titleIf you are looking to build a Sandy Bridge rig there is no question you have heard of Intel’s newest chipset, the Z68. Taking their P67 chipset, they've added everything that was missing, including the ability to take advantage of the GPU built in to your Sandy Bridge CPU. We are a little late to the party though; after the original Sandy Bridge launch I ran into a few health problems, but I am back and better than ever. It’s finally time to take a look at a Z68 chipset and this time around it’s a Z68X-UD3H-B3 from Gigabyte. Let’s find out if you should be looking at Z68’s or P67’s.

Product Name: Gigabyte Z68X-UD3H-B3

Review Sample Provided by: Gigabyte

Review by: Wes

Pictures by: Wes



Support for Intel® Core™ i7 processors/Intel® Core™ i5 processors/ Intel® Core™ i3 processors/Intel® Pentium® processors/Intel® Celeron® processors in the LGA1155 package

L3 cache varies with CPU

(Please refer "CPU Support List" for more information.)


Intel® Z68 Express Chipset


4 x 1.5V DDR3 DIMM sockets supporting up to 32 GB of system memory
* Due to Windows 32-bit operating system limitation, when more than 4 GB of physical memory is installed, the actual memory size displayed will be less than 4 GB.

Dual channel memory architecture

Support for DDR3 2133/1866/1600/1333/1066 MHz memory modules

Support for non-ECC memory modules

Support for Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) memory modules

(Please refer "Memory Support List" for more information.)

Onboard Graphics

Integrated in the Chipset:

1 x D-Sub port

1 x DVI-D port, supporting a maximum resolution of 1920x1200
* The DVI-D port does not support D-Sub connection by adapter.

1 x HDMI port, supporting a maximum resolution of 1920x1200

1 x DisplayPort, supporting a maximum resolution of 2560x1600p


Realtek ALC889 codec

High Definition Audio


Support for Dolby® Home Theater

Support for S/PDIF Out


1 x Realtek RTL8111E chip (10/100/1000 Mbit)

Expansion Slots

1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16 (PCIEX16)
* For optimum performance, if only one PCI Express graphics card is to be installed, be sure to install it in the PCIEX16 slot.

1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x8 (PCIEX8)
* The PCIEX8 slot shares bandwidth with the PCIEX16 slot. When the PCIEX8 slot is populated with a PCI Express graphics card, the PCIEX16 slot will operate at up to x8 mode.

3 x PCI Express x1 slots
(All PCI Express slots conform to PCI Express 2.0 standard.)

2 x PCI slots

Multi-Graphics Technology

Support for ATI CrossFireX™/NVIDIA SLI technology
* The PCIEX16 slot operates at up to x8 mode when ATI CrossFireX™/NVIDIA SLI is enabled.

Storage Interface


2 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors (SATA3_0, SATA3_1) supporting up to 2 SATA 6Gb/s devices

3 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors (SATA2_2~SATA2_4) supporting up to 3 SATA 3Gb/s devices

1 x eSATA 3Gb/s connector on the back panel supporting up to 1 SATA 3Gb/s device

Support for SATA RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10
* When a RAID set is built across the SATA 6Gb/s and SATA 3Gb/s channels, the system performance of the RAID set may vary depending on the devices being connected.

Marvell 88SE9172 chip:

2 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors (GSATA3_5, GSATA3_6) supporting up to 2 SATA 6Gb/s devices

Support for SATA RAID 0 and RAID 1



Up to 12 USB 2.0/1.1 ports (4 on the back panel, 8 via the USB brackets connected to the internal USB headers)

2 x Etron EJ168 chips:

Up to 4 USB 3.0/2.0 ports (2 on the back panel, 2 via the USB bracket connected to the internal USB header)

IEEE 1394

VIA VT6308 chip:

Up to 2 IEEE 1394a ports (1 on the back panel, 1 via the IEEE 1394a bracket connected to the internal IEEE 1394a header)

Internal I/O Connectors

1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector

1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector

4 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors

3 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors

1 x CPU fan header

2 x system fan headers

1 x power fan header

1 x front panel header

1 x front panel audio header

1 x S/PDIF Out header

4 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers

1 x USB 3.0/2.0 header

1 x IEEE 1394a header

1 x serial port header

1 x Trusted Platform Module (TPM) header

1 x clearing CMOS jumper

Back Panel Connectors

1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port

1 x D-Sub port

1 x DVI-D port

1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector

1 x HDMI port

1 x DisplayPort

4 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports

1 x IEEE 1394a port

1 x eSATA 3Gb/s connector

2 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports

1 x RJ-45 port

6 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out/Rear Speaker Out/Side Speaker Out/Line In/Line Out/Microphone)

I/O Controller

iTE IT8728 chip

H/W Monitoring

System voltage detection

CPU/System temperature detection

CPU/System/Power fan speed detection

CPU overheating warning

CPU/System/Power fan fail warning

CPU/System fan speed control
*Whether the CPU/system fan speed control function is supported will depend on the CPU/system cooler you install.


