So far, ASUS has released five motherboard models based on the Intel Z68 chipset. With prices ranging from USD 180 to USD 360, there is a model for any kind of user. Today we are taking a look at one of the mid-range models, the P8Z68-V PRO.
The ASUS motherboards based on the Z68 chipset are available within two series, the high-end Maximus IV and the mid-range P8Z68. The P8Z68 series is currently comprised of three models, P8Z68-V, P8Z68-V PRO, and P8Z68 DELUXE. These three motherboards are very similar, with three PCI Express x16 slots, Bluetooth receiver, four USB 3.0 ports, and support for the Virtu technology. The PRO model comes with two FireWire (IEEE1394) ports and two additional SATA-600 ports, features not available on the plain P8Z68 model. The DELUXE model, on the other hand, comes with all features of the PRO version plus two additional Gigabit Ethernet ports (other models have only one), a better audio codec (Realtek ALC889), a power eSATA port, and an adapter with two USB 3.0 ports for you to install on the front panel of your case.
The Intel Z68 chipset is basically a P67 chipset with two new features added. First, the Intel Smart Response Technology (SRT), allows you to speed up disk performance by using an SSD unit as a cache unit for your conventional (i.e., mechanical) hard disk drive. This technology works by storing in the SSD the programs and data you access the most. Click here to learn more about this technology.
The second technology that was added is a video connection between the CPU and the chipset, called FDI (Flexible Display Interface). This connection was previously available on the H67 and similar chipsets but not on the P67 chipset. Socket LGA1155 processors have an integrated video processor, but the P67 chipset won’t allow you to use it since it is targeted to consumers that will have a physical video card. With the Z68, the use of an integrated video processor is possible if the motherboard manufacturer added video connectors on the motherboard. This way, Intel won’t be releasing an “H68” chipset.
The big reason for this change was that Intel licensed a software from Lucidlogix called Virtu, which allows the computer to dynamically switch video cards, depending on what you are doing with your computer. In a typical scenario, this software will make the system use the CPU’s integrated video engine when you are not playing games instead of using your add-on video card. This allows you to save energy, since the CPU integrated video consumes less power than add-on video cards. For this feature to be available on a given Z68 motherboard, the motherboard manufacturer must have licensed the Virtu software, and the motherboard must have video connectors soldered directly on the board.