I later discovered that I was wrong about this during a subsequent video card review in which the Z68 board produced better results across the board with identical hardware. That said, today I will be checking out another Z68 board in the Gigabyte Z68XP-UD5, a premium Z68 offering that retails for almost $100 more than the MSI mainboard. This time around, in addition to our standard review analysis, we will be comparing benchmarks between the two boards and against a P67 system to see the performance improvement that Intel's latest chipset brings to the table.
For those of you not yet familiar with Intel's Z68 chipset, it essentially takes the best features of the P67 and H67 chipsets and combines them into one. With a Z68 board, users can overclock the CPU and use the integrated Intel HD graphics. Previously, if you wanted to overclock, you had to buy a P67 board and you had to use a discrete graphics card. If you wanted to use the integrated graphics, you needed an H67 board but then you couldn't overclock the CPU. In addition to these combined features, Z68 also introduces a new feature called Smart Response Technology (SRT) which uses a solid state drive to cache data from a traditional spinning hard drive. SRT essentially gives your hard drive an SSD-like speed boost while being able to retain the capacity and price benefits of cheaper hard drives.
The Z68XP-UD5 arrived in the glossy black retail box above. Gigabyte used every opportunity to tout various features and specifications on the front and rear of the box. We'll get into each feature a bit later in the review, but for now let's move ahead and check out a complete list of features and specifications.