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Thread: Z68X-UD7 Review- Physical




  1. #1
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    Default Z68X-UD7 Review- Physical

    Z68X-UD7-B3 Review-Physical
    This is a quick physical review of GIGABYTEís new flagship Z68 motherboard, I would like to state that Z68 offers a few advantages over its P67 and H67 counterparts. I have kind of changed up my review style here, offering more pictures and more descriptive pictures. To begin with Z68 is supposed to be H67 + P67 + SSD Caching and Intelís Smart Response Technology bundled into one chipset. Today we are going to take a quick look at the Z68X-UD7-B3 as well as a quick look at GIGABYTE's highly anticipated Touch BIOS! The Z68X-UD7-B3 is very similar to the P67A-UD7-B3, with some slight changes in terms of accessories, BIOS, and of course chipset and features.

    I also got some other goodies in this past week including a really nice set of Kingston DDR3 1600mhz RAM, GIGABYTE AIVIA K8100 Gaming keyboard, and GIGABYTE GHOST MX8000 gaming mouse. So I will try and show you some pics of these really cool products!

    Letís start out with the boxing and accessories for the UD7.






    As you can see we finally have black SATA6G cables, which the P67A-UD7-B3 also has but the B2 variant doesnít.

    This has to be the most anticipated part of the whole accessory set, the USB 3.0 front panel bracket. You canít hook up a USB 2.0 bracket to a USB 3.0 port and expect it to run at USB 3.0 speeds.

    Notice the black SLI bracket, itís pretty cool.

    The socket is pretty much the same as the P67A-UD7-B3, to be honest the whole board pretty much is the same other than the Z68 SSD Caching and the Z68 chipset. Going over aspects of the actual ICs and trace layout I was taken aback by how familiar is all looks. Itís kind of like landing on the moon and being amazed the first time, and then landing on Mars and expecting the same awe, but itís the same as the Moon. Still though the whole experience is pretty cool, since this board is probably the most loaded motherboard I have ever gazed upon.


    Here we have our backpanel ports, same as the P67 variant, but a bit updated. We see the use of a different brand of USB/eSATA combo ports, as well as new Audio ports. Still this board boasts 10 USB 3.0 ports alone! I forgot to mention it also has a USB 3.0 turbo mode, for when your PCHís 8x PCI-E 1x lanes are all crammed, you can bypass the PCH and use the CPUís DMI bus directly.

    Our RAM slots are just as before, placed as close as can be to the socket to maintain shorter trace length for lower trace parasitic impedance.

    Moving over to our PCI-E layout, we have two full speed 16x slots and two 8X speed PCI-E slots from the NF200 chipset, which was carried over as well. Surprisingly we are also granted 2x PCI legacy slots, which many find useful. We also have a PCI-E 1x slot up top.

    Here we have gray colored Marvell SATA6G ports, white colored Intel SATA6G ports, and 4 black Intel SATA3G ports.
    Sorry for the tilted picture, but here you can see all the connectors at the bottom of the board. Pretty much everything you need, plus two USB 3.0 connectors which can each support up to 2 USB 3.0 ports.


    Here are out very handy power, reset, and CMOS clear buttons.

    Here we take the heatsinks off, as always this is where the good part begins!

    Moving to the back of the board we have our trusted screws, springs, and washers to hold our heatsink in place.

    Trusted 8 layer PCB.

    Here is a shot of the heatsinks alone. You can see that they used thermal paste for the PCH and NF200 heatsinks, and thermal pads for the DrMOS. There are 10 DrMOS on the underside of the board, they are cooled indirectly through the 2oz of copper in the PCB, which is double Intelís requirement for copper in the PCB.

    Now we are going to move to my favorite part, the ICs.

