Final Words

When I first saw this board at Computex, I thought it would be a good one to have in for review. It's a mini-ITX, with plenty of bells and whistles, all on the Z68 platform. If Zotac could do it within a reasonable price envelope, it was going to be a winner. After having the board in and working with it, I have found it a very good board at stock settings for $170. Unfortunately, there are a couple of areas that let it down.

On board, we've got a mini-PCIe which can act like an mSATA port (with the relevant BIOS option enabled), but comes with a wifi n card preinstalled. One thing we never really expect on a mini-ITX board are power and reset buttons along with a debug LED, but Zotac have managed to fit them on. There are also a pair of SATA 6 Gbps, a pair of SATA 3 Gbps, and USB 2.0/3.0 headers on board - less than full size boards, but plenty on a board this size. On the back panel are plenty of USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports, but we also have two antenna, dual gigabit Ethernet, a PS/2 port, dual HDMI 1.4a and a mini-DisplayPort connection.

The package itself is also impressive - a mini-DP to DP adaptor, an 8-pin 12V extension cable (to negate the awkward placing of the 8-pin power connector onboard), four locking SATA cables and a USB 3.0 rear bracket are surprising to see in a mini-ITX for $170. The Zotac board comes with a two year warranty on purchase, which extends to five years by registering with Zotac if you are the original purchaser.

It's hard to see exactly which market this board is aimed at - it offers a variety of features but fails on a couple to really hit a specific niche. It's a board I would suggest that people consider if they're wanting a small Z68 platform - a gamer could stick in a non-K CPU, replace the wifi with an mSATA SSD (for the caching) and add a good single GPU. The lack of the free space around the CPU limits serious coolers, however due to the lack of overclocking, a stock cooler (or an all-in-one water cooler) should be adequate.

For $170, it's hard not to consider the Zotac Z68ITX-A-E if you're going down the mini-ITX Z68 route (as much as a narrow path that is). However, with the poor OC options, H67 beckons if you don't need the smart caching and you could spend the extra money on a bigger SSD.

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  • DaveSimmons - Thursday, September 22, 2011 - link

    SilentPCReview has covered the Silverstone and Lian-li cases for gaming builds, and CyberPowerPC will build you a SG07 system with a GTX 570 if you want one.

    But yes, some SFF gaming build tests from AT would be welcome as well.

    My gaming system is usually just a single card and 2 x HDDs (or SSD + HDD for my next build) so most of even a micro-ATX case sits there empty taking up space.
    Reply
  • TrackSmart - Sunday, September 25, 2011 - link

    Thanks for the heads up about the articles. I'll check them out. Reply
  • LeftSide - Thursday, September 22, 2011 - link

    Is there any way we could get some power numbers on a power supply that more closely resembles the power load these small HTPC motherboards will be using. I don't understand why you can't review these smaller boards with a good 80% 300 watt PS. Most of the people interested in these boards are interested in HTPC usage and idle load is the most important number. Your power numbers are typically useless, because of the low efficiency a 1000 watt PS will run a 50 watt load.

    The reviews on Anandtech are generally great and very informative, but I don't understand why you even test power consumption when the results are so skewed.
    Reply
  • TrackSmart - Thursday, September 22, 2011 - link

    As a fellow reader of these reviews, I understand that you can't have any consistency in the results unless you test under the same conditions every time. And that means having a powersupply that can handle any build.

    That being said, I agree that some tests with small form factor appropriate hardware would be of interest to folks... Not good for comparing performance differences between boards, but to see what you can do with a real build in terms of performance vs noise , heat, and actual power usage. Maybe they'll do an updated small form factor article. Their last guide was based around low power stuff (look it up), but a higher performance update to that guide would be cool.
    Reply
  • IlllI - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    this board got abysmal feedback over on hardforum.
    some guy had 19 of them die (1+18 replacements if i recall). his company decided to ditch the entire brand due to reliability.
    Reply
  • moolman - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    I didn't try this board but I tried two of the H67 boards. Both boards had defective displayports, they wouldn't work, everything else worked fine. Just beware, I posted and called Zotac for help and it seems they know of the problem but who uses display ports for integrated graphics, so I was probably the only guy complaining about it. But I have a 30" monitor so no choice in the matter. Luckily I bought from Fry's and hence able to try out 2 boards. Ended up with the Intel H56 ITX, glad I did, quieter and uses less energy. Thanks Zotac for sucking. Reply
  • lwatcdr - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    I could see this as a one box server solution for a small business.
    Two nics so configure this as a fire wall.
    WiFi= Wifi access point for the office "If it supports it."
    Two SATA 6 ports Two big drives in a RAID.
    Two SATA 3 ports boot drive/swap/
    MSATA cache.
    Install Asterisk for your phone system, vTiger CRM, an email server, what ever else you want or need.
    USB ports Backup drives, printers, scanners.
    You have the makings of an all in one small business server.
    Reply
  • Shadowmaster625 - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Does that thing even have a specified efficiency at 50 watts? I dont think the 80 plus applies unless you are at 10% load. Reply
  • waldojim42 - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    I see no reason to drop in a new bios just to compete with other manufacturers. If the others want to compete with Zotac, add in the "out of spec" options for people! I find it odd that it was more "fair" for you guys to kill off one channel of ram, than leave the thing to its higher clock rates.

    I am more interested in how well it handled running 4x over on all cores using stock cooling, than running a crippled machine.
    Reply

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