Articles: Mainboards

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No doubt that Sandy Bridge processors launched in the beginning of this year is a great success on Intel’s part. The company engineers managed to significantly optimize progressive Core microarchitecture and substantially increase the performance lowering the power consumption at the same time. As a result, we here at X-bit labs as well as other reviewers declared LGA1155 platform to be the today’s best choice for mainstream desktop computers.

However, the brilliant debut of the enhanced microarchitecture was darkened by an entire myriad of unfortunate circumstances. First of all, LGA1155 platform turned out not as overclocking-friendly, as the previous solutions. The so-called “unlocked” CPUs were necessary in order to get the system working at frequencies other than the nominal ones. Secondly, Intel’s marketing team wasn’t very successful in differentiating between platforms targeted for enthusiasts and regular mainstream users. As a result, there was no universal chipset with all-embracing functionality among the first wave of core logic sets for Sandy Bridge platform. You had to sacrifice overclocking if you wanted to use the integrated graphics core, and the other way around. And thirdly, shortly after the LGA1155 launch they discovered an issue with the entire Cougar Point chipset family, which required recalling first chipset shipments and replacing them with the new chipset revision.

In other words, until recently the CPU components was theoretically the major appeal of the LGA1155 platform, but the existing Sandy Bridge chipsets scared away the potential customers. Luckily, not only the users understood where it was coming from, but Intel guys also started getting concerned about the chosen strategy. That is why back in early January when the processors with new microarchitecture were launched we already knew that the manufacturer would later offer not only P67 and H67 chipsets (including their modifications), but also some advanced universal Z68 chipset, which should undoubtedly make the new platform a true hit.

And finally this day has come: first mainboards based on the long-anticipated Z68 tart appearing in retail. Do they prove up to everyone’s expectations? Today we are going to try answering this question in detail, because the situation seems to be very complicated. On the one hand, Z68 combined the features and functionality of P67 and H67, at the same time allowing to overclock the processor and use the integrated graphics core. Moreover, it also boasts a few additional functions, such as using the integrated graphics core and an add-on graphics card sat the same time as well as Intel Smart Response Technology. But on the other hand, Z68 still lacks many demanded features. For example, it doesn’t support USB 3.0 ports, can deliver only two 6 Gbps SATA ports, and besides, it doesn’t allow overclocking processors by raising their BCLK frequency, just like its predecessors. However, there is really no other choice available at this time. Intel Z68 is the best core logic set for LGA1155 platform and there won’t be any other chipsets for Sandy Bridge processors.

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