View Full Version : ASUS P8Z68 Deluxe MB Review
11-16-2011, 08:04 PM
PAGE 1: Introduction
PAGE 2: Features
PAGE 3: Specifications
PAGE 4: Packaging and Accessories
PAGE 5: Board Layout
PAGE 6: Hardware Install
PAGE 7: BIOS
PAGE 8: Software and Utilities
PAGE 9: Test Setup and Methodology
PAGE 10: Benchmarks
PAGE 11: Overclocking
PAGE 12: Summary
Review: P8Z68 Deluxe Motherboard Review
Reviewed by: Kip Rouse
Provided by: ASUS USA (http://usa.asus.com/)
Today I have one of the first high end Z68 based boards on my test bench. ASUS has an Industry leading Research and Development Team and the fruits of their labor has gone into the development of ASUS’s newest offering in their Z68 chipset motherboards; the ASUS P8Z68 Deluxe.
With their P8Z68 Deluxe ASUS hopes to deliver a board which exceeds anything else on the market and I will be testing it in several synthetic and real world tests to see if this board lives up to the lofty goals that ASUS always sets for themselves.
“The next “Revolution in Performance” featuring new Intel Z68 chipset, the P8Z68 Deluxe is equipped with the latest transfer technologies. Four USB 3.0 and four SATA6Gb/s ports and support for Quad NVIDIA SLI or AMD CrossFireX graphics cards ensure that there are plenty of spots for future upgrades. Also on board are dual Gigabit Intel Ethernet ports and dual-channel DDR3 2200(O.C.) RAM. All this makes the P8Z68 Deluxe the world’s most refined motherboard for overclocking, ready to tackle anything power users throw at it!”
Let's take a closer look at the P8Z68 Deluxe and see what a premium Z68 motherboard can do.
11-16-2011, 08:05 PM
This is your dream Z68 motherboard, with full support for 3X faster video conversion and universal switchable graphics.
· Dual Intelligent Processors 2 with DIGI+ VRM Digital Power Design
· UEFI BIOS (EZ Mode) - Flexible & Easy BIOS Interface
· LucidLogix® Virtu (Universal Switchable Graphics) - Auto Switching between Integrated Graphics and NVIDIA/AMD Cards
· Intel® Smart Response Technology - SSD Speed with HDD Capacity
· BT GO! (Bluetooth) - Diverse BT Enjoyment, New Technology Lifestyle
· Quad USB 3.0/SATA 6Gb/s Support - Double Access, Double Convenience
· Quad-GPU SLI and Quad-GPU CrossFireX Support!
Digital Power Design: The New Standard
The world’s first Dual Intelligent Processors from ASUS pioneered the use of two onboard chips - EPU (Energy Processing Unit) and TPU (TurboV Processing Unit). New generation Dual Intelligent Processors 2 with DIGI+ VRM digital power design launch control into a new era.
The new ASUS DIGI+ VRM design upgrades motherboard power delivery to a digital architecture. It delivers the precision power, intelligently adjusting PWM voltage and frequency modulation with minimal power loss through BIOS tuning and an exclusive user interface to increase the board’s overclocking range while performance reaches its full potential. Super Alloy Power chokes contain a metal compound instead of standard iron, supporting of up to a massive 40A of rated current, or 25% higher than conventional chokes. Unibody-constructed chokes and capacitors also eliminate vibration noise, delivering improved performance and durability even under extreme conditions. DIGI+ VRM digital power design with premium Super Alloy Power empowers users through superior flexibility and perfect precision to ensure optimized performance and greater power efficiency.
Herald the Arrival of a New Digital Power Design Era
The new ASUS DIGI+ VRM design upgrades motherboard power delivery to a digital standard. The 8+2 digital architecture delivers precision power, intelligently adjusting PWM voltage and frequency modulation with minimal power loss. Users can increase overclocking range and maximize performance through BIOS tuning and exclusive user interface features. Super Alloy Power chokes contain a metal compound instead of standard iron, supporting of up to a massive 40A of rated current, or 25% higher than conventional chokes. Unibody-constructed chokes also eliminate vibration noise, delivering improved performance and durability even under extreme conditions. DIGI+ VRM digital power design with Super Alloy Power enables users through superior flexibility and perfect precision to ensure optimized performance and greater power efficiency.
The Ultimate Turbo Processor
Unleash your performance with ASUS' simple onboard switch or AI Suite II utility. The TPU chip offers precise voltage control and advanced monitoring through Auto Tuning, GPU Boost and TurboV functions. Auto Tuning offers a user friendly way to automatically optimize the system for fast, yet stable clock speeds, while TurboV enables unlimited freedom to adjust CPU frequencies and ratios for optimized performance in diverse situations.
