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

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Test System Configuration and Installation Notes

Z68 Motherboard Round Up Test Photo 500x312 Futurelooks INTEL Z68 Round Up: ASUS vs GIGABYTE vs ASRock vs MSI   FIGHT!

Let’s break down the test system and get straight to the benchmarks. We’ll be using a familiar Kingston V+100 SSD in our tests since running Intel Smart Response is what the INTEL Z68 chipset is made for.

Some Kingston HyperX Genesis and Patriot Division II memory was used to throw a couple variables at the Z68 round up both to validate and approve stability. The systems were all tested with a Kingston 64GB SSDNow V+100 connected since it is a standard Z68 feature. SSDs do enhance performance of the system through out. Keep that in mind if you’re comparing benchmarks.

The most serious issue encountered with the ASRock Z68 Extreme 4 is mostly a moot point now that boards ship with a newer BIOS. However, if you happen to get an older one, RAID set up needed for using ISR or SSD caching will give you issues at boot. The system may randomly not detect the OS hard drive and keep going back to BIOS. However, a quick BIOS update fixes any issues. Make sure you grab it before using this board.

Benchmark Suite Notes

As per standard operating procedures, the overclocked system has to pass three iterations of Sysmark 2007 or we don’t count it as stable. That said, the suite consists of programs that test the entire platform’s features and sub-systems under real world applications. The benchmarks include: Sysmark 2007, CineBench R11.5, 3DMark11, Metro 2033, RightMarkAudio Analyzer, input/output performance, power consumption, and quality control.

Power Consumption was measured using a power meter from the outlet. Quality Control was done utilizing both our senses and a laser thermometer. We’re looking for EMF, noises and any unusual hot spots compared to previous P67 platforms.

Overclocking: Who Brings the Frequencies?

When it comes to overclocking, the power supply, motherboard, CPU, and temps effect the results. If you can’t overclock very high, one of these variables will limit your system. With that in mind,  CPU voltage were set to a max of 1.5 volts and memory set to 1.68 volts for all overclocking. If you want to use the bundled OC software, you’ll find they all will reach 4.2GHz easily just like MSI’s OC Genie II on a 2600K.

Z68 Round Up Overclocking Results Futurelooks INTEL Z68 Round Up: ASUS vs GIGABYTE vs ASRock vs MSI   FIGHT!

Switching to the BIOS, we found each board provides OC profiles topping out at 4.8GHz found on the Z68 Extreme 4. The P8Z68-V Pro and Extreme 4 achieved 4.6GHz presets out of the gate. The rest weren’t quite as aggressive with their preset profiles but still break the 4.2GHz barrier. When switching to full manual BIOS OC mode, the P8Z68-V Pro made excellent use of its offset DIGI+VRM voltages to lead the pack.

It makes sense that the boards with the more aggressive VRM overclock the best. You can also see that the Max Base Clocks weren’t very high. The higher you go with the CPU frequency, the less flexible the base clocks become. In comparison to the P67 boards we’ve had in the labs, each one randomly tested with the same voltage are a little more eager to squeeze out an extra multiplier and/or base clock frequency.

Sysmark 2007

This program benchmarks a computer’s overall performance rating the system in areas such as E-Learning, Video Creation, Office Productivity, and 3D Modeling. E-Learning uses apps like Adobe Flash and Photoshop to execute rich image, video, and audio in web based presentations. Video Creation creates a video rendering uses apps like SONY VEGAS to stress the system in professional video editing using effects and images from multiple sources, content types and formats. Office Productivity uses the real Microsoft Office to assess performance gains using these types of application. Finally, 3D Modeling professional applications to stress the system in real world modelling simulations.

Z68 Motherboard Round Up Graph 6 Futurelooks INTEL Z68 Round Up: ASUS vs GIGABYTE vs ASRock vs MSI   FIGHT!

Sysmark 2007 is a data demon. It goes faster and faster thanks to the SSD and Intel Smart Response especially compared to the Z68 or P67 running without it. Keep in mind that it’s only with the help of a good quality 20-64GB max SSD that ISR makes such an impact. Repetitive games and programs will load quicker. But, you won’t see any decrease to your video rendering times or access when random data is involved.

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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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