Round-Up: Four Z68 Motherboards From $220 To $280


BIOS Frequency and Voltage settings (for overclocking)
 ASRock Z68 Extreme7Asus P8Z68 DeluxeGigabyte GA-Z68XP-UD5MSI Z68A-GD80
CPU Base Clock95-110 MHz (0.1 MHz)80-300 MHz (0.1 MHz)80-200 MHz (0.1 MHz)38-282 MHz (1 MHz)
CPU MultiplierUp to 60xUp to 59x16x to 59xUp to 60x
DRAM Data Rates1066-2133 (266.6 MHz)800-2400 (266.6 MHz)800-2133 (266.6 MHz)800-2133 (266.6 MHz)
CPU Vcore0.60-1.70 V (5 mV)0.80-1.99 V (5 mV)0.75-1.70 V (5 mV)0.80-1.80 V (5 mV)
VTT Voltage0.86-1.42 V (13 mV)0.80-1.70 V (6.25 mV)0.80-1.70 V (20 mV)0.95-1.55 V (10 mV)
PCH Voltage0.78-1.65 V (9 mV)0.80-1.70 V (10 mV)Not Adjustable0.78-1.72 V (5 mV)
DRAM Voltage1.20-1.80 V (15 mV)1.20-2.20 V (6.25 mV)0.90-2.60 V (20 mV)1.11-2.46 V (7.25 mV)
CAS Latency5-15 Cycles3-15 Cycles5-15 Cycles5-15 Cycles
tRCD4-15 Cycles4-15 Cycles1-15 Cycles4-15 Cycles
tRP4-15 Cycles4-15 Cycles1-15 Cycles4-15 Cycles
tRAS10-40 Cycles4-40 Cycles1-40 Cycles10-40 Cycles

All of these enthusiast-class motherboards boast wide enough voltage and frequency ranges to please aggressive overclockers, though they might not be up to extreme overclocking techniques. Asus does aim to satisfy the liquid nitrogen crowd with a 1.99 V maximum at the CPU core. Gigabyte eliminates the one adjustment that has little to no benefit, but introduces a lot of risk.

Our own efforts are a little more modest than other overclocking attempts you've likely seen, as we've implemented in-house standards to only recommend settings we feel encourage a longer processor life span on air cooling. After all, 5 GHz doesn't do much good if your machine only lasts two months.

Going past 4.7 GHz at a mere 1.35 V is a huge accomplishment, and for that Asus deserves big credit.

Though we've seen this CPU hit a 108 MHz BCLK in the past, we’re perfectly happy that this crop of products yields 107 MHz. After all, the Core i7-2600K has unlocked mutipliers for higher performance gains, so we continue to recommend K-series chips.

Adding the highest DRAM clock to its CPU clock and performance win, the P8Z68 Deluxe takes the lead in every test we've thrown at it except efficiency. There are a few other considerations we must make before we can consider it an award winner, though.