Energy Efficiency All-Around
Tap into the world's first real-time PC power saving chip through a simple onboard switch or AI Suite II utility. Get total system-wide energy optimization by automatically detecting current PC loadings and intelligently moderating power consumption. This also reduces fan noise and extends component longevity!
ASUS Exclusive Features
Diverse BT Enjoyment, New Technology Lifestyle
Onboard Bluetooth wireless design enables smart connectivity to Bluetooth devices with no additional adapter. ASUS BT GO! Comes with 7 special functions that offer a significant breakthrough in Bluetooth evolution, including Folder Sync, BT Transfer, BT Turbo Remote, BT-to-Net, Music Player, Shot and Send, and Personal Manager. All are accessible through the exclusive, user-friendly ASUS interface.
* The Bluetooth word mark and logos are owned by the Bluetooth SIG, Inc. and any use of such marks by ASUSTeK Computer Inc. is under license. Other trademarks and trade names are those of their respective owners.
AI Suite II
One-stop Access to Innovative ASUS Features
With its user-friendly interface, ASUS AI Suite II consolidates all exclusive ASUS features into one simple-to-use package. It allows users to supervise overclocking, energy management, fan speed, voltage and sensor readings, and even interact with mobile devices via Bluetooth. This all-in-one software offers diverse and easy to use functions, with no need to switch back and forth between different utilities.
Latest Transfer Technology
True USB 3.0 Support
10X Faster Date Rates!
Experience ultra-fast data transfers at 4.8Gbps with USB 3.0 — the latest connectivity standard. Built to connect easily with next generation components and peripherals, USB 3.0 transfers data 10X faster and is also backward compatible with USB 2.0 components.
True SATA 6.0 GB/s Support
Experience the Future of Storage!
Supporting next-generation Serial ATA (SATA) storage interface, this motherboard delivers up to 6.0 GB/s data transfer rates. Additionally, get enhanced scalability, faster data retrieval, double the bandwidth of current bus systems.
CPU, Chipset and Graphics features
LGA1155 socket for Intel® Second Generation Core™ i7/ Core™ i5/ Core™ i3 Processors
This motherboard supports the latest Intel® second generation Core™ i7/Core™ i5/Core™ i3 processors in the LGA1155 package, with memory and PCI Express controllers integrated to support 2-channel (4 DIMM) DDR3 memory and 16 PCI Express 2.0 lanes. This provides great graphics performance. Intel® second generation Core™ i7/Core™ i5/Core™ i3 processors are among the most powerful and energy efficient CPUs in the world.
Intel® Z68 Express Chipset
The Intel® Z68 Express Chipset is a single-chipset design to support socket 1155 Intel® second generation Core™ i7/Core™ i5/Core™ i3 processors. It provides improved performance by utilizing serial point-to-point links, allowing increased bandwidth and stability. Additionally, Z68 chipset provides 2 SATA 6GB/s and 4 SATA 3Gb/s ports for faster data retrieval at double the bandwidth of current bus systems. Moreover, Intel® Z68 Express Chipset also supports iGPU function; letting users enjoy the latest Intel integrated graphic performance.
Universal Switchable Graphics Technology
LucidLogix® Virtu is designed for the Intel® Sandy Bridge platform's powerful integrated graphics. Its GPU virtualization dynamically assigns tasks to the best available graphics resources based on power, performance and system load on Windows® 7 based PCs. It allows users to fully utilize the unique capabilities of advanced Sandy Bridge multimedia features alongside the high end 3D rendering performance provided by installed graphics cards. When no discrete graphics are needed, the graphics card is put in idle mode to lower utilization, heat, fan speed and power draw down to near zero, making the system more environmentally-friendly. For users with diverse needs, LucidLogix® Virtu GPU virtualization provides great flexibility and efficiency.
Universal Switchable Graphics
LucidLogix® Virtu's GPU virtualization technology assigns tasks to the best available GPU, allowing dynamic graphics switching between integrated graphics and NVIDIA® or AMD graphics cards.
3X Faster Video Conversion
With switchable graphics, all ASUS P8Z68 Series motherboards leverage the transcoding power of Sandy Bridge, allowing users to enjoy three times faster video conversion with Intel® Quick Sync Video technology.
ASUS Crystal Sound
DTS Surround Sensation UltraPC
DTS Surround Sensation UltraPC delivers exceptional 5.1 surround experience through the most common PC audio setups - your existing stereo speakers or headphones. In addition to virtual surround, “Bass enhancement” provides stronger low frequency bass sound, and “Voice clarification” provides clear human dialogue even with loud background sound. With these technologies, you may experience a better home-theater audio with ease.
