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Old 07-04-2011
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Default Gigabyte Z68XP-UD5 Review


Gigabyte Z68XP-UD5

Today we have in our hands the Gigabyte Z68XP-UD5



This board likely looks familiar to anyone who has seen the Z68X-UD5 and for good reason. It is basically the same board but with a HDMI display output on the IO Panel



It seems as though recently iGPU boards have become much more popular with the Z68 chipset, and with the amazing capabilities of the iGPU coupled with the Lucid virtu software GPU switching allows for power savings along with still being able to use your discreet GPU for your high end games.

Here are some of the things I like when looking at this board.
  • Large Heatpipe cooler should keep the motherboards chipsets nice and chilly.
  • VREG Cooler allows fitment of large tower cooler without any fitment issues.
  • Extra slot spacing between PCI-E x16 slots. This allows much better airflow for the cards when put together is Crossfire or SLI.
  • 8 SATA ports 6 onboard controlled by the Z68 chipset 2x SATA III/6G 4x SATA II/3G one pair controlled by a add in Marvell controller operates at up to SATA III/6G spec (eSATA)
  • 10 total USB 2.0 ports, 6 via rear panel and 4 via onboard header. 8 total USB 3.0 four on rear panel and 4 via onboard header controlled via the 1 x Renesas D720200 chip and 2 x VLI VL810 hubs
  • Rear panel ps2 dual use keyboard or mouse port.

This board has many great features, but there are some things I would like to see.
  • Onboard post display/speaker (both will help with posting issues and diagnosis)

As you can see they have included the power/reset/cmos switches on their higher end offerings but I really do wish that the LCD post display was standardized for most all but the lowest end models as without it the board just feels like something is missing.

Very Similar to The 1156 CPU’s the 1155 CPU’s offer 16 PCI-E lanes as well. This means you can run a single card at x16 PCI-E bandwidth or two cards at x8. The Z68/P67 Chipset looks very much like the P55 in design with the addition of Native SATA III/6G on up to 2 ports and lets not forget supporting the all new 2nd Generation Intel Core processors.

Test configuration
Motherboard: Gigabyte Z68XP-UD5
CPU: Core I7 2600K & I5 2400
Memory: Kingston DDR3 1600 Mhz Cas7 2x2gb
Hdd: WD Velociraptor 300GB & 120GB SATA III/6G SSD
Graphics card: Nvidia GTX 580
CPU cooling: Swiftech H20-220 Edge
PSU: Thermaltake Toughpower Grand 1200W


Features

One thing to note is that the Intel Quicksync technology even though it is a property of the Z68 chipset was not available on boards without a display output as the operating system would not acknowledge the Intel iGPU. Therefore the inclusion of even an unused display port on this board was an excellent choice as it opens the door for Quicksync capability which you will see works very well.

You will notice some of the assets are shared with the Z68-UD3H-B3 review I had posted previously as testing them back to back netted almost exact same results in the features test as I would expect so im not about to bore you with a back to back comparison chart that had a different of a second or less.

Intel Quicksync Technology

Intel Quicksync Technology is new and exclusive to the Z68 and H67 chipsets. The Quicksync does require a chipset that can utilize the iGPU which is why unfortunately P67 was out in the cold on this one. Quicksync enables you to use the Intel integrated GPU included on your 2nd gen Intel core series processor to transcode video with an amazing amount of speed and quality that is tough to beat. For transcoding test I used a 5.4GB 1080P MKV converting to a MP4 1080P 8192 Kbps. First testing was done to see how fast Quicksync really is compared to the following.
  • Standard X86 Transcoding
  • Intel Quicksync Acceleration
  • Nvidia CUDA Acceleration (Nvidia GTX 580)



As you can see the GTX 580 is much faster than the non-accelerated X86 CPU processing. But bringing in the Quicksync and you almost cannot compare as the CPU utilization was very low during the Quicksync, it is faster, and the quality is better than the CUDA transcoded file. We will however cover the quality difference in a moment. Also one thing to note is that during transcode I could run a benchmark or game and notice no performance difference as all fo the transcoding operations are loaded on to the iGPU

Quality difference after transcoding
After the transcoding was complete I opened each sample for viewing on a 42” LCD display at 1080P. at first look most were similar, but in darker scenes you start to notice the differences. The CUDA rendered scenes tend to have some compression blocks in and out of the scenes, but its not something that renders it unbearable more of just a nuisance.

