The Zotac "Crown Edition-ZT-Z68 U1DU3" is a Z68 motherboard in the Extended ATX (E-ATX, 330x305 mm) format.  At that size, you know from the start that it will only fit a select number of cases.  But in an attempt to woo gamers, enthusiasts and overclockers, Zotac have piled it all on the details:

 - a 26-phase design (24 for the CPU), with driver-MOSFETs, solid chokes, high-C and super ML capacitors,
 - 802.11n onboard Wifi mini-PCIe Card (as well as gigabit Ethernet),
 - an NF200 chip to support 32 PCIe lanes for a 16x/0x/16x/0x or 8x/8x/8x/8x GPU configuration,
 - two onboard USB 3.0 headers offering four ports (as well as two on the back),
 - three BIOS chips for backup BIOSes (not sure how this fits in with Gigabyte's DualBIOS patent),
 - a legacy IDE port, and a mSATA port for an SSD,
 - quad-SLI support,
 - voltage read points

Over recent months, Zotac has been that niche company for the mini-ITX form factor.  If you wanted mini-ITX, chances are Zotac would have a board.  Along the same lines, Zotac are also known for trying to shove everything onto a board, regardless of power consumption or price.  So when I got wind that Zotac were going extreme-full size,  I had to take a look to report on what they would be offering.

 

Important points to note are - how are the 24 CPU power phases managed?  There's only one 8-pin 12V connector, yet usually on these type of boards (c.f. Gigabyte X58A-UD9) we see two.  Is there a switch to disable the NF200 due to the 2-3% performance loss expected if only one or two GPUs are used?  Sure, the board will support quad-SLI, but the fact that the 2nd PCIe only has a 1-slot width will hamper overclockers?  How much is all this going to cost?  Is it any good?  Do I spot active cooling underneath the connected chipset heatsink?

In my experience, Zotac hardware usually works within specifications, as you would expect.  What can be dissapointing though is BIOS support, and software utilities.  If this board wants some stellar results, Zotac has to nail down those areas solid, otherwise it could fall on its face very fast - assuming that there is actually a market for such a product.

As always, no mention of pricing or availability yet.  As soon as I get more information from Zotac about this board, I will let you know.

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  • SilthDraeth - Sunday, July 17, 2011 - link

    It's late, so I might have missed some.

    Playing Devil's advocate to the guy that wants no back panel ports, I would point out that in most cases a 6Gb eSata is going to be a better deal than a hooking an external driver/whathave you to the USB 3.

    Also, on that note... ps2 supports greater than 6 key rollover. Not that it affects 99% of us anyways.

    Nothing worse than having usb keyboard detection issues when troubleshooting a pc, and you are trying to get into recovery mode or access the bios.

    All that said. I want 4xusb 3.0 on the back. eSata, hdmi, displayport
    dual gigabit lan, and built in "user replaceable wireless chip"
    Reply
  • jabber - Sunday, July 17, 2011 - link

    Well for me this would be a total gaming machine. I keep my rigs separate in what they do.

    I have a gaming rig.
    I have a work/general rig.
    I have a Anti-virus diagnostic rig.

    The work/AV rigs all require as many ports and connectors as possible, the more the merrier so bring em on. I love E-sata on these machines etc. Its great.

    The gaming rig has no need for them or the other 'added value extras' so many boards are cluttered with. So in order to improve efficiency, stability and all round overclockableness(??) I want all the junk stripped off. Just lean and mean.

    Plus why pay for crap you never use anyway?
    Reply
  • 3ogdy - Sunday, July 17, 2011 - link

    I think the current slot configuration Zotac is going to use with this board is bad.
    If I install two GPUs, I lose the PCIEx1 slot - I assume no one will try to install a PCIEx1 sound card on this board while having a multi-GPU setup.
    The second GPU has to be a single-slot one - again, too bad to put 2 PCI-Ex16 slots one next to the other and them claim your board is capable of quad-SLI.
    I personally don't like the all-black design but whatever...it's my personal opinion.
    The fact that the board needs active cooling for the northbridge makes me wonder whether they used copper for the heatsinks - I mean, it gets hot, ok but do something to avoid using fans.Anyway, on a gaming rig that is supposed to pack at least 2 or 3 GPUs, with fast HDDs and powerful PSUs, and of course a powerful CPU, I don't think there are too many that expect the computer to be extremely quiet while capable of dissipating as much heat as possible.
    Reply

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