Intel® Smart Response Technology
SSD Speed with HDD Capacity
Intel® Smart Response Technology boosts overall system performance. It uses an installed fast SSD (min 18.6GB available capacity) as a cache for frequently accessed data. Harness the combination of SSD-like performance and response with hard drive capacity, that's 4X faster than a HDD-only system.
OK, let’s take a look at the specifications of the ASUS P8Z68 Deluxe board next…..
11-16-2011, 08:06 PM
Below are the Key Specifications for the ASUS P8Z68 Deluxe:
You can look over the full list of specifications on the ASUS P8Z68 Deluxe site (http://www.asus.com/Motherboards/Intel_Socket_1155/P8Z68_DELUXE/).
OK, let’s get this package open and see what we have here.
11-16-2011, 08:06 PM
ASUS continues with their attractive Black themed packaging for the P8Z68 Deluxe which will definitely catch your attention. Many of the board’s features are highlighted but this is just a teaser of what’s inside.
Looking inside the retail package we found two smaller boxes; one containing the motherboard and the other contains the accessories.
The accessories include virtually all the necessities; the manual, driver disk, SATA cables, Q-Connector, and I/O shield. There are four total SATA cables, 2 of which are specifically for the SATA III (6.0 GB/s) ports. With SLI available ASUS has included bridges for both 2 and 3-way configurations.
Also included in the accessory pack is a nice looking 3.5” USB 3.0 adapter with the cable to permit using the on-board USB 3.0 header.
A seldom mentioned but much appreciated accessory is the Q-connector which saves a good deal of time and frustration when connecting the front panel connectors to the board is also included. One more additional nice touch that ASUS does is the shielding and padding of the I/O Backplate.
No cut fingers thanks to ASUS.
As expected with the ASUS products, the accessories are very extensive with everything to get your system up and running in short notice.
Let’s now take a look at the board itself…….
11-16-2011, 08:07 PM
The P8Z68 Deluxe is one great looking board; the PCB is entirely black and complemented by the contrasting colors of White and Blue. ASUS designed the P8Z68 Deluxe's layout masterfully, with no tight areas evident in the board's layout.
The P8Z68 Deluxe is an ATX Form Factor board which measures 12”x9.6” which means you will be able to mount it in most any Mid-Size or larger chassis. A cursory look reveals the layout is nice with things being layout out on the board to make your install pretty much worry free.
In the image below you will notice the board's CPU socket is clear of unnecessary obstructions leaving CPU cooler mounting unimpeded. The board uses the standard Intel LGA1155 style mounting design to attach your CPU cooler. To the left of the CPU socket is the Intel X68 Northbridge chipset, covered by a large thin-finned heat sink. The 8-pin ATX12V power connector is located at the upper edge of the board left of the CPU Socket.
The lower "Southbridge” heatsink design kind of flows with the line of the PCIe slots as well as the SATA connections giving the bottom half of the board a more uniform look in my opinion anyways.
To the right of the CPU area, we see the DDR3 memory slots in dual-channel configuration. The blue colored slots are the recommended primary use slots, with dual channel memory mode active with modules populating both slots of the same color. The P8Z68 Deluxe is capable of 32GB of DDR3 with speeds up to 2200MHz.
Further to the right of the DIMM slots is the motherboard’s 24-pin power connector, handily placed to suit either top or bottom-mounted power supply case designs.
Just to the right of the DIMM slots we see that ASUS has included their popular “MemOK” button.
This is really a great feature so let’s talk about it in more detail while we are on the subject……….
MemOK is the only DRAM self-tweaking technology which enables the motherboard to tweak the DRAM timing parameters automatically. This allows the system to become bootable when a DRAM induced system boot failure occurs. You will know that your boot failure is DRAM related by checking the DRAM-LED which will be locked in the on-position. If this LED is blinking then then your boot failure is not memory related.
So, when you find that you do have a memory related boot failure the user simply has to do is press the MemOK button for roughly 2 seconds till the LED begins to blink then releases the button. The board will then begin to tweak the DRAM related parameters automatically until it reaches a state that will allow the system to boot up and complete POST (Power on Self-Test).
You will be greeted with a screen telling you that MemOK has succeed in system booting; you will need to go into the BIOS and optimize your memory settings. I would recommend that you have the current BIOS loaded on the board and if not got to the ASUS support site, download the BIOS and upgrade it via the ASUS EZ Flash which I will talk about when we go over the BIOS for the P8Z68 Deluxe later in the review.
The on-board EPU (Energy Efficiency All Around), Power and Reset buttons are located just below the PCIe lanes. These will prove to be a valuable tool especially when setting up your system on an open test bench.
Below you will see the TPU (Turbo Processing Unit) switch. The TPU chip offers precise voltage control and advanced monitoring through Auto Tuning and TurboV functions. Auto Tuning offers a user friendly way to automatically optimize the system for fast, yet stable clock speeds, while TurboV enables unlimited freedom to adjust CPU frequencies and ratios for optimized performance in diverse situations. This is just one of the overclocking features; you also have the ASUS A1 Suite software as well as the ability to go Old School in the BIOS itself.
