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GIGABYTE Z68X-UD7-B3 (Intel Z68) Motherboard Review

By: Shawn Baker | Socket LGA 1155 in Motherboards | Posted: May 24, 2011 3:37 pm
TweakTown Rating: 95%Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Final Thoughts


At $349.99 US the GIGABYTE board is the most expensive Z68 based board being sold on Newegg at the moment. The next cheapest below that is $269.99 which is also a GIGABYTE motherboard. It isn't 'till $239.99 that we see another brand motherboard come in to the picture and that's the MSI Z68A-GD80 we looked at.


So, is the Z68X-UD7-B3 worth the extra coin? Absolutely! Over the last few months we've seen companies implement the Lucid Hydra chip which gives people the ability to do stuff like run an AMD and NVIDIA card together, or different series. To me, it feels like a bunch of marketing mumbo jumbo and a feature that most people won't use. What it does, though, is add a chunk of extra money to the board.


GIGABYTE has skipped using something like that and instead opted for the NF200 chip which is just a great addition to any performance motherboard based on a native 8x / 8x PCI-E setup when SLI or CrossFire is used. Instead, when we make use of SLI or CrossFire on the Z68X-UD7-B3 we get 16x / 16x. If you want to throw a third card into the mix, we get 16x / 8x / 8x; much more attractive than the 8x / 8x / 4x setup other Z68 boards offer if supporting a triple VGA setup.


If you're not going down the multi VGA path, though, is the Z68X-UD7-B3 still worth it? The value of the board isn't as strong, but it's still there. It's still an extremely feature rich board and an extremely good looking one at that. The thing is, though, the Z68X-UD5-B3 at $269.99 is a great option as well.


With nine boards at Newegg for GIGABYTE, two more than ASRock, ASUS and MSI are offering combined, there's a huge price range. Before we wrap everything up, though, GIGABYTE has removed a feature that we've seen on all our other Z68 boards. If you remember the I/O side of things, you may've seen no display connections. GIGABYTE doesn't offer the onboard video feature we're seeing with other Z68 boards on the UD7; there's actually a few boards it isn't included on in the GIGABYTE flock. Saying that, there's also a number of boards GIGABYTE offer that do have it, so keep an eye out if it's something you're after.


I find the onboard video a little wasted, though, on these $180+ US boards. Surely if you're going to pay that much for a higher end board, you're going to get a video card with it. Sure, you lose the Lucid Virtu feature, but both AMD and NVIDIA offer hardware encoding via Stream and CUDA. The technology behind Lucid Virtu while something new to the Intel platform, isn't something new.


While people continue to carry on about the Sandy Bridge platform not being hardcore enough because in SLI / CrossFire your PCI-E slots run at 8x / 8x, you can now go "Well mine runs at 16x / 16x, and I get 5GHz on my i7!"


The X58 is still a great platform, but it's been around for so long now that it's nice to play with something newer. You can have that ability with the Z68X-UD7-B3 without having to deal with the 8x / 8x VGA setup that is associated generally with the Sandy Bridge platform.


If you're going down or thinking about going down the multi GPU path, the Z68X-UD7-B3 is a stand out board. If you're not, though, the massive feature list, strong package and great looks make it a dream option for single GPU users as well.


While pricier than other Z68 boards, the value for money is present in a big way because it does offer more than cheaper boards. For people who want an extremely strong all round Z68 board, the GIGABYTE Z68X-UD7-B3 is a fantastic option.




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