Final Words

Looking back on the ASUS P8Z68-V PRO, I can come up with a variety of conclusions. It's a great little board in terms of performance, features and add-ons, even for the $210 asking price. Though at this price, we'd perhaps ask for a little more to be in the boxed product—a few more SATA cables perhaps, or a full USB 3.0 3.5" bay. As much as this was a review about the ASUS board, it's also a first impression of the Z68 chipset through the ASUS P8Z68-V PRO.

The ultimate combination of P67 and H67 was inevitable—if Intel were going to market a series of processors with integrated graphics, it would seem odd not to include connectors on every chipset for those graphics. That's what happened with P67, when Intel decided that enough people wanted discrete GPU performance that the integrated GPU wouldn't get a look-in. Though with the virtues of Quick Sync, there had to be a way of providing one chipset that tried to do everything—overclocking the CPU, overclocking the integrated GPU, multiple discrete GPU setups, the works.

There was a sigh of relief when Lucid developed a software solution to allow them all to work together—the integrated GPU for low throughput graphics, a discrete GPU for gaming, and any situation to be able to use the integrated GPU for highly specialized applications. Virtu is a nice bit of kit, but in terms of power saving, if you're not using Quick Sync, there isn't much to be saved as graphics card manufacturers are pretty good on low power states.

The ultimate question is—should I upgrade to Z68? You may have realized I haven't talked about SSD caching yet—I've left that up to Anand to discuss and report on, but it's a feature worth considering. From my perspective, if you want an all-round computer that plays games and uses Quick Sync and the other specialties that the iGPU can provide, then Z68 is a logical upgrade. However, if you already have a discrete GPU and P67, unless you're really big on video transcoding there's no point in replacing your current board.

I know that prices for Z68 boards will be as low as $120 from some manufacturers, and as high as $350. The price difference in all these boards is similar to that of the P67—stability at high overclocks, features such as more and more SATA ports, increased support for better cooling, etc. Does that mean that the ASUS P8Z68-V PRO is a good buy? At $210, our only comparison so far in the P67 space that we've reviewed is the ASRock P67 Extreme6, which has 10 SATA ports, but minimal RAID, a lot more IO panel USB connectors, more in the box to come with the motherboard, arguably a worse BIOS, better USB performance, and a shorter warranty. It's a tough decision—people will like the ASUS board, of that I have no doubt. It's just a case of if it's got the right features for you as a consumer.

We can't come to any final conclusion with only one Z68 board, of course. I expect to have more Z68 boards to review in the near future, so watch this space. Right now, the ASUS board is a good Z68 offering, but if you're in no rush, wait a few weeks to see if another board can rise to the top—and let's be honest, if you've been waiting for Z68 you can probably wait a bit longer.

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  • Irakusa - Thursday, September 29, 2011 - link

    Not really, you're just limiting your thinking a bit. The whole reason I fill datacenters with blade servers and then oversubscribe every resource I can is exactly the same as what NeBlackCat is applying in smaller scale with this line of inquiry.

    Servers big enough to run hundreds of VMs on demand, but also able to dynamically adjust power, cooling, cost, and wear and tear on components. It's a good thing.

    What do you think Intuit does at tax time, build a few thousand new web servers (hoping they have enough) and then leave them sitting around afterward waiting for next year's tax season? No, the reallocate resources where they're needed.
    Reply
  • HaryHr - Wednesday, May 11, 2011 - link

    Thinking like this you could also say no point in overclocking, just buy Extreme Edition CPU... but that's just not the same. Reply
  • L. - Thursday, May 12, 2011 - link

    No.

    Overclocking = more power for the same mullah
    Downclocking = less power for the same mullah
    Downclocking = less power/watts
    Buying another chip = less mullah, less power, less watts

    Basically downclocking is a practice that should disappear shortly as the spectrum of power consumption on available chips has become wide enough, along with low power chips being more than enough for everyone's tasks excluding gaming and extremely rare computational tasks.
    Reply
  • shawngmc - Friday, May 13, 2011 - link

    Absolutely untrue. I repurpose my hardware - though I buy a new core (CPU/MB/RAM) yearly, I reuse my parts, cycling them through my desktop, HTPC, server, and project PCs or for family members.

    When I move parts from one usage to another, my demands change. My HTPC should have decent performance but be cool and quiet. My server needs good CPU performance (I run services in VMs) but I prefer energy efficiency there as well. Only my main desktop should be a power-hungry monster.

    I'm about to move my i7-930 to my home server. Even with the copious VMs, I probably don't need full clock speed from it. So, since it'll be on 24/7, I want it to be energy efficient. Underclocking? Say, not a bad idea!
    Reply
  • NeBlackCat - Wednesday, May 11, 2011 - link

    In your opinion. I thought it was supposed to be a general review of the board. This isn't a teenage gamer site - plenty of people are interested in Sandy Bridge/Z68 as a powerful, yet power efficient, platform. And, for many of them, it's useful to know how much you can undervolt while maintaining stock clock, and so on. Some of us like our HTPCs to run as cool and quietly as possible most of the time, for example. It doesn't hurt to cover both sides - a couple of paras covering this is all that's needed. Reply
  • L. - Thursday, May 12, 2011 - link

    HTPC Sandy Bridge ?

    Seriously, if you don't understand hardware and it's use, please just avoid spreading your convictions.

    There is no reason for an HTPC to sport anything even remotely as powerful as 1/4th of a Sandy Bridge chip.

    We have reached a level in IT equipment where the chip in your mobile phone can almost cater for all of your HTPC / NAS needs so just face it, spend $300 less and get what you need instead of a 99.999999% idle overpowered CPU. Save the planet, green stuff, whatever !
    Reply
  • NeBlackCat - Friday, May 13, 2011 - link

    Perhaps you don't understand that an HTPC is a 3W Sigma/Realtec media streamer to some, an occasional media encoding powerhouse (as well) to others, and something close to both for an increasing number of people.

    Vendors increasingly provide idle frugality but performance on tap - in the OS/BIOS, in the chipset (eg. simultaneous clock override/IGP) , in the CPU (eg. turbo boost), in the graphics susbsystem (eg. Virtu, Optimus, etc) and so on.

    And these features ARE there in Z68/Sandy Bridge. The question is why they ARE NOT all there in reviews.

    PS - that phone able to do HTPC/NAS duties (HD high profile H264, simultaneous transcoding/streaming/recording/multichannel, etc) for $300 less than an entry level Sandy Bridge sounds extremely interesting.

    Can you tell me where to by one? Because the tiny TrimSlice Tegra 2 box I've had sitting here for a week (at a cost of $330, which is not $300 short of Sandy Bridge territory) doesn't even get close. Not that I expected it to.
    Reply
  • shawngmc - Friday, May 13, 2011 - link

    Exactly. I should be able to play games on my HTPC on occasion! Hell, Lucid Vertu theoretically sounds like a great solution - stick a decent GPU in and play modern games - Crysis 2, Portal 2, etc - on my 55" screen? Yes, please.

    Hell, I'll get some use out of my 3DTV with Nvidia 3DTV Play, now that it's FINALLY available.
    Reply
  • xinaes - Wednesday, May 11, 2011 - link

    "This segment is made to get the maximum out of your rig and not vice versa."

    In Soviet Russia, your rig gets the most out of you.

    Sorry, couldn't resist.

    Glad to see so many other people on the side of not wantonly burning power and still considering the idea of having a reasonably powerful machine.
    Reply
  • NeBlackCat - Wednesday, May 11, 2011 - link

    I want to get the maximum performance at the maximum power saving out of my rig. ;-) Reply

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