Zotac’s Z68-ITX WiFi Mini-ITX motherboard

My very first car was an old Volvo 740 station wagon passed down from my parents. Despite its turbo-charged engine and rear-wheel-drive layout, the mid-80s box-on-wheels was highly contraceptive. That attribute ensured that I had plenty of time on the weekends to attend small LAN parties, and there the Volvo really came into its own.

In those days, we were all running full-sized tower enclosures and behemoth CRT monitors—not because we were overcompensating, but because we simply couldn’t get anything smaller. Headphones weren’t nearly as popular (the only pair I had belonged to a Sony Walkman), so speakers needed to be transported, as well. After adding a couple of friends, their rigs, and enough adult beverages to last an evening, the Volvo’s capacious trunk actually made sense.

Land-barge station wagons have fallen out of favor with car manufacturers in recent years, but pimply teenagers need not fret, because they can now squeeze a LAN-worthy gaming system onto the back of a Vespa. Unlike early small-form-factor designs, which performed about as well as an underpowered Italian scooter, modern Mini-ITX rigs have more in common with a Ducati. Much of the credit goes to Zotac, which is largely responsible for the form factor’s resurgence.

Take one look at the company’s Z68-ITX WiFi, and it’s easy to see why. This motherboard is small enough to fit inside shoebox-sized enclosures yet features Intel’s latest Z68 Express chipset for Sandy Bridge CPUs. You know what that means: Smart Response SSD caching, QuickSync transcoding support, and the ability to fiddle with Sandy’s core multipliers. Throw in a PCI Express x16 slot for discrete graphics cards, and you’ve got the basis for one very powerful breadbox.

Thus far, Zotac is the only Mini-ITX mobo maker using the Z68 chipset. Indeed, this appears to be the only Mini-ITX board that’ll let you overclock a Sandy Bridge CPU. All the similarly sized alternatives listed online are based on H61 and H67 chipsets that lock you out of fiddling with the multipliers even on fully unlocked K-series CPUs.

Overclocking and Mini-ITX systems don’t usually go together. However, Sandy Bridge is so power-efficient and its Turbo multipliers so easy to manipulate that running a hopped-up small-form-factor rig is a real possibility. Zotac clearly had overclockers on its mind, because it equipped the Z68-ITX with an eight-pin auxiliary 12V plug and an eight-phase power delivery system for the CPU—double what’s offered on the company’s H67-ITX, which has four-12V pins and four power phases.

Like other mobo makers, Zotac is using high-grade electrical components and digital PWMs. The firm hasn’t bothered tying the fancier parts to an Ultra Military Xtreme branding exercise, though. In the words of one Zotac representative, who wished to remain anonymous, “we don’t need to add a fancy name to what’s common among the industry.”

Zotac did, however, add tallish heatsinks to cool the chipset and power regulation circuitry. Although far from towering, these finned chunks of metal may complicate clearance for larger CPU heatsinks that extend beyond the boundaries defined by Intel’s socket specifications.

The Mini-ITX form factor’s 6.7″ x 6.7″ dimensions have always made for cramped quarters, so the close proximity of the DIMM slots and the lone PCIe slot should come as no surprise. Beware of memory modules with tall heatspreaders and graphics coolers that wrap around to the back of the card.

Excusing the tightly packed layout is easy when one considers just how much goodness has been crammed onto the board. Over to the left, there are power and reset buttons in addition to a two-digit POST code display. That little riser card in the middle of the shot is an 802.11n module sitting in a Mini PCI Express slot. Want to take advantage of the Z68’s Smart Response SSD caching scheme but already have all four of the onboard Serial ATA ports occupied? The Wi-Fi card can be swapped out for an mSATA SSD.

Four SATA ports should be plenty for most Mini-ITX systems, though. My only complaint is that the chipset’s remaining two 3Gbps ports haven’t been routed to the rear cluster to provide eSATA connectivity. Zotac does score some bonus points for using a four-port USB 3.0 controller that offers two SuperSpeed ports at the rear plus another two via a front-panel connector.

Around back, the Z68-ITX has one of the most interesting port arrays we’ve seen in a while. The most striking feature is easily the trio of digital display outputs: dual HDMI ports plus a single Mini DisplayPort connector. We’re big fans of the handy CMOS reset switch, too, but two Gigabit Ethernet ports seems a little excessive. You’re not still using your PC as the router for your home network, are you?

HD audio is predictably piped through a Realtek codec, and as usual, support for real-time Dolby Digital Live or DTS encoding isn’t included. Getting multi-channel audio with games requires using the analog outs or adding a USB audio device like Asus’ Xonar U3. A discrete sound card could be plugged into to the PCIe x16 slot, but only at the expense of discrete graphics. At least the onboard audio implementation offers surround-sound virtualization for stereo speakers and headphones.