The P8Z68 Deluxe features a total of eight SATA ports. The main group of eight; the light blue x4 are SATA 3.0GB/s, the grey x2 are SATA 6.0GB/s and are controlled via the Z68 chipset. The two dark blue x2 are SATA 6.0GB/s but are controlled via the Marvell 9128 controller. The Marvell slots are for data drives only so you should not try to mount any optical drives here.
The spacing of the PCIe slots is perfect for SLI and CF with dual slotted cards which will have some nice room between cards for air flow. The dark blue runs at x16 with a single card, however, running dual cards using the dark blue and white slot both will run at 8x. The lowest PCIe slot, the black one will run at 4x.
You also have two PCI and two PCIe X1 slots.
The rear of the P8Z68 Deluxe features an impressive array of ports, sporting a PS/2 keyboard/mouse port, an impressive total of ten USB 3.0/2.0 ports, an eSATA port, and an IEEE 1394a port, a Bluetooth module as well as your Optical S/PDIF out and a total of 6 Audio Jacks. Oh yea, and dual LAN ports.
Let’s install some hardware onto the P8Z68 Deluxe and see how things look…….
11-16-2011, 08:07 PM
This writer likes to install some if not most of my hardware on the board long before I start the final install into the chassis of my choosing. This way I have a good idea of any potential problems or complications beforehand.
Looking at my potential test system the dark blacks and blue aesthetics are fantastic. The Blue G-Skill memory modules, the TT Firo CPU heatsink and fans and the ASUS MATRIX GTX580 Platinum graphics card nicely complement the native heatsinks on the P8Z68 Deluxe.
Should you use memory modules with tall heat spreaders such as these G-Skill sticks you could have issues with certain large air coolers, particularly in the DIMM slot closest to the CPU. It does depend on the CPU cooler though; the Thermaltake Firo cooler is quite large with its dual fan configuration and will have a conflict with my G-Skill modules. Memory with a lower profile heat spreaders or a less bulky CPU cooler might be less troubling.
My ASUS MATRIX GTX-580 Platinum card is long enough to extend out over the SATA connections; however, ASUS addressed this by the design of the card’s housing as you can see with its shape you should not have any difficulty changing SATA cables at the board.
The positioning of the PCI-E slots is very good and there's quite a bit of room to maneuver on the P8Z68 Deluxe. If you are lucky enough to have a couple of the ASUS MATRIX cards to run SLI it will not hang over the bottom of the motherboard which is nice to be able to get to these connections without having to remove the bottom card.
ASUS has done an excellent job with the overall layout.
Let's have a look at the BIOS now.
11-16-2011, 08:08 PM
The new UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) BIOS:
ASUS has been long known for its rich available BIOS option, the P8Z68 Deluxe is not an exception. However, considering the adjustments of the BIOS options has always been a difficult task for the entry level users when building their very own system for the very first time, ASUS has implemented the most user friendly BIOS interface named EZ Mode. Featuring a simple, clean, yet intuitive user interface listing only the most vital options for everyday usage, the BIOS adjustments become something that is available to all users. Furthermore, the nature of being an EFI BIOS also ensures its future-proof for the new technologies to come.
ROG BIOS Print:
The dump of the BIOS setup screen often involves highly trained photographic technique, while the outcome may not always be as satisfactory as it can be. Users can create the BIOS screen dumps with a simple press of the F12 key, and the BIOS screen shot will be stored to your USB storage device automatically. ROG BIOS Print, your new best friend when sharing BIOS screens with your others. I will be using a 2GB thumb drive formatted in FAT16 to capture the screens for this review.
Booting the P8Z68 Deluxe for the first time you are greeted by the “EZ Mode” which will provide basic control of your system. However, you have the option to set the board to boot into the Advance Mode as well.
So, in the “EZ Mode” one great feature here is that you can simply drag and drop your drives into the boot sequence you desire as well as get a snapshot of how the system is performing in regards to temps, voltages, CPU fan speed, etc….
While we are looking at the “EZ Mode” you will notice in the middle of the screen you have three gauges. You can select any of the three for some quick changes in relation on how your system will regulate energy savings to performance. In the image below you see that “normal” is currently selected; to the left you have the “power saving” mode while on the right you can select the “Optimal Mode”. Personally I think the “EZ Mode” is for those with no sense of adventure but it is available, so take a quick look and then let’s get on into the “more power” section and have some fun.
