Asus P8Z68-V Gen3 £114
20th Mar 2012 | 12:07
Last-gen Intel chipset with PCIe 3 aspirations
Intel's Z68 chipset, which is at the heart of this Asus P8Z68-V Gen3, has been around for a little while now, so what's with a new motherboard built around it?
Especially from a technology leader like Asus - it's not like it hasn't got a least half a dozen boards in its Z68 range already. There's even a couple that, like the P8Z68-V Gen3, already have PCIe 3.0 support…
The launch of yet another Z68 board is also puzzling when you realise that fast approaching on the horizon is Intel's latest chipset, the Z77.
Despite launching before the new CPUs it will be the lead chipset for the upcoming Ivy Bridge processors, with proposed native support for both PCIe 3.0 and USB 3.0 (finally!).
At a guess all this will come at a premium price, as it always does with a new chipset launch.
And there in a nutshell is what the Asus P8Z68-V Gen3 is all about: offering the latest PCIe specifications on an already pretty well-featured board at a more affordable price for those whose budget can't cater for a board with the latest upcoming technology.
As this board is the latest Z68 equipped board to hit the labs bench it has the advantage of having all the little performance tweaks in the BIOS that Asus must have found for the Z68 chipset since its launch.
That gives it a teeny edge in performance over the more mature boards that were the first to market using the Z68 chipset.
CPU rendering performance
Video encoding performance
CPU overclocking performance
We've all seen the marketing blurb about the Gen 3.0 PCIe slot being twice as fast as the Gen 2.0 slot, after all it does potentially offer 32GB/s of bandwidth over the 16GB/s of the previous standard.
But as always nothing is quite as it seems.
The actual PCIe 3.0 speed depends on the CPU being used and, to get any real idea of its benefits, we'll just have to wait until we get our hands on an Ivy Bridge CPU and wait for a Z77 board to land on the lab's bench to see.
You'll also need a new PCIe 3.0 GPU to make sense of it too.
As its stands the jury is out about just how much benefit there is currently in the PCIe Gen 3 slot for gamers.
This is shown quite nicely by the modest increase in the benchmark score for the Asus P8Z68-V Gen3 in Just Cause 2. Realistically though that's more to do with using a 7 series card to test with over a 6 series card used in the other boards.
It's a pity that Asus doesn't have a function within the BIOS of the board to allow switching between 2.0 and 3.0 for the primary x16 slot as that would allow for some direct comparisons.
So what about the rest of the board? Well it's built to the usual high Asus standards and for the price comes loaded with a pretty impressive feature list including USAP technology.
USAP or to give it it's full title – USB Attached SCSI protocol, is a performance boosting technology which according to Asus boosts the performance of USB 3.0 by an incredible 170%.
If you disregard the PCIe Gen3 technology for a minute, then the Asus P8Z68-V Gen3 is a well featured Z68 motherboard with a really competitive price tag.
The elephant in the room is whether the PCIe 3 and Sandy Bridge combination is enough of a game changer to rush out and buy the board.
And to be honest we can't say that it is, but should you be able to use an Ivy Bridge CPU in it then it might be a different story.
There's not much to dislike about the board, its design and build quality are up to the usual Asus high standards and it comes loaded with features although whether they get used or not is a mute point.
A well-priced, well-featured board that has some future proofing in the form of its support for the next generation of PCIe slot.