Zotac throws a handful of extras into the box, including an expansion slot bracket for the front-panel USB 3.0 connector. A low-profile back plate also makes an appearance alongside a Mini DisplayPort adapter and a mounting bracket for mSATA solid-state drives.

So far, the Z68-ITX looks like it has all the trappings of a modern enthusiast board. The BIOS has even been replaced with a UEFI. The only hint you’ll get that this is a next-generation BIOS interface is the mouse cursor, though, and its implementation leaves a little to be desired. The cursor flickers on the fan control screen, and it seems to move several pixels at a time instead of tracking smoothly.

Lousy UEFI mouse implementations seem to be the norm, but we didn’t expect the overclocking options to be so limited. CPU multiplier control is restricted to setting a maximum Turbo speed that applies to all four cores. The processor voltage options are also tied to Turbo; up to 1.02V can be added to the CPU voltage, but only when clock-boosting is engaged.

Zotac has a history of skimping on memory controls, and the Z68-ITX is still lacking. Despite offering numerous speed options and timings, there’s no way to change the DRAM command rate. It defaulted to 1T with the modules we used for testing, but the option needs to be there in the UEFI. So does an integrated flashing utility. And a pony.

The UEFI’s fan control options are predictably basic, but they at least include adjustable temperature-based speed control for the CPU fan. Only static speed control is offered for the system fan, which can be capped at as little as 20% of full speed. Ideally, we’d like to see temperature-based controls available for the system fan and more granular control over how aggressively the CPU fan responds to changes in temperature.

Digging into the details

If you’re already familiar with our test methods and don’t need a detailed rundown of the Z68-ITX’s specifications and UEFI options, feel free to skip ahead to the performance results.

Clock speeds Base: 100-300MHz in 0.01MHz steps

IGP: 800-3000MHz in 1MHz steps

DRAM: 1066-2133MHz in 266MHz steps

Multipliers CPU: 34-59X in 1X steps
Voltages Additional CPU Turbo: +0-1.02V in 0.001V steps
Additional GPU Turbo: +0-1V in 0.001V steps

DRAM: -0.1 – +0.16V in 0.02-0.04V steps

PCH: +0.03-0.15V in 0.03V steps

Fan control CPU start temp: 30-60°C in 5°C steps

CPU max duty cycle: 70-100% in 10% steps

CPU min duty cycle: 20-60% in 10% steps

System static speed: 20-100% in 10% steps

The UEFI’s overclocking options are pretty limited, but that didn’t stop us from turning the screws on a Core i7-2600K. More on our overclocking exploits in a moment.

CPU power 8+1
DIMM slots 2 DDR3-1333 DIMM
Expansion slots 1 PCIe x16

1 Mini PCIe

Storage I/O 2 6Gbps SATA RAID

2 3Gbps SATA RAID

Audio 8-channel HD via Realtek ALC892
Ports 1 PS/2 keyboard/mouse

2 HDMI

1 Mini DisplayPort

2 USB 3.0 w/ 2 headers via Via VL800

4 USB 2.0 w/ 4 headers

2 RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet via 2 x Realtek RTL8111E

1 analog front out

1 analog bass/center out

1 analog rear out

1 analog mic in

1 analog line in/surround out

1 optical S/PDIF output

Don’t let the length of the spec sheet fool you—if you don’t count expansion slots, the Z68-ITX is nearly as loaded as quite a lot of other Z68 boards.

Our testing methods

To see whether it can keep up with the desktop crowd, we’ve pitted the Z68-ITX against a range of Z68 and P67 motherboards from Asus, Gigabyte, and MSI. We’ve also thrown in a couple of 990FX-based AMD boards for additional flavor. The AMD results have been greyed out in the graphs to avoid confusion.

Before getting into those results, we should note that the Z68-ITX doesn’t follow Intel’s rules for Turbo multipliers to the letter. The Core i7-2600K is supposed to use a 38X Turbo multiplier when one core is engaged and a 35X multiplier when all four are fired up. However, the Z68-ITX applies a 38X multiplier whenever the CPU is under load—regardless of how many cores are in use. We’ve seen similar behavior from Asus’ recent Z68 and P67 motherboards, so it’s nothing new. I suspect mobo makers are loosely interpreting Intel’s Turbo guidelines to offer a little more performance. For what it’s worth, neither the Z68-ITX nor the Asus boards that exhibit similar behavior has had any problem maintaining a 38X CPU multiplier with all cores at full utilization for extended periods of time.

