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Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD4-B3 Motherboard

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Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD4-B3 has a rather developed (and colorful) back panel, although the seeming diversity boils down to something expected: 2 x USB 3.0, 7 x USB 2.0, USB/eSATA, eSATA, LAN, FireWire, audio I/O, and PS/2 combo. A very nice set of interfaces, we must say, which corresponds to motherboard's higher mid-end positioning.

Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD4-B3 is based on the Intel Z68 Express chipset (Z68 PCH). In addition, it has the following onboard controllers:

  • 2 x USB 3.0 based on EtronTech EJ168A (PCIe x1), up to 4 devices, 2 ports on the back panel.
  • 2 x SATA 6Gbps based on Marvell 88SE9172 (PCIe x1), up to 4 devices (2 x eSATA 6Gbps on the back panel and 2 regular SATA 6Gbps ports onboard).
  • Integrated audio based on the 7.1+2-channel Realtek ALC889 HDA codec, optical and coaxial S/PDIF on the back panel, onboard S/PDIF-Out.
  • Gigabit Ethernet based on Realtek RTL8111E (PCIe x1).
  • FireWire based on VIA VT6308P (PCI), up to 2 ports, 1 port on the back panel.
  • PCI based on the PCIe-PCI bridge ITE IT8892E, up to 3 PCI devices (2 onboard slots and an interface for a FireWire controller).

The two additional SATA 6Gbps controllers seem too many, considering there are also two chipset-based ports as well. And if one of those provides eSATA functionality, the other is simply a RAID controller for 2 SATA 6Gbps ports.

The audio codec drivers traditionally offer sound enhancements only in Windows Vista and 7. In particular, Natural Bass (Bass Boost) and Dolby Prologic IIx. Speaking of quality, we tested it with RightMark Audio Analyzer 6.0 and a Terratec DMX 6fire sound card.

Test 16-bit/44kHz 16-bit/48kHz
Frequency response (40Hz to 15kHz), dB +0.02, -0.08 +0.02, -0.07
Noise level, dB(A) -93.5 -93.6
Dynamic range, dB(A) 93.4 93.7
Total harmonic distortion, % 0.0083 0.0082
Total harmonic distortion + noise, dB(A) -78.7 -78.8
Intermodulation distortion + noise, % 0.0099 0.0097
Channel crosstalk, dB -93.3 -93.2
Intermodulation distortion at 10 kHz, % 0.0098 0.0095
Overall grade Very good Very good

Like all motherboards based on Intel 6x series chipsets, Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD4-B3 provides PCI support with a PCIe-PCI bridge. We can only say that it worked flawlessly and we had no issues with it whatsoever.

Final thoughts

We'd like to repeat that we see little reason in this motherboard, as well as any other Z68-based solution without support for integrated graphics. Firstly, because the Intel Smart Response Technology — the only difference from a P67-based motherboard except for higher price — hasn't been polished enough yet. Secondly, we believe such products may be confusing to inexperienced users who will probably not assume that a board based on an integrated chipset has actually been stripped of the 'integrated' part.

If these two things don't really bother you (or if you want an Intel Smart Response-capable motherboard no matter what), Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD4-B3 is a good and promising choice. It stands out among typical mid-end solutions by having richer functionality (two USB 3.0 and two additional SATA 6Gbps controllers), comes with a lot of software utilities, and you don't have to pay for extra hardware features you might not need. Also, the Touch BIOS adds nice variety to all those implementations of UEFI.

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Article navigation:

Page 1: Introduction, design

Page 2: Touch BIOS

Page 3: Package and utilities

Page 4: Features, final thoughts

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