The Quicksync video is very clean very good looking no matter dark or light but in some cases you can see a softening of color and also a slight blurring effect compared to the original copy. Otherwise no compression or artifacts were viewed and I would say the small issues I have seen were not issues really at all just me being picky.

Finally to the X86 CPU rendered scenes. These I would say were closest to the original with no visual issues whatsoever and I guess if your very anal about how your video looks then you will have to wait a bit longer for your video.

Lucid Virtu
This technology is one of the things I was really looking forward to testing as this takes the normally impossible idea of GPU switching on a desktop. We have seen GPU switching on some notebook models with some success, and I am very interested to see what can be accomplished with this new technology. What is interesting is that you plug directly into the onboard video port from the rear of the motherboard which allows usage of the iGPU when Heavy 3D usage is not needed.

Why its cool: Do I really need to be using a high power discreet GPU just to surf the web, write an article or read email? Power usage, excess heat, excess load all for no reason the integrated GPU is very efficient in nature but not very powerful. Therefore the Lucid Virtu technology is very interesting as it allows GPU switching so that you can use your integrated GPU for everyday usage and for video transcoding, but when it comes time to game it seamlessly switches over to the Discreet GPU which allows for much higher performance to handle all of the games you will play.

Until the Lucid virtu software is corrected I would recommend running the display directly from the discreet GPU to avoid the issues we saw. I will not down Gigabyte on this as they are not the ones making the software but I have relayed a message to the Gigabyte staff to make sure they push Lucidlogix for a solution as im sure this will become a future issues if not handled now.

Here are some of the power consumption results that were observed when testing.


As you can see power consumption is much higher when comparing transcoding testing of the Quicksync vs CUDA transcoding. The virtu did work seamlessly when switching from regular use to some games, however there were some issues observed.
  • Nvidia control panel cannot be accessed if using the IGPU for power savings.
  • Igpu virtu software crashes on occasion
  • 3d apps do not detect automatically, if it is not on the virtu control panel listing it will not switch on the Dedicated GPU
To Eliminate tha Nvidia control panel not being usable I could just plug the Display cable into the Discreet GPU and I would still have Quicksync available but then I would be missing out on the power and heat saving offered by running through the Integrated port. I hope in the future the Virtu system will be improved and allow better compatibility along with the performance and power savings you want.

Intel Smart Response Technology
Intel Smart Response technology is another cool one as it gives you ssd-like performance from a hard drive equipped system by using a small SSD for caching purposes. Intel released a 20GB SSD made just for the caching purpose unfortunately at the time of writing I did not have one available. I substituted in my 120GB for the caching part of testing.
Here is some results we experienced pre and post implementation of the Smart Response acceleration.


As you can see by the provided graph the boot time is much faster, but also quite impressive is something the graphs cannot show. The system feels much faster, much more snappy overall. It feels very similar to the system when it was testing with an SSD alone, now actual throughput of large amounts of data when tested is not 100% on par with an ssd it is quite close. Overall if your not ready to jump into the ssd game yet for your main storage do yourself a favor, pick up a small SSD and a Z68 and enable the acceleration. You will not be disappointed.

Gigabyte touch BIOS
Gigabyte has taken note that not all users are enthusiasts and do not feel comfortable changing settings in the system BIOS. Therefore just to ensure everyone has access to the same adjustability/Tweaks/Settings that the enthusiasts regularly use they have created the Touch BIOS.
Touch BIOS is a windows based BIOS interface which is similar in feel to my Ipod touch or Android phone as the icons can be rearranged or removed from the menu completely if you do not feel the need to display them. Each Icon has descriptions below it and ever Icon once clicked takes you into a clickable menu where you can control bios options without entering the BIOS itself.

See the menu screens below for an example:

Here you see the main Touch BIOS screen. This is where everything starts. Each icon corresponds to an area that normally would be seen in the main bios. All icons can be removed or re arranged to however best suits your needs.