Because the higher-than-normal Turbo multipliers are a part of the default behavior of the Zotac and Asus boards, we haven’t taken steps to rein them in. As a result, you’ll see slightly better performance from those mobos in some of our tests.

With few exceptions, all tests were run at least three times, and we reported the median of the scores produced.

Processor AMD Phenom II X6 1090T 3.2GHz Intel Core i7-2600K 3.4GHz
Motherboard Asus Sabertooth 990FX MSI 990FXA-GD80 Asus P8P67 PRO Asus Sabertooth P67 Asus P8Z68-V PRO Gigabyte Z68X-UD3H-B3 MSI Z68A-GD80 Zotac Z68-ITX
Bios revision 0138 E7640AMS.B0I 1502 1502 8801 F2d E7672IMS V17.0B17 XXX
Platform hub AMD 990FX/SB950 AMD 990FX/SB950 Intel P67 Express Intel P67 Express Intel Z68 Express Intel Z68 Express Intel Z68 Express Intel Z68 Express
Chipset drivers Catalyst 11.5 Catalyst 11.5 Chipset: 9.2.0.1025

RST: 10.1

Chipset: 9.2.0.1025

RST: 10.1

Chipset: 9.2.0.1025

RST: 10.5

Chipset: 9.2.0.1025

RST: 10.5

Chipset: 9.2.0.1025

RST: 10.5

Chipset: 9.2.0.1025

RST: 10.5

Memory size 8GB (2 DIMMs) 8GB (2 DIMMs) 8GB (2 DIMMs) 8GB (2 DIMMs) 8GB (2 DIMMs) 8GB (2 DIMMs) 8GB (2 DIMMs) 8GB (2 DIMMs)
Memory type Corsair Vengeance DDR3 SDRAM at 1333MHz Corsair Vengeance DDR3 SDRAM at 1333MHz Corsair Vengeance DDR3 SDRAM at 1333MHz Corsair Vengeance DDR3 SDRAM at 1333MHz Corsair Vengeance DDR3 SDRAM at 1333MHz Corsair Vengeance DDR3 SDRAM at 1333MHz Corsair Vengeance DDR3 SDRAM at 1333MHz Corsair Vengeance DDR3 SDRAM at 1333MHz
Memory timings 9-9-9-24-1T 9-9-9-24-1T 9-9-9-24-1T 9-9-9-24-1T 9-9-9-24-1T 9-9-9-24-1T 9-9-9-24-1T 9-9-9-24-1T
Audio Realtek ALC892 with 2.59 drivers Realtek ALC892 with 2.59 drivers Realtek ALC892 with 2.59 drivers Realtek ALC892 with 2.59 drivers Realtek ALC892 with 2.59 drivers Realtek ALC892 with 2.59 drivers Realtek ALC892 with 2.59 drivers Realtek ALC892 with 2.59 drivers
Graphics Asus EAH5870 1GB with Catalyst 11.3 drivers
Hard drive Raptor WD1500ADFD 150GB
Power Supply PC Power & Cooling Silencer 750W
OS Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64

We’d like to thank Asus, Corsair, and Western Digital for helping to outfit our test rigs with some of the finest hardware available. Thanks to each of the motherboard makers for supplying their boards, too, and to Intel for providing the CPU.

We used the following versions of our test applications:

The test systems’ Windows desktop was set at 1280×1024 in 32-bit color at a 60Hz screen refresh rate. Vertical refresh sync (vsync) was disabled for all tests.

All the tests and methods we employed are publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.

Memory performance

Our memory performance tests ask what the motherboards can do with the same DIMMs running at 1333MHz and 9-9-9-24-1T timings.

Key takeaway: the Phenom II X6’s memory controller isn’t nearly as good as the one Sandy has tucked under her skirt. The bandwidth and latency results are very close among the Intel boards, with the Z68-ITX right up there with full-sized ATX models from Asus and Gigabyte.

Application performance

The Z68-ITX is sandwiched between three Asus boards throughout. It just so happens that bunch of four uses a 38X Turbo multiplier whenever the processor is under load, while the others observe the official sliding scale, which steps down from 38X to 35X as the number of active cores ramps up.

Power consumption

We measured system power consumption, sans monitor and speakers, at the wall outlet using a Watts Up Pro power meter. Readings were taken at idle and under a load consisting of a Cinebench 11.5 render alongside the rthdribl HDR lighting demo. We tested with Windows 7’s High Performance and Balanced power plans.

