|ASUS P8Z68V PRO Motherboard|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Tuesday, 10 May 2011|
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ASUS P8Z68V PRO Motherboard Review
Manufacturer: ASUSTeK Computer Inc.
Full Disclosure: The product sample used in this article was provided by ASUSTeK Computer Inc.
Intel's Sandy Bridge CPUs and their accompanying Cougar Point chipsets brought a new level of price/performance to the enthusiast market. There was just one problem: you had to choose between a motherboard with the H67 chipset, which enabled the on-CPU graphics and Intel's new Quick Sync transcoding engine, or a motherboard based on the P67 chipset, which enabled the amazing overclocking ability of the "K"-series CPUs. You could have one, or the other, but not both...until now. Intel's new Z68 chipset gives the enthusiast both capabilities in a single platform, and ASUS throws in their own enhancements to create one of the most impressive motherboards Benchmark Reviews has ever seen.
It's been barely four months since Intel announced the original "x67" chipsets and Sandy Bridge CPUs. The new CPU architecture, combined with a 32nm process, produced processors with amazing performance per clock at low power drains. The Core i7 2600K processor outperforms even the Core i7 980X in tasks that can't make full use of the latter's 12 possible threads, and it does so at 1/3 the cost, while producing much less heat. Enthusiasts rushed to embrace this new architecture despite its limitations, but were broadsided by Intel's admission of a bug in the Cougar Point chipsets that could render some of the SATA ports inoperable over time. Intel and its channel partners were forced to recall and replace millions of motherboards, and the debacle is estimated to have cost the chip giant about a billion dollars. (If you're in the market for a P67/H67 motherboard, make sure you get the fixed "B3" version.)
How will new P67 owners feel now that their shiny new (replaced) motherboards have arguably been obsoleted? I hasten to add that both Intel and ASUS insist that the P67 is still very much alive and a supported product, and say that there's room in the market for both chipsets. Of course this will depend to some degree on the pricing of Z68 motherboards, and to another on the tolerance users have for cutting-edge technology that might not work quite as smoothly as it should.
ASUS outfits their new Z68 motherboard with the same technologies they've developed over the years for their other motherboard products, including:
But the real news about the Z68 is its switchable graphics. In a surprise move, Intel has licensed Lucid's "Virtu" technology to allow a Z68 motherboard to support on-the-fly switching between a Sandy Bridge processor's integrated video and a discrete graphics card, which promises to reduce power consumption by only using the separate graphics card when it's needed. (The P8Z68-V Pro motherboard also supports a desktop variant of NVIDIA's "Optimus" video-switching technology called "Synergy", but this wasn't ready at the time of this review.)