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Z68 Motherboard Roundup Part 2

gotdamojo06    -   December 19, 2011
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Conclusion: Sapphire Pure Platinum Z68

What exactly is there to say about the Sapphire Pure Platinum Z68? Well to start off, the board's layout was extremely easy to use and setup. All of the connectors on the board were right in the perfect spots to be able to plug everything in. The cooling solution that Sapphire put on the MOSFETs and the Diamond Chokes are quite effective, however the heat sink is quite a bit taller than one that you would typically find on other motherboards. But I did not have any issues with this while using my cooler. The built-in support for USB 3.0 means that when you connect your portable devices that support the USB 3.0 standard, you will be able to have the maximum bandwidth/transfer speeds possible.

Sapphire does have Lucid Virtu support on the Pure Platinum Z68 motherboard. This feature is going to allow you to have your discrete graphics card installed, but not being used while there is no need for it and instead use the onboard graphics based off your processor. The Diamond Chokes that are installed on the board are supposed to run cooler and distribute power more effectively than a regular choke on other motherboards. I like that the Sapphire Pure Platinum Z68 has the onboard diagnostics LED light on the board, it makes your life much easier to figure out exactly what is wrong with your system when there is an issue. If there are no issues, Sapphire has the LEDs displaying the CPU temperature. This is another useful feature if you are using the motherboard outside of a chassis, that way you can see it much easier.

Overall, I was very impressed with the Sapphire Pure Platinum Z68 motherboard, it was a solid board that delivered results very similar to its competition and was able to overclock quite well. The fact that there are no uEFI BIOS on the motherboard does not really bother me. However for the newer people getting into overclocking and using the BIOS, they may be a little lost if they have only used other boards with uEFI BIOS.

 

Pros:

  • Overclocking
  • USB 3.0
  • Lucid Virtu
  • Sapphire Diamond Choke
  • Onboard Diagnostics/CPU Temperature
  • Dual BIOS
  • 6 SATA Ports

 

Cons:

  • Non-uEFI BIOS

 

 

Conclusion: Gigabyte Z68XP-UD4

When talking about the Gigabyte Z68XP-UD4 motherboard, I am a huge fan of the layout and color scheme, everything is very neutral and nothing on the motherboard tries to grab the user's attention too much. It would have been nice if Gigabyte had the different memory slots colored slightly different, however this is just a personal preference and not a complaint. When it came down to the overclocking on the Z68XP-UD4, I was able to achieve the highest stable overclock with my 2600K on this board, while 4.8GHz isn't the highest overclock I have seen or gotten the chip to, it was the highest stable overclock for this chip.

Gigabyte is ready for PCI-E 3.0 support on the Z68XP-UD4 motherboard as long as you have a 22nm CPU installed. Which is always nice to have a little future proofing on your motherboards, as well as a piece of mind that you will not need to grab a new board when you need to upgrade to a PCI-E 3.0 graphics card. The Gigabyte Z68XP-UD4 has quite a few features on it that impressed me, such as the Turbo XHD, which will automatically detect if you can run RAID 0 and prompt you to set it up. The Drive MOSFET feature is going to help with the power efficiency, by not only reducing temperatures, but also delivering a higher power transfer at higher switching frequencies, which may have been what helped get me that higher overclock on my chip.

I would suggest this board to anyone who has a Socket 1155 chip and wants to get into a Z68 motherboard. Not only was I able to get the highest overclock on this board with my chip, but it looks great and has a nice overall setup with the features to back it up. Once again, the only complaint that I have about the board is that there are no uEFI BIOS. While I still like the traditional BIOS, there are many other boards that are on the uEFI BIOS and they do offer an easier setup and navigation of the BIOS. Plus all of this can be had at under $200.

 

Pros:

  • Overclocking
  • Touch & Dual BIOS
  • PCI-E 3.0 Support
  • USB 3.0 Support
  • Lucid Virtu
  • Driver MOSFET
  • Turbo XHD
  • Price

 

Cons:

  • Non-uEFI BIOS

 

 

Conclusion: Gigabyte G1.Sniper 2:

Overall I would have to say I am pleased with the performance delivered by the Gigabyte G1.Sniper 2 motherboard. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would have to give it an 8, as I was not able to reach the limits of my poor beat up 2600K. However I was able to get close, with only 108MHz separating the max stable clock speed reached between the Sniper 2 and the ASUS Maximus IV, more along the lines of the results with the P67 Sabertooth. That puts the G1.Sniper 2 in some pretty good company.

A couple of things that stood out and were a disappointment were the lack of onboard power/reset switches and a debug LED. Boards of this stature have been coming with them for the past few years. Are they necessities? No, but they are nice when testing out of a chassis or when I am just to lazy to hook up the front panel connections. The Debug LED would have helped with the failed boot analysis and reduced the time frame in diagnostics. The legacy BIOS was a trip down memory lane, but a trip that should not be needed and the board falls a little behind in this respect. The Hybrid feature is useful from within the windows environment via mouse and keyboard interaction although to get the full effect a touch screen monitor will be required.

Performance wise it stacked up well against the rest of the comparison field and really stood out in the gaming tests. The feature set is impressive to say the least, with the on board Killer E2100 NPU and top of the line Creative Soundblaster X-Fi Digital Audio Processor (20K2). These two features are substantial upgrades and add to the cost of the board. With both, the benefit of having the parts onboard means that you have to ability to populate both PCIe 16x slots with full size video cards be it ATI or NVIDIA. SLI and CrossfireX are both supported and will further enhance the gaming experience. Lucid LogiX Virtu Switchable graphics technology can be used to improve productivity using Intel's Quick Sync technology. Another Intel Feature is Smart Response technology, that improves responsiveness on frequently accessed programs and gives the best of both worlds, although some find the use of an SSD more satisfying. Without a true EFI BIOS, you would think using a 2TB plus drive would be out of the picture, but Gigabyte has a utility to manage this function with its Hybrid EFI BIOS and 3TB+ software.

Looking forward, the G1.Sniper is poised to take advantage of Intel's 22nm Ivy Bridge processors that bring PCIe 3.0 to the market. There currently are no devices to support the spec, so we will need to wait for the next round of video cards to test this feature out. All these features come with a price and this combination of high end parts drives the cost of the Sniper 2 into the upper end of the market. Even so it comes with all the current buzz word features USB 3.0, SATA 6Gb/s, PCIe 3.0, Smart Fan control, and more. You get good cooling performance and great looks with the Locked and Loaded heat sink package, it's either a like it or hate it proposition but is up to the task of keeping the board cool, although the Ultra Durable 3 construction is there with the dual 2oz copper layers in the PCB. When you get down to it, Gigabyte has put together another motherboard with good looks an extensive feature set with performance to match.

 

Pros:

  • Feature Set
  • Creative X-Fi processor
  • Bigfoot e2100
  • PCIe 3.0 Support
  • USB 3.0
  • SATA 6.0Gb/s
  • Lucid Virtu
  • Smart Fan Headers
  • Smart Response Technology

 

Cons:

  • Price
  • No Debug LED
  • No On board Switches
  • Legacy BIOS for most users

 




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