Articles: Mainboards
 

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Miniaturization is one of the key aspects of the technological progress. We don’t need a two-deck cassette- or CD player to listen to music, as gigabytes of music can now be stored and carried around on tiny MP3 players. You do not need a TV-set to watch a movie, as a compact video player will work perfectly fine on the road. We no longer use mobile phones only in cars: you have to check all your pockets before you find your small smartphone, and they tend to disappear without a trace in women’s purses… Of course, all of us would love to trade in their large and bulky system case for something small and stylish, but with the same or even better computing power. LGA1155 is today’s contemporary platform, and mini-ITX is the miniature form-factor. So, today it is fairly easy to find a lot of mainboards from many different manufacturers with very diverse functionality: take, for instance, our roundup of eight mini-ITX mainboards for LGA1155 processors. However, until recently there were no mainboards among them that would allow users to overclock processors, too. The first real mini-ITX product like that to start selling in retail became Zotac Z68-ITX WiFi based on Intel Z68 Express chipset. Today we are going to discuss its features, functionality and performance in our detailed review.

Packaging and Accessories

Zotac doesn’t share the common belief of many mainboard makers that the more logotypes are there on the packaging, the better the mainboard inside will turn out. I also think that it is very distracting, and the two most important things to be visible on the packaging are the manufacturer’s name and the mainboard model, which is done perfectly fine on the Zotac Z68-ITX WiFi box.

If the potential buyer gets interested in the product and picks up the box, there will be brief technical specifications on one of the sides, and an image of the board on the back of the box together with a short description of the board’s features and included accessories in several different languages.

 

The accessories inside the box were unexpectedly and pleasantly numerous and included the following items:

  • Four SATA cables with metal connector locks and with straight connectors;
  • An extender for the eight-pin processor power connector;
  • Additional rear panel bracket with two USB 3.0 ports and a low-profile barcket;
  • I/O Shield for the back panel;
  • Mini-DisplayPort→DisplayPort adapter;
  • Two Wi-Fi antennas;
  • A frame for installing full-size mini-PCI Express cards;
  • User manual;
  • A booklet with brief installation instructions;
  • DVD disk with software and drivers.

We are no longer surprised with the numerous SATA cables or different types of connector locks, but we really appreciated the manufacturer caring about user needs, the attention to little details, which is not only pleasant but sometimes even necessary. Far not every full-size mainboard comes with a back panel bracket with USB 3.0 ports, and here they even included an additional low-profile bracket for small system cases. The two antennas as well as the name of the board suggested that it is equipped with a Wi-Fi module. It is designed as a half-size mini-PCI Express card and is attached to the board with an additional bracket. If you decide to replace this module with a different full-size mini-PCIe card or a compact SSD drive, there is an additional frame for dull-size mini-PCI Express or mSATA cards included with the accessories for your convenience. I was truly impressed!

 
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