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Recieved Revision 2.0 - Overclocks Locked Ivy Bridge Core i5.,
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This review is from: Gigabyte XKT-1155 Z68AP-D3 Motherboard (Rev 1.0) (Accessory)
Hi there. Here's my feedback for this motherboard (Z68AP-D3), which I purchased for a mere £50 here from Amazon.co.uk:
First, let's look at the cons for the board:
-Only uses the traditional 1oz copper PCB (instead of 2oz for more expensive/newer boards).
-No onboard USB3 header - if you have a USB3 case, you will NOT be able to connect the front panel USB ports to the motherboard.
My comments for the cons:
The 1oz PCB is to be expected in this price range. What it means is effectively, that the board is less heat-resistant and less overclock-friendly. To prevent damaging the board, I do NOT recommend attempting CPU overclocks above 4.2GHz - even if the boards VRM-circuit should easily handle that. Now onto the GOOD stuff:
- I recieved the revision 2.0 of the motherboard (and not the rev. 1.0 as advertised).
- Supports IVY Bridge Core i5 CPUs right out of the box (Even though the bundled bios version (FC) should officially not).
- Strong VRM (with efficient MOSFETs) for moderate overclocking.
- Can overclock Locked Ivy Bridge Core i5s after a BIOS update.
- Supports Crossfire.
- Good onboard Sound codec (above standard in even newer boards).
- USB3 and SATA3 capability.
My comments for the Pros:
Overclocking a Locked Ivy Bridge i5 requires updating to the latest BIOS version (UEFI) - and this proved to be tricky. I had to use an "HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool" along with bootable DOS files in order to correctly make a flash drive, that could update the BIOS. There are a couple of tutorials for this online (use google). Also, this may only have worked for me because I recieved the Revision 2.0 of this motherboard.
Overclocking a locked i5 is simple: Once you've updated to the UEFI BIOS, simply enter advanced frequency settings and increase the TURBO multipliers. They can be raised up to 4x higher than the maximum turbo for the CPU. This has allowed me to run my Core i5-3470 at 3.7GHz on all cores. It won't go above 3.7GHz, but this is due to a limitation in the BIOS, when running an Ivy Bridge CPU.
You may also need to slightly raise the allowed TDP of the chip.
Therefore, getting an unlocked Ivy Bridge CPU with this board is pointless - a Core i5 3470 can reach the maximum OC speed (and an i5 3350P might also be able to do that).
About the revision: I recieved a Rev. 2.0 of the board - and it functions like rev. 2.0 - but parts of the board layout are from the rev 1.0. The MOSFET heatsink, for instance, is still the one from the first revision - so when checking which revision you got, you'll need to check the BIOS version (can be done in the CPU-Z-application) and compare it with the BIOS versions for the two boards on Gigabyte's homepage. There may also be a sticker on the motherboard box station the revision.
All in all: An impressive and feature-rich board for the price of £50. Combined with an Alpine 11 PLUS cooler, My Core i5-3470 @ 3.7GHz stays at a perfectly stable 61 degrees celsius during stress tests.