Z68 Motherboard Roundupgotdamojo06 - September 25, 2011
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When you look at the packaging for the ASUS P8Z68 DELUXE, you are going to see that it has the same layout as the previous two ASUS boards that we have looked at in this roundup. You have the ASUS Digital Power Design logo in the upper right-hand corner that lets you know that you are getting the DIGI+ VRM, Engery Processing Unit, and TruboV Processing Unit for the latest generation of Dual Intelligent processors to help provide you with the best computing experience. You are also going to see the ASUS Logo printed in the top left-hand corner with the tag line "Inspiring Innovation Persistent Perfection" below it. The ASUS P8Z68 DELUXE logo is printed right in the center of the package so that you know exactly what you are going to be getting inside. Along the bottom you will find the features that ASUS wants to point out as the more important features, such as uEFI BIOS, Dual Gigibit LAN, BT GO!, and DIGI+ VRM. When you look at the back of the package, you are going to see an image of the motherboard displayed with the highlighted features described. You are also going to get a nice description of BT GO!, UEFI BIOS, VIRTU, and Intel's Smart Response Technology. When you open up the package, you get more descriptions of a few other features, such as Quad GPU support, DTS, SATA 6.0Gb/s, and USB 3.0 support.
Once you open up the package and look at what ASUS has inside, you will see that the ASUS P8Z68 DELUXE is wrapped up in an anti-static bag to help keep the motherboard protected from any electrostatic discharge that may harm the board while it is being unboxed. Underneath the board itself is where you are going to find all the accessories that ASUS has packaged with the motherboard. Included in the accessories is the User Manual and Drivers CD.
Laying out all the accessories, you will find a total of six SATA cables, four of which are designed for SATA 6.0Gb/s devices while the other two are for SATA 3.0Gb/s devices. You are going to get the ASUS Q-Connect device to help make installing the chassis front panel connections much easier. You will also find the ASUS CrossFireX bridge included just in case you are going to be putting in a multi-card setup.
The rear I/O panel shield that ASUS calls the Q-Shield does have a nice foam padding on the back of it to help keep the motherboard's connectors safe while you are plugging in different devices to your setup. The Q-Shield also has all the connections labeled just in case you are unaware of what connection is which. Included with the ASUS P8Z68 DELUXE, you are also going to get the ASUS Front Panel USB 3.0 Box, which is going to fit nicely in an empty 3.25" drive bay and give you two extra USB 3.0 ports to help further the amount of USB 3.0 devices you can connect to your system.
Once you get the ASUS P8Z68 DELUXE motherboard out of the anti-static bag, you are going to see that the layout of the board is very similar to the other two ASUS boards that we have already taken a look at, however the motherboard's cooling components are slightly different, which we will look at later. The back side of the motherboard is where you are going to find the CPU socket's back plate. When you look at the rear I/O panel of the motherboard, you are going to find a total of eight USB 2.0 Ports, a PS/2 keyboard/mouse port, the Bluetooth module, an eSATA port and a Power eSATA port. the IEEE 1394a port, and two USB 3.0 ports. You are also given a Clear CMOS button, six audio jacks, and Optical and Coaxial S/PDIF out ports.The expansion slots on the ASUS P8Z68 DELUXE are going to be two PCI-E 2.0 x16 (x16 or dual x8), a PCI-E 2.0 x16 (x4 mode), which is the black slot, two PCI-E 2.0 x1 slots, and two PCI slots.
Along the edge of the motherboard, you are going to find the Digital Audio out, followed by the 1394a motherboard header. The EPU switch is located on this side of the motherboard, away from the TPU switch; unlike the other two ASUS boards we have looked at. You are going to get the Power and Reset buttons that are located on the motherboard on this side as well. Next to the power and reset buttons you will find the two USB 2.0 motherboard headers. ASUS has also included their Q-Code display on the motherboard to help you debug your system when you are having issues with it. The System Panel connector is also located on this edge of the motherboard.
On the ASUS P8Z68 DELUXE, you are going to get a total of eight SATA ports that are all color coded. The four light blue connectors are SATA 3.0Gb/s powered by the Z68 chipset, while the grey connectors are also powered by the Z68 chipset, but are for SATA 6.0Gb/s devices. The dark blue connectors are powered by the Marvell chip and operate at 6.0Gb/s. The TPU switch on this board is located toward the top right-hand corner, very close to the 24 pin ATX power adapter. There are four RAM slots on the motherboard, they all are DDR3 DIMM slots, with Channel 1 being colored black and Channel 2 being the blue colored slots. 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 fo the RAM slots, you will find the USB 3.0 header.
Along the top edge of the motherboard close to the CPU socket, you will find the 8-pin power connector to provide more power to the motherboard and the components installed on it. The CPU fan header on the motherboard along with some of the other fan headers use a 4-pin PWM setup, allowing for the fan speeds to be automatically adjusted for you by the motherboard.
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 specifications 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 DELUXE, 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. Directly below the CPU socket, you will find an extra heatsink installed on the motherboard to provide extra cooling power that you will not find on the previous two ASUS boards.
Now that we have taken a look at all the motherboards, let's check out the specifications and features of the ASRock board and the ASUS lineup.