2 x 32 Mbit flash

Use of licensed AWARD BIOS

Support for DualBIOS™

PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.0, SM BIOS 2.4, ACPI 1.0b

Unique Features

Support for @BIOS

Support for Q-Flash

Support for Xpress BIOS Rescue

Support for Download Center

Support for Xpress Install

Support for Xpress Recovery2

Support for EasyTune
* Available functions in EasyTune may differ by motherboard model.

Support for Dynamic Energy Saver™ 2

Support for Smart 6™

Support for Auto Green

Support for eXtreme Hard Drive (X.H.D)

Support for ON/OFF Charge

Support for Cloud OC

Support for Q-Share

Bundle Software

Norton Internet Security (OEM version)

Operating System

Support for Microsoft® Windows® 7/Vista/XP

Form Factor

ATX Form Factor; 30.5cm x 24.4cm

Image 15



For the Z68X-UD3H-B3 Gigabyte went with a box design similar to the P67 that we reviewed at Sandy Bridge's launch. They use a dark background (something you don’t normally see from Gigabyte) and the entire front of the box is covered in bright colors and more information than any normal person could possibly take in at once. If you take a minute to look around you will see a large logo mentioning Touch BIOS, USB 3.0, SATA 3.0, 3x USB power, 3-year warranty, SLI support, 2x copper PCB, etc, etc… It really goes on from there.

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Around back is a lot like the front. Gigabyte really packed the packaging full of information this time around. You have a small picture of the board with a list of features and explanations for each feature all around it.

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Inside you’re greeted by the manual and the board’s accessories including four SATA cables and a flexible SLI bridge.

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You also get a software DVD, the manual, and a warning reminding you not to try installing a 1156 socket CPU into the board.

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Nothing too special from the rear I/O panel; everything is color coded though.

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The board is protected by a static free bag.

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To keep the heatsink from moving around during shipment they packed a piece of foam between the heatsink and the rear I/O panel.

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Board Layout

The Z568X-UD3H-B3 is a full ATX motherboard with a standard configuration. Gigabyte went with a black PCB on this and most of their other enthusiast boards starting at the beginning of this year with the launch of Sandy Bridge. Let’s take a closer look at a few of the boards components.

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In the top right next to the CPU socket you have four black DIMM slots for DDR3 dual channel memory. Unlike their past boards you don’t have two colors used on the DIMMs, so you have to be careful to put the RAM in the correct slots if you are going with a standard dual channel setup. Next to the DIMM slots you have the standard 24 pin power connection, also in black. Tucked in there is also a TPM header (Trusted Platform Module) in case you have the need for it.

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In the middle of the board you have the model number in a fairly easy to read location, although when you have a heatsink and video card in there it will be tight. You can also see in this photo both of the dual BIOS’s.

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In the bottom left section you have all four of the USB headers along the bottom including the red colored power boosted header for charging your portable devices. You also have a Firewire port for those who need it. Gigabyte left that port plugged to prevent anyone from mistakenly plugging into it. In the bottom left corner you also have a COM header.

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Here is our breakdown of the PCI slots. You can see that you get two PCI Express 16/8 slots. The top slot will run in x16 mode as long as the second slot is unused. When running a Crossfire or SLI configuration both slots will run at x8. On top of that you have three different PCI Express x1 slots. All three may not be useful but this does give you a few configuration options when running other cards in the x16 slot. Then you also get two legacy PCI slots down at the bottom. We don’t see the legacy slots on every board, but if you are still hanging on to an old sound card or something similar these slots may be a godsend.


Down below the DIMM slots you have the SATA ports along the edge. The seven slots are split up between three different colors. The three black ports are SATA 2 and the white and grey parts are SATA 3 or SATA 6. The reason for the two colors on the SATA 3 ports are because the white ports are running off of the chipset (like the black ports also) and the grey ports are running on the built in Marvel 88SE9172 chip. The chipset controlled ports support RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10. The Marvel ports support RAID 0 and 1 due to the limited amount of ports. You can’t run a hardware RAID across the two platforms, so if you need a hardware raid be sure to plan accordingly when building.

Image 17

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In the far bottom right corner you have four very important headers. First you have a four pin PWM fan connection for a case or system fan. It’s nice to see PWM being used on more than just CPU fan headers; this will help keep your case quiet when max cooling isn’t needed. At least for those of you who are running PWM fans. You can also see one internal USB 3.0 header, something that is slowly becoming standard on all new cases.

