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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  • AnnihilatorX - Wednesday, May 11, 2011 - link

    I wonder when will MB makers start to support onboard multichannel LPCM HDMI audio ? Reply
  • NeBlackCat - Wednesday, May 11, 2011 - link

    Would Anandech please remember that some of us care more about running our systems as energy sparingly as possible, and pay as much attention to underclocking/volting as you do to overclocking/volting.

    It's becoming quite the thing to do, you know. In mid 2011 I really shouldn't have to ask.
    Reply
  • NeBlackCat - Wednesday, May 11, 2011 - link

    Oops I accidentally posted that as a reply.

    But since I'm back - any chance you would do a follow up review of the board from an energy saving viewpoint, and incorporate this IMPORTANT aspect into all further board/system reviews, Anandtech?
    Reply
  • Dreamwalker - Wednesday, May 11, 2011 - link

    Seriusly, if you are after a low power consumption system go look elswhere (Atom, AMD E series, ITX boards...).

    This segment is made to get the maximum out of your rig and not vice versa.
    Reply
  • xinaes - Wednesday, May 11, 2011 - link

    Surely these things needn't be polarized. It is not unreasonable to want to know what kind of balance of performance and power can be achieved with any given level of hardware. Also, why should someone interested in economising power not be interested in something like QuickSync, for example? Reply
  • aegisofrime - Wednesday, May 11, 2011 - link

    I agree with NeBlackCat. Low power consumption doesn't necessary mean low performance. I for one, undervolt my Phenom II 955. It's a nice balance between performance and power consumption.

    That said, I have researched undervolting Sandy Bridges before and they seem to do that quite well.
    Reply
  • vol7ron - Wednesday, May 11, 2011 - link

    I'd also like to know for HTPCs, but I feel if I went that route, I'd stick to an H67 and Core i3/i5 for the cost savings.

    Still, this is obviously not a complete review, but undervol7ing is something to keep in mind. :)
    Reply
  • L. - Thursday, May 12, 2011 - link

    2011
    HTPC
    H67 / Z68 / Intel in general

    The above three elements are incompatible.

    Today, HTPC = E350
    Tomorrow, HTPC = E350-likes

    For a technical sidenote, undervolting and underclocking are two practices that have been promoted by the lack of chips at every consumption level.

    However, again, this is 2011 and you have chips ranging from 1Watt to 125 Watts with steps of maximum 5Watts along the way.

    The important fact there is that a chip designed to run @ 18Watts (like an E350) will beat any chip running at that TDP but not designed for it (like an OC'd lower chip or a DC'd higher chip).

    As a summary, undervolting is a little fine-tuning you can apply in the end, but it is secondary to picking the correct chip to begin with.

    Sandy Bridge can undervolt decently, but seriously WTF.. if you don't need the power, don't pay for it ?

    If you're going to undervolt then there's a fairly high chance you're buying the wrong chip.
    Reply
  • NeBlackCat - Friday, May 13, 2011 - link

    I completely disagree with that.

    The whole point is that Z68/Sandy Bridge is getting close to giving us the full spectrum of power/performance possibilities in one box (I suspect Ivy Bridge will finish the job), so you DONT have to pick one CPU with one particular profile, and then be restricted in what you can do.

    For example:

    I may want my HTPC to run at minimal power/noise when watching a movie, but there'll also be times when I want it to rip through an encode as quickly as possible, and don't care if it sounds like a helicopter and glows like hot coal in the process. How nice if i can have both at whim, just with a clock/volt change from a GUI.

    I may want my home server to run frugally when just firewalling and media streaming but, when I want to compile that Linux distro...

    ... and so on.

    Z68/Sandy Bridge is perfect for either of the above scenarios. But where hardware/BIOS/tool vendors give us ability to absolutely minimise power/thermals, reviewers don't cover it. Not even a mention of the specs (how low can that vcore go, etc).

    They should.
    Reply
  • rmoan1 - Wednesday, May 18, 2011 - link

    This is silly to me.

    If you are not using the power then let it auto adjust down at the CPU level. Its like asking if you can fill a Ferrari with regular gas?

    Thou I understand why, there is no reason to spend time finding out, none that I can see anyway. If you want to run a media server, along with a browsing PC, etc etc... you can boot into the BIOS OS that comes with all ASUS Boards. You can get a media center ULV PC, etc.. etc... for $300. Or better yet get a tablet when you dont need the full power of your PC.

    At the end of the day, you arent getting WD Greens, low power cards, low power RAM, or a smaller PSU or the Green version of the motherboard.

    This a performance board that is used for OCing and will be used for OCing.

    If you are looking to save energy then stick to a Prius not a Ferrari.
    Reply

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