Shootouts

Intel Z68 - The True Sandy Bridge Chipset

By Vincent Chang - 12 May 2011

BIOS Settings & Test Setup

BIOS Settings

Like the high-end P67 motherboards we had tested previously, these Z68 boards came with enthusiast-class BIOS settings. While the BIOS interfaces remain similar to their P67 counterparts, with both ASUS and MSI opting for a graphical user interface with mouse support, Gigabyte kept to its Hybrid BIOS approach with an old-school interface that should be familiar to long-time users of Gigabyte boards. As mentioned before, Gigabyte has added the new TouchBIOS utility that works within Windows and effectively gives the same amount of control over the BIOS.

Besides the voltage settings (we listed some of the more important ones in the table below), the ASUS and MSI boards also support the integrated graphics output capabilities of the Sandy Bridge processor. Hence, you'll also find options to enable the Virtu software layer and even tweak the graphics clock speed of the processor. The Gigabyte board however only has the discrete option, so it's hardly any different from its P67 equivalent.

 

BIOS Settings
Model CPU Voltage DRAM Voltage Other Voltage Settings
ASUS P8Z68-V PRO
0.80 to 1.99V
(0.005V steps)
1.20 to 2.20V
(0.00625V steps)
  • CPU PLL: 1.20 to 2.20V (0.00625V steps)
  • PCH Voltage: 0.80 to 1.70V (0.01V steps)
Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD7-B3
0.75 to 1.7V
(0.005V steps)
0.90 to 2.60V 
(0.02V steps)
  • QPI/Vtt: 0.80 to 1.70V (0.02V steps)
  • PCH Voltage: 0.84 to 1.94V (0.02V steps)
MSI Z68A-GD80 (B3) 0.80 to 1.80V 
(0.005V steps)
1.108 to 2.464V
(0.008V steps)
  • CPU PLL Voltage: 1.40 to 2.43V (0.01V steps)
  • CPU I/O Voltage: 0.95 to 1.55V (0.02V steps)

 

Test Setup

The same test configuration that we used for all our P67 testing has been replicated for this Z68 roundup. Note that the Z68 boards were installed with a slightly newer version of  Intel's chipset drivers. Besides the three Z68 motherboards slated for review, we have also thrown in one of our best performing P67 motherboard, the ASUS Maximus IV Extreme as a reference. 

  • Intel Core i7-2600K @3.4GHz
  • 2 x 1GB Kingston HyperX DDR3-1333 (CAS 7-7-7-20)
  • NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GTX (ForceWare 260.99)
  • WD Caviar Black 1TB, SATA 6G (Intel 6G)
  • Windows 7 Ultimate (64-bit)
  • Intel INF 9.2.0.1015 (Intel P67), Intel INF 9.2.0.1021 (Intel Z68)

The following benchmarks were used:

  • BAPco SYSmark 2007 (version 1.05)
  • Futuremark PCMark Vantage (1.0.3.1)
  • Futuremark 3DMark Vantage (1.0.3.1)
  • SPECviewperf 9.0
  • Far Cry 2