All the boards ship with power-saving features that can be enabled via the BIOS or Windows software. We tested each with these features enabled and disabled. The results with parentheses (which contain the name of each mobo maker’s power-saving mojo) refer to the configurations optimized for energy efficiency.

The Z68-ITX manages the lowest power consumption of the bunch. Most of the power savings come under load, where the pint-sized wonder asks for 46W less at the socket than the next-closest competitor. Even the best small-form-factor enclosures have substantially less airflow than ATX mid-towers, making low power consumption (and, in turn, having less heat to dissipate) an essential characteristic for any serious Mini-ITX contender.

Overclocking

These days, most new motherboards can be overclocked in numerous ways. Auto-pilot engage via BIOS options, onboard buttons, or Windows software provided by the mobo maker. Mobo makers also provide apps that offer manual overclocking and tweaking controls in Windows. Then there’s the BIOS or UEFI, where such settings can be changed more directly. If you find yourself overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices, the Z68-ITX makes things much simpler. The only way to push this puppy beyond stock speeds is to get your hands dirty in the UEFI.

After increasing the Turbo power and current limits, we managed to get the Z68-ITX into Windows with a 45X multiplier, yielding a clock speed just shy of 4.5GHz. That speed wasn’t stable while running our stress test, an eight-way Prime 95 load alongside the rthdribl HDR lighting demo, until we added a smidgen more voltage for the CPU—100 millivolts, to be exact. However, no amount of extra voltage could coax the CPU into Windows.

Two of the other three Z68 boards we’ve tested hit 4.7GHz with the very same CPU, but the third only did 4.5GHz. The Z68-ITX isn’t quite as good an overclocker as some full-sized ATX boards, then. You won’t find a Mini-ITX enclosure that’s nearly as good at cooling an overclocked CPU (or accommodating aftermarket coolers) as the average desktop case, either.

Motherboard peripheral performance

Our last stop on the testing front is the wonderful world of onboard peripherals.

HD Tach USB 3.0 performance
Read burst

speed (MB/s)

Average read

speed (MB/s)

Average write

speed (MB/s)

CPU utilization

(%)

Asus P8P67 PRO 220.9 176.6 57.9 2.0
Asus P8Z68-V PRO 198.0 173.0 61.6 2.0
Asus Sabertooth 990FX 187.7 159.5 62.1 5.0
Asus Sabertooth P67 221.2 177.0 58.3 2.0
Gigabyte Z68X-UD3H-B3 167.3 166.1 62.9 3.0
MSI 990FX-GD80 188.1 155.7 56.5 7.0
MSI Z68A-GD80 174.1 161.5 55.1 2.0
Zotac Z68-ITX 150.6 162.8 53.3 2.0

Zotac pays perhaps unintentional tribute to the Mini-ITX form factor’s creator, Via, by using one of the company’s USB 3.0 chips on the Z68-ITX. Based on the results of our SuperSpeed performance tests, it looks like the Via controller is a little bit slow. That’s shocking for Via, I know.

HD Tach USB 2.0 performance
Read burst

speed (MB/s)

Average read

speed (MB/s)

Average write

speed (MB/s)

CPU utilization

(%)

Asus P8P67 PRO 35.1 35.0 25.2 2.0
Asus P8Z68-V PRO 36.4 34.2 24.1 2.0
Asus Sabertooth 990FX 35.1 30.9 25.8 4.0
Asus Sabertooth P67 35.1 35.0 25.2 2.0
Gigabyte Z68X-UD3H-B3 37.5 34.8 24.8 2.0
MSI 990FX-GD80 31.1 30.8 24.1 7.0
MSI Z68A-GD80 36.3 34.9 23.3 1.0
Zotac Z68-ITX 36.4 34.3 22.4 1.0

The Z68-ITX’s USB 3.0 ports are still way faster than their 2.0 counterparts.

