Z68 Express Roundup: Three Motherboards Do Battle Around $200

Conclusion

Let’s take a look at the overall performance difference between Z68 motherboards, with a P67 platform thrown in for good measure. We averaged the results of each chart (rather than each application), so that both Intel GPU-optimized transcoding benchmarks count for only ¼ of our A/V encoding results.

Even though Intel’s integrated GPU benefits only 25% of our encoding applications, it adds 24% to those performance numbers. And, even though encoding applications count towards only 25% of our combined performance calculation, its overall benefit is around 8%. Thus, anyone who really wants to shrink video for their portable devices will really want to get a Z68, rather than a P67 board.

So who wins? The P8Z68-V Pro has the best overall performance, but the difference between it and the Z68 Extreme4 is less than 1%. The average difference is too small to show up on the chart, and ASRock had better efficiency.

The P8Z68-V Pro has a higher CPU overclock, but we feel a little distressed that a four-module DDR3-2200 memory kit made it beg for mercy. Not that any realistic person would really need memory that fast, but this is just another point in our overall discussion.

The real reason why we can’t hand the win to the P8Z68-V Pro is its compromised expansion card slots. Using the bottom slot at x4 results in two x1 slots and two onboard controllers being disabled. In other words, the bottom graphics card slot turns out to be more gimmick than feature, and may cause system builders to feel like they’ve been duped. That type of tomfoolery might be acceptable in lower-priced segments, but this is a $210 board!

For $10 less, ASRock adds a PCIe bridge to its Z68 Extreme4. Anyone who really wants a x4 slot should view this as mandatory. So, ASRock wins our Recommended Buy award.

This was originally supposed to be a $150-200 motherboard roundup. Asus failing to hit the price point after the rest of the article was written forced us to change that plan. Gigabyte's also makes a $210 model that competes directly with the P8Z68-V Pro, so its (estimated) $160 Z68X-UD3H doesn't officially compete for the same group of customers.

Not that there's any serious lack of features on the Gigabyte board at its lower price point. By leaving out a third graphics card slot, Gigabyte avoids both Asus' tricks and ASRock's added component expense. Instead, its only shortcoming comes from overclocking. That gives the Z68X-UD3H an incredible amount of value to non-overclockers who don't need a x4 slot, even though it gets upstaged by ASRock in our final analysis.

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  • user 18
    ASrock comes with 4 eSATA cables?
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  • Kisakuku
    The first UEFI screenshots for ASRock and Asus are switched.
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  • Crashman
    user 18ASrock comes with 4 eSATA cables?
    KisakukuThe first UEFI screenshots for ASRock and Asus are switched.
    Fixed, thanks!
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  • pirateboy
    mayankleoboy1a little something from MSI would have made this more interesting.


    +1
    2
  • evga_fan
    ->Thomas

    "Gigabyte’s Quick Boost application sets our processor at 200, 400, or 700 MHz beyond its rated frequency."

    Just so you know. Anyways, keep up the good work!

    Cheers
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  • crisan_tiberiu
    so, basicaly there is no difference in performance between theese boards as i can see.
    2
  • Anonymous
    hmm .. was thinking of getting an Asus P8Z68-V Pro .. not so sure now knowing that the other boards offer the same performance and are both cheaper.
    1
  • Olle P
    One additional feature of the ASRock card that isn't mentioned is its set of holes matching a socket 775 cooler. That feature was the main reason I ordered one of these cards three days ago, since I won't have to spend money on a new CPU cooler.
    2
  • tommysch
    So a P67 is superior... interesting.
    2
  • crisan_tiberiu
    Olle POne additional feature of the ASRock card that isn't mentioned is its set of holes matching a socket 775 cooler. That feature was the main reason I ordered one of these cards three days ago, since I won't have to spend money on a new CPU cooler.


    ermm thats pro, since i have a socket 775 core 2 duo atm. Any other motherboards out there that suport this?? i would love to know
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  • adamcom25334
    mayankleoboy1a USB 3.0 speed comparison between them would be more informative

    Agree. A USB 2.0 speed comparison would have been nice as well. Otherwise, nice review.
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  • Olle P
    crisan_tiberiu... socket 775 core 2 duo atm. Any other motherboards out there that suport this?
    The other two (cheaper) ASRock Z68 mobos do support it as well, but I haven't seen it with any other manufacturer.
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  • User69
    It would be interesting to experiment with having multiple graphics cards, adding hard drives, using controllers, basically testing how performance between all motherboards is affected by eating up bandwidth by using the pci-e slots and controllers.
    1
  • huron
    Thanks for the excellent review. How appropriate for me, since I was just in the market for a Z68.

    Also, thanks (to the commentor) for the info about the LGA 775 compatibility with coolers - I was wondering if I was going to have to replace mine...not it looks like I might be able to use it still.
    1
  • Onus
    I'm itching for June to get here so I can finally decide, BD or SB, but in either case, the mobo will likely be ASRock.
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  • cryptz
    16/0/4 pcie is a joke. that really doesnt leave you room for much of anything. video card, i cant even use my raid card properly (x8) at that point. i hope x68 hurries up and gets here fast.
    -1
  • compton
    I sure do love motherboard roundups. Incidentally, when I ordered my 2500k, the only motherboard in stock at the time was a H67 uATX board. So I bought it, and figured that the Z68 chipset would certainly be worth the wait. I think that it is for the most part. I'm using a pretty stripped down H67 board to boot. Even running at stock speeds, the 2500k and 2600k are pretty damn fast, so I really haven't regretted the decision. It sure feels like an upgrade from an aging Phenom II/Athlon II. The Z chipset might be icing on the cake.
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  • festerovic
    In previous reviews of various chipsets, I've noticed that ASrock consistently has boards with slower than normal bus speeds. Perhaps this is why they are slightly off the performance of other boards (especially the ones with faster bus speeds ie over 100Mhz)
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  • huron
    huronThanks for the excellent review. How appropriate for me, since I was just in the market for a Z68.Also, thanks (to the commentor) for the info about the LGA 775 compatibility with coolers - I was wondering if I was going to have to replace mine...now it looks like I might be able to use it still.
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  • huron
    Ooops...sorry...clicked the wrong button - was hoping to edit the post, not re-post
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