When it comes to its own brand motherboards Intel have been very quiet since the Sandy Bridge launch and the company has quietly slipped in wo new Z68 models with another two coming in about a months' time. The two currently available models are the DZ68BC and the DZ68ZV, with the two upcoming models being the DZ68PL and the DZ68AF. In an interesting turn of events, it looks like Intel is also getting ready to add support for its Smart Response SSD caching technology to some of its P67 models as vr-zone reports:
Let's start with the DZ68ZV, a peculiar board to say the least, especially as Intel has been busy pushing the merits of graphics support combined with overclocking as one of the major features of the Z68 chipset. Well, the DZ68ZV doesn't have any display connectivity, nor does it seem to have the extra power phases in place that are needed to take advantage of its Quick Sync technology, something we've seen on a few other Z68 boards that lacked display connectivity. This seems like a very strange move by Intel, but there's an easy explanation for it all, Intel did a Gigabyte. Let us explain what we mean by that.
The DZ68ZV is in actual fact using the same PCB as the DP67BG motherboard, something that keeps R&D costs at a minimum and you can get a product out in the market quickly. If you've been following the motherboard market this year, you might know that Gigabyte did something similar when the Z68 chipset launched to get motherboards with the new chipset out in the market quickly. However, in the case of the DZ68ZV we're close to five months on from the launch and it feels like Intel had decided to just throw together a product that's slightly more appealing than its P67 equivalent.
The DZ68BC is what we'd call Intel's first high-end Z68 and in fact, it is Intel's second Z68 board. It carries the skull logo that signifies that it's part of Intel's Extreme series of motherboards, although we're not sure it's all that extreme. Sadly we didn't manage to find a good quality picture of the board, so you'll have to make do with what we managed to dig up. Even though this board didn't blow our minds, it's a much more impressive board than the DZ68DB which was Intel's first and for a very long time, only, Z68 motherboards.
What we have is a pretty standard looking motherboard with a pair of x16 slots, where the secondary slot runs in x8 mode when enabled, two x1 PCI Express slots and three PCI slots. The board appears completely littered with components and it looks quite messy. In addition to the two SATA 6Gbps ports and four SATA 3Gbps ports, Intel has added a second pair of SATA 6Gbps ports via what we presume is a Marvell controller. There are several pin-headers that add eight USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports and a single FireWire port. The board also features power and reset buttons as well as a POST80 debug LED.
The rear I/O consists of six USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, an eSATA port, a FireWire port, a Gigabit Ethernet port, 7.1-channel analogue audio with optical S/PDIF out, a DisplayPort, DVI and HDMI port and clear CMOS button. For an Intel board this isn't half bad and Intel also throws in a USB Wi-Fi and Bluetooth module and a copy of LucidLogix Virtu software for good measure. The DZ68BC is available right now for around US$225 which is a very steep price compared to what you can get competing products for from any of the big motherboard makers. We haven't managed to track down a price for the DZ68ZV as yet, although as far as we know, it's not meant to have launched quite as yet, despite being up on Intel's website.
As for the DZ68PL and DZ68AF, we sadly only have the model names at hand, but both should launch before the end of next month. Towards the end of next month Intel should also be adding support for its Smart Response technology, i.e. SSD caching to its DP67BA and DP67DE motherboards, two distinctly mid-range products, a very peculiar move as according to Intel itself, the P67 chipset couldn't possibly support Smart Response. We'll be asking Intel about this one and we might be seeing updates for other P67 motherboards in the future as well. If nothing else, it goes to show how many of the chipset related features are simply just added for product differentiation and nothing else.
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In this video, Intel engineers from the Technology and Manufacturing Group and computer chip design and test teams show and tell how they helped create Westmere, the codename for the world