HD Tune Serial ATA performance – VelociRaptor
Read Write
Burst (MB/s) Average (MB/s) Random 4KB (ms) Burst (MB/s) Average (MB/s) Random 4KB (ms)
Asus P8P67 PRO 292.1 129.9 7.0 292.3 125.9 2.7
Asus P8P67 PRO (Marvell) 235.6 129.9 7.2 238.9 114.8 2.6
Asus P8Z68-V PRO 288.3 129.6 7.2 280.1 122.9 2.7
Asus P8Z68-V PRO (Marvell) 203.3 129.7 7.2 203.9 123.3 2.6
Asus Sabertooth 990FX 275.0 129.9 7.2 264.6 125.5 2.9
Asus Sabertooth 990FX (JMicron) 132.3 117.9 7.1 115.6 89.7 2.6
Asus Sabertooth P67 294.2 129.9 7.0 294.1 125.8 2.7
Asus Sabertooth P67 (Marvell) 235.4 129.9 7.2 234.4 127.2 2.7
Gigabyte Z68X-UD3H-B3 276.0 129.6 7.2 284.0 123.8 2.7
Gigabyte Z68X-UD3H-B3 (GSATA) 177.4 129.8 7.2 178.8 121.7 2.5
MSI 990FX-GD80 247.6 129.9 7.2 247.4 123.6 2.6
MSI Z68A-GD80 234.7 129.8 7.2 264.3 123.6 2.6
MSI Z68A-GD80 (Marvell) 195.0 129.0 7.2 197.5 85.5 2.6
Zotac Z68-ITX 234.1 129.4 7.2 227.6 124.3 2.7
HD Tune Serial ATA performance – Vertex 3
Read Write
Burst (MB/s) Average (MB/s) Random 4KB (ms) Burst (MB/s) Average (MB/s) Random 4KB (ms)
Asus P8P67 PRO 387.8 383.1 0.05 348.1 279.6 0.06
Asus P8P67 PRO (Marvell) 263.0 261.3 0.07 241.8 130.6 0.09
Asus P8Z68-V PRO 381.3 375.0 0.06 340.3 252.0 0.06
Asus P8Z68-V PRO (Marvell) 232.2 243.5 0.09 210.5 152.5 0.11
Asus Sabertooth 990FX 369.6 339.5 0.05 305.0 238.9 0.05
Asus Sabertooth 990FX (JMicron) 129.0 130.9 0.08 127.1 93.8 0.14
Asus Sabertooth P67 388.7 383.7 0.07 346.4 278.5 0.07
Asus Sabertooth P67 (Marvell) 261.3 258.8 0.08 238.1 167.9 0.10
Gigabyte Z68X-UD3H-B3 383.9 378.5 0.06 325.5 210.3 0.06
Gigabyte Z68X-UD3H-B3 (GSATA) 193.9 194.5 0.06 175.2 136.5 0.08
MSI 990FX-GD80 316.3 318.1 0.07 274.1 235.5 0.08
MSI Z68A-GD80 367.2 362.1 0.06 321.9 234.1 0.07
MSI Z68A-GD80 (Marvell) 208.4 213.5 0.11 200.8 97.9 0.14
Zotac Z68-ITX 375.2 372.3 0.05 335.9 230.6 0.09

Asus seems to have done the best job of mastering Intel’s 6-series Serial ATA controller. Zotac’s implementation is a little bit slower with sustained reads and writes, at least with an SSD. There’s really no difference in average read and write speeds with a mechanical VelociRaptor hooked up.

NTttcp Ethernet performance
Throughput (Mbps) CPU utilization (%)
Asus P8P67 PRO 934.6 1.8
Asus P8Z68-V PRO 940.6 1.9
Asus Sabertooth 990FX 947.7 9.8
Asus Sabertooth P67 938.3 1.8
Gigabyte Z68X-UD3H-B3 944.5 3.9
MSI 990FX-GD80 939.7 9.9
MSI Z68A-GD80 (1) 943.9 3.7
MSI Z68A-GD80 (2) 937.1 3.4
Zotac Z68-ITX (1) 946.2 3.2
Zotac Z68-ITX (2) 940.5 2.7

I’m a little puzzled as to why Zotac thought the Z68-ITX needed a second Gigabit Ethernet controller, but it’s every bit as quick as the first one. All of the Z68 mobos are pretty even when it comes to Ethernet throughput and CPU utilization.

RightMark Audio Analyzer audio quality
Frequency response Noise level Dynamic range THD THD + Noise IMD + Noise Stereo Crosstalk IMD at 10kHz Overall score
Asus P8P67 PRO 5 4 4 5 3 5 5 5 4
Asus P8Z68-V PRO 5 4 5 3 5 5 5 5 4
Asus Sabertooth 990FX 5 4 4 5 3 4 5 4 4
Asus Sabertooth P67 5 4 4 5 3 5 5 5 4
Gigabyte Z68X-UD3H-B3 5 5 5 5 3 5 5 5 5
MSI 990FX-GD80 4 4 4 5 3 4 5 5 4
MSI Z68A-GD80 5 4 4 5 3 5 5 5 4
Zotac Z68-ITX 5 4 4 5 3 4 5 4 4

Integrated audio quality matters more on Mini-ITX boards than it does with other form factors because one can’t add a sound card without sacrificing discrete graphics. The Z68-ITX’s RMAA scores put it near the back of a tightly bunched pack that sounds decidedly average overall. A USB audio device would be the first thing on my upgrade list.

