User review Gigabyte Z68X-UD3H-B3
The Gigabyte Z68X-UD3H-B3 is Gigabytes mid level enthusiast Z68 based motherboard for the new socket 1155 CPU’s from Intel.
It is also the most feature rich of the Z68 boards from Gigabyte to have the onboard video out capabilities to take advantage of the IGP built into every S1155 chip.
This board is aimed at the mid range user, someone who wants a lot of features but does not necessarily view themselves as an elite overclocker. There are several other board in Gigabytes Z68 lineup that cater to those users. Think UD4, UD5 and UD7.
This gives Gigabyte one of the largest product spreads for socket 1155 Z68 based motherboards as there are also a few boards below this one. The full lineup of Gigabyte Z68 motherboards can be found here:
GIGABYTE - Motherboard - Socket 1155
The product webpage for the Gigabyte Z68X-UD3H-B3 can be found here:
GIGABYTE - Motherboard - Socket 1155 - GA-Z68X-UD3H-B3 (rev. 1.0)
The Z68 chipset sets itself apart from the previously released P67 and H67 chips in that it has the ability to overclock and use onboard video. The P67 was required for overclocking (unlocked K series chips only) while the H67 was required if you wanted to use Intel's IGP within the socket 1155 cpu.
But there is more than that...There are some new features built into the chipset itself, and this board is designed to take advantage of all three.
Intel Smart Response
This allows a user to add an inexpensive, small capacity SSD drive to an already installed OS (the controller must be in RAID mode in Bios). The Smart Response technology allows the SSD to be used as a large cache while the larger capacity standard hard drive gives a much increased capacity. This is an economical way to get most of the performance of an SSD at capacities that would easily break the bank. Have you seen the price of 256Gb SSDs?
Intel Quick Sync
This allows the onboard IGP to be used for video encoding. This can greatly reduce the CPU load while encoding, making your system still responsive and reduce power consumption.
This allows real time switching between the onboard IGP and your discrete GPU so that you can either use Quick Sync or just run your basic system with IGP to reduce system power usage. Then switch to your add in card for some gaming power.
Another feature that Gigabyte has added to the Z68 platform is the new Touch Bios software.
This allows users who are unfamiliar with BIOS menus to access all settings from within the operating system. It also allows experienced Gigabyte users to keep their traditional BIOS layout, for familiarity. If you have a touch screen monitor you can use it that way, otherwise it works perfectly well with a mouse.
The board is SLI and CrossfireX compatible 2-way only, when two video cards are installed, they will run at x8 each as they will share the bandwidth. This has proven to be a non issue in the past as there is more than adequate bandwidth at x8 for current video cards on the market. There are 2 full PCI_E X1 slot between the video cards to allow plenty of breathing room.
The current spacing for the cooler mounts is identical to socket 1156, so you won’t have to go out and spend on a new heat sink or a new mount for your old one. This is welcome news!
Wow... 4 different options for video out... D-SUB, DVI-D, HDMI and Display Port all on board. I have never seen this before!
PS2 Multi use port, Firewire, ESATA, LAN, Audio jacks for full surround connectivity and an Optical SPDIF out as well.
There are 6 USB ports on the back panel, two of which are USB 3.0 provided by an add on Etron chip. There are internal headers for an additional pair of USB 3.0 also provide by another Etron chip. The USB 3.0 header is a new design and I did not have the proper bracket to take advantage of it. None was included with the motherboard. There are also headers for an additional 8 USB 2.0 ports. There is no shortage of USB connectivity here.
The RAM slots are spaced a bit differently and you now need to place ram in slots 2 and 4 to get dual channel mode with only one pair of DIMMs. This is true of any S1155 board from Gigabyte.
The first ram slot is a bit close to the CPU mount, but even with my thick 38MM fan mounted on my Zalman heatsink, I am still able to populate the first slot without issue.
You may want to watch for ram that does not have excessively high heat spreaders when using large CPU heatsinks.
Case: Open Bench
Power Supply: Antec 750
Motherboard : GigabyteZ68X-UD3H-B3
CPU: Intel i7 2600K
CPU Cooling: Zalman CNPS10X performa
Memory: 4 GB (2x2GB) Gskill Eco DDR3 1600 cas 7. 1.35V
Video Card: Gigabyte GTX570 And BFG GTS 250 (2) In SLI
System Hard Drive: Seagate 160Gb Sata 2 HDD
Smart Response Cache SSD: Kingston SSDNow V Series SNV425-S2BN/64GB
Optical Drive: LG BH10 Blu ray writer
Operating System: Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit
I installed the latest bios from the Gigabyte website (F3 as of this writing) and wasted no time, installation of the operating system and drivers was effortless.
