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Z68 Motherboard Roundup Part 2

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Closer Look:


Sapphire TriXX for MB:

With the Sapphire Pure Platinum Z68 motherborad, the overclocking utility that comes with it is Sapphire's TriXX for MB. This piece of software is going to allow you to easily overclock your system from inside of the Windows Operating System. Once you open up the Sapphire TriXX software, you are going to see a quite impressive list of information on the screen. In the upper let hand corner of the application window, you are going to find the motherboard that you are currently working with, as well as the CPU listed, with the CPUID information printed below it. You are also going to get the current Bclk and multiplier listed with the current CPU speed presented in a MHz form. The upper right hand corner is where you are going to be able to adjust the Bclk Frequency on a slider, your current Bclk is listed to the right of the slider. Inside of the Sapphire TriXX application, you are going to be able to not only adjust the Bclk, but also some of the more important voltages in your system such as the CPU vCore, DIMM Voltage, CPU VTT, CPU PLL, and your CPU VSA, which is all done in the Voltages section. In the Monitoring section, you are going to be able to view the status of quite a few different important aspects of your system's current state. You are going to get the current CPU, Power, Chassis, and fourth fan speeds, along with the CPU, VREG, and System Temperatures. You are also going to get the vCore, CPU VTT, PCH vCore, VDIMM, +5V, +12V, VSB3V, and VBAT current voltages listed out for you. You will notice that on the desktop you are also going to get a nice little widget that lists out the current status of the more important temperatures, as well as your fan speeds and current voltages.










Gigabyte has a full suite of utilities for use with their boards from BIOS flashing tools to Energy saving tools including Dynamic Energy Saver, Tweaking tools including Easy Tune 6, Smart 6 that includes another feature set with Smart BIOS, Smart Recovery,Smart Time lock, and more. The Smart features are password locked to keep out the kids or others. On the G1.Sniper 2 there are a few other features not seen on the UD4 that we will look at. Bigfoot's E2100 software package and Creative's software suite for the integrated X-Fi sound solution.



When you first open up Gigabyte's @BIOS, you are going to see a small little application window sitting in the center of your screen. On this screen, you are going to be able to see the current motherboard that is installed in your system, the BIOS type, the Flash Memory Size, as well as the BIOS Vendor. On the right hand side of the window, you have a total of three different BIOS editing options; you can Update BIOS from the Gigabyte Server, Update BIOS from File, and Save Current BIOS to File. If you choose to update from the server, you just need to select which server to look for an update on. When updating from a file, all you need to do is to navigate to the BIOS file you wish to flash to. Finally if you are saving the current BIOS version to your computer, just point @BIOS to where you want the file to be saved on your hard drive and the application will do the rest.





When you first open up Gigabyte's EnergySaver2, the application is going to be off and you are going to see exactly how many watts your CPU is currently using. This can be an eye opener, as you may not really think your CPU is drawing that many watts just sitting there not doing anything. When you click the large Dynamic Energy Saver 2 Logo in the top right hand side of the application, the whole window will light up brighter and start to go to work. You can see that once I hit the button my CPU Power drops from 3.672 watts all the way down to 0.095 watts. Along the bottom section of the application, you can see exactly what features are currently being used to help save power. The first Power Saving Level is going to focus on the Smart Fan and CPU power settings. The second Power Saving Level is going to add the VGA and HDDs to your list of devices. Finally, the Chipset and Memory will be under the third Power Saving Level. If you click into the Advanced button, you get a pop-up that shows you all the different settings that you can change inside the ES2 application for each of the different components; CPU, VGA, Memory, Chipset, HDD, and Smart Fan.





The EasyTune6 application is Gigabyte's Windows application that allows you to easily overclock your system. With the Quick Boost screen, you are going to have three pre-set buttons that will adjust your CPU speeds based on the multiplier. The Green "1" button is going to set your multiplier to 37x resulting in 3.70GHz, the Yellow "2" button is going to raise your CPU speeds up to 3.90GHz, while the Red "3" button brings your CPU multiplier up to 42x giving you 4.20GHz on your CPU. If you click into the Easy mode, you are going to be able to adjust your base clock, which will change exactly what the CPU speeds are going to be set at by the button pushes on the main screen. Under the Advanced Mode, you are going to be able to change your Memory speeds. When you click under the Ratio tab, you are going to be able to adjust the "C" state Ratio settings. This is going to adjust your Turbo level multipliers that are used based on the CPU Load when Intel's TurboBoost is enabled. Under the Voltage tab, you are going to be able to adjust just about any voltage that you would need to, while you are inside of the Windows environment, to fine tune your overclock.




Under the main tab index, when you select the CPU tab, you are going to get a screen that looks very similar to the main CPU-Z screen, listing off all the information about your current CPU and settings it has set to it. When you go to the Memory tab, you are going to get a screen that looks again very similar to the memory tab under CPU-Z, giving you all the information about the memory sticks installed in your motherboard. Here you can also see a Memory Timings Table. The Graphics tab is where you are going to be able to overclock your GPU and graphics card memory speeds. You can also adjust the Onboard Graphics Core Frequency under the Graphics tab. Here you can also monitor the GPU temperature. The Smart tab is where you adjust the fan speed settings based on the temperature that the motherboard is sending to the fans hooked up to the PWM 4-pin headers on the board. On the HW Monitor tab you are going to see a the CPU, DRAM, +3.3V, +5V, and +12V current status listed out on one real-time graph.





The final generic Gigabyte Utility is Smart6. This application actually houses six smaller applications all inside of one application. You are going to have access to SMART QuickBoot, SMART QuickBoost, SMART Recovery2, SMART DualBIOS, SMART Recorder, and SMART TimeLock. The SMART QuickBoot application is where you are going to be able to adjust the BIOS QuickBoot and OS QuickBoot settings (enabled or disabled). The SMART Quick Boost application is going to give you an easy one click overclocking solution for your CPU speed. Under SMART Recovery2, you are going to be able to set backup images of your computer as well as recover from these backups.




The SMART DualBIOS application is going to be able to hold your passwords and important dates as well as set alarm reminders for these dates/times. The SMART Recorder application is going to allow you to record the dates and times that the system was turned on and what time it was powered down. You are also going to be able to monitor what time a "flagged" file location was accessed. So if you have important data that you don't want anyone to see or want to know when someone looks at this information, you can do so with the File Monitor. The final appliation is the Smart TimeLock, which is a nice feature if you have kids that you want to be locked out of the computer during certain times of the day. This application will allow Weekday and Weekend time locks and the maximum amount of time the user can be on the computer. You can also set the Non-Use Time for both the Weekday and Weekend time frames to the times you want your kids to be in bed or the times you don't want the computer to be in use.




Bigfoot Networks E2100 Killer Network Manager:

This software suite is used to setup the operating parameters of the e2100 networking solution onboard the G1.Sniper 2. The Overview section shows a listing of the installed hardware and the network status. PC Monitor section monitors the functions of the installed hardware. Under Applications the user can configure how the applications interface through the e2100. Under Network the operating parameters of the controller can be configured. The Advanced section allows the user to further define the parameters.




Creative Software Suite:

Creative's Sound Blaster software suite is useful for setting up listening modes and the ability to tailor the sound quality to the end users tastes. There are a total of six tabs, each with a distinct responsibility and function.





The software suite available from Gigabyte offers flexibility in tweaking the performance and energy savings features of the boards. Added software is used to configure the special hardware found on the G1.Sniper 2.

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