Conclusions

The Z68-ITX is exactly the kind of motherboard we’d expect from a company whose Mini-ITX offerings have come to shadow ATX designs, matching their bigger counterparts nearly feature for feature. Thanks to slick power circuitry, an assortment of integrated peripherals that’s richer than ever before, and smart little touches like the POST code display and rear-mounted CMOS reset button, this latest release is Zotac’s finest yet. Factor in the board’s competitive performance and ample overclocking headroom, and the Z68-ITX looks like an ideal candidate for anyone looking to downsize their gaming rig.

That said, the UEFI is clearly the weakest link. Zotac has implemented the bare minimum when it comes to overclocking, tweaking, and fan controls. The lack of an integrated flashing utility is a glaring omission, and Zotac seems to have no answer for the competition’s auto-overclocking schemes and Windows utilities.

Those flaws would be almost impossible to excuse on a larger motherboard, for which better alternatives exist. No one else has a Mini-ITX board with a Z68 chipset, though—or a P67, for that matter. The Z68-ITX may be a little harder to set up and overclock than its contemporary counterparts, but its unique nature outweighs the inconvenience.

As is always the case with Mini-ITX boards, there’s a bit of a price premium involved. But not as much as one might expect. Zotac tells us the Z68-ITX will sell for $170 when it becomes available in early August. That’s only $20 more than the company’s existing H67 board and just $10 north of Asus’ Mini-ITX spin on the H67. For a diminutive desktop replacement or a gaming rig, I wouldn’t think twice about paying the premium for the Z68. I also wouldn’t hesitate to build a system around the Z68-ITX, which is why the board is TR Recommended.

Comments closed
    • Nomgle
    • 8 years ago

    [quote<]HD audio is predictably piped through a Realtek codec, and as usual, support for real-time Dolby Digital Live or DTS encoding isn't included. Getting multi-channel audio with games requires using the analog outs or adding a USB audio device like Asus' Xonar U3.[/quote<] Um, getting multi-channel audio with games simply requires connecting the HDMI output to your Receiver, and listening. The days of realtime DD/DTS encoding to fit a 5.1 signal down an SPDIF connection are long gone - HDMI can carry uncompressed multichannel digital audio.

    • edh
    • 8 years ago

    While not perfect (a pair of eSATAp / USB 2.0 combo ports in place of two of the four USB 2.0 ports on the rear panel would have been an exceptional addition), the Z68ITX-A-E is probably about as good as a Z68-based ITX board is likely to get. Lian Li’s newly-announced TU-200(b) sewing-machine suit case (PC-Q08(b) ruggedized & with a built-in handle) seems like the perfect case when it becomes available in a couple of months. Add Seasonic’s SS-560KM power supply, MSI’s pre-OC’d R6950 Twin Frozr III video card, 8 gigs of fast ddr3 sdram, a 240GB Vertex 3 and a pair of WD 2GB “blacks” in RAID-1 and you’d have a killer portable machine far more capable than most desktops.

    My question is, which after-market heat sink? None of the usual suspects (the bulky tall towers) will fit.

    • Convert
    • 8 years ago

    One question: Is this picture (https://techreport.com/r.x/zotac-z68itx/extras.jpg) displaying a full height pcie bracket?

      • Machupo
      • 8 years ago

      one on the left looks full height, the one on the right looks half height

        • Convert
        • 8 years ago

        I don’t mean the pci brackets for the USB header. I mean the vertical retention bracket for the mini pcie. Does it come with two, one full and one half?

        *edit* OK I see the review has been edited to say it is a mSATA bracket. I don’t believe those are any different dimension wise than a regular mini pcie.

          • FuturePastNow
          • 8 years ago

          It’s longer. The wireless card installed is the “short” kind and has a short bracket.

    • SpeedyVV
    • 8 years ago

    OMG this is a beauty!

    Can I throw a GTX 580 to game on a 2560×1600 screen, and use the other 2 HDMI ports for side screens?

    I am not talking about Eyefinity or Surround, just simple 3 seperate monitor?

      • indeego
      • 8 years ago

      We don’t know because the review doesn’t cover the HDMI ports at all. I would weigh on the negative since onboard graphics are typically disabled when discrete cards are added.

    • tahir2
    • 8 years ago

    Just wanted to know what this meant, [b<][i<]"the mid-80s box-on-wheels was highly contraceptive".[/b<][/i<]

      • emkubed
      • 8 years ago

      I means that since it wasn’t some hot rod, he didn’t get laid, so he had time on the weekends to game instead.

