To the horror of some early adopters, Intel updated its Cougar Point chipset lineup just four months after Sandy Bridge launched in January. At the CES, the company's second generation LGA1155 processors from the Core series were initially accompanied by two consumer chipsets, the H67 and the P67.
Each platform offers a unique value proposition: the cheaper H67 has access to Sandy Bridge's built-in graphics, while the more expensive P67 supports Intel's unlocked "K" series processors with advanced overclocking options.
Unfortunately, neither of the chipsets offers both functions and that put many consumers in a difficult situation. Some users just don't need a dedicated graphics card, but they may want to get a little more performance out of their processor and memory. This is exactly where the Z68 comes in.
The Z68, released in May, serves as the Intel LGA1155 platform for enthusiasts. Not only does the Z68 combine the features of its H67 and P67 chipsets, it also comes with some impressive new features, including Intel Smart Response Technology.
Smart Response Technology (SRT) is a hybrid storage solution that effectively combines the zero access time of a fast flash drive with the enormous storage capacity of an inexpensive hard drive. That way, users can expect a modest price premium for significant speed gains.
When we first tested SRT in our Asrock Z68 Extreme 4 review last month, the results were impressive, even with a relatively cheap Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000.C 1TB hard drive. Although we didn't see massive growth across the board, SRT proved to be an efficient hybrid system.
We have seen many impressive Z68 boards since then, but none are more fascinating than what we have today: the Z68XP-UD3-iSSD. Gigabyte's latest Z68 motherboard goes one step further with the integrated SRT from Intel.
The Z68XP-UD3-iSSD is ready for immediate use and has an Intel SSD 311 20 GB, which is connected via an mSATA connection. Many have complained that the Intel 20GB SLC SSD is too expensive, but we think $ 240 for this motherboard and SSD combo is reasonable. How sensible you ask That is exactly what we want to determine.