|ASUS P8Z68V PRO Motherboard|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Wednesday, 11 May 2011|
Page 4 of 15
Closer Look Continued
The area around the processor socket is very open, with low-profile heat sinks on the power circuitry leaving plenty of room for large CPU coolers. Fortunately Intel's Socket 1156 layout uses the same cooler mounting holes as Socket 1155. Although it's not apparent in this image, the four DIMM sockets use ASUS' single-retaining-latch design, which I don't like since it's all too easy to overlook memory that's not fully seated in the slot.
Peering under the heat sinks, we can see the chokes in the power supply area around the processor socket. Like ASUS' P8P67 boards, the P8Z68 has 12-phase power for the processor, and adds another four phases for the integrated GPU. ASUS calls this "12+4" regulation. At low loads, fewer phases are used, thus saving power; while the "DIGI+ VRM" circuitry ramps up the number of phases in use as power demand increases.
The EPU, TPU, and MemOK! switches are clustered together at the lower right corner of the board. See the tiny surface-mount LED by the MemOK! switch labeled "DRAM_LED"? This is one of four "POST state LEDs" on the board, the others being CPU_LED, VGA_LED, and BOOT_DEVICE_LED. If a problem with any of these components occurs during the power-on self test sequence, the corresponding LED will stay lit. While not as informative as a full POST code display, it's still good enough for most situations.
Looking to the left, we see a native USB 3.0 header next to the 8 SATA ports. The four leftmost SATA ports are SATA 3G, while the rightmost four are SATA 6G, the two gray ports controlled by the Z68 chipset and the two dark blue ports by a separate Marvell controller. If your case doesn't have a native USB 3.0 connector, ASUS thoughtfully supplies a cable that brings these extra USB 3.0 ports out to a back panel connector.
This ASMedia 1042 USB 3.0 controller replaces the NEC D720200 USB 3.0 controller that's been the common choice for SuperSpeed USB support until now. The P8Z68 is stuffed with ASMedia chips, including the 1083 PCI-E to PCI bridge, the ASM1440 multiplexer/demultiplexer, and the 1442 HDMI support chip. Other third-party chips in this board include a Nuvotron NCT6776F for board temperature monitoring and fan control, a VIA VT6308P for IEEE 1394 (FireWire), and a Marvel 88SE9120 for the two extra SATA 6Gbp/s ports.
Along the side of the board are the SPDIF audio connector, power and reset buttons, three USB headers (blue), two FireWire headers (black), and the front panel connector.
ASUS' TurboV Processing Unit (TPU) custom processor, seen here next to the front panel header block, is what enables their very effective automatic overclocking features. Their custom EPU chip manages the board's power use but is hidden under a heat sink covering the power circuitry by the processor socket.
Now that we've examined the board, it's time to start the performance testing.