7-2600, for instance, cannot be overclocked, while the Core i7-2600K can indeed be overclocked from it’s stock 3.4GHz up to 5GHz and beyond. For overclocking the “K” series CPU and memory, one was limited to the P67 motherboards, while overclocking on the H67 motherboards was limited to the onboard integrated GPU. I have to say that Intel did design the H series motherboards for HTPCs and the like in mind, but to restrict the movements of the hardcore overclocking community with the P series was quite disappointing. What the Z68 platform brings is a combination of both the H series and the P series motherboards into one glorious package.

Apart form the fact that one is now able to overclock the CPU, memory and onboard GPU on the Z68 motherboards, we can now fully exploit Intel QuickSync feature on Sandy bridge processors thanks to Intel integration of the Lucid Virtu chipset. We’ve heard of Lucid previously as their previous Hydra technology allowed both Nvidia and AMD GPUs to work together on one motherboard. While that technology was severely limited to driver support and not adopted by many motherboard manufacturers, the Lucid Virtu is fully supported by Intel and we should be seeing it in pretty much all the Z68 motherboards.

The last great feature of the Z68 I want to touch on is the SSD caching in the form of Intel’s Smart Response Technology. Basically ISRT allows you to add an SSD and use it as a cache for your existing HDD.  ISRT only works in RAID though, not AHCI or IDE, so you’ll have to reinstall Windows 7 on your HDD and set it up with RAID, unless you want to be greeted by BSOD galore. I have to say that I was a bit skeptical at first as to how fast this would really be, but after the tests the results look very promising indeed. More on that later however, let’s have a look at today’s contestants first.

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From auditing to editing, I now test and analyze the latest gadgets and games instead of the latest financial statements. Both jobs are equally intense and rewarding. When I'm not burning up hardware in the name of science, you'll find me nuking in DOTA 2 or engineering in TF2.

  • 157653913

    Z68XP-UD3-iSSD ~nice

  • carlo

     Asus P8Z68 is better with the DIGI+ VRM digital power design compare to gigabyte analog 4-phase. What are the benefits of digital PWM for motherboard, are they common-used, why some manufactures don’t have it, what solution do they have currently?

  • gerald

    I got a Gigabyte board without iGPU functionality , can I exchange it with the new version and use Lucid Virtu?

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