Futurelooks’ INTEL Z68 Round Up: ASUS vs GIGABYTE vs ASRock vs MSI – FIGHT!

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GIGABYTE GA-Z68XP-UD5-B3 Motherboard

GIGABYTE Z68XP UD5 B3 Motherboard 1 500x281 Futurelooks INTEL Z68 Round Up: ASUS vs GIGABYTE vs ASRock vs MSI   FIGHT!

The original UD5 that we featured in the Z68 launch article didn’t have any video out ports. But, with many people feeling a loss without access to the video and Virtu, GIGABYTE added an HDMI port renaming the board to the Z68XP-UD5. With 20-Phase VRM, the platform is poised to offer better overclocking than its “H” siblings. You’ll definitely like the look if you take pride in your system. We go through it in detail in the unboxing video below.

Overall, the UD5 layout is also very clean and similar to the UD3H. It’s very easy to get to all the ports including the special USB ports which are at the bottom of the board now. The platform has larger heat sinks and pipes to accommodate higher VRM output to the CPU from overclocking. While both the UD3H and UD5 have Cloud OC for overclocking using your smartphone or tablet and Hotekey OC for overclocking, the UD5 stands to achieve the highest extended overclocks with better stability. You’ll find the power and reset buttons hiding behind the 24-pin power connector. Since, most users will be using a case, this is a pretty minor issue.

GIGABYTE Z68XP UD5 B3 Motherboard 2 500x317 Futurelooks INTEL Z68 Round Up: ASUS vs GIGABYTE vs ASRock vs MSI   FIGHT!

While you can still find the original GA-Z68X-UD5 for $239.99 US, the revised Z68XP-UD5 cost increased to $269.99 US after adding Virtu and an HDMI port. At this increased price, consumers are going to have to heavily consider the competition at the original price. Still, GIGABYTE’s quality has secured many happy fans willing to pay a little extra for the sexy black PCB and a more traditional BIOS experience.

MSI Z68A-GD80 Motherboard

MSI Z68A GD80 Motherboard 1 500x302 Futurelooks INTEL Z68 Round Up: ASUS vs GIGABYTE vs ASRock vs MSI   FIGHT!

The GD80 is a more aggressive model and seems to be MSI’s best bang for buck overclocking choice. We’ve seen the P67A-GD80 sibling get close to 5GHz with moderate tweaks. The VRM engineers appear to be doing what it takes to get these boards noticed in all facets of performance. The Military Class II theme returns featuring OC Genie II for super easy 4GHz+ overclocking. Let’s go to the unboxing video below for a closer look and overview.

The ClickBIOS II is a very easy BIOS to navigate and doesn’t take a pro to figure out the performance sweet spots. There are options for automated overclocking similar to the ASUS P8Z68-V Pro right down to the frequency selections if you’re using a Core i7-2600K. MSI really worked on cleaning up the software for the Windows environment. Most of what you can do in the BIOS can also be done in Windows.

MSI Z68A GD80 Motherboard 2 500x312 Futurelooks INTEL Z68 Round Up: ASUS vs GIGABYTE vs ASRock vs MSI   FIGHT!

We found that the GD80 has a very low profile set of components except for the VRM heat pipe sinks around the CPU socket. The new Hi-C caps (flat components next to the socket) sit very low and out of the way. Users should find all the sockets near the edges of the motherboard including the special front panel USB header. A single 6-pin PCI Express power port oddly crowds the top PCIEx1 slot. Other than that tiny issue, the GD80 is a very cool board priced in at $229.99 US which also includes Virtu. If we could get this board about $20 cheaper, we would really see it flying off the shelves.

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About

As our Senior PC Hardware Editor, Eric has been working with tech since before serving in the military where he really got to play with some very cool hardware. As for his prowess on the virtual battlefield, don't let the teddy bear exterior fool you. He can frag and pwn with the best in just about any first person shooter. You may run in to him at LANs, tech shows, and gaming shows, so do say hello.

  • Toto

    Concerning the combo cooler option on the ASRock. I don’t find to be outdated, actually it’s particularly useful. In my case at least. And, if I’m not mistaking, most coolers “back in the day” were sold with both the 775 and 1366 mounts, so the “bigger” one is not that special.  

    Given the fact that no vendor in my country sells 1155 mounting kits for the Megahalems cooler, or other proper coolers for that matter, I can use the 775 socket kit (with some minor modifications). Yes, the cooler sits a bit crooked, but it doses its job on the 2500k perfectly, and to no added cost. I don’t have to buy another tower cooler or kit, which actually turns out to be very pricey.   

  • http://twitter.com/ericgaray Eric Garay

    Hi there Toto, that’s cool that the feature works for you. I don’t always point out my market perceptions are based on the popular market countries. So, you can’t get 1155 mounting kits from in manufacturers in your country? If you don’t mind me asking, which CPU cooler do you use and where do you live? If manufacturers are selling coolers in your country, we should do our best to point that out so they remedy the issue. It also could be your retailers there just don’t care to order in those kits. Noctua sends you an upgrade kit for free which is awesome.

  • Toto

    Thanks for the reply Eric. I found out about the CCO thanks to users from France and Brittain, so I guess it’s pretty popular in the bigger market countries as well.  

    I live in Bulgaria and buying a new cooler wasn’t a problem for me. The real reason that I preferred the CCO from ASRock is that the vendors here don’t offer that big of a variety of options. In my case the only suitable ones were the Thermalright Ultra Extreme, the Armageddon from Prolimatech and the a couple of Scythe models. The TRUE I neglected because of its mounting and contact surface problems, I just didn’t want the hassle. The Armageddon and Scythe had very impractical sizes and dimensions. Also the top of the line Noctua was and still is available but that’s waaay too expensive and over the top for my needs. You’re right for saying that the retailers here don’t care about ordering in the kits. 

    I had a Prolimatech Megahalems Rev.A from my old system with the 775 bracket. Drilled a hole in the plate so it didn’t interfere with the screws on the mobo’s backplate and “voila”. 

    I tried ordering a 1155 mounting kits for my 1155 Extreme4 from the US but the shops there either didn’t ship overseas, or the delivery cost were extremely high (~20USD for a 6USD kit – no thanks!).

    It turned out that except Noctua, Prolimatech also supplies 1155 mounting kits for free. I contacted the company and they were extremely helpful and kind enough to send me one. The trouble was that I never got the kit, because it got lost (or stolen) during shipping, and I didn’t have the decency to ask for another one. On the other hand CCO works perfectly for me, if you don’t mind the botch job on the back, which except for looking bad does not interfere with the proper operation of the system.

    • http://twitter.com/ericgaray Eric Garay

      That’s pretty smart modding right there Toto! I tried to drill and dremel out a few back plates before with poor success. I’ve noticed more board makers like Intel offering extra holes for previous generation cooler support. Honestly, if they’re going to keep changing the pinouts every new CPU launch, making it easy to use our existing coolers is the least they can do. :)

  • kroff

    hmm the asus board  has an intel nic, not broadcom

    • http://twitter.com/ericgaray Eric Garay

      Did I say Broadcom on the ASUS board? If so, it’s because I have several boards on the brain. Even I know that ASUS features Intel LAN Pro on all their boards now. ASRock has used Broadcom. Not sure if anyone else is doing that at the moment. MSI has used Realtek for P67/Z68 boards. Thus far, Intel LAN Pro has offered the best performance balance. That could change with ASRock using Broadcom bundled with ASRock XFastLan.

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