    Here is a VERY crowded picture for you, but I wanted this review to be more of a picture gallery along with explanation. Each section is outlined in a different color, and every picture below corresponds to those colored outlines. You have a guide on the left. So do try to keep up as we are going to zoom through power delivery on this board.
    I should note that if something on this board is being powered by switching mode power supply it uses Low RDS (ON) MOSFETs at the least, and the CPU main Vcore uses Driver MOSFETs (DrMOS). This keeps power delivery clean, and unlike many manufacturers, it can help deliver stable power to every component that needs it.
    This is the back of the CPU socket area, you can see all the components on the underside. These are DrMOS & Intersil Phase Doublers, which cut down the switching frequency in half so the end result per individual phase is 1/4 the original 1.05mhz switching frequency. Surprisingly transient response is still up to Intel's standards and these boards own world records, and its for two reasons. #1 these phase doublers are designed to work with this PWM specifically, and since its an interleaved PWM, it theoretically can allow us to multiply the bandwidth across all phases. Interleaving allows for the use of less and less output capacitors since output ripple current can be multiplied across 24 phases thus reducing actual output ripple. It also allows us to turn all phases on at once. #2 a 264khz effective (I measured it) switching frequency at the DrMOS allow for more current output at MUCH higher efficiency, which lowers temperatures and should help stabilize the output current. This board supports MultiLevel LLC which incorporates 10 steps, as well as normal LLC, but that is for GIGABYTE diagnostic purposes to tune LLC. So this board has 33 combos of possible LLC programmed in the iTE GPIO in the picture below. As far as I know those are all the possible combinations, so its up to GIGA to tune their LLC over time, but do realize that LLC can and probably will vary across BIOSes.

    BTW GIGABYTE says its a TRUE 24 Phase VRM, they designed it and they even showed a waveform:


    You can see all the components and what they do. All of the components have been proven on past boards, and the PWM is probably the most advanced mixed signal analogue PWM. Its much more digitalized than its previous ISL6336G on the GIGABYTE X58 boards. This board can output easily 480A of power, multiply that by voltage and you have max wattage output. Of course its totally overkill.
    Here we have our simple single stage CPU PLL output VRM. I really didn't have time to see what this VRM outputs too, but the CPU PLL read point is right in the path of its output, and everything else has its own VRM, so it has to be for one of the MANY voltage inputs the CPU requires.


    Our 2 phase RAM VRM.


    The NF200 is controlled by a single phase PWM, same as the CPU PLL and the PCH, except the end user cannot control it.


    PCH VRM, which can be controlled through BIOS.


    Here we have our last VRM(Switch Mode Power Supply) Its for the QPI/VTT and System Agent Voltages.


    Here is how the PCI-E system on this board works. As you can see I went from the back of the board, because that was you can see physically what each port supports in terms of 16x/8x pins.


    Our SATA6G support.


    Our VERY complex USB 3.0 and USB 3.0 Turbo System.


    Here are all the other ICs and SMD components that weren't covered!


    Now we are going to move on to some of the other goodies I have in, as well as the installation of parts!


    We have a really cool Kingston high performance triple channel DDR3 Kit.




    I love playing around with RAM:




    Three sticks:

    or Two:




    Heatsink installed.


    GPU installed, and you can see even though the RAM has very high heatsinks, it still works well.


    System up and running with the Touch BIOS!!!!!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Z68X-UD7 Review- Physical


    There is my new cool keyboard! Its a travel keyboard, in which it can store up to 5 profiles, through really easy to use software, and then it has on board memory so it can store them computer to computer.

    Really cool mouse!

    Same profiles and storage. A ton of customization. Its a dream for gamers to have both this keyboard and mouse, they are really great to use while I play BFBC2! When you snipe you can turn the sensitivity down on the fly, and change profiles on the fly for different weapons. Then change back to normal operation after the game is over. I play either with a shotgun or a sniper rifle, and well they have to use different sensitivities.




    Lights on the side show sensitivity levels. Different colors for different modes as well.


    Here we have again mode selection, but on the keyboard this time.


    The keyboard has TOUCH volume control!


    You can see the red lights light up as you touch them!


