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     Z68: ASUS, ASRock, Gigabyte and MSI
      Posted on 11/05/2011 at 14:27 by Marc
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    The various motherboard manufacturers have taken the opportunity provided by the Intel Z68 Express release to launch various motherboard models. Here’s what’s coming:

    - 3 ASRock
    - 5 ASUS
    - 11 Gigabyte
    - 2 MSI


    Gigabyte has obviously been the most active and is bringing out lots of (too many?) models. They have in fact rolled out the whole standard P67 range as Z68 Express versions, without however including IGP connectivity. As they don’t have Virtu either, the only advantage of these models is SSD Caching and you have to wonder what these motherboards really bring to the table given that the Gigabyte has announced that it won’t be stopping P67 Express production either.


    They have in any case taken the opportunity to boost the overall specs of their range a bit, with the UD3, UD4 and UD5 now getting a Marvell SATA 6G controller that only the UD7 had on the P67 range. FireWire has also been rolled out on the UD3 and UD4 in the Z68 range. On the P67 boards it was only included on the UD5 and UD7. Four other motherboards have video outs for the IGP, two ATXs and two micro ATXs.


    ASUS has also chosen to bring out cards without video outs for the IGP – two out of five in the Z68 range, but they do get Virtu for anyone wanting to use QuickSync. Only the P8Z68-V Pro is available immediately and we’ll have to wait until the end of the month for the others, the specs for which aren’t therefore definitive. Note that two Maximus range motherboards are on the list, the first, a Micro ATX, will be affordable (€169) but the Extreme-Z with its 4 PCI-Express x16 slots will cost €349.


    ASRock is bringing out three cards, one of which is a Micro ATX. They all have the connectivity needed for direct IGP support. Lastly MSi seems the least convinced by the Z68, with just two models, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing as long as they cover most of the bases, as they do with the high end Z68A-GD80 and the more limited and less expensive Z68MA-ED55. On this last model however it’s a shame that the second PCI-E x16 port is cabled at x4. If you’re going to include two ports you might as well go for x8/x8!



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