Asus P8Z68-V PRO Mainboard
We are going to introduce the features and functionality of the new Intel Z68 chipset to you with the help of a product from one of the leading mainboard makers - Asus P8Z68-V PRO. For pretty obvious reasons this mainboard is a direct successor to a popular Asus P8P67 PRO, which we already discussed in one of our reviews. However, Asus engineers decided not to copy the existing design of the Intel P67 based product. Overall, P8Z68-V PRO is similar to P8P67 PRO, but if we take a closer look at both of them, we will immediately notice dramatic differences.
The similarity between Asus mainboards on P67 and Z68 is determined by the close characteristics of the two chipsets. Therefore, Asus P8Z68-V PRO is compatible with the same LGA1155 processors and the same DDR3 SDRAM as its predecessor. The number of expansion slots and their configuration also remained the same. P8Z68-V PRO offers three PCI Express x16 slots, which operation mod depends on the number of graphics cards in the system. The blue slot works in x16 mode when there is one graphics card installed, and switches to x8 mode together with the next white slot in case of two cards. The black slot connected to the chipset and not to the CPU works as x1, but it can also be switched to a faster x4 mode if necessary, although in this case the mainboard will disable other PCI Express x1 slots, two USB 3.0 and eSATA ports.
As for the differences, you can immediately notice them in the processor voltage regulator circuitry. Although all power components are hidden beneath the shaped aluminum heatsinks, the digital processor voltage regulator circuitry on P8Z68-V PRO has more phases – the total of 16. However, the additional four phases appeared here for quite explicable reasons: they power the processor graphics core, which is simply not powered at all on Intel P67 based boards.
It is highly positive that the implementation of additional phases didn’t eat up any of the free space around the LGA1155 socket. There should be no problems installing large CPU coolers on Asus P8Z68-V PRO. Moreover, Asus engineers decided to increase fan connectivity in their new mainboard and located 6 power connectors with two four-pin connectors assigned to the CPU cooler alone.
The chipset is cooled passively with a short aluminum heatsink on top of the chip that takes up a lot of space. Some users complained that Intel P67 heated up a lot and the new chipset didn’t get any better in this respect. The chipset heatsink warms up substantially during work.
Speaking of the innovations introduced in P8Z68-V PRO, we can’t help mentioning that Asus decided to give up the popular NEC USB 3.0 controllers used all over the place these days. Now the four USB 3.0 ports available on this mainboard are provided by Asmedia chips with slightly higher performance. However, changing the chip maker didn’t help solve the native support issue: all USB 3 devices won’t be available until the drivers have successfully been loaded.
Asus P8Z68-V PRO has eight SATA ports, six of which are provided by the chipset, and the remaining two are connected to Marvell SATA III controller. So, half of the SATA ports on this mainboard support up to 6 Gbps data transfer rate.
There are six USB 2.0 and twp USB 3.0 ports on the back panel alongside with an eSATA port, an RJ-45 Gigabit network connector, six analogue audio-jacks, an optical SPDIF and a Bluetooth module. There are also monitor outs – an analogue D-Sub and a digital DVI and HDMI 1.4. I would also like to remind you that Intel HD Graphics 2000/3000 core can work with two monitors at the same time, so any two out of available three monitor outs may work in tandem.
In addition to the back panel connectors and ports there are pin-connectors for two more USB 3.0, six more USB 2.0 and two IEEE1394 ports. By the way, even though there are no FireWire ports on the back panel, Asus didn’t include the corresponding bracket among the mainboard accessories. So, if you decide to use IEEE1394 devices with Asus P8Z68-V PRO mainboard, you will need to purchase the corresponding bracket separately.
Although Asus P8Z68-V PRO is not targeted for computer enthusiasts, the developers provided it with convenient Power On and Reset buttons anyway. Moreover, in its regular spot we find a great MemOK! button that allows to boot the mainboard even if the memory sub-system settings are incorrectly configured.
Here is our traditional specifications table for Asus P8Z68-V PRO:
The BIOS of Asus P8Z68-V PRO is like a twin brother of the BIOS of the predecessor – Asus P8P67 PRO. The new board uses EFI BIOS with a traditional graphics interface. As we have expected, all overclocking-friendly features have been simply moved into the BIOS of the new Intel Z68 based board without any changes.
However, this is hardly a surprise. It is much more interesting that among the options for setting the processor frequencies and voltages are similar settings for frequency and voltage of the graphics core built into the processor.
There is also a new section dealing with the initialization order for the graphics adapters, which allows enabling multi-GPU mode involving the integrated graphics core in the processor.
The hardware monitoring section also looks richer due to the fact that the board supports more fans now.