    The setup!


    The new stuff!

    Again the setup since we will now move to look at the new TOUCH Bios!!!!!

    The Touch BIOS!!!!

    As you guys may have seen the youtube video with Colin from GIGABYTE showing off their new Touch BIOS. It is time for me to explain and explore what is not in the video, because its not a simple BIOS. It is a EFI shell, in that it is firmware based, and you have to have it working with the BIOS. Many extreme tuners will be happy to hear that the old DOS style BIOS is still in tact, but this EFI shell is an in-Windows BIOS. What does that mean? It means you can set ALL BIOS settings through windows.
    Why did they do this opposed to the UEFI of other manufacturers?
    I have gathered that they wanted to use EFI to appeal to those who are too scared to enter BIOS, and those who want a better looking BIOS at the same time. So they bypassed integrating it into the normal BIOS level, and instead put it at the OS level. This means that users who are new to OCing and tuning can just enter Windows and make BIOS changes from there. The BIOS is now software in a sense. While many wanted to have BIOS be at the BIOS level, the general consensus from consumers was that something like 90% of them DON'T want to touch the BIOS upon start up and would be much more inclined to use software. So here you have it.

    So what benefits does this give us?

    #1 It is easier to tune our systems, we can tune through the normal BIOS, but also copy other users settings through windows. So you can have your xtremesystems window open and enter in recommend OC settings at the same time, without two computers!
    #2 This gives EFI nice look to those of use who want it, and the basic look to those of us who don't (I don't).
    #3 We can now take screenshots of our OC settings!
    #4 We can save to CMOS straight from windows!
    #5 We don't have to reboot to save to CMOS, so we can set it and forget, and then on reboot have our settings.

    I tried over and over to try to get the BIOS application settings to stick through windows, but you do have to reboot to get them to stick!


    Here we have all the settings from in the BIOS, its pretty easy to navigate!

    Multiplier change up to 59X:

    We can monitor PC health through windows!

    Save to CMOS through Windows:

    Multi Level (10 Step LLC)





    In conclusion yes this board is the same as the P67A-UD7-B3, the VRMs are the same. The only thing different are some accessories, the chipset, features, and BIOS is also different, and A LOT of consumers want this. This board probably wont be priced too much more than the current P67A-UD7-B3, but it will be priced high like the current UD7. The main benefit for those changing over from P67 to Z68 are SSD caching and Intel Smart Response Technology. A lot of users wanted the IGP functionality as well come Z68. The truth is that this board and many of the rest of GIGABYTE Z68 lineup do not have this. GIGABYTE didn't leave those who want it high and dry, they do have many IGP and Luci Virtu enabled and capable boards at much lower price points. So what is the deal? Maybe there is something that GIGABYTE knows and that we don't? I recommend that we wait and see what Virtu has in store for us, because other than power and money saving features, I don't see performance increases.



    Stay tuned for that review, as well as the performance review for this board! I will be focusing very hard on USB 3.0 Turbo mode, SSD Caching and Smart Response technology, as those seem to the be largest benefits of this platform!

    I have a few words to say about this board, and I have said them before; GIGABYTE LOVES to over engineer systems, from the CPU VRM to the USB 3.0 system and USB 3.0 turbo mode, GIGABYTE really over engineers its products to the benefit of its consumers. They have a long history of being innovative and they take initiatives with ground breaking technology. They were a bit late with the EFI BIOS, but they really did their research and I feel they nailed their target market. To have a product which is so packed with features you gotta look to GIGABYTE which "makes and bakes" all their boards (themselves) in Taiwan:


    I would like to thank those at GIGABYTE who made this review possible!!!! Thank you!

    So I wanted to try a new style where I make pictures that try to explain better than words, because I know time is of the essence. So If you like or dislike this method let me know!

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Z68X-UD7 Review- Physical


    There is my new cool keyboard! Its a travel keyboard, in which it can store up to 5 profiles, through really easy to use software, and then it has on board memory so it can store them computer to computer.

