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Gigabyte GA-Z68AP-D3 Z68 review – bargain mobo of the year

The Gigabyte GA-Z68AP-D3 Z68 is without a doubt the motherboard bargain of the year. For less than £85 inc vat it is an incredible deal and was rock solid throughout all our testing with an Intel Core i5 2500k @ 4.6ghz and even 4.8ghz.

While the board isn’t populated with colourful, oversized heatsinks, stability is not a concern. We deliberately attempted to cause the board as many problems as possible by trying some crazy settings. It always recovered after a few failed reboots without any user intervention. It may sound like a small point, but many inexperienced users interested in a budget Z68 motherboard will find this reassuring.

Achieving 4.8ghz was straightforward, although it demanded a little knowledge of the bios, changing several processor and motherboard voltage settings. For an inexperienced user 4.6ghz is easily reachable, by moving the core turbo settings to ’46’. The bios is both intuitive and user friendly.

Kitguru has concentrated on the Intel Core i7 2600k in the last 2 or 3 months, and it was refreshing to use the Core i5 2500k again, because at £160 inc vat it really does offer incredible value for money.

The GA-Z68AP-D3 Z68 makes an ideal purchase for an enthusiast who doesn’t want to spend the guts of £200 on a flagship motherboard. In reality there is little missing from the budget Gigabyte product, USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gbps performance is first class and we recorded some of the best throughput yet with the class leading Patriot Wildfire Solid State drive.

Looking at the specifications, we were initially concerned that Crossfire performance might be compromised, after all the second slot will default to x4 bandwidth. Our results indicate solid all round performance with the leading Direct X 11 titles even when the image quality is cranked to the hilt.

If you are in the market for a new system and want to keep the costs down as low as possible, then this is one of the best motherboards on the market. If you partner it up with a Core i5 2500k and some decent, inexpensive DDR3 memory then you will be futureproofed for some time yet. Adding a single card now, then another later will ensure you will be playing the latest Direct X 11 games at 1080p without a problem.

You can buy the Gigabyte GA-Z68AP-D3 Z68 Motherboard for £85 inc vat from Scan.

Cons:

  • Incredible price point.
  • Great overclocking board when paired up with a Core i5 2500k.
  • very stable.
  • good recovery system.
  • CrossfireX capable.
  • onboard Intel graphics, ideal for media duties.

Pros:

  • looks rather bland.
  • bios with some ‘preconfigured’ overclocked settings would be helpful for inexperienced users.

Kitguru says: One of the bargain products of 2011.

Rating: 9.5.

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