Gigabyte Z68XP-UD5 Motherboard
Author: Shawn Knight
Editor: Shawn Knight
Date: 10-19-2011
Provided by: Gigabyte
Findings and Conclusion

Gigabyte has taken some different steps with the X68XP-UD5 from their other boards which I feel work really well.

The black PCB and matching expansion slots look really nice. I personally didn't have a problem with their older blue boards but I know some people weren't terribly fond of the color scheme. A black board will look at home in virtually any system so if aesthetics are important to you, Gigabyte has you covered.

Another interesting change is how Gigabyte handles their BIOS. The company is using a traditional Award BIOS where you would expect to find it instead of a UEFI BIOS that many other manufacturers are adopting. But Gigabyte has also implemented a full-feature Windows-based BIOS that is essentially a UEFI BIOS, just in Windows. This kind of caters to both arguments; standard BIOS and a colorful user interface. Note that you will need to download the Touch BIOS from Gigabyte to use it as it doesn't come "pre-installed."

In terms of connectivity, Gigabyte has done a fine job here as well. There are plenty of on-board headers for front panel devices as well as similar connections at the rear. Unlike the MSI board that didn't have any FireWire connectors, Gigabyte does supply FireWire both on the board and at the rear I/O panel. And while we are discussing on-board connectors, Gigabyte color-codes and labels their front panel I/O headers. Several other boards I have looked at recently simply provide "EZ" quick connectors which can easily become lost. I prefer this color-coded method much more.

On the overclocking front, this board did perform better than MSI's Z68 board by 100MHz. I was able to push the Gigabye to 4.6GHz stable whereas the MSI would only do 4.5GHz. Perhaps with a bit more time and tweaking I could take it higher.

There were no issues mounting this board in my chassis nor did I run into any obvious issues with the board in terms of general layout. The backplate of the Corsair water kit installed without issue. I also like how Gigabyte uses screws for their board heatsinks rather than cheaper push-pins. There is plenty of clearance around the CPU socket for large heatsinks but do note that you may run into issues with the first memory slot being occupied in dual channel configurations. This isn't anything new as we have seen it on nearly ever Socket 1155 board thus far.

I was a bit disappointed to find this board lacking an Intel Gigabit LAN controller. At this price point, the cheaper Realtek NIC seems a bit out of place. Additionally there is no PCIe Gen 3 support which would be useful once Ivy Bridge is released.

As of writing the Gigabyte Z68XP-UD5 retails for $269.99 at Newegg which puts it in the upper echelon of Z68 boards, although not quite at the very top. The most expensive boards sell for about $100 more with most boards priced around $100-150. awards the Gigabyte X68XP-UD5 our Gold Seal of Approval!

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