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Z68 Motherboard Roundup Part 2


Closer Look:

Having gotten used to almost a universal adoption of the uEFI BIOS interface for the Socket 1155 product stack from a variety of manufacturers, it was like going back old school with Gigabyte's line up including the Z68XP-UD4 and the G1.Sniper 2. A Hybrid uEFI BIOS is used but a touch screen monitor is required to enjoy that feature. What we are left with is an Award BIOS (version F4) that is like a trip down memory lane. The traditional Gigabyte layout is used. If you are familiar with it great, if not, it's not to hard to find your way through it. Gigabyte uses a Dual BIOS chip arrangement to provide redundancy, in case a BIOS file is corrupted during a flash or some spirited overclocking. I found it works well during my overclocking tests.


This section is where the majority of the work will be done when overclocking the Gigabyte boards. When you first go into this section there are five sub menus that take care of basic settings, as well as the voltages, frequencies, and memory timings. A top level look at the current settings shows at the bottom of the screen, providing information on the BIOS revision and where the current clock speeds, temperatures, and voltages are reading. The Current Status tab shows in more detail the information on the main window. Under the Advanced Frequency setting tab are the controls for the clock multiplier, memory ratio, bclock setting, and CPU specific adjustment. A sub menu allows the Turbo ratios, power states, and CPU specific adjustments to be tweaked.













The Advanced Memory section allows the manipulation of all of the memory specific functionality including enabling Intel XMP profiles, setting the memory ratio and sub timings through the Performance Enhance function and setting the timings manually



Advanced Voltage control is where the voltages that run the board are and allow for tweaking to reach the height of the processor's overclocking margins. All of the pertinent voltages are here. Gigabyte uses a 10 step Load Line calibration scale, for a more granular approach to using this function.




Standard CMOS Features:

This section has little to offer but is where the system time and date are set, the installed drives are shown, as well as a look at the amount of system memory installed is shown.



Advanced BIOS Features:

This section allows the end user to set the drive boot order, GPU order, how the board cycles the ports, the HDD delay, and whether or not the Boot screen is shown.



Integrated Peripherals:

In this section all of the onboard devices can be enabled and disabled including the Audio, LAN, and USB controllers. Gigabytes eTreme Hard drive tool can be enabled, as well as the operation mode of the installed SATA devices.



Power Management:

This section deals with the power saving and resume from hibernation modes, as well as how the interface works. Power on by Mouse or Keyboard are also supported.



PC Health Status:

As the heading suggests, this is where the temperatures and voltages can be checked. Fan failure and temperature alarms can be set to alert based on user set values. Smart fan control can be enabled to keep the energy consumption down and cycle the fans as needed to maintain targeted temperatures.



The majority of the rest of the tabs are one trick ponies doing exactly what they imply. Setting the Fail Safe defaults and Optimized defaults allow for an easy recovery with bad settings. Setting up passwords to limit BIOS access at both the supervisor and user level are supported as well as the Save and Exit and Exit without saving functions.


While I did like my trip down memory lane, the fact is that a uEFI BIOS is more engaging at this point. The simplicity of an older BIOS has its allure, but seems dated. One thing I found lacking, was that I could not find a way to save a profile for my overclocked settings. The importance of having a good solid base setup to work from after a failed boot is something that can't be overstated. With the Gigabyte's BIOS, it just was not there for use. After each CMOS clear I had to start from scratch. Again a trip down memory lane, a memory best left in the past.

  1. Introduction & Closer Look
  2. Closer Look: Sapphire Pure Platinum Z68
  3. Closer Look: Gigabyte Z68XP-UD4
  4. Closer Look: Gigabyte G1 Sniper 2
  5. Closer Look: BIOS Sapphire Pure Platinum
  6. Closer Look: BIOS Gigabyte
  7. Closer Look: Programs & Utilities
  8. Specifications
  9. Testing: Setup and Overclocking
  10. Testing: Apophysis, WinRar, Geekbench, Bibble 5
  11. Testing: Office 2007, POV Ray
  12. Testing: SiSoft Sandra 2011
  13. Testing: Sciencemark, Cinebench, HDTune
  14. Testing: PCMark7
  15. Testing: Aliens vs. Predator
  16. Testing: Battlefield: Bad Company 2
  17. Testing: Sid Meier's Civilization V
  18. Testing: 3DMark 11
  19. Conclusion
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