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Written by David Ramsey   
Tuesday, 10 May 2011
Table of Contents: Page Index
ASUS P8Z68V PRO Motherboard
The Intel Z68 Express Chipset
Closer Look: ASUS P8Z68
Closer Look Continued
Motherboard Testing Methodology
AIDA64 Extreme Edition Tests
CINEBENCH R11.5 Benchmarks
PassMark Performance Test
Media Encoding Benchmarks
SPECviewperf 11 Tests
SPECapc Lightwave
Street Fighter IV and Blender
P8Z68-V Pro Overclocking
Z68 Motherboard Final Thoughts
ASUS P8Z68-V Pro Conclusion

The Intel Z68 Express Chipset

Although the Z68 chipset had been rumored for some weeks, it's still a little surprising how rapidly it appeared after the introduction of the P67 chipset. This architecture diagram summarizes its features:

intel_z68_block_diagram.jpg

If you're looking at this diagram and thinking "This looks just like the P67 Express block diagram", then you're right! There are only two differences:

  1. The "Intel Smart Response Technology", an intelligent caching scheme that uses a small (20-64G) SSD as a cache to a selected hard drive. I examine Smart Response Technology in this article.
  2. The "Intel FDI" (Flexible Display Interface) link between the processor and the chipset, culminating in the "Digital Display" section.

Everything else is the same; disappointingly, Intel has not given us any increase in the number of PCI-E 2.0 lanes, which remain at 16 from the processor plus 8 from the chipset for a total of 24. Compared to the 40 lanes available on an X58-based system or the 42 lanes available on an AMD 890FX system, the Z68 still comes up short. Users running multiple graphics cards are limited to 8 PCI-E lanes per card with two cards, or 8x4x4 with three cards. While tests have shown that there's very little degradation in performance with 8x8 dual-card systems as opposed to 16x16 systems, enthusiasts tend to look askance at limitations like this, even though they might be of little real-world significance.

But there can be some less obvious effects: remember that PCI-E lanes are also used to support SuperSpeed USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gbp/s ports, and the Z68 has four of each. In fact ASUS' own reviewer's guide for this board suggests disconnecting any unnecessary USB devices before running performance tests in order to get the best results.

Intel Smart Response Technology is an intelligent caching scheme that uses a small SSD (20G to 64G) to cache your system's hard drive.

Aside from the paucity of PCI-E lanes, though, it's all good. The Z68's most significant new feature is its support for integrated Sandy Bridge graphics even when one or more separate graphics cards are installed. This has several advantages: on its own, it means you can run two monitors directly from the motherboard, or four or six with one or two separate graphics cards. With Lucid Virtu technology, you have power savings when the performance of the separate cards isn't needed, and the ability to make use of Intel's Quick Sync video transcoding feature even if you have a video card installed. Benchmark Reviews examines Virtu technology in detail in a separate article.



 

Comments 

 
# I wish?.......Pigbristle 2011-05-11 02:08
Will the time ever come, when you will be able to flick that switch on the front of your case that switches off your HD6990/GTX590 card,reverting back to using your integrated cpu graphics, for when you just want to surf the net?

Therefore saving you not only wear & tear on your fancy new amd/nvidia card but also electric, which lets face it, ain't cheap nowadays...

