Z68 Motherboard Roundup Part 2gotdamojo06 -
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When you take a look at the packaging for the Gigabyte Z68XP-UD4, the first thing that you are going to notice is that the front is very busy. Gigabyte has printed a whole bunch of information on the front to show off the features that this board has. The top right hand corner is where you will find the Gigabyte logo printed. Along the top edge, you will find the four "Ultra" features of the board which happen to be Cool, Durable, Efficient, and Performance. In the top left hand corner, you will find that the board does support the Intel "K" series processors for unlocked multipliers. Towards the center, you are going to see that the Gigabyte Z68XP-UD4 does support Touch BIOS, which is a Hybrid EFI Technology, allowing you to use a touch screen monitor to interact with the BIOS. Along the bottom edge, you are going to find a few of the features of the motherboard such as 16 Phase Power, SATA 3.0, USB 3.0, Ferrite Core Chokes, 50,000 hour rated Japanese solid caps. The Gigabyte Z68XP-UD4 also does support Intel Smart Response Technology. When you flip the package over to the back, you are going to see that there is a nice picture of the motherboard with all of the main features listed and shown where they actually are located on the motherboard. Gigabyte does go in more detail and explain what the main features listed on the front are and how they are beneficial to you.
After you get the package opened up, you are going to find all of the accessories that come with the Gigabyte Z68XP-UD4 sitting on top of the partition that keeps the motherboard in place during transportation. Once you pull all the accessories off to the side, you are going to see that you get a few pieces of documentation such as the User Manual, Drivers CD, a warning document that lets you know it is a 1155 motherboard and not a 1156 board, as well as a Intel Smart Response Technology Installation Guide. After you remove the cardboard that keeps the motherboard in place, you are going to get the first glimpse at the Gigabyte Z68XP-UD4, which is wrapped up in an anti-static bag to keep it protected.
Looking at the accessories Gigabyte has included, you are going to see a total of four SATA cables, two case badges, a single 2-Way SLI bridge connector, and the I/O Shield. When you look at the shield closer, you will see that Gigabyte has loaded the board up with a whole bunch of rear I/O interfaces that we will look at in a short while.
Looking at the motherboard outside of the anti-static bag from an overview, you are going to see that the board has a very elegant look to it. All of the components on the board have a black and dark grey color scheme to go along with the PCB actually being colored black. The PCB of the Gigabyte Z68XP-UD4 is a 2x thick copper PCB, which is going to help keep it lasting longer. When you look at the rear I/O panel on the motherboard, you are going to see you are going to find 7x USB 2.0/1.1 ports, a single PS/2 Keyboard/Mouse port, an Optical S/PDIF Out Connector, a Coaxial S/PDIF Out Connector,1x IEEE 1394a port, eSATA, USB Combo Connector, eSATA 6Gb/s Connector, 2x USB 3.0/2.0 Ports, an HDMI port, an RJ-45 LAN port, along with the 6 audio out connectors. Looking at the expansion slots that are installed on the Gigabyte Z68XP-UD4, you are going to see (from left to right) a PCI-E x16, two PCI-E x1, PCI-E x8, followed by two PCI slots.
Along the bottom edge of the board, you will find the front panel case motherboard headers to hook up the ports that may or may not be on your chassis of choice. The Gigabyte Z68XP-UD4 supports front audio, IEEE 1394a, USB, as well as all of your buttons. When you turn the corner and start up on the back edge of the motherboard, you are going to find all of the SATA ports for installing hard drives and optical drives. The four black ports are your typical SATA 3Gb/s connectors, while the two white ports are going to be your SATA 6Gb/s connectors. All six of those connectors are controlled by the Intel Z68 Chipset. The two grey ports are still going to be SATA 6Gb/s connectors, however these two are going to be controlled by the Marvell 88SE9172 chip installed on the motherboard. All around the board you are going to find a total of four fan headers, two of which are 3-pins, while the other two are going to be 4-pin to allow for the PWM features.
The Gigabyte Z68XP-UD4 has only two sources of power that it requires, these come from the 24-pin and the 8-pin power adapters from your power supply. Along the back edge is where you are going to find the 24-pin and the 8-pin connector is going to be behind the rear I/O panel. On the Intel Z68 chipset with the socket 1155 chips, you are only allowed for dual channel memory. Looking at the slots, you are going to notice that all four are the same color, which may make installing only two sticks a little tricky to get them in the channel you want them to be in. Channel A are slots 2 and 4 (the two closest to the CPU Socket); while Channel B are slots 1 and 3.
Looking at the heatsinks that Gigabyte put on the Z68XP-UD4 board, you can see that there is a taller design for the MOSFETs, chokes, and capacitors around the CPU socket to keep them cool. The two heatsinks around the CPU Socket are both connected with a heatpipe to help evenly load the heatsinks with the heat coming from these components, so some don't break down faster than the others. When you look at the Intel Z68 Chipset, you are going to see that there is a large and flat grey heatsink that sits on top of it.
Surrounding the Intel 1155 socket, you are going to find a few capacitors, along with the four holes to mount the CPU cooler of your choice. There are no high-rising components around the socket, which will help allow for wider coolers that may sit a little lower than usual with enough clearance.
Now that we have taken a look at the Gigabyte Z68XP-UD4, it's time to look at the Gigabyte G1 Sniper 2.