In the upper right hand corner of the EZ Mode you see the Exit/Advance Mode; click on this and you can select opening up the Advance Mode which will look like this:
I went into the “Main” tab so that I could setup my preferred language, settled on English since RedNeck wasn’t available. You will notice that in the Main Section you will set your system date and time also.
The Extreme Tweaker tab is very similar to what you would have found on previous ASUS motherboards, with extensive options to tweak the necessary voltages, RAM timings, and frequencies to achieve some great performance results.
In the Advanced tab is where the CPU and SATA configurations allow for further tweaking.
Below you have your CPU Configurations.
In the below image you see the SATA configurations available. The BIOS automatically detects the presence of SATA connected devices and ACHI is select as default. You can change this to IDE or RAID mode if you choose. I will change my configuration to RAID. You also have the ability to designate each device as “Hot Plug” (hot swap) enabled or disabled.
As mentioned above you will also have access to your “Onboard Devices” where you have the ability to enable or disable those devices you will or will not be taking advantage of.
In the Monitor Section is where you will find the settings to keep an eye on your voltages, temperatures and fan speeds. In the image below you see the available fan profiles on the P8Z68 Deluxe.
In the Boot section you will configure your boot sequence; you are also able to select your priority of devices as well as disable devices.
Looking into the Tools Section there is the ASUS EZ Flash Utility, ASUS SPD Information, ASUS O.C. profile and the ASUS Drive Xpert Utility.
With the EZ Flash utility you have a really simple BIOS flashing interface; with this graphical interface you will just browse to the location of your new BIOS.Rom, select it and let it Flash away.
With the ASUS SPD Information tool you have the information on the memory installed on the system.
In the O.C. section you can save your profiles for easy loading so you won’t have to start over from scratch every time you want to put the system in an Overclocked state.
So, what do you think of ASUS’s UEFI BIOS? I have looked at several Z68 boards from a few other manufacturers and ASUS is by far the front runner with their UEFI BIOS.
Let's take a quick look at some of the included software features and utilities that come as part of the ROG package with the P8Z68 Deluxe.
11-16-2011, 08:08 PM
AI Suite II
AI Suite II is a user friendly interface combining all popular ASUS applications in one single package for flexible use. With the full customization capabilities the AI Suite II integrates a large variety of applications covering features from all different, including:
- For System Tweaking:
To enable the instant access to the performance related BIOS options aimed to provide a little more edge when conducting extreme overclocking. TurboV is a great place for enthusiast that are not totally comfortable in the BIOS to do some fine-tuning.
For those interested you will find a great on-line video that shows how you can use TurboV directly from within the software while in Windows. The video is a little on the long side time wise but very interesting, you will find the TurboV overclocking in the last 7-10 minutes. TurboV Video: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kOlBalkVyA)
OK, now that you have seen the video let’s get back to the review:
This allows making direct alternation to the behavior of the onboard digital VRM in real-time. As far as I can remember this is a first, having extensive control of the VRM real-time within the operating system. It is impressive to see the same options from the BIOS accessible within windows.
Here you can configure power management in a number of ways adjusting CPU Core Voltage or CPU frequency as well as other devices such as HD, Fans and more. Whether you are customizing an efficient power profile, Undervolting or just looking to save power easily EPU allows these adjustments easily and effectively.
Fan Xpert allows for extensive adjustment to the CPU Fan and Primary Chassis Fan headers. Through the applications users can quickly see the current temperatures relating to both areas and make adjustments accordingly real-time within the OS. Whether you are looking for a quick and easy preset / profile or you prefer manual control in designing your own fan ramp/gradient Fan Xpert has you covered.
- For Real-time Monitoring:
- Probe II:
Allows the real-time monitoring of the key voltages, temperatures, and fan speeds together with warning capability to warn the users when any of the readings exceeds the threshold set by the user.
- Sensor Recorder:
Allows the users to show the key voltages, temperatures, and fan speeds in a graph for a quick tracking of the system status. Furthermore, an historical record can also be kept for later reference if needed.
- Side bar:
There is the display of the sensor and CPU status at the right hand side of AI Suite II to allow instant monitor of the system status when fiddling around with other applications.
- System information:
This will quickly show the CPU and DRAM info without the need to install any additional third-party applications.
ASUS has provided for your protection while on line with a full year of Internet Security 2011 from Norton.
I think you will have to agree; the ASUS P8Z68 Deluxe offers a great deal of software and features to satisfy the demands of the most ardent enthusiasts.
OK, let’s fire things up with some overclocking and do a little Benchmarking next……….