I reckon my idea could be the saviour of the desktop PC :o)
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# RE: I wish?.......David Ramsey 2011-05-11 07:48
Why flip a switch? Let the computer do it for you. Granted, Virtual will not run in I-Mode with either of the dual-GPU cards you mentioned, but Synergy hopefully will with the 590.
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# And The Beat Goes Onrealneil 2011-05-11 06:28
Not much bad to say about these new boards. Intel has the cash to develop just about any idea they can imagine to see if it works. With gigantic resources to dip into, they are a force to be reckoned with.
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# I miss the PS/2 connector(s)Olle P 2011-05-11 06:47
PS/2 is really the way to go to avoid lag/latency in the response when things heat up. (Plus I do use it!)
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# RE: I miss the PS/2 connector(s)David Ramsey 2011-05-11 16:33
Technically, yes, but unless you type more than, say, 100 keys per second, you're never gonna notice the lower latency of PS/2. Its only real advantage is that it support n-key rollover, whereas I think USB tops out at 6 keys...still enough for humans. Cyborgs, aliens, and keyboard testing machines might want more...
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# How much ram can it takeLong Rod Von Hugen Dong 2011-05-11 16:23
How many ram ports or whatever they are called does this have? Im hoping I can get 24 gigs in this (I think I need six ports). Yea mah friend found 24 gigs for 280 bucks :o seems like a decent deal.
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# RE: How much ram can it takeDavid Ramsey 2011-05-11 16:30
There are four slots for RAM, as several of the pictures, including the one on the first page of the review, clearly show. With 4G DIMMs you could put a maximum of 16G in this motherboard. So you'll need an X58-based system to go any higher than that.
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# RE: How much ram can it takeChrisH 2011-05-13 04:40
For what app or purpose. There is no app I know of that requires 24Gb let alone 12Gb of RAM. Transcoding? Video procesisng? Then you need a professional GPU.
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# RE: RE: How much ram can it takeDavid Ramsey 2011-05-13 07:39
I make some use of 12G of RAM on my Hackintosh, mainly because I run Windows 7 in a virtual machine pretty often while the Mac's doing stuff in the background. Actually, I don't think I've ever measured RAM use above 8G, but I think it could happen!
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# CoolioLong Rod Von Hugen Dong 2011-05-11 16:34
O cool, mkay. Do you know any good ones off the top of your head that have decent bang for their buck? BTW my las title = twss :o kthnx
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# RE: CoolioDavid Ramsey 2011-05-11 16:38
Personally, I like Corsair memory because of their hassle-free lifetime warranty...
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# Is virtu really any good?Aditya 2011-05-12 07:09
I'm confused on how virtu will switch on the integrated graphics, I mean do you connect the board as well as the gpu connectors to the same monitor or do the on-board connectors let you switch between either solutions.
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# RE: Is virtu really any good?David Ramsey 2011-05-12 08:16
All your questions are answered in our separate article "Lucid Virtu Graphics Virtualization Technology". The quick answer is "There's only one connection, either to the motherboard or the graphics card depending on the Virtu mode you select."
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# RElease DateBlathering1 2011-05-12 07:40
What is the release date of the board-- when it becomes available in the market.
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# RE: RElease DateDavid Ramsey 2011-05-12 10:18
The board is on the market now. Newegg is sold out, though!
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# compatibility of heatsinkdoc 2011-06-26 17:58
A quick question about the heatsink for the Z68 test system. What fan configuration did you use for the heatsink (i.e, Dual-pull or dual-push).

Also was there any clearance issues with the heatsink and the ram? Would you say that the ram had fairly tall heatsinks or not?
Would you say the ram you used is similar in dimensions to the G.skill RipjawsX?
Thanks
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# RE: compatibility of heatsinkDavid Ramsey 2011-06-26 19:32
The fans for the Silver Arrow were set up as pull-push, actually. Putting the fan in front of the first set of fins would have blocked the first two RAM sockets. As it was, the first RAM socket was blocked by the heat sink.

On P67/Z68 motherboards I've used, the CPU socket is fairly close to the RAM sockets, and low profile memory would be a good idea. The G.SKILL memory I used wasn't low profile!
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# RE: ASUS P8Z68V PRO Motherboarddoc 2011-06-26 22:56
Hmm, ok. Thanks for the reply.

So if you had the fans in pull-push, does that mean both fans were in the middle cavity of the Silver Arrow? (sorry just a bit confused on how you configured that)

I checked out the P8Z68V-PRO manual and it recommends installing RAM in the second/fourth slots, so I guess it wouldn't matter too much if the heatsink blocked the first RAM slot. (unless I planned to fill them all up).

Been thinking of getting G.SKILL RipjawsX, which I've checked are about 40mm tall, and the height of the Silver Arrow's base to the first fin is 40.87; it should just slip in.
Of course I'll probably have to position the fans left||centre instead of centre||right; or use a 120mm fan.

But thanks for the help.
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# confusemanup85 2011-07-04 12:41
im really confuse now about what i have to buy. ASUS P8Z68V PRO or ASROCK Z68 extreme 4??
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# RE: ASUS P8Z68V PRO MotherboardDavid Ramsey 2011-07-04 12:56
I have not reviewed the ASRock board, but you really couldn't go wrong with the ASUS.
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# RE: RE: ASUS P8Z68V PRO Motherboardmanup85 2011-07-05 04:01
if you see here ##tomshardware.co.uk/asrock-z68-extreme4-asus-p8z68-v-pro-gigabyte-z68x-ud3h-b3,review-32188-2.html seems that asrock is better for more reason and asus have just 1% more performance that asus.. some one confirm this?
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# CPU Fan CompatibilityDavid 2011-12-03 20:23
I bought the Zalman CNPS 9900 Max CPU fan, but the Backplate that connects to the motherboard does not fit this motherboard. Does anyone know of a good CPU cooling fan that fits the ASUS P8 Z68-V Pro OR a different backplate that fits both the fan and this particular motherboard?
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# RE: CPU Fan CompatibilityDavid Ramsey 2011-12-03 20:28
Does the cooler's box specify that it supports socket 1156 or 1156? If so, it should fit. I don't have that specific cooler but I've used a couple of others and there was no trouble fitting them.
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