I decided to take a slightly different approach to this review, trying to keep in mind the market segment that this board is aimed at. So while I did run some stock benchmarks, for this review I kept overclocking very conservative, only using the Quick Boost settings within the Touch Bios. Don't get me wrong, I still had to see what the board and chip would top out at, but I will save that for the end!
I also spent some time with the new features and used a KILL-A-WATT to measure power consumption along the way.
So ..Let's get started with Intel Smart Response.
Like many people that play around with computers, I found myself with a few older lower capacity SATA hard drives. Their performance was no longer up to par and the capacity is a bit on the small side. Plenty for a typical Mom and Pop machine, but the performance pretty much ruled out their usefulness.
So I figured this was a great worst case scenario to see how much of an improvement I could get.
So I loaded Windows 7 Ultimate on the Seagate drive. Installation was flawless, if a little slower than I was used to. I then installed the SSD ran a few benchmarks on each to get a baseline.
Seagte as system drive
Kingston Drive (Added but not used as Cache)
I then followed the instructions and added the Kingston SSD as a cache in acceleration mode..
Not earth shattering, but you have to remember what I am using for a drive. More important than the benchmark, the system gained a nice snappy feel, not unlike running just an SSD. The beauty of this system is it can be added at any time. It does not have to be done during OS installation. Very Nice!
Next I moved on to Quick Sync.
For this I downloaded the trial version of Badaboom, a video encoding software that can use Cuda, Quick Sync or the CPU. I used the BFG GTS 250 for comparison. I know it isn't the latest greatest, but should still be more powerful than any onboard IGP......right?
Pay attention to the power usage as well here and note the CPU usage in the screen shots.
CPU - Power 110W
GPU (GTS 250) Power 160W
Quick Sync Power 92W
Seems i had a bit of a brain fart when doing the encoding tests and was using an external USB 2.0 drive. This was an I/O bottleneck and caused teh numbers to be out.....WAY OUT!
Here is a screen shot of Quick Sync:
Here is just the CPU:
Holy crap! That is a world of difference! My apologies to everyone for not catching this sooner.
Pretty impressive. The computer remained very responsive during the encoding process using Quick Sync.
This allows dynamic switching between the IGP and the add in GPU. I have to admit, I am not sure where the benefit of this fits in, as you add on GPU is still drawing IDLE power. The only real benefit I see is that you can easily shut down your GPU and use the Intel IGP for Quick Sync. This allows for very power efficient video encoding.
This is a handy little piece of software, it is fully customizable so you can lay out the buttons however you like. It has access to all the same settings found in the BIOS and also includes a very handy and easy to use Quick Boost for one button overclocking.
You literally never have to enter the bios again if you don't want to. A reboot is still required, but no more waiting punching the Delete key and getting into the BIOS.
So used the highest setting within the Quick Boost menu-Twin Turbo. This set the system to 4.2Ghz on the reboot and the system was completely and utterly stable.
Here are some comparative Benchmarks stock Vs Twin Turbo.
Overclocking- MAX stable overclock.
With Sandy Bridge, the real bottleneck is typically the CPU. The tend to just hit a wall and refuse to boot at any settings above that wall.
I did not spend more than about 30 minutes finding that wall with this CPU. Turns out I do not have a golden chip. 51 multiplier was all she had and it needed a bit more voltage than I was comfortable with to get there. I set the Vcore to 1.45 and the LLC to level 7 of 10. This actually resulted in a Vcore of 1.56V...Ouch! So needless to say I ran a few benches and backed it down again.
This is a great, do it all motherboard from Gigabyte. It utilizes all the features of the Z68 chipset and offers a relatively feature rich board with lots of connectivity options. Gigabytes Touch Bios adds a nice touch (no pun intended!) to bridge the gap between beginning overclockers and salty old veterans like myself.
Consider this to be Gigabytes solid All-Rounder. It has everything the average user will ever need, along with enough features for the overclocker on a budget to not feel they have had to give up too much.
i really do appreciate the review, this is the MB i picked up, and as a new guy, wasnt too sure what all of the little things were for!, ive got a better picture of what this board will do!
Thanks for the thanks, greatlly appreciated. This is the board i chose for my personal rig. The feature list for the price was hard to ignore.
Nice review :D
Did you update to the UEFI BIOS? If so, how do you like it?
I do not have this board any longer so i cannot comment.
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