11-16-2011, 08:09 PM
· Processor: Intel i7 2600K
· Cooler: XSPC 750 Liquid Cooling
· Motherboard: ASSUS P8Z68 Deluxe
· RAM: G-Skill RipJawsX DDR3 1600MHz 8GB Kit
· Power Supply: Corsair AX850
· Video Cards: ASUS MATRIX GTX580 Platinum or 2x ASUS ENGTX560 Ti DCII
· Hard Drive: WD 320GB and OCZ Onyx 32GB SSD
· Optical Drive: ASUS BD Burner
· Operating System: Windows 7 Home Premium x64
A word about my testing:
For all of the benchmarks, appropriate lengths are taken to ensure an equal comparison through methodical setup, installation, and testing. The following outlines our testing methodology:
A) Windows is installed using a full format.
B) Chipset drivers and accessory hardware drivers (audio, network, GPU) are installed followed by a defragment and a reboot.
C) To ensure consistent results, a few tweaks were applied to Windows 7 and the NVIDIA control panel:
· UAC – Disabled
· System Protection/Restore – Disabled
· Problem & Error Reporting – Disabled
· Remote Desktop/Assistance - Disabled
· Windows Security Center Alerts – Disabled
· Windows Defender – Disabled
· Windows SuperFetch – Disabled
· Screensaver – Disabled
· Power Plan - High Performance
· NVIDIA PhysX – Disabled
D) Programs and games are then installed & updated followed by another defragment.
E) Windows updates are then completed installing all available updates followed by a defragment.
F) Benchmarks are each ran three times after a clean reboot for every run of the benchmark unless otherwise stated, the results are then averaged. If they were any clearly anomalous results, the 3-loop run was repeated. If they remained, we will mention it in the individual benchmark write-up.
Here is a full list of the applications that I utilized in my benchmarking:
· AIDA64 Extreme Edition v1.85
· wPrime Benchmark v2.04
· PCMark 7 Professional Edition 64-bit
· Cinebench R10 64-bit
· Cinebench R11.5 64-bit
· 3DMark Vantage
· 3DMark 11
· X264 HD Benchmark
Regarding my Benchmarking:
Your PC’s performance is determined by the interactions between different hardware components, the operating system and the type and amount of software running. A benchmark provides a set of performance tests that can be repeated with a high degree of accuracy on a wide range of computer hardware.
I will show my results with several benchmarks while running the system at stock speed and/or while overclocked.
That is about all you need to know methodology wise, so let's get to the good stuff!
11-16-2011, 08:09 PM
I really like AIDA64 Extreme Edition which is streamlined for Windows diagnostic and benchmarking for home users. AIDA64 Extreme Edition provides a wide range of features to assist in overclocking, hardware error diagnosis, stress testing, and sensor monitoring. It has unique capabilities to assess the performance of the processor, system memory, and disk drives. AIDA64 is compatible with all current 32-bit and 64-bit Microsoft Windows operating systems, including Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.
AIDA64 Extreme Edition 1.85 - CPU & FPU Benchmarks
AIDA64 Extreme Edition 1.85 - Memory Benchmarks
Next up we will do some System Benchmarks………..
wPrime is a leading multithreaded benchmark for x86 processors that tests your processor performance by calculating square roots with a recursive call of Newton's method for estimating functions, with f(x)=x2-k, where k is the number we're sorting, until Sgn(f(x)/f'(x)) does not equal that of the previous iteration, starting with an estimation of k/2. It then uses an iterative calling of the estimation method a set amount of times to increase the accuracy of the results. It then confirms that n (k) 2=k to ensure the calculation was correct. It repeats this for all numbers from 1 to the requested maximum. This is a highly multi-threaded workload.
Cinebench R10 64-bit
Test1: Single CPU Image Render
Test2: Multi CPU Image Render
Comparison: Generated Score
Developed by MAXON, creators of Cinema 4D, Cinebench 10 is designed using the popular Cinema software and created to compare system performance in 3D Animation and Photo applications. There are two parts to the test; the first stresses only the primary CPU or Core, the second, makes use of up to 16 CPUs/Cores. Both are done rendering a realistic photo while utilizing various CPU-intensive features such as reflection, ambient occlusion, area lights and procedural shaders.
Cinebench R11.5 64-bit
Test1: CPU Image Render
Comparison: Generated Score
MAXON’s latest benchmark, Cinebench R11.5 makes use of all your system's processing power to render a photorealistic 3D scene using various different algorithms to stress all available processor cores. The test scene contains approximately 2,000 objects containing more than 300,000 total polygons and uses sharp and blurred reflections, area lights and shadows, procedural shaders, antialiasing, and much more. This particular benchmarking can measure systems with up to 64 processor threads. The result is given in points (pts.). The higher the number, the faster your processor.