The front panel connections are easy to spot with its color coded layout. If you don’t know what the colors stand for you also have a diagram just under it printed on the PCB. Last but not least they also tucked the clear CMOS header just above the front panel header. This is a great location for this because it shouldn’t be too covered even with multiple video cards in your case. Typically we see this located in a difficult to reach spot, kudos to Gigabyte for considering this when putting together the Z68Z-UD3H-B3.

Image 18

The rear I/O panel for the Z68Z-UD3H-B3 is just PACKED full of connections. Let’s start with audio: you have the standard six port panel along with an optical connection for those looking to hook this up directly to your home stereo. Even with the massive amount of connections Gigabyte still slipped in one PS/2 connection for running your keyboard or mouse. This is important to gamers who are looking to avoid ghosting issues that USB can cause. Speaking of USB, you have a total of seven connections to pick from. Two of those connections are USB 3.0 ports and are colored blue to make them easy to spot. The other five are red in color because they support Gigabytes 3x power. One of those ports also doubles as a powered eSATA connection. Just like inside they also provide one Firewire connection for those of you looking to use it.

What sets the Z69 chipset apart from the P67 is its inclusion of onboard video. Because of that they were careful to make sure every type of connection possible was packed onto the Z68Z-UD3H-B3. You have a legacy VGA port, Dual Link DVI, Display Port, and HDMI with audio.

Last but not least you also have one 10/100/1000 Ethernet port tucked above the USB 3.0 ports.

Image 22


Typically for the BIOS we would pack this section pull of images trying to show you as much as we can of the BIOS. This makes for a sea of blue normally. To try things a little different today we are going to replace those images with one video of the entire BIOS along with Gigabytes Touch BIOS in windows software.

As you can see this is a feature filled BIOS with everything you would expect from a performance board. If you look closely you will also see all of the H67 options relating to the onboard video. Gigabyte made sure that this board is capable of being both an overclocker or enthusiast board or just a simple board for use in a home PC. With the inclusion of their Touch BIOS software it’s easy for those two worlds to overlap slightly. This gives people a chance to change things around as needed without going into the big bad scary BIOS. Of course because Touch BIOS gives you ALL of the same options that the normal BIOS does, you could easily break something if you don’t know what you’re changing.



The Z68Z-UD3H-B3’s cooling is really simple. There are only two heatsinks on the board and they didn’t find it necessary to use any heat pipes or anything else to transfer heat. Both of the heatsinks are machined out of aluminum and then painted in grey flake paint to go with the black PCB. The top heatsink covers up and cools the VRM’s and is held down with spring loaded push pin connectors. This design is a little wobbly, but should keep the 8 phase power cool for the Z68Z-UD3H-B3’s intended use.

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Down below you see the same grey flake color in the second half of the Z68Z-UD3H-B3’s cooling. This small heatsink keeps the Z68Z-UD3H-B3’s southbridge cool. It’s obvious with the Z68Z-UD3H-B3’s cooling that this is still a budget board. Even though it is packed with a lot of features, overclocking is going to be limited to what you can do without warming the board up too much. That of course is the downside to skimping on your motherboard though.

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Our Test Rig

Intel Sandy Bridge i5-2500K CPU

Crucial Ballistix Tracer Ram 1600Mhz 2x2Gb

OCZ Agility 60Gb SSD

Noctua NH-C14 heatsink

Cooler Master Silent Pro M 850Watt PSU

Sapphire HD6970 BF:BC2 Edition for AMD testing

Two Nvidia GTX580’s for SLI testing

Microcool Banchetto 101 Test bench


On top of the Touch BIOS that we covered in our BIOS section. Gigabyte includes a while selection of software for you to use with the Z68Z-UD3H-B3 if you are inclined. Here is a list.


Touch BIOS

LAN Optimizer


EasyTune 6

Dynamic Energy Saver™ 2

Smart 6™

Auto Green

eXtreme Hard Drive (X.H.D)

ON/OFF Charge

Cloud OC

Each of the listed utilities is available on the included software disc or on Gigabytes website. Most of the utilities have only one use like ON/OFF Charge. This utility lets you enable the extra power that the red ports on the board are capable of outputting to your mobile devices to charge them faster. Others like Dynamic Energy Saver, Auto Green, and Smart 6 help lower your power usage both when you’re using your PC and when you’re not. Extreme Hard Drive is a user friendly way to setup a RAID for extreme hard drive performance.

Because we have covered all of these utility’s before in the past I would like to focus on Gigabytes EasyTune 6. Before in the BIOS section I was concerned that people may use the Touch BIOS when they don’t understand what they are changing, breaking their PC. This is where EasyTune 6 comes in.

