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Best Budget Z68 Motherboard - GIGABYTE GA-Z68MA-D2H-B3 Review

Rey Basti
 


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Are you looking for the best Z68 motherboard but you’re on a tight budget? Well then, you’re search is over because the GIGABYTE GA-Z68MA-D2H-B3 is perfect for you. This board is built with the latest Z68 in which we all know has the power of both P67 and H67 chipset. If you think that all Z68 motherboard are high priced because of this amazing chip? Not this one. This is the lowest price I’ve seen on the market but it has a lot of features to offer. Let’s find out what this motherboard can do.

The looks

The GA-Z68MA-D2H-B3 comes in a micro ATX form factor at 9.6in x 9.6in in size. It has a traditional light blue color from Gigabyte with combination of white on DIMM’s and SATA ports. Heatsinks are in color gray but not in a beefy size. The first two PCI-E slots are well spaced providing some air when both in use but not the third. All six SATA ports are all vertically mounted and the 24/4 pins ATX power connectors are well placed for neat wiring as well as for easy access. The back panel has provided a Video out in the form of HDMI, VGA and DVI. The six USB port are color coded to easily identify red is 2.0 and blue is 3.0. Overall, this is a nice looking board.

Specs

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 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, 1 x PCI Express x1 slots

Supports both ATI CrossFireX and NVIDIA SLI technology

2x SATA 6Gb/s and 4x SATA 3Gb/s

12 USB 2.0/1.1 and 2 USB 3.0/2.0 ports

2x IEEE 1394a ports

1 x DVI-D port supporting a maximum resolution of 1920x1200

1 x HDMI supporting a maximum resolution of 1920x1200

1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector

1 x D-Sub port

Features

New features for the GA-Z68MA-D2H-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. 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

The best part of this board is the support for both the SLI and CrossfireX multi GPU configurations, because you have the freedom to choose your favorite GPU. 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.

The Inclusion of the VGA, DVI and HDMI video output is the best part of this motherboard. In this way you can fully utilized the IGP from the Sandy Bridge processor thus saving you more bucks by not buying a separate graphics card. You can also maximize the usage of the QuickSync for any transcoding applications for faster media processing. The support for the LucidLogix Virtu is another great innovation for this one. It can do automatically switching from the IGP to your discrete GPU. In this case, if you’re doing some basic operations the discrete GPU will put into idle mode thus saving you more power when not in used. If a highly 3D graphics applications are needed the GPU will intelligently turn on.

Testing the GA-Z68MA-D2H-B3

The GA-Z68MA-D2H-B3 was tested using a Core i5 2500K with a stock speed of 3.3GHz. Setting the BCLK at 100MHz and the multiplier at x45 we got a stable 4.5GHz. One thing that you can’t do with the sandy Bridge processor is to set the BCLK further than the 100MHz. So I stick with 100MHz and set a higher multiplier at x47, but unluckily the death screen shows. So I decided to get back at x45 and adjust a higher the BCLK at 102MHz to get a stable result of 4.590GHz. I’ll stop at this frequency to play it safe and very much impress with the results. A gain of 1.29GHz in its stock frequency of 3.3GHz shows a tremoundous increase in its performance in various games but not much in transcoding applications using the iGP alone.

Conclusion

Although the GA-Z68MA-D2H-B3 is the lowest price Z68 motherboard out there it has so many features to offer. The latest feature from Gigabyte Z68 motherboard such as TouchBIOS and SSD which can be found in other high end board is also here. The inclusion of the video output and the support for both SLI/CrossfireX is a big plus for this board including the SATA 6GB/s and USB 3.0 is also great. But the lack of eSATA port is somewhat a downside with this board. One thing that I wish this motherboard could have is the capacity to overclock the IGP HD Graphics.

Read more of the Best Motherboard Review 2012 that supports the new Intel's Ivy Bridge Processor and discover the Best Z68 Motherboard of today.

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