    • swaaye
    • 8 years ago

    Well that’s no holds barred functionality. 😉

    All in one
    -router/gateway
    -access point
    -NAS
    -TVPC
    -etc?

    • oldDummy
    • 8 years ago

    Your right, the 2nd Ethernet is a little over the top.

    But overall, Nice.
    Thanks for the heads up.

      • indeego
      • 8 years ago

      TR used to recommend plenty of dual nic motherboards, such as the P5B deluxe. The dual nic came in handy a few times when I had it.

        • oldDummy
        • 8 years ago

        Personally I find the 2nd Ethernet a waste of space.
        What would you use it for nowadays?

    • d0g_p00p
    • 8 years ago

    I personally like having dual NIC’s on motherboards. I use one going to my LAN and the other attached to a iSCSI storage box. It saves me from having to buy a card and keeps my box simple. I know my usage is not normal and I am the exception.

    My complaint with this mobo is the wireless. I wish they would ditch that and use the space for a PCIe 4X or 1X slot.

      • pedro
      • 8 years ago

      I agree that the 2nd NIC is nice.

      • fr500
      • 8 years ago

      It’s impossible. The mini ITX standard specifies 1 slot, even if they put it there on a random spot it won’t work. It’s a mini PCIe slot AFAIK so you can put a tv tuner or replace the wifi adapter. if you are creative you could make/use a vidock to add a second GPU for physx or something

      [url<]http://forum.notebookreview.com/gaming-software-graphics-cards/418851-egpu-experiences.html#post5324240[/url<]

    • flip-mode
    • 8 years ago

    mITX needs four RAM slots. Really. Everything else is there but the RAM slots. We need an e-ITX extended ITX or something that will fit four RAM slots. You could make a bad-ass, fully functional, powerful, small form factor workstation using m-ITX were it not for the RAM limitations.

      • Machupo
      • 8 years ago

      Probably have to go to SODIMMs to see that on the mITX form factor. I’d love to see it as well.

      • Arag0n
      • 8 years ago

      What I would like to see is a CPU with 4GB “L4 Cache” (Alias RAM) + 64GB SSD. CPU+NB+GPU+RAM+HD, just links to output/input ports and power supply.If everything can be fitted under 35W, it would be possible to integrate a computer into a slim TV chassis (or screen). You will have TV or Screen, but you won’t know where is your computer. I believe this is the way to go for office computers, defnitly not the way for Hardcore gamers… but pretty good for office zealots that require just MS Office, IE9 and not so many more things…

      I’m pretty sure that if an ARM SoC was to be used, we might be looking at 10-15W TDP for a complete computer.

      The other way I see computers evolving is using a dock station that you place your own smartphone and it becomes your computer. This is just around the corner…. 1-2 years.

        • Machupo
        • 8 years ago

        you can sort of get this already with:
        -Intel DH61AG slim-ITX mobo
        -Core i5-2390T
        -2x4GB DDR3 sodimms of choice
        -slim 1U hsf
        -samsung pm800 msata 64/128gb SSD

          • Arag0n
          • 8 years ago

          sure.. but you missed the point. The point is to have a system that it’s totally SOC and you can add computer capabilities to almost everything. Think about an ultra-slim screen that it’s also computer like an iMac.

            • NeelyCam
            • 8 years ago

            CPU, DRAM and SSD all on the same chip?? That would be ridiculously expensive.

            • Arag0n
            • 8 years ago

            Sure it is right now, but it’s not as crazy as it sounds. Some mobile chips already own their own stack of RAM. Qualcomm chips have 64Mb of RAM built-in their Snapdragonn CPU’s. And, again, I belive that it may end being a 400$ “thing” but it will avoid you to buy plenty of other things, getting down the full system price. It doesn’t have to be x86, it could be ARM too.

      • Convert
      • 8 years ago

      Would more than 8GB really be needed?

      I’m not really one to talk as I have 16GB in my system but still, seems like 8GB would be sufficient for the majority of workstation uses.

        • flip-mode
        • 8 years ago

        Well, for the majority 8GB may be fine. But I just finished building two mATX boxes rather than two mITX boxes because of the RAM limitations and the fact that the stations at work can actually use as much as 8GB or more on occasion. I really wanted to go mITX.

          • APWNH
          • 8 years ago

          the 8GB limit is definitely the biggest drawback to miniITX. Sadly 8GB DIMMs aren’t going to be affordable for a while yet. The SODIMMs idea was excellent.

    • eitje
    • 8 years ago

    The HDTach link doesn’t seem to go anywhere; the domain has been squatted, it appears.