PCMark 7 v1.0.4
PCMark Suite / Default Settings
Comparison: Generated Score
The main focus of our General Tasks category lies with the most recent installment of the PCMark series, Vantage. While still classified under the description of a Synthetic benchmark, PCMark Vantage uses many of Vista's (Note - Vantage is Vista-only) built-in programs and features along with its own tests, so it is "real-world" applicable in regards to CPU performance. The following is a general list of the tests in the PCMark suite, very much in line with tasks of an average user: Data encryption, Data compression, CPU image manipulation (compression/decompression/resize), Audio transcoding, Video transcoding, Text editing, Web page rendering, Windows Mail, Windows Contacts, and CPU game test.
X264 HD Benchmark 4.0
This benchmark will measure how your machine can encode a short HD-quality video clip into a high quality x264 video file. It's nice because everyone running it will use the same video clip and software. The video encoder (x264.exe) reports a fairly accurate internal benchmark (in frames per second) for each pass of the video encode and it also uses multi-core processors very efficiently.
Intel Smart Response Technology:
Another nice feature on the ASUS P8Z68 Deluxe is its ability to improve hard disk performance by using an SSD as a cache for a spinning hard drive. This is controlled via Intel’s RAID driver which controls the caching; the caching is available in two modes; enhanced and maximum.
Intel allows for a maximum of 64GB SSD space to be used for the cache so there is no need for anything exceeding 64GB. I just happened to have an OCZ Onyx 32GB for testing along with a WD 320 GB Blue spinner.
I used PCMark Vantage HDD benchmark and have included a Bar Graph below to show the gains while using my Onyx SSD in Enhanced and Maximum Modes.
In my normal daily using I really believe the system is considerably snappier using Intel’s SRT.
Next up let’s take a look at Overclocking with the ASUS P8Z68 Deluxe……….
11-16-2011, 08:10 PM
Overclocking – overview
First off, we need to discuss overclocking the Sandy Bridge chips before we move onto the actual results because things are very different now from previous generation processor.
As far as overclocking goes now, Intel has changed the rules, plain and simple. There are some significant differences, and we'll try to break these down succinctly in order to best understand the methods and implications of what can be done (or not) in terms of overclocking.
The first thing to understand is that the locked CPU models have limited overclocking: 2400, 2500, and 2600. The K-models such as 2500K, 2600K and the new 2700K can be overclocked significantly, and for a modest price increase, we recommend the K models over the regular chips.
The second thing to understand here is that the BCLK of 100 can be increased only slightly. Unlike the old days where a 450 FSB was possible, and a 220 BCLK was achievable on a Core i7 900, Sandy Bridge boards will only hit about 109 BLCK at most. The bus cannot be changed much at all, which is why the locked chips cannot be overclocked much due to their limited multiplier and minimal BCLK movement.
Essentially, non-K CPUs will therefore have very limited overclocking, end of story. Since overclocking Sandy Bridge is more reliant on the multiplier, the unlocked K-series chips can be pushed much farther even though the BCLK has little wiggle room.
The next major difference is that Turbo now comes into play very heavily. Even the base 2400 has a Turbo Mode that will inherently act like an overclocked situation. The Turbo will boost the multi on the chip when under load, like an "insta-OC". Linked to all this is that C1E, EIST, and Speedstep must be left ON. Unlike all previous generation processors that overclocked better with these turned off, that has now changed and these "speed adjusting" settings must be enabled.
Another critical point in overclocking Sandy Bridge is that all K-series chips have a multiplier wall. Previous generation Intel CPUs responded to increased voltage and lower temperatures to achieve higher clock speeds. That is no longer the case. A chip has a maximum multiplier it will achieve; additional voltage or lower temperatures will not improve the results. As mentioned, there is currently D1 and D2 stepping, and the D1 is preferred. Each chip will have an inherently different multiplier wall. Essentially this means that voltage, temperatures, and motherboard model will not make a difference in the maximum overclock of a particular chip; it all depends on the chip now.
Therefore, this also means that sub-zero cooling with dry ice or liquid nitrogen will no longer help improve overclocking results. In fact, Sandy Bridge chips will down clock and will lose performance scaling when very low temperatures are applied. As a result, air cooling is all that's really necessary to hit the maximum overclock on a particular chip. Water cooling will help keep load temperatures lower, but will not produce a higher multiplier.
So, despite having an unlocked K-series CPU, you may reach the maximum multiplier regardless of the cooling used or voltage applied. There is a bit of wiggle room to tweak the BLCK to squeeze a bit more out of a chip to hit the magical 5GHz if you have a cherry chip to begin with, but the days of juicing up a cheap chip to insane speeds are pretty much over.
Let's take a look at our overclocking results now.
My Test System:
· Processor: Intel i7 2600K
· Cooler: XSPC 750 kit
· Motherboard: ASSUS P8Z68 Deluxe
· RAM: G-Skill 8GB DDR3 1600
· Hard Drive: OCZ Onyx 32GB and WD 320GB
· Optical Drive: ASUS DVD±R
· Operating System: Windows 7 Home Pre x64
Opening up the AI Suite II software I selected TurboV EVO and you will find two choices, “Fast” or “Extreme”. Throwing caution to the wind I hit “Extreme” and then start.
