After the release of intel Z68 chipset recently many computer enthusiast catches their attention towards this amazing chipset. After the success of the GA-X58A-UD3R and GA-890GPA-UD3H, Gigabyte has developed the best Z68 motherboard using this chip. The GA-Z68-UD4-B3 has the combined capabilities of the P67 overclocking capabilities and the H67 Trancoding applications that you can now enjoy both worlds. Not only that, the Z68 chipset has includes many features to offer with its advanced technology like combining the IGP with any discrete GPU of your choice. The GA-Z68-UD4-B3 belongs to the Ultra Durable series motherboards that are loaded with toughness features to ensure its longer life span.
The GA-Z68-UD4-B3 motherboard comes in a black color with a combination of gray in its heatsink. The heatsink has a pretty descent size that can handle heat during stressed conditions. The two PCI-E slots are spaced properly in case you’ll need to use it in SLI or CrossfireX configuration to have enough air passage. The 4 DIMM slots are well placed so that it never touches the GPU card when installed. The 8 SATA ports are mounted in right angle position for fast access and neat wiring as well as the 24/8 pin ATX power connector are also in a nice place. Back panel provides a healthy dose of ports in nice color code combination to easily identify each port. Overall, very nice design and cool looks for great performing board.
Supports Core i7/Core i5/ Core i3 processors
Intel Z68 Express Chipset
Support Dual channel memory architecture for DDR3 2133/1866/1600/1333/1066 MHz
High Definition Audio Realtek 2/4/5.1/7.1-channel Dolby Home Theater with S/PDIF Out
1 x RJ45 LAN Realtek RTL8111E chip (10/100/1000 Mbit)
1 x PCI Express x16 slot @ x16, 1 x PCI Express x16 slot @ x8, 2 x PCI Express x1 slots and 2 x PCI slots
Supports both ATI CrossFireX and NVIDIA SLI multi GPU
4x SATA 6Gb/s, 4x SATA 3Gb/s and 2x eSATA 6Gb/s connectors
14 USB 2.0/1.1 and 4 USB 3.0/2.0 ports
2x IEEE 1394a ports
New features for the GA-Z68-UD4-B3 is the touch BIOS in which you can control the BIOS settings with your fingers just like your iPhone. This is only applicable with a touch screen monitors and this is only available from their new Z68 motherboards. Another new features only from a Z68 motherboard from Gigabyte is the SSD they claiming it as 4X faster than the HDD-only system.
Other features from their previous board designs are the maximum power delivery that delivers more power to the CPU with the new VRM design. The 12 phase power design idea is to reduce heat by spreading the load into 12 power phases for more stable and cooler. It also delivers fast response during the CPU loading variations. Dual CPU power technology allows 1 set of power phase to rest while the other is active. In result, only half the amount of work by each power phase thus increases the motherboard durability and reliability. The integration of the Driver MOSFETs on a single IC that can achieved higher power transfer and faster switching frequency for more efficiency. The 108dB Signal-to-Noise ratio (SNR) playback ensuring a quality HD audio by further reducing the noise to deliver high performance multi channel output. The Gigabyte dualBIOS supports more than 3TeraByte of hard disk drive space without the need of partitioning for more data storage. This features also provides a main backup for incase the main BIOS has crashed it automatically quick recovers all data’s. It provides two physical ROM BIOS install in the motherboard itself. The Turbo XHD provides an easy way to boost your HDD performance up to 4X by automatically detecting your hard drive to setup into RAID 0 configurations. The On/Off charge technology allows you to charge your iPad and iPhone even if the PC is in standby or off mode. Dynamic energy saver 2 reduces your power consumption while optimizes the efficiency of your system. This board is also equipped with an Over Voltage Control IC, for extreme overclocking that protects the CPU and memory.
Like what I said before the GA-Z68-UD4-B3 belongs to the Ultra Durable 3 series motherboards. The design for this board is twice the copper size for both the power and ground layers of the PCB. In this case it improves the signal quality and lowers the electromagnetic interference that provides better system stability which is great for overclocking. It also lowers the impedance by 50% that lowers the component temperature. It also uses solid Japanese caps and Ferrite core chokes for longer life span. The best part of this board is the support for both the SLI and CrossfireX multi GPU configurations. Some other features are the Smart 6 for smart PC system management those are the Smart QuickBoot, Smart QuickBoost, Smart Recovery 2, Smart DualBIOS, Smart Recorder and Smart Time Lock.
Testing The GA-Z68-UD4-B3
The GA-Z68-UD4-B3 was tested using the 2500K processor and GTX 460 GPU. With the release of the Sandy Bridge K version processor, you just can’t increase the BCLK further than 100MHz unlike the previous unlock processors you can go more than 200MHZ. What we can do in here is to increase the multiplier and a bit of its voltage. Setting the multiplier at x45 and staying the BCLK at 100MHz we got a stable at 4.5GHz. We want to find out more if we can push it harder if we increase the BCLK at 103MHz resulting at 4.635GHz.
An additional of 1.335GHz from the stock frequency of 3.3GHz shows a tremendous increased in its performance and smoothness in frame rate in various games. I presume that when a 2600K processor is used you can go further than these results. But as far as we got the following outcome, this motherboard shows a very impressive performance.
The GA-Z68-UD4-B3 is another great performer motherboard from Gigabyte. Overclocking this board never let us down just like their P67 series motherboard. But it doesn’t have overclocking features for the IGP Video HD. This one has a great advantage due to its QuickSync feature is enabled from Sandy Bridge processors. This makes you enjoy its transcoding applications which are very useful in its unparallel performance. Combining the IGP and the discrete GPU is an amazing breakthrough in this technology with intelligent switching between low power applications and highly graphics 3D environment. The Support for both SLI and CrossfireX multi GPU configuration is also great. It doesn’t have any display output therefore; you can never use the onboard IGP alone thus forcing you to buy a separate GPU before you can fully utilize the QuickSync features.
Two of the best new features of the Gigabyte that introduces only in their Z68 motherboard are the TouchBIOS and SSD. The TouchBIOS is the Gigabyte answer to ASUS UEFI EZ BIOS. It has a great advantage using a finger touch in a touch screen monitor rather than a mouse control.
The GA-Z68-UD4-B3 comes at less $200 which is more than the average price range. Is the price tag really worth? I should say yes. Because, even though it’s a bit higher than P67 board they have so many features to offer it also combines the power of the P67/H67 chips which is a big plus and a rock solid design of this board really counts.