    Really cool mouse!

    Same profiles and storage. A ton of customization. Its a dream for gamers to have both this keyboard and mouse, they are really great to use while I play BFBC2! When you snipe you can turn the sensitivity down on the fly, and change profiles on the fly for different weapons. Then change back to normal operation after the game is over. I play either with a shotgun or a sniper rifle, and well they have to use different sensitivities.




    Lights on the side show sensitivity levels. Different colors for different modes as well.


    Here we have again mode selection, but on the keyboard this time.


    The keyboard has TOUCH volume control!


    You can see the red lights light up as you touch them!


    The setup!


    The new stuff!

    Again the setup since we will now move to look at the new TOUCH Bios!!!!!

    The Touch BIOS!!!!

    As you guys may have seen the youtube video with Colin from GIGABYTE showing off their new Touch BIOS. It is time for me to explain and explore what is not in the video, because its not a simple BIOS. It is a EFI shell, in that it is firmware based, and you have to have it working with the BIOS. Many extreme tuners will be happy to hear that the old DOS style BIOS is still in tact, but this EFI shell is an in-Windows BIOS. What does that mean? It means you can set ALL BIOS settings through windows.
    Why did they do this opposed to the UEFI of other manufacturers?
    I have gathered that they wanted to use EFI to appeal to those who are too scared to enter BIOS, and those who want a better looking BIOS at the same time. So they bypassed integrating it into the normal BIOS level, and instead put it at the OS level. This means that users who are new to OCing and tuning can just enter Windows and make BIOS changes from there. The BIOS is now software in a sense. While many wanted to have BIOS be at the BIOS level, the general consensus from consumers was that something like 90% of them DON'T want to touch the BIOS upon start up and would be much more inclined to use software. So here you have it.

    So what benefits does this give us?

    #1 It is easier to tune our systems, we can tune through the normal BIOS, but also copy other users settings through windows. So you can have your xtremesystems window open and enter in recommend OC settings at the same time, without two computers!
    #2 This gives EFI nice look to those of use who want it, and the basic look to those of us who don't (I don't).
    #3 We can now take screenshots of our OC settings!
    #4 We can save to CMOS straight from windows!
    #5 We don't have to reboot to save to CMOS, so we can set it and forget, and then on reboot have our settings.

    I tried over and over to try to get the BIOS application settings to stick through windows, but you do have to reboot to get them to stick!


    Here we have all the settings from in the BIOS, its pretty easy to navigate!

    Multiplier change up to 59X:

    We can monitor PC health through windows!

    Save to CMOS through Windows:

    Multi Level (10 Step LLC)





    In conclusion yes this board is the same as the P67A-UD7-B3, the VRMs are the same. The only thing different are some accessories, the chipset, features, and BIOS is also different, and A LOT of consumers want this. This board probably wont be priced too much more than the current P67A-UD7-B3, but it will be priced high like the current UD7. The main benefit for those changing over from P67 to Z68 are SSD caching and Intel Smart Response Technology. A lot of users wanted the IGP functionality as well come Z68. The truth is that this board and many of the rest of GIGABYTE Z68 lineup do not have this. GIGABYTE didn't leave those who want it high and dry, they do have many IGP and Luci Virtu enabled and capable boards at much lower price points. So what is the deal? Maybe there is something that GIGABYTE knows and that we don't? I recommend that we wait and see what Virtu has in store for us, because other than power and money saving features, I don't see performance increases.



    Stay tuned for that review, as well as the performance review for this board! I will be focusing very hard on USB 3.0 Turbo mode, SSD Caching and Smart Response technology, as those seem to the be largest benefits of this platform!