As the process continues with a few reboots and the P8Z68 Deluxe runs its own stability testing you will see these screens and you have the option to stop the process and accept the current level of OC or just sit back and watch as the process continues until the system finds a “Happy Place”. So I let the system continue hoping for a 4.7 or maybe a 4.8GHz.
My 2600K is just one of the “run of the mill chips”; I wish I had one of the few that are proving to be the “cream of the crop” capable of hitting 5GHz or more.
TurboV EVO auto tuning finally settled in at 4532MHz which is nothing to be ashamed of. The entire process took less than 10 minutes of well spent time.
As you know, you might have a little headroom in your BCLK to play with but you won’t get much more than the 100 MHz and then playing with voltages and your multipliers you might break that 5.0GHz ceiling.
I decided to leave the BCLK at 100MHz and bump the multiplier up to 50 and then finding the Core Voltage where the system would run stable which in my case is 1.480. I managed to hit 5000.5MHz which I stressed with AIDA64 for 1 hour.
With my adventures at overclocking the P8Z68 Deluxe with my average performing 2600K I am satisfied that the Auto OC abilities are great at finding a decent OC without any user intervention other than selecting your option and clicking start.
I used an OC of 4800MHz while running the benchmarking tests for this review.
Well, that wraps up my review for the P8Z68 Deluxe board so let’s move on to the summary…
11-16-2011, 08:10 PM
The ASUS P8Z68 Deluxe is based on the tried and true Z68 chipset hosting the LGA1155 socket processors.
One of the most noteworthy features of the P8Z68 Deluxe board is the Dual Intelligent Processors that ASUS has pioneered using two on-board chips; EPU (Energy Processing Unit) and the TPU (TurboV Processing Unit). These Dual Intelligent Processors usher in a new era of performance and energy efficiency. The new Digi+ VRM which works great making power available as any additional load is applied which is excellent for overclocking. Unlike ordinary digital VRM design, the Extreme Engine Digi+ combines the advantage of both the digital and analog VRM design, delivering less switching delay while offering better accuracy at the same time. Not only offering finer spacing of PWM power frequency interval, the choke used also sustains 25% more current than ordinary design, capable of delivering up to 40A. This enables better permeability and less power loss, meaning less heat will be produced under the same configuration. Furthermore, thanks to the nature of being digital, the power solution can also be fully customizable by the user in real time, making system optimization easily achievable by the user.
SATA ports you ask? Internally you have 8 SATA ports, 4 being SATA II and 2 SATA III which are managed by the Z68 chipset supporting RAID functionality. You also have 2 SATA III connections via the Marvell 9128 controller.
No more keyboard only maneuvering through those “Old School” BIOS setups with the brand new UEFI BIOS that ASUS presented starting with their P67 motherboards. This is the most user friendly BIOS you will find on any board from any manufacturer period. The interface is so simple, clean and yet very intuitive. You have the option of the “EZ Mode” where you will find the most vital options for everyday use and with the click of your mouse you can switch to the “Advanced Mode” where you will find literally every possible setting to maximize your performance and achieve that ultimate Overclock state.
This was my first experience with the SSD caching available with the Intel Smart Response software. Luckily I had an OCZ Onyx 32B sitting here so I decided to toss it into the mix with a very common WD Blue 320 SATA II spinner. If you decide to do SSD caching with your Z68 board make sure to read over the setup guides before you get started; this is a new ball game and the rules are different but not all that difficult to figure out and take advantage of the big speed increase without the high cost of a larger SSD. I honestly think that the speed of this setup is almost as fast as what I am seeing on my other systems running 240-256GB SSDs as boot drives.
The P8Z68 Deluxe is definitely a high end board and comes with enough PCI-e lanes to provide bandwidth to the third PCI-e x16 slot, the PCI-e X1 slots and the internal USB3.0 ports at the same time. As with other manufacturers high end Z-boards the P8Z68 Deluxe lacks the on-board video outputs so a discreet graphics card is required. Lucid Virtu is still available so you can use Intel’s Quick Sync for encoding so I don’t really see this as a negative.
Well there you have it; I hope you have enjoyed this review as much as I did putting it all together for you. Thanks for taking the time to look the review over and feel free to comment or ask questions here on the forums.
04-16-2012, 08:44 PM
Thanks for the nice review. I've ordered 2 boards, mainly based on the specs written here. Unfortunately, the information on the mid-board USB 3 connections is not correct. This board only sports 1 (not 2) mid-board USB3 connectors. Even the ASUS productsite is not correct. Hope you can change this information.
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