Articles: Mainboards
 

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PCB Design and Functionality

Mainboards from the same manufacturer not only have similar package and accessories. The exterior design of Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD3H-B3 is also quite familiar.

Let’s start with the fact that this mainboard supports the entire range of contemporary LGA1155 processors. Some of the heating elements of the processor voltage regulator circuitry are covered with a heatsink fastened using plastic push-pins. The chipset heatsink uses a more reliable screw-on retention mechanism. Four DDR3 DIMM slots can take up to 32 GB of memory and also support XMP (Extreme Memory Profile). The mainboard is equipped with three PCI Express 2.0 x1 and two PCI slots. Two PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots for graphics cards support both AMD as well as Nvidia configurations. A single graphics accelerator will work at full speed, while in case of a two-card configuration the slots will work at only half the speed each.

The additional Marvell 88SE9172 controller delivers support for two SATA 6 Gbps ports (gray connectors). Besides, the board has another pair of SATA 6 Gbps ports (white connectors) and three SATA 3 Gbps ports (black connectors) due to the functionality of the Intel Z68 Express chipset. The remaining fourth SATA 3 Gbps port supported by the chipset is transformed into an eSATA on the back panel.

The complete list of ports and connectors on the mainboard back panel includes the following:

  • PS/2 connector for keyboard or mouse;
  • Four USB 2.0 ports, six more are laid out as three onboard pin-connectors;
  • Two USB 3.0 ports (blue connectors) implemented via EtronTech EJ168A controller; a second controller provides an additional internal pin-connector for two more USB 3.0 ports;
  • Optical S/PDIF together with six analogue audio-jacks provided by eight-channel Realtek ALC889 codec;
  • D-Sub, DVI-D, HDMI and DisplayPort video outs;
  • IEEE1394 (FireWire) port implemented via VIA VT6308P controller, the second port is available as onboard pin-connector;
  • eSATA 3 Gbps port implemented via Intel Z68 Express chipset, other three SATA 3 Gbps and two SATA 6 Gbps ports are on the mainboard PCB;
  • A local network port (network adapter is built around Gigabit Realtek RTL8111E controller).

The handy component layout from the manual reveals a few other peculiarities of Gigabyte mainboards: Phase LED diodes that show the number of active processor phases in the voltage regulator and two BIOS chips. Out of our available fan connectors only two four-pin ones offer adjustment option, although they can handle even three-pin fans.

We summed up all the mainboard features and technical specifications in the table below:

Our today’s hero differs from the previously reviewed four other Gigabyte mainboards on Intel Z68 Express not only by the video outs on the back panel, but also by LucidLogix Virtu technology support.

 
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