ASUS P8Z68-V Motherboard Review

Not everyone can afford or even wants to buy super expensive motherboards. While these tend to get the most attention, there is certainly a need for more budget oriented solutions. With this in mind we examine the ASUS P8Z68-V. This board is about as plain-Jane as a modern "big name" motherboard gets.

Introduction

ASUS Is of course one of the most well know, respected and widely used motherboard manufacturers on the planet. While most of the boards we review are somewhere between the mid-range and high end, it’s important to remember that not every enthusiast has a wallet that can handle such offerings. Some enthusiasts in contrast simply don’t want to pay for features they do not need and don’t want to use. The ASUS P8Z68-V is about as basic a Z68 offering as you’ll find.

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The P8Z68-V is fairly stripped down as far as features go. We have almost no secondary RAID controllers or drive controllers in general. We do not have a massive amount of onboard controls for benchmarking fanatics or testers. You will not find tons of LAN ports, USB 3.0 ports, or elaborate cooling solutions. Most of the time budget oriented offerings have fewer power phases, gimped BIOS options, and less attention to detail. ASUS on the other hand uses the same amount of power phases as the rest of the P8xxx family and all of them use the same UEFI implementation. What you truly have here is an enthusiast class board in nearly every price point so the buyer can concentrate on getting the features they want without compromising on overclocking performance and the features that truly count.

Based on the Z68 Express chipset, the P8Z68-V has the foundation for solid performance. Among the supported features are Intel’s Rapid Response Technology for SSD caching and Intel’s QuickSync feature. The board naturally features USB 3.0 and SATA 6G support as is common place now. SLI and Crossfire are supported, but this support is fairly basic. The P8Z68-V only supports dual card Crossfire and SLI or Quad-SLI and Quad CrossfireX through the use of two dual GPU cards.

Main Specifications Overview:

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Detailed Specifications Overview:

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Packaging

ASUS uses the same packaging used with all the other P8xxx series boards. This packaging is basic but provides adequate protection for getting the board from manufacturing to the end user. Inside the package there are few accessories. Among them are; the user guide, driver DVD, SATA cables, SLI bridge, Q-connectors, and an I/O shield.

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Board Layout

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The layout of the motherboard is well thought out. There are no problem areas or glaring faults with the layout. The PCB revision of the board we tested was 1.01.

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The CPU socket area is clear of obstructions and flaws. Mounting large cooling solutions on the P8Z68-V shouldn’t be a problem. The MOSFETs are cooled by a passive heat sink. No heat pipes are used here.

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ASUS went with their usual blue and black color scheme for the DIMM slots. The color coding indicates the proper dual channel memory mode operation. The DIMM slots are the single sided locking tab type. Directly in front of the DIMM slot is the 24 pin ATX power connector and TPU/EPU switches.

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ASUS chose to cool the south bridge with a flat anodized aluminum heat sink which is also free of heat pipes. Directly in front of that are the motherboards six SATA ports. You can see the BIOS ROM slightly off to the right of those ports.

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ASUS has done a good job with the expansion area. I don’t have any complaints about this area. All the right slots are usable and you have quite a few options here.

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The rear I/O panel of the P8Z68-V is a little different from our normally reviewed boards because it has onboard video support. There are of course several USB ports and a blue tooth receiver. You will also find an eSATA port, an optical port, 1 RJ-45 port, six mini-stereo jacks and of course, DVI, HDMI and SVGA ports for video.

ASUS Ai Suite II

ASUS has been including their AI Suite II utility with all their boards. It has largely been unchanged for some time at this point.

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The program starts off by showing you a type of start bar or dock. From here you can choose functions via buttons on the bar. These typically lead to menus which ascend from the bar. There are tons of actual features here. The two most important ones are the Digi+VRM and TurboV EVO utilities as these are used for overclocking. From here you can also save / create and load profiles that have been created previously.

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The tool button gives you access to the TurboV EVO feature. This brings us to our overclocking options within the software. Initially we are confronted with only the BCLK frequency, CPU voltage, and DDR voltage. However once you click on the "More settings" button quite a few options become open to us. Among them are VCCIO, CPU PLL voltage, CHA Data, CHA CTRL, CHB Data, CHB CTRL, etc.

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Additionally we see a CPU Ratio button. This allows us to adjust our CPU turbo ratio allowing us to raise our CPU speed. We also have an auto tuning feature that allows for simple and automated overclocking of the system. There are of course two presets, fast and extreme. The latter isn’t as extreme as you might think, but it’s nice for the novice.

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The DIGI+VRM tool allows for control over our power phases and voltage components. The utility is simple to use. Load-line calibration, CPU current capability, DIGI+VRM frequency, phase control, and even iGPU load-line calibration and current capability are found here as well. The other nice thing about this utility is that there is a roll over which explains what each setting is on the right hand side.