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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  • GeorgeH - Thursday, September 22, 2011 - link

    This review mirrors my experiences with Zotac motherboards - awesome hardware on paper that's completely let down by abysmal BIOS and tweaking support.
  • dlang1234 - Thursday, September 22, 2011 - link

    Heat and noise...

    More interested in those, looks like an awesome HTPC. mini itx usually isn't targeted at a gamer, but Home Theaters or specific in car or other unique installations.

    I'm more interested in how well it would work playing Blu-Rays, streaming media all at 1080p. Audio over HDMI? etc..
  • Anosh - Thursday, September 22, 2011 - link

    There's a new version of the bios which seems to fix some of the issues mentioned (XMP, undervolting etc) and it would be great if you could take a look at what they tried to fix and what they actually managed to fix.

    I've had this board under consideration for a long time now since it's one of the few 1155 itx with both displayport and hdmi (and wifi) but I'm glad I didn't go for it since there are so many issues floating around (buzzing, faulty memory slots, doa, lacking bios, stops booting after x months etc) that I would've had to replace it not long after getting.

    I've read retailers are dumping zotac inventory based on the horrible experiences customers have had with this product. Also there seems to be new revision under way.

    I'm typing this on an iPoop so trying to find all the reference links to backup my claims would take forever but search a bit and you'll discover they're easy to find.
  • mayankleoboy1 - Thursday, September 22, 2011 - link

    all the other boards are tested with c300 and this board is tested with vertex3, gibing higher numbers??
  • IanCutress - Thursday, September 22, 2011 - link

    We tested the board with both, and both results are given in the graphs.

    OCZ were kind enough to provide Vertex3s for Brendan and I to use in future reviews (Brendan does not have access to a C300), but we currently do not have enough Vertex3 results to warrant a graph using purely Vertex3 results So for the time being we're showing C300 results with an example of what happens with the Vertex3.

    All the best,
  • Breathless - Thursday, September 22, 2011 - link

    Why would you not have updated the bios prior to doing the review? The bios has been out for quite some time now...
  • IanCutress - Thursday, September 22, 2011 - link

    Simply put, a lot of people never update their BIOSes from the shipping version, so we have to test that. With the Intel spec issues, when the testing for this board was done, Zotac sent me the BIOS while it was still in beta phase, and I've been in contact with Zotac regarding the issues I was having with that beta release (the DIMM slot not working being a big issue). It seems to have been pushed into a full release since then (as of 9/9), despite my issues. As a result, I have updated the review to notify it is now a full BIOS release.

  • Mr Perfect - Thursday, September 22, 2011 - link

    Do you have any information on what caused the DIMM slot to fail? There is one guy on HardForums who, after having that problem on his own machine, then went on to test every board he had in stock at his shop. I'm not sure if it's something he was doing, or a fault with the design, but every one he tried had that issue.
  • FATCamaro - Thursday, September 22, 2011 - link

    You barely talked about stability. Reviews are useless without it to me. I'd rather look at the star rating on newegg to figure out whether i want the board or not. It's the single most important aspect, yet it doesn't even get lip service.
  • Iketh - Thursday, September 22, 2011 - link

    how could he comment on stability? if he didnt experience any and thus didn't comment on it, it's quite obvious that it ran fine... newegg's ratings are a bunch of boards from daily users, this is one board that was ran through benchmarks... so how the hell can you ask him to, at the minimum, reproduce newegg's results???

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