ASUS P8Z68-V PRO Review: Our First Z68 Motherboardby Ian Cutress on May 11, 2011 3:13 AM EST
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.