Z68 Motherboard Roundupgotdamojo06 - September 25, 2011
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Taking a look at the packaging for the ASUS P8Z68-V PRO motherboard, you are going to see the ASUS logo printed in the top right-hand corner with the "Inspiring Innovation Persistent Perfection" tag line printed below it. The top right-hand corner of the packaging is where you will find the Digital Power Design logo, which is not only going to let you know that the board comes with DIGI+ VRM, but ASUS' Energy Processing Unit and TurboV Processing Unit installed as well. Along the bottom of the package, you are going to find a list of the main features that ASUS wants to point out, such as the DIGI+ VRM, GPU Boost, BT GO!, USB 3.0, UEFI BIOS, Virtu, Intel Smart Response Technology, and Quad GPU Support on both the AMD and NVIDIA fronts. The ASUS P8Z68-V PRO logo is printed nice front and center of the package to let you know exactly which board you are going to find inside. When you take a look at the back of the box, you are going to see a nice detailed image of the motherboard with all the features pointed out. A majority of the back is taken up by a nice detailed list of all the special features that the ASUS P8Z68-V PRO has to offer over the competition, such as the TPU, EPU, BT GO! and uEFI BIOS. You are also going to get a nice description of the DIGI+ VRM and what it is, however we will get into that later. When you open up the package, you are going to find the motherboard is wrapped up nice and safe in an anti-static bag to keep it protected while it is being un-boxed. Under the motherboard you will find all the accessories that are packaged with the board.
Among the accessories included with the ASUS P8Z68-V PRO, you are going to get a user manual and drivers CD so you don't have to hunt them down once you get your system set up. There is a nice ASUS Q-Shield that gives all of the rear I/O panel connections a nice protector as well as lists what each connector is if you are unaware just by the shape/color. ASUS has a total of four SATA cables included; the two with white accent on them are the SATA 6.0Gb/s cables and the other two are the SATA 3.0Gb/s cables.
ASUS has included a USB 3.0 expansion slot card that plugs directly into the motherboard and gives you an extra two USB 3.0 ports on the back of your chassis so that if you have multiple devices that support the speeds of USB 3.0, you are covered without having to go out and purchase a PCI card for this purpose. You are also going to be getting the ASUS Q-Connector kit, which allows you to plug all your front panel cables into it and then plug that directly into the board, which makes it much easier once it is installed in a chassis.
When you get the ASUS P8Z68-V PRO pulled out of the packaging, you are going to see that it is almost exactly the same layout as the ASUS P8Z68-V that we just looked at, and even the color scheme is exactly the same. You have the black PCB with the black. blue and grey accented components on it that ASUS has been using for a little while now and should go nicely with whatever color scheme you're planning with your setup. When you flip the board over, you are going to see that not only the CPU socket has a backing plate, but the larger blue heatsink around the CPU socket also has one to keep it in place and add extra support. Upon a closer look at the CPU socket, you can see that it is manufactured by LOTES like the previous board.
When you look at the rear I/O panel, you are going to see tha tit is slightly different from the ASUS P8Z68-V. The board has six USB 2.0 ports, an eSATA port, and your Bluetooth Module. The is also an HDMI port, Optical S/PDIF Out port, DVI and VGA port, two USB 3.0 ports, and a Intel RJ-45 port. The Gigabit LAN on the board does comply with 802.3az EEE standard and reduces power consumption during normal operation and enhances faster transfer speed through dual interconnection between the integrated LAN controller and the PHY. The Audio ports that are included are the 5-channel out and one audio in. When it comes to expansion slots on the ASUS P8Z68-V, ASUS has given it a total of seven slots. The smaller, dark blue slots are the PCI-E 2.0 x1, while the longer dark blue slot is the PCI-E 2.0 x16 slog, which will work single at x16 or dual at x8/x8 mode. ASUS also has two light blue slots, which are the PCI expansion slots; the grey colored slot is the PCI-E 2.0 x16, which functions at x8 mode, and the black slot is the PCI-e 2.0 x16 slot that functions at x4 mode and is compatible with PCI-E x1 and x4 devices. Along the edge of the motherboard, you are going to find the digital audio and front panel audio connectors.
There are two IEEE 1394a connectors located on the ASUS P8Z68-V PRO next to the system panel connector, which is pictured with the ASUS Q-Connector installed on it. When you go around the corner, you will find that there are a total of eight SATA connectors on the motherboard. The four that are colored with the light blue are your Intel Z68 SATA 3.0Gb/s connectors, the grey colored ones are the Intel Z68 SATA 6.0Gb/s connectors, and the dark blue ones are the Marvell SATA 6.0Gb/s connectors. The ASUS P8Z68-V PRO motherboard has a 24-pin ATX power connector to supply the board with a majority of its power.
Looking at the RAM slots on the motherboard, you are going to see that two are colored blue while the other two are colored black. This is to point out the different channels that are available to the user; the black ones are channel one, while the blue ones are channel two. The installation of the 240-pin modules is slightly different than previous boards. On the left-hand side, all the clips are stationary with slits that you slide the module in and then apply pressure on the module toward the right-hand side, where the clips will lock into place. Directly below the left-hand side of the RAM slots, you will find the USB 3.0 header.
Right next to the Marvell SATA ports, you will find the removable BIOS chip that is installed on the ASUS P8Z68-V PRO. This chip is an EFI AMI BIOS that supports Pnp, DMI2.0 WfM 2.0, SM BIOS 23.5, ACPI 2.0a, Multi-languages, ASUS EZ Flash 2, ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3, and F12 PrintScreen Function. Below the RAM slots you are going to find the EPU and TPU switches on the motherboard. The EPU switch is the one on the left-hand side, while the TPU is on the right. ASUS' EPU allows you to tap into the world's first real-time PC power saving chip; you should get total system-wide energy optimization by it automatically detecting current PC loadings and moderating power consumption. The EPU is also going to help reduce fan noise and extend component longevity. The TPU is ASUS' TurboV Processor Unit, which will allow you to unleash your performance. The TPU chip offers precise voltage control and advanced monitoring through Auto Tuning, GPU Boost, and TurboV functions. Auto Tuning offers a user friendly way to automatically optimize the system for fast, yet stable clock speeds, while TubroV enables unlimited freedom to adjust CPU frequencies and ratios for optimized performance is diverse situations.There is an 8-pin ATX power connection located toward the top corner of the board, as well as 4-pin PWM fan headers located along the edge of the motherboard. These two fans are designed to be used as your CPU fan, while other Chassis/System fans are located around the board.
When we are looking at the components that give the board power, they are located right around the CPU socket itself. The new generation of Dual Intelligent Processors 2 with DIGI+ VRM provides precise Vcore PWM, integrated graphics voltages and frequency module adjustments with minimal power loss through BIOS tuning and an exclusive user interface to increase the board's overclocking range. A board's VRM or voltage regulator modules are considered amongst the most essential motherboard design components. They supply the voltage demanded by the CPU, and a good VRM must intelligently detect actual CPU power draw to provide precise power accordingly. ASUS' DIGI+ VRM is an innovative, industry-leading technology that fully integrates Intel VRD12 specications on a native level, greatly enhancing power to go far beyond the limits of analog designs. A few features of the ASUS DIGI+ VRM is that you are going to get faster sensing and response, better cooling, and 2x CPU power supply. Looking at the cooling solution on the ASUS P8Z68-V, you can see that there are not only heatsinks installed atop all the power components around the motherboard, but there is also a nice heatsink sitting atop the Intel Z68 chip.
After looking at the ASUS P8Z68-V PRO, it is time to take a look at the final board in the roundup, the ASUS P8Z68 Deluxe.