This is your main MIT overview page. This shows a small overview of most of the clocks at the present settings.

Here you see your voltage controls for the motherboard and all of these can be set the same as you would normally in the BIOS.

Here is a preview of all of your advanced frequency and CPU settings.


Here are all of your normal boot up options.

Here you see the PC status page which lists important voltages and temperatures.

Here you see what would normally be in the integrated peripherals menu. Here you can Enable/Disable many of the features and functions of the board.

And last but not least you have all of your power management/Power saving settings.

Installation

Installation was easy and all screw holes were accessible while installing the board with no component causing an issue. Also component location definitely was not a second thought as every connection mostly is located at the board edge to help with cable routing and ensure easy connection even with cards installed. The Cable management holes on the Level 10 didn’t hurt either as they helped tuck the wires away behind the motherboard tray with little effort.



Bundled Accessories

with the board comes all of the accessories you would need to get it installed and running as you see here.



  • SLI connector (a single flexible 2 way sli bridge)
  • Sata cables (a total of 4 Black cables 2 with right angle plugs on one end)
  • Full Motherboard manual including motherboard driver/software cd
  • USB 3.0 breakout pod
  • Multi language manual
  • IO shield

Bios Layout

The bios you will see is very similar to other gigabyte boards

It has a option for enabling the onboard Display options and USB/SATA options. Mostly everything that we love from gigabyte. A simple BIOS laid out in a way that most all of the options are easy enough to find and including a massive amount of overclocking and tuning options.

One important thing to note is while many have switched to a GUI Bios with clickable options. Gigabyte has chosen to stick with a traditional bios layout which I like due to the fact that I use my bios often and I know how it works it is easy to use and easy to adjust. Something about being required to click on everything and navigate a GUI screen just seems to be too troublesome when trying to tweak and overclock a system.

For those looking for a GUI BIOS you will see gigabyte is setup to serve both crowds as they also offer a GUI BIOS interface called “Touch BIOS” which you can access within the windows environment to allow the adjustability you want without affecting its Regular BIOS interface we have all used over the years.





Here is the main bios when you first enter MIT






Getting started overclocking

One thing that pretty much is common knowledge now is that BCLK overclocking is not like it used to be when it comes to the Sandy Bridge architecture. So if you want to overclock you’ve got a few speed bins (multiplier ratio) you can move up. Otherwise depending upon the board/CPU combo will determine how high you can go on BCLK. If you demand the absolute best performance then you can get a “K series” CPU which has an unlocked multiplier which allows much better adjustability and much higher overclocking.

For overclocking this time around I have both the I5 2400 and the I7 2600K. the I5 2400 has a locked multi and a Intel HD 2000 iGPU whereas the I7 2600K has a Unlocked multiplier and includes an Intel HD 3000 iGPU.


Benchmark testing

The benchmark testing will help us understand how well this system will handle everything from normal everyday tasks to the heaviest loads.

*Note* The board is not limited unfortunately the CPU I have is. As noted many times the CPU I have is limited to a max of 4900 MHz and I even took the extra step of testing it on multiple boards with the same results. I also was able to borrow a 53X validated chip and this board would do every bit of that and im sure much more but I didn’t wanna beat on a chip that’s not mine.

For processor performance we use Wprime which is a extremely CPU heavy multi-threaded benchmark running complex calculations and giving us a good idea as to how well this system can handle such heavy tasks.



As you can see the performance when overclocking is just absolutely amazing. The scaling as the clock speed increases is excellent and should allow for excellent increases in productivity with heavy work loads.

Gaming overclock testing


The games used are Crysis and Metro 2033. I used these games on Previous reviews and tend to stress the system and graphics bus pretty well. Metro 2033 is a very heavy load for the GPU and PCI-E Bus as set on max settings renders the game with much lower frame rates so if it is a CPU bottleneck we will see it.

First up is Crysis:




Next test is Metro 2033, like stated this will show any scaling issues caused by a CPU bottleneck

Here is the difference between overclocked and Stock CPU speed runs:




As you see this architecture is very efficient and even at stock there really is no bottleneck for the card.