    I have a few words to say about this board, and I have said them before; GIGABYTE LOVES to over engineer systems, from the CPU VRM to the USB 3.0 system and USB 3.0 turbo mode, GIGABYTE really over engineers its products to the benefit of its consumers. They have a long history of being innovative and they take initiatives with ground breaking technology. They were a bit late with the EFI BIOS, but they really did their research and I feel they nailed their target market. To have a product which is so packed with features you gotta look to GIGABYTE which "makes and bakes" all their boards (themselves) in Taiwan:


    I would like to thank those at GIGABYTE who made this review possible!!!! Thank you!

    So I wanted to try a new style where I make pictures that try to explain better than words, because I know time is of the essence. So If you like or dislike this method let me know!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Z68X-UD7 Review- Physical

    According to The Tech Report, a newer revision of this board is planned/in development/already being made. It includes a HDMI port to solve the glaring (and pretty silly) omission of one of the vital features of Z68, K Series OCing combined with QuickSync. Read about it in their roundup of Z68 boards here: Z68 Express motherboards from Asus, Gigabyte, and MSI - The Tech Report - Page 5

    Like they say, who ever decided to ommit a display out on this board want's shooting. We know it's aimed at enthusiast OCers, however stripping away one of the two major reasons that Z68 is unique is just unfathomable. Seems Gigabyte agree if the revision/new version thing is actually true. I'd be interested to see if TT report on this, as they always seam to have a good relationship with Gigabyte.

    Thankyou for the nuts and bolts review sin0822, very thorough.
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    Default Re: Z68X-UD7 Review- Physical

    hey man, yea i never heard of them before, but i just read that! what a joke in many aspects, such as the GB board OCing lower, then the MSi that OCs lower than the ASUS. That is a joke, as SB OCing is all about the CPU.

    They left out the lucid because i think they wanted to get their boards out ASAP, but the fact is that I have read many reviews that state because of the way virtu is done, it can hurt graphics performance when gaming in i-mode. I think that is a major reason they left it out, when i was going over their presentation i saw a graph and it stated just that. But yea wording in many parts of that review make things he say wrong, but if he worded them correctly they would be right. hes not a good reviewer, he decided not to review the UD7 because of the lack of virtu, when in benchmarks and OCing it probably would have taken the crown.

    but hey thanks!

  6. #6
    Chike is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Z68X-UD7 Review- Physical

    Do you have to use virtu, or is it possible to choose in BIOS which you want to use, the iGPU or the graphics card?
    I am assuming you can choose if to use the iGPU at all, so it's up to the user if he is willing to have the penalty of using virtu, which is probably neglactable compared to the gain of 3-way CF/SLI.

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    Default Re: Z68X-UD7 Review- Physical

    I believe it's a choice between how you connect your monitor that dictates how you can use the IGP. The two modes are i-mode (monitor connected to motherboard) and d-mode (monitor connected to separate graphics card). In i-mode, the process involves the interception of API calls when a game is detected, that allows the relevant data to be processed on the discreet GPU instead while being output to your monitor, i.e. GPU Virtualization. Quicksync is available in both modes.

    There is a performance penalty, it ranges from a couple of FPS to a massive 35% drop in metro 2033. Metro and Bulletstorm seem to react the worst from the few games I've seen tested and this should be improved as Lucid carries on developing their software, because the process relies on application profiles, just like nVidia and AMD's GPU drivers do.

    I personally don't see why Gigabyte would simply neglect this tech because performance isn't good in a few games. Things like this haven't bothered them in the past. For example, up until recently they were including those God awful GSATA ports with JMicron controllers, which offered terrible performance. They didn't remove those/not include them, even though the performance wasn't up to par, in fact they were made a feature of and listed on the box as if they were a useful addition. In reality, they were only really good enough for optical drives, and even then you'd have to swap your optical to an Intel port in certain circumstances (e.g. when flashing a GPU/SSD/other components firmware) due to the utility you'd boot from not being able to detect hardware due to the GSATA port.

