four key features that make the Gigabyte GA-Z68XP-UD3-iSSD motherboard a
real killer among Intel Z68 platforms: 1) It comes bundled with a
20GB Intel mSATA SSD for implementing Intel Smart Response Technology. 2) It has an onboard HDMI video
output so users can leverage Intel's Quick Sync media
transcoding acceleration by way of the Intel Z68+Intel HD
3000/2000 IGP. 3) Lucid Logix VIRTU driver
support makes it possible to effortlessly switch between
integrated graphics for desktop work and a discrete videocard for 3D gaming. 4) The board
supports two-way ATI Crossfire and two-way nVidia SLI for serious gamers who need raw FPS-cracking power!
In addition to the
standard benchmark set, for this review PCSTATS has gone the extra step and
put Intel Smart Response Technology through its paces against stock SSD/HDD
installations. Intel's HD 3000 IGP graphics core also gets benchmarked
against six different integrated graphics solutions, including AMD's
powerful new socket FM1 APU-based Radeon HD 6550D - don't miss those
GA-Z68XP-UD3-iSSD motherboard is a socket 1155 platform that can
be installed with 2nd Generation Intel Core i3/i5/i7 2xxx-series 'SandyBridge'
processors. Built around the Intel Z68 Express chipset, the board takes up to
32GB of dual channel DDR3-1066/1333/1600/1866/2133 memory (4GB for 32-bit OS's)
in four DIMM slots. Extreme Memory Profiles (XMP) are supported.
In terms of videocard support, the GA-Z68XP-UD3-iSSD motherboard will accommodate one PCI Express 2.0 x16 videocard in x16 mode or a pair of nVidia Geforce / ATI
Radeon videocards in SLI or Crossfire, in x8/x8 mode. Crucially, Gigabyte equipped the GA-Z68XP-UD3-iSSD with one onboard HDMI video output (to 1920x1200 resolution) so the Intel HD 3000/2000 integrated
graphics core of 'SandyBridge' processors can be utilized. This is a
small but critical differentiation between Intel Z68 and P67 feature sets. Further
peripheral expansion comes to users via three PCI Express x1 slots and two PCI
A micro-SATA slot is an uncommon addition, located just below the LGA1155 CPU socket and factory installed with a 20GB Intel 311 mSATA SSD. Intel Smart
Response Technology requires a small capacity dedicated caching SSD to bring
about 'SSD-like system responsiveness' on PCs where Windows 7 has
been installed to a standard mechanical SATA hard drive. That little 20GB mSATA
SSD is just right to cache frequently accessed data!
Gigabyte GA-Z68XP-UD3-iSSD Motherboard
INCLUDES: User's Manual, Driver
SATA cables, 2-way SLI bridge, I/O Shield, 20GB Intel
311 mSATA SSD.
Chipsets: Intel Z68 Express
Support: Intel Socket 1155
Type: Dual Channel DDR3
Support: (2) PCI Express x16 2.0 (x16 or x8/x8)
Port: (1) HDMI
Average Price at time of review:
Gigabyte's GA-Z68XP-UD3-iSSD motherboard,
which comes with a 20GB Intel 311 mSATA SSD
valued at $130, retails for around $239 at Canada Computers, NCIX and Newegg. Being a Gigabyte board you can also get Hybrid-EFI TouchBIOS, +3TB
hard drive support, 3x USB power boost, On/Off Charge for recharging devices
like the iPhone and a slew of other fun stuff.
On the storage front the GA-Z68XP-UD3-iSSD motherboard
dishes out the usual six SATA connections from the Intel Z68 chipset; two 6Gb/s
SATA III and four 3Gb/s SATA II ports. RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10 modes are supported
across those SATA ports while a Marvell SE9172 controller adds an extra pair of
6Gb/s SATA III ports into the mix for good measure (RAID 0,1). One SATA II
port is lost when the onboard mSATA is populated with the SSD. More on
that in a moment...
Supports two way Crossfire or two-way
in with the Gigabyte GA-Z68XP-UD3-iSSD is this tiny 20GB Intel Solid State
there aren't any eSATA ports at the rear I/O of the GA-Z68XP-UD3-iSSD
motherboard, and scant little in terms of accessories; just a SLI bridge
connector and some SATA cables. A USB 3.0 bracket would have been a nice
addition to the box contents in order to make use of the USB 3.0 header,
but one isn't included.
A single HDMI
/ USB 3.0 ports
At the back of
Gigabyte's GA-Z68XP-UD3-iSSD motherboard you'll find one HDMI video output, an
10/1000 Ethernet connection, (2) SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports, (8) USB 2.0 ports, an
IEEE1394 Firewire port, optical S/PDIF and full assortment of Intel high
definition 7.1-channel headphone jacks. The audio system is Dolby Home Theatre
compliant. PS/2 still clings to life in a hybrid keyboard/mouse kind of way,
which is good... modern keyboards just don't 'click' as nicely as those made a
decade ago, let alone the machine guns that were IBM Model M's.
USB Power Boost - Supporting USB Chargers for Cell Phones
and Apple Devices
interest in the Apple iPad and iPhone shows no sign of letting up, it's a good
thing Gigabyte boosted the electrical capabilities of its motherboards' USB
ports to better meet the electrical requirements of chargers for these
devices. This was primarily done because Gigabyte engineers wanted to be able to
charge their iPhone's... it's handy with multiple external hard
drives like Seagate's FreeAgent GoFlex, or a USB 3.0 hard drive
standard USB 2.0 ports are limited to 500mA power loads and USB 3.0 to 900mA,
the Gigabyte GA-Z68XP-UD3-iSSD motherboard increases these values to 1500mA for USB 2.0 and up to 2700mA for USB 3.0 devices. On top of that, at
least one set of USB ports continues to supply power for charging your cellphone
when the PC is powered down. Gigabyte call this "On/Off Charge."
Let's take a quick look at Intel SRT and the
bundled in 20GB SSD that comes with this board before moving on to the
360-degree motherboard photos.
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