Value-oriented system builders celebrate new-found performance and features as Intel continues pushing its mainstream platform towards the high-end. Today, we draw a line in the sand and consider five motherboards priced between $100 and $160.
Intel’s full-sized ATX motherboards often prove our assertions that microATX boards can also have full feature sets, since those ATX-based designs often include little more than a couple of slots to the bottom of a microATX design. Readers who expect sacrifices in features, performance, and stability from the compact upper-section will be surprised to find that this board is designed for stability first, and has enough other functionality to overcome those perceptions.
The DZ68DB adds DisplayPort to the selection of video outputs and demands that anyone who needs VGA use a DVI to VGA adapter. The adapters are cheap, and the old interface is so rarely used that we’re glad to see it go.
A very small voltage regulator sits topside on the DZ68DB, its lower capacity a limitation of cost rather than layout. At $130, the DZ68DB is the second least-expensive product in today’s lineup.
The DZ68DB competes directly with the Biostar TZ68B+ in price, but while the competing board is designed specifically as a low-cost overclocking platform, the DZ68DB is designed for flexibility. The undersized voltage regulator gets added current protection, and Intel addresses all fourteen of the chipset’s USB 2.0 ports. Eight of those ports are found on four internal headers for front-panel devices.
Two of the chipset’s four SATA 3Gb/s ports are designated as eSATA, though one of these has an internal port. That port is intended to connect to front-panel eSATA jacks, though the extended heat sinks of some oversized graphics cards could block it.
Though the DZ68DB layout appears to be based on a smaller microATX design, it departs from that design by placing the front-panel audio connector in its bottom-rear corner. We didn’t find any alternative solder points for microATX versions.
The DZ68DB includes only two SATA cables in its installation kit, but Intel still adds an old-fashioned connector layout sticker for the inside of the case’s side panel. While commercial builders will appreciate the convenience of that sticker, we’re sure that most home builders would have preferred a third SATA cable.
- Almost Affordable
- ASRock Z68 Pro3
- Z68 Pro3 Firmware
- Biostar TZ68A+
- TZ68A+ Firmware
- Gigabyte Z68XP-UD3
- Z68XP-UD3 Firmware
- Intel DZ68DB
- DZ68DB Firmware
- MSI Z68A-GD55
- Z68A-GD55 Firmware
- Test Settings
- Benchmark Results: Crysis And F1 2010
- Benchmark Results: Just Cause 2 And Metro 2033
- Benchmark Results: Audio And Video Encoding
- Benchmark Results: Productivity
- Power, Heat, And Efficiency
- Value Conclusion