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

A Word On Warranties

In all of our zest for looking at power and performance, we inadvertently put MSI’s five-year warranty announcement on the back burner. However, a recent look into the support practices of motherboard vendors compelled us to shine a spotlight on this oft-overlooked aspect of PC ownership.

U.S.A. Warranty Service
ASRock Z68 Extreme7Asus P8Z68 DeluxeGigabyte GA-Z68XP-UD5MSI Z68A-GD80
With RegistrationN/AThree YearsN/AFive Years
Without RegistrationOne YearThree YearsThree YearsThree YearsThree Years
Registration PeriodN/AThree YearsN/A30 Days
Advanced ReplacementNot AdvertisedAsus Premium ServiceNot AdvertisedNot Advertised
Service LocationResellerManufacturerManufacturerManufacturer

Each of these warranty programs is accompanied by features and problems that are too complex to fit into a chart. For example, ASRock officially does not service end-users directly, but instead insists that they contact the vendor that sold the board. However, the company does provide a contact for those who have found their respective resellers unresponsive, and this buyer has been able to secure replacement boards direct from ASRock's service department, without revealing his identity as a reviewer. A very direct letter detailing the exact problem and test procedures that verified the issue is far more likely to warrant a response than a simple list of parts followed by "the system won’t boot."

For ASRock owners, the bigger issue is that the warranty has always been very short. Though we had previously viewed this shortcoming as a cost offset for "bonus hardware," we were still a little surprised that nobody else had called them out for it in an effective manner. Knowing that big spenders aren't as forgiving when it comes to service shortfalls, we took it upon ourselves to do just that.

ASRock responded with a three-year upgrade exclusively for North American Z68 Extreme7 buyers. That's a great start that we'd like to see spread across all of its high-end products and high-volume countries. Since ASRock's least expensive products compete with OEM-branded parts, a two-tiered warranty would likely suffice. We'd also like to see a full description of that warranty on its website.

Asus provides the industry-standard three-year warranty with a few additions, such as online service and the ability to secure advanced replacement. Advanced replacement requires a credit card to protect the value of the replacement motherboard, and anyone using advanced replacement must pay for shipping both ways. Any service requires registration for Asus Premium Service, but that can be done at any time during the warranty period, which is nice.

Gigabyte prefers that customers choose their seller as a first point of contact, but doesn’t require them to do so.

MSI’s enhanced five-year warranty requires registration within 30 days of purchase and detailed documentation. Not satisfying those requirements reverts the Z68A-GD80 to the firm’s standard three-year warranty. All manufacturers start their standard warranty from the date the board is built. But MSI’s original (3-year warranty) registration process at least allows its standard (three-year) warranty to be extended from the date of manufacture to the date of purchase.

MSI does offer the longest warranty period, but you have to be speedy and meticulous in order to take advantage of it. The enhanced warranty still adds even more value to the least-expensive motherboard in today’s lineup, and MSI is using that coverage as a proof point to illustrate its confidence in the "Military Class” circuitry, the benefit of which we'd be otherwise unable to quantify.

  • crisan_tiberiu
    I own an AsRock Z68 Pro 3 MB, and i am vere pleased with it.
    Reply
  • RazorBurn
    Only Asus and AsRock for me.. Tried severals boards thru the years yet only this two has never failed me..

    My AsRock AliveNF6G-VSTA in my warehouse full of dust, mites, cobweb still works.. Recently upgraded to 4GB RAM and GTS 450 1GB video card..
    Reply
  • iam2thecrowe
    i would like to see a more budget oriented roundup, not everyone wants to spend that much on a motherboard for 0.5 of an FPS increase, or overclock 100mhz more out of their cpu.....
    Reply
  • beenthere
    Intel mobos are way over-priced IMO. In my many years of building PCs the only two mobos that I ever had fail were Asus. As far as performance and reliability I'd rank these mobo brands as follows:

    Gigabyte
    MSI
    Asus
    Asrock
    Reply
  • flong
    I own the AsRock Extreme 4 Gen 3 board and it seems to be a very good board. I had the Asus Pro V before and had problems. I can say from experience that Asus's customer service is VERY poor to say the least. While their boards seem to be high quality according to most reviews, if you do have a problem don't count on Asus being around to help you out. I sent my board back to NewEgg and I had to argue with Newegg to get them to warranty it which was disappointing. Amazon does not have this problem and for my next motherboard purchase I will probably go through Amazon.

    The answer to my first email question to Asus came a three full weeks later AFTER I had decided to return the board. AND the answer was an absolutely stupid response that did not address the real problem. Still wanting an answer to my question, I clarified the question and sent it back to Asus again. TWO weeks later I got ANOTHER asinine response from them. At that point I realized I was wasting my time.

    I don't know how good AsRock's customer service is since I have not had a problem with the board.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    iam2thecrowei would like to see a more budget oriented roundup, not everyone wants to spend that much on a motherboard for 0.5 of an FPS increase, or overclock 100mhz more out of their cpu.....I believe you missed this:
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/z68xp-ud3-dz68db,2980.html
    Reply
  • Mark Heath
    9519804 said:
    I believe you missed this:
    ?rel=ugc]http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/z68xp-ud3-dz68db,2980.html
    Crashman to the rescue again :)
    Reply
  • Novuake
    Intel boards are not that bad, yes their Enthusiast boards are, but for a good while after LGA1155 came out they had the cheapest USB3/SATA 3 LGA1155 boards available, I think they still do... I would have to check.
    Reply
  • Luay
    The Asrock Extreme7 belongs in another NF200 equipped Tri-fire/Tri-SLI round-up with the UD7, ROG and FTW boards, and I think it would still win based on value.
    Real enthusiasts, on the other hand don't use integrated graphics and already have a dedicated SSD. Enter P67 in the round-up and the winner would still be for almost 18 months running, the $255 Asus P67 WS Revolution.
    Reply
  • ojas
    Hey Tom's. Make Wolfgang read articles like these too. He needs them.
    Reply