EasyTune 6 is designed to give everyone an easy to select three color system to set a quick overclock. In this case up to a whopping 4.47 Ghz with our 2500K. For those a little more knowledgeable you still have more advanced options, but at that point the BIOS, Touch BIOS, and EasyTune overlap a little too much. Another feature of EasyTune 6 that I find useful is the Smart Fan mapping. You can set the ramp up in speed depending on the temperature of the CPU. This means when you’re doing light loads you can make sure to set your heatsink fans to be silent without having to worry about your PC overheating as you jump into game.


Our Testing Procedures

All of our in game performance testing was run at 1920x1080, you can see the exact settings below. Here are the details for each of our tests.

Call Of Duty Black Ops (1920x1080 – high settings, first scene starting after the cut scene, recorded using fraps)

Battlefield Bad Company 2 (1920x1080 – high settings, first scene starting after the cut scene, recorded using fraps)

Dirt 2 (1920x1080 – 4x MSAA – high settings, in-game benchmark)

Metro 2033 DX11 test (built-in benchmark, 1920 x 1080; DirectX: DirectX 11; Quality: Very High; Antialiasing: MSAA 4X; Texture filtering: AF 4X; Advanced PhysX: Enabled; Tessellation: Enabled; DOF: Disabled)

Metro 2033 DX10 test (built-in benchmark, 1920 x 1080; DirectX: DirectX 10; Quality: Very High; Antialiasing: MSAA 4X; Texture filtering: AF 4X; Advanced PhysX: Enabled; Tessellation: Enabled; DOF: Disabled)

Mafia 2 (built-in benchmark, 1920x1080, PhysX on, high settings)

Synthetic Benchmarks For motherboards our synthetic benchmarks are limited to 3DMark Vantage, 3DMark Vantage 2011, PCMark 7,and PC Mark Vantage. 3DMark Vantage is run with PPU turned off with results from both the performance and high settings. In 3DMark Vantage 2011 we run both performance and extreme benchmarks. PC Mark Vantage is set to its default setting.

In Game Performance

The Z68Z-UD3H-B3’s in game performance came in just below the high end Asus board in both the HD6970 and GTX580 SLI testing. When compared to the H67 boards in onboard testing the results were nearly the same across the board.





3DMark Vantage

When testing with the HD6970 the Z68Z-UD3H-B3 performed on par with all of the other boards in both the performance and high setting tests. In the performance setting the overall score was actually slightly ahead of almost all of the boards.



The same goes for the testing done with the GTX580’s in SLI. The Z68Z-UD3H-B3 outperformed all of the boards except one, and even that was very close.




3DMark 11

The Z68Z-UD3H-B3 performed near the top of the pack on both performance and extreme settings. Outperforming both of the H67 motherboards also tested by a considerable amount!




PCMark Vantage

Here are our PCMark Vantage results using one HD 6970, two GTX580’s in SLI, and using the i5-2500k’s built in onboard. The onboard comparison to me is the most interesting showing that the Z68Z-UD3H-B3 can hold its own against the H67 while still being able to run the GTX580’s in SLI, something that before was limited to the P67 that lacks onboard.





PCMark 7

Although the Z68Z-UD3H-B3’s performance didn’t top the others, it is the only one out of this test that is a budget priced motherboard. Considering that it held its own and did a good job keeping up.







When compared to the also good performing Sapphire Pure Platinum A75 it’s easy to see that the built in Realtek ALC889 did a good job of onboard audio. Both the box and Gigabytes website advertise their upgraded audio quality, with up to 108 Signal-to-Noise ratio playback. It will be interesting to see how well these numbers hold up as we get the chance to test more motherboards.



Overall and FV

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While using the Z68X-UD3H-B3 I was impressed with the features included on what is essentially a budget motherboard. This is a perfect board for a shop to stock up on. It is capable of both being a good foundation of a gaming rig and being in a basic PC build for a family on a budget. Because of that this is perfect for someone who plans on upgrading later to a dedicated video card. But before then you can still expect great video performance and light gaming with the built in Intel onboard video. With Lucid’s VIRTU being included you can also save yourself a lot of money in unnecessary power usage when you’re not using that dedicated video card. A PC with the Z68X-UD3H-B3 at the foundation is going to be hard to outdate with the included USB 3.0 ports and nearly every Video connection possible.



Author Bio
Author: garfi3ldWebsite: https://lanoc.org
You might call him obsessed or just a hardcore geek. Wes's obsession with gaming hardware and gadgets isn't anything new, he could be found taking things apart even as a child. When not poking around in PC's he can be found playing League of Legends, Awesomenauts, or Civilization 5 or watching a wide variety of TV shows and Movies. A car guy at heart, the same things that draw him into tweaking cars apply when building good looking fast computers. If you are interested in writing for Wes here at LanOC you can reach out to him directly using our contact form.

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garfi3ld replied the topic: #20783 07 Nov 2011 21:40
A great motherboard for both gamers and basic PC's

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