The Gigabyte GA-Z68XP-UD3-iSSD motherboard features a
pair of physical PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots that support two-way ATI CrossfireX
or nVidia SLI. The first videocard slot runs at x16 mode, when both are
populated that drops to x8/x8 mode.
Gamers will be happy to hear that this board supports the
Lucid Logix Virtu driver - handy if you wish to take advantage of Intel's quick
media transcoding abilities by running desktop graphics off the SandyBridge
Intel HD 3000 graphics IGP via the Z68XP-UD3-iSSD's onboard HDMI video
Express 2.0 x16 slots for SLI / Crossfire.
Remaining expansion slots include three PCI Express 2.0
x1 slots and two legacy PCI slots. The devices above the first PCI Express x16
slot is what makes the Gigabyte GA-Z68XP-UD3-iSSD motherboard really stand out
from other Intel Z68 platforms.
mini-PCIes slot that communicates over a SATA II
If you guessed mSATA slot and SSD, you guessed right. One
of the neatest tricks from the Intel stables is Smart Response Technology -
basically a way to use a small solid state drive to speed up applications.
PCSTATS has already tested Intel SRT thoroughly (see:Beginners Guide: Intel Smart Response Technology and Intel
311 Larson Creek SSD ) so we won't be touching on all aspects of SRT in this
20GB of 34nm SLC Compute NAND flash
Gigabyte bundle the GA-Z68XP-UD3-iSSD motherboard with a
20GB Intel SLC-NAND flash memory SSD. This bumps the price of this particular
board up about $70 over equivalently featured Intel Z68 boards, but is cheaper
than buying a Cache SSD+Intel Z68 motherboard separately.
The GA-Z68XP-UD3-iSSD motherboard goes for $239 (Newegg) with the SSD, which is a good deal
considering an Intel 311 'Larsen Creek' 20GB SLC-flash mSATA SSD runs $130 by
itself (Newegg). Without the SSD, the basic GA-Z68XP-UD3 motherboard costs $139 (MicroCenter) / $159 (Newegg), so the combo will save you about
The factory installed Intel 311 mSATA SSD slips into a
physical miniPCIe socket but communicates with the computer over a SATA II bus.
There is a tamper resistant sticker on the mSATA SSD card to indicate if anyone
up the supply chain has tampered with it.
Gigabyte's mSATA card slot for the bundled Intel 311
When the mSATA slot is populated one SATA II port is
disabled - no biggie, there are eight SATA ports available on the Gigabyte
Along the bottom edge of the Gigabyte GA-Z68XP-UD3-iSSD
motherboard are numerous headers for USB 2.0/3.0 and IEEE 1394. The board has
(3) USB 2.0 and (1) USB 3.0 headers. In short, there's a lot of connectivity
here, but not even one USB bracket tossed in! An ITE IT8728 controller fills in
that role and also takes on legacy control of PS/2 keyboards and mice.
A look at the memory slots, CPU socket and PCI Express
x16 slots ability to accommodate extra-wide videocards is next as the 360-degree
motherboard photo gallery continues on PCSTATS....