Just like before I am also testing the iGPU just to show how performance can be improved with just a little tweaking.


Pushing the limit
When pushing this chip it reached its ceiling at 4.9GHz which unfortunately is a limitation of the chip and not the board. This board pulled right up to 4.8GHz without even really trying and you can tell it has much more in it just waiting for a good chip. One thing to note is that compared to the Z68X-UD3H-B3 we tested earlier this board definitely has a lot more stability and overclocks much easier with much less tweaking and tuning necessary to get the thing up and running at higher clock speeds.

BUNDLED SOFTWARE

These were somewhat covered under the features due to the feature the software supports.

First up is the Touch BIOS: This is a windowed Graphic BIOS interface which is clickable and controllable all within the windows environment so that anyone who is not comfortable with the standard BIOS layout now has a much easier way to interact with the BIOS
Next up is the Smart 6 components which have been common on gigabyte boards for awhile now.
  • Smart Quickboot: An advanced sleep method that allows almost instantaneous boot
  • Smart Quick boost: simple one click overclocking
  • Smart recovery: Allows you to easily roll back settings to a previous time so you can quickly recover from a system issue
  • Smart Dual bios: A backup so no matter how bad the bios can be damaged the backup will reflash and recover for you.
  • Smart Recorder: Advanced and easy Pc monitoring
  • Smart Timelock: Time Controller for PC
The board also includes the Lucid Virtu Software which supports the GPU switching technology, then you have the Intel Rapid Storage Technology which is where you can setup the Intel Smart response technology or control the raid function.


Conclusion and final thoughts
The Z68XP-UD5 is a Z68X-UD5 with a HDMI Display output. Therefore you can now use the virtu GPU switching on this model and also now have access to the Intel Quicksync technology which most may not see a use for until they realize that video on their Ipod or Smartphone coulda been done a lot faster had they used Quicksync. Why it didn’t come this way to begin with I am not sure but for a good performance motherboard option. You cannot go wrong with this one.

Pros:
  • Native SATA III/6G ports (2 via Z68 chipset, 2 via Marvell chipset)
  • Excellent bios, very familiar and easy to work with
  • Large heatpipe heatsink to help everything stay cool even with cards installed above it
  • Virtu technology means you can get full discreet GPU performance from the onboard port when needed, and power savings/Transcoding ability of the internal GPU without any interaction form the user.

Cons:
  • No onboard Post speaker or LED display
  • Virtu software needs some work to get it perfect. (Occasional crashes)
  • Display control (Nvidia control panel) cannot be accessed when using the iGPU with Virtu technology to save power
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Old 07-04-2011
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Cool board, nice review
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Cool board, nice review
thanks brother! now if I only had a nice chip to push it lol
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Old 07-05-2011
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thanks brother! now if I only had a nice chip to push it lol
i was going to say get this guy a 6GHz chip

looks like my mb i wanna flash mine with the z bios
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looks cool, do you think this is the board their standard z68 should have been?
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looks cool, do you think this is the board their standard z68 should have been?
Yeah, lol I actually put that in the conclusion as well. Basically the original Z68-UD5 without display output by design omits the quicksync technology.

I believe that is why this came to fruition otherwise there would have been no reason to release this model being it only has a single HDMI connector.... But the whole thing is now that it has a display output the iGPU can be interfaced.... and even if plugging directly into SLI 580's or whatever your card of choice the quicksync is available.

I do believe once Virtu improves the GPU switching option will be awesome as it allows the GPU to stay cool when doing normal work which could mean a big difference for those who have high end GPUS which can easily heat a room.
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Very thorough. i like!

And i like the white pics
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Very thorough. i like!

And i like the white pics
thanks dude I was trying something new. If you guys like I will do future reviews the same way...
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Interesting results Shannon. Good review too.

The 2400 getting a higher frame rate in Metro 2033, guess that means it does not like Hyper-threading Technology very much.
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Interesting results Shannon. Good review too.

The 2400 getting a higher frame rate in Metro 2033, guess that means it does not like Hyper-threading Technology very much.
yeah im not sure what the deal with that was... I even retested to compare lol
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