ASRock Z68 Extreme4 (Intel Z68) Motherboard Review (Page 11)

| May 11, 2011 at 1:52 am CDT
Rating: 90%Manufacturer: ASRock
Final Thoughts

Our suspicions are confirmed today now that the curtain has been lifted on the new Intel Z68 chipset. If you're a P67 user there's really very little reason to move to this new chipset outside of you wanting to make use of Intel Smart Response Technology or Lucid Virtu.

Even then, out of those two main features you'll probably find yourself not having any need for Lucid Virtu if you only have a semi decent discrete video card, and that's because there's encoding programs that make use of both the AMD Stream technology and NVIDIA CUDA technology.

Where you could see it come in handy, though, is little home based servers, home theater PCs, office machines and other areas like that where a discrete video card might not be used. With so many people having portable devices, the ability to convert a HD rip or even a full blown Blu-ray with this kind of speed is unreal. Especially using programs that let you queue movies; you could go to bed and wake up to a dozen iPad friendly movies that just need to be synced with iTunes.

Intel Smart Response Technology on the other hand is a fantastic technology and while similar technology has been around for a while now with other companies, the native support on offer from Intel is what makes it so appealing. Intel SRT doesn't give you that same quickness an SSD provides, but does indeed help boost performance over a typical mechanical only system. It's a really good meet-in-the-middle kind of technology for people who don't have or want to spend the money associated with a large SSD only "C Drive", but would love to see that added performance boost that's associated with the technology.

When we added a 30GB Kingston SSD to our 2TB Western Digital Black edition there was just that quickness that was associated with having an SSD. Everything opens a little faster and shuts down a little faster. A great example is in some testing that we saw Cameron do which shows a great video of the startup and shut down process.

Of course, if you haven't got a P67 board already, there's no real reason not to go the Z68. With a small price difference between the P67 and the new Z68 chipset you'd be better off opting for the new Z68 one. The only reason you wouldn't is if you wanted a more specialized higher end board like the P67 Fata1ity. It seems companies are transitioning quick to make sure their popular P67 lines are part of the Z68, though, so it might be worth holding out just slightly, or at least 'till Computex where we'll no doubt see a lot of companies release fancy versions of the new chipset.

Getting into the specifics on the ASRock version of the Z68 board, it's overall a strong board. It lacks some of the flair that we see from other companies when it comes to PCB design and heatsinks, but its performance is strong and achieving over 5GHz on our i7 2600k was easy.

You've also got that onboard video and while you can't do really any gaming with it, I have to say it's a nice addition in the situation where your video card dies, or you're maybe waiting for your video card to come from somewhere else. You can at least get up and running now, and then when it arrives all you have to do is install it and its drivers.

The aggressive pricing also associated with the ASRock brand is going to be appreciated on a board that has a good amount of features, performs rock solid and offers us some great overclocking potential on the "K Series" Intel CPUs.

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

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