    [quote<]And a pony.[/quote<] Love it! But you're not really asking for too much, there... I love Zotac boards (design and features), but they're almost like a whitebox PC in terms of their configuration options. I don't know - is it really that difficult to find a few people that know how to make a UEFI interface with more options?

    • MadManOriginal
    • 8 years ago

    This thing is begging for power testing with a PicoPSU-style PSU and a power brick without a discrete graphics card. Remember the dramatic power reduction using such a setup with the E-350? [url<]https://techreport.com/articles.x/20401/5[/url<] Obviously not such a small DC-DC converter or PicoPSU but still something other than a 750W ATX PSU. NeelyCam often mentions his ultra-low power 'power rig,' I'd like to see such a test from TR. Mini-article/blog please?

      • pedro
      • 8 years ago

      Yes please.

    • Chrispy_
    • 8 years ago

    “we don’t need to add a fancy name to what’s common among the industry.”

    I like Zotac more than I did, and I already rated them over Gigabyte.

    • Bensam123
    • 8 years ago

    “I’m a little puzzled as to why Zotac thought the Z68ITX needed a second Gigabit Ethernet controller, but it’s every bit as quick as the first one. All of the Z68 mobos are pretty even when it comes to Ethernet throughput and CPU utilization.”

    My thoughts exactly. It makes you wonder what sort of people they have designing stuff like this. Not that this is a huge glaring fault, but anyone with a little bit of common sense who has actually used a computer could tell you one of those two ethernet ports will never be used. The same thing goes with routing USB 2 ports to the back instead of USB 3.

    Taking that same bit of logic, a better choice for the ethernet jack would’ve been a DVI port or VGA (so people don’t need to buy an adapter if they choose to use on board video)

      • SonicSilicon
      • 8 years ago

      I’ve often been under the impression that many Micro ATX boards were designed halfheartedly as light home servers.

        • beowulfman
        • 8 years ago

        these itx boards are perfect to make cluster render farms, a cpu + low power + small form with no extras and the 2 x gigabit ethernet makes them around $100 cheaper choice with this option than other itx boards without this option, for all you guys that play games, all you talk about is overclocking this overclock that which this Zotac has some issues with but if want supercomputer performance you need small, cheap and quanity and also balls to run linux and virtual windows and you can get all the ram and cpu cores you can afford. yes it would be help if you could have multiples of 12 / 16 / 24gig ram on each board, but unless you use ecc ram be carefull of huge ram even it is available. for a little desktop yes maybe a 2 gigabit is a waste, but there is a market for these little things to become monsters with a bit of imagination. just search up beowulf cluster or render farms

    • Arag0n
    • 8 years ago

    Llano version with passive heat sink, XBOX Like power supply and without PCI-E lane please! Make it happen Zotac! Apple TV sized computer ^^

      • derFunkenstein
      • 8 years ago

      Have you seen the current Apple TV? It’s about a 3″ square. No way Llano is going in one of those.

      Mac Mini sized? That’d be swell.

        • Arag0n
        • 8 years ago

        [url<]http://www.bestdealscomputers.net/tag/ultra-compact-pc[/url<] [url<]http://www.technoshout.org/2011/06/giada-ultra-mini-pc-i50-slim-and-speedy.html[/url<] Well, maybe not Apple TV.... and maybe not AMD, it could happen that NVIDIA it's the first to deliver to me a computer that has HD-Ready playability in order to place down a +40" TV like a Nintendo Wii to play games, music and stream movies from my computer. Intel Atom or Core iX integrated graphics doesn't achieve the desired goals for me....

          • derFunkenstein
          • 8 years ago

          Those are more Mac Mini sized. And yes, that’s an attractive form factor. Just not for me – I need at least one x16 slot for discrete graphics. Well, I don’t NEED it, but it would not be something I’d buy without.

    • pedro
    • 8 years ago

    Quite nice, especially the current-gen video outs on the back panel.

    However, I still need a case to put something like this in. Where are they? Anyone have any clues?

      • UberGerbil
      • 8 years ago

      Depending on your purposes (HTPC? tiny gamer? industrial toaster?), Silverstone offers a [url=http://www.silverstonetek.com/product_case.php?tno=0&case=c_sff&area=usa<]selection[/url<].

      • eitje
      • 8 years ago

      I talked a bit about my experiences with several mITX cases in Welch’s thread here:
      [spoiler<]https://techreport.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=76718[/spoiler<]

      • cegras
      • 8 years ago

      Lian Li has a huge selection. I am also looking at the Silverstone FT-03. Granted, the form factor is mATX, but I think a mini ITX would fit in just fine.

        • pedro
        • 8 years ago

        Thanks folks.

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