    I can understand why Tech Report didn't include the UD7. The feature was a comparison of fully featured Z68 boards. In that regard, the UD7 is not fully featured, which for a premium product, seems strange. All for the want of a display out and a copy of the Lucid software. One could argue that the UD7 is aimed more at the top end that probably won't use the feature to its fullest, however in d-mode they can still use QuickSync. However the same could be said for Smart Response. If the buyers of the board are super high end enthusiasts, then they probably have a SSD big enough that caching won't appeal to them. I know plenty of mid-high end users that would want a Z68 board that both game and encode video, and in d-mode gaming will be full speed, in combination with being able to use QuickSync.

    It's also completely understandable that the Gigabyte board wouldn't OC as well as the other two tested. The amount of power phases on the UD3H is much lower for a start. There are definitely other factors at play, not just the CPU when it comes to Sandy Bridge OCing. Look at the recent Tweak Town article on the MSI X68A-GD80. According to the reviewer, that board allowed him to OC the CPU he'd used on the testing of other boards further than any other by a margin that surprised him, proving that Motherboard must be a factor somewhere. The MSI Z68 was able to out clock the ASRock by ~ 300MHz.

    This was just a massive overclock for our CPU and it will be really interesting to see the kind of numbers we're able to pull at this speed since it's the highest my 2600k has been able to achieve to date.
    Purely in my opinion, there was no need to remove one of the features that makes Z68 unique. It's up to the user to decide if the performance penalty is worth using Lucid's software to allow use of the IGP when not gaming as it looks like it's only that and the use of Intel "Insider" that can't be accessed in d-mode. Performance may indeed improve drastically in i-mode as time passes due to Lucid updating drivers, but unfortunately, UD7 owners would be locked out of any improvements in that by default.

    I'm not saying I believe what the Tech Report reviewer said about there being a revised version with a single HDMI out for Lucid Virtu functionality is true, but if it does turn out to happen, then the early adopters that grabbed a UD7 now would be missing out on a feature that should have been included at the start.
    Last edited by Psycho101; 05-15-2011 at 03:52 AM.
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  8. #8
    Lsdmeasap's Avatar
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    Default Re: Z68X-UD7 Review- Physical

    Great review man, and very nice images as well!

    What's that on the keyboard, just protective cover or some type of gaming skin?

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    Default Re: Z68X-UD7 Review- Physical

    physco we played with a UD3H this weekend, it oced the 2500K to its max of 5.3ghz like cake walk. Its a fully capable board, and that reviewers need education on SB OC :)

    But yea this board has no virtu, I don't care for it on this board, but i do think the UD5 and UD4 should have it there.

    Let me tell you a little secret about the UD3H, it has more than enough phases for SB @35A per phase with what GB says 8 phases, its like 6, anyways that is about 252watts continuous output. OK? but here is the real kicker, it has PWM frequency control, and we had to set it to 98%, and it worked excellent after that. You just gotta learn to OC P67. Here is the thing with SB, power phases mean ****, honestly if you hve 6 phases for CPU core, you are good enough if every phase can push at least 30A, for about 5.5ghz. I have measured 12v power consumption of an OCed 2600K and it comes nowhere close to 200watts. I use a current meter built for the 12v plug of the board, i just haven't started using it in my reviews, b/c its extra crap we gotta do.

    The thing is all P67 boards can really OC to 5.3-5.5ghz, BUT that is if the CPu can do it, above that and subzero are all int eh hands of the better boards. We did put the UD3H under LN2 as well, no improvement tho. For those 5.8-6ghz OCes yea they need more power, priobabaly 300watts in ssome cases, but they aren't close as power hungry as a bloomfield or gulftown, my ES 990x would pull over 250watts idle at 6.5ghz.

    LSD- its a silicon cover for the keyboard LOL.
    Last edited by sin0822; 05-16-2011 at 12:12 PM.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Z68X-UD7 Review- Physical

    Thanks man, nice to know!

    Extra's like that are always nice to have, and I just wasn't sure if that's what it was or a shipping cover of sorts to protect it during delivery.

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