The Sandy Bridge platform is fully unleashed.
So first off we have the ASUS P8Z68-V Pro motherboard. This motherboard is priced at $260 (AED 1,050) in the region. The P8Z68-V Pro comes with all the bells and whistles of any premium Z68 motherboard, including the Lucid Virtu technology. In addition to multiple 4x SATA III and 4x USB 3.0 the ASUS board also comes with 2x PCIe x16 expansion slots.
The UEFI BIOS is again one fo the best I have seen as it’s extremely easy to understand and navigate. The AI Suite II also allows for seamless overclocking options from Windows itself. Although these settings aren’t saved to the BIOS, so you’ll have to apply the overclock every time you boot Windows.
Next up is the Gigabyte Z68XP-UD3-iSSD which costs roughly $300 (AED 1,250). The reason for such a price hike, in case it wasn’t obvious from the name already, is the inclusion of an Intel 20GB SSD attached onto the motherboard itself using an mSATA port. Like the ASUS board, this Gigabyte also has the Lucid Virtu chip.
The standard ATX sized Z68XP-UD3-iSSD also suports 4x SATA III and 4x USB 3.0 ports. Two PCIe x16 slots come standard for SLI or CrossFire setup. Undoubtedly the extra $50 (AED 200) for a 20GB SSD is a justified price given the cost of SSDs nowadays.
For the time being, the Z68 boards may seem a little too expensive for premium boards, but in due time these prices will drop as Intel rightfully should have introduced the Z68 board from the very launch of the Sandy Bridge platform instead of splitting the base like it did. For now though, let’s get on with some number crunching.