Gigabyte Z68AP-D3 Review
Published: 26th October 2011 | Source: Gigabyte | Price: £82.64 @ Aria |
At the beginning we asked if it was possible to produce a great performing motherboard for such a low price. Often when we see 'value' motherboards they are lacking so many bits and bobs that it's almost a false economy as you're losing too many features to make them a worthwhile purchase.
The Z68AP-D3 proves that, with some careful design planning coupled to the frankly indestructible Z68 chipset you really can have your cake and eat it. And then have enough money left over to buy another.
There is a lot to like and very little wrong with the D3. For a start it looks like a more expensive motherboard. We all know how important first impressions are, and with the D3 once you've got all your hardware installed it can easily pass for almost any of the regular Gigabyte motherboards. It isn't short of features either. We have USB3, IRST, SATA3, full 2133MHz DDR3 support. Nearly everything you could expect. The main things you notice that it's short are alternative display outputs, we only have one HDMI here, a header for extra USB3 ports and a dearth of fan headers.
However these are by no means deal-breaking things. It happily ran our RAM at its rated 2133MHz speed which is more than can be said for some boards we've tested, and whilst the 4.6GHz overclock isn't exactly the fasted we've achieved it was simplicity itself to hit and rock-solid throughout all of our testing.
To call it 'my first Sandy Bridge motherboard' sounds pejorative, but if you are in the world of Socket 775 or similar technologies then the Z68AP-D3 would be a fantastic upgrade. You get the serial and parallel port which aren't of much use to anyone but might be handy if you're coming from an older tech. The overclocking is ridiculously simple and foolproof and, best of all, the board generally gives performance akin to the speeds you're obtaining.
Of course there are some negatives, but they are slight. We'd like to see at least a VGA port to go along with the HDMI, especially as we have so many other older technologies available. The overclock is solid, just unspectacular, although we doubt anyone would pick one of these up for their latest attempt to break a world record. Finally the results in the 3D testing just lost their edge as the going got tough.
But all of that is just minor quibbles. The Gigabyte ZX68AP-D3 is a fantastic motherboard for such a small price, capable of being the perfect entry-level board for those upgrading to LGA1155, but with still plenty to give for those times you're feeling the need to overclock and tweak.
At £80 it's almost impossible to go wrong. It's a good, honest, hardworking motherboard that wont disappoint anybody who chooses it as the foundation for their system and for that it wins our OC3D Silver Award, as well as our Value For Money award.