asrock z68 ASRock jumps the gun, launches Z68 boards early

It looks like ASRock has had itchy fingers and has launched its Z68 boards a little bit on the early side, as all three of its Z68 boards are now listed on its website alongside a dedicated portal for the boards. We've already covered the boards in pretty good detail, but we missed a couple of things worth pointing out.

It looks like ASRock has had itchy fingers and has launched its Z68 boards a little bit on the early side, as all three of its Z68 boards are now listed on its website alongside a dedicated portal for the boards. We've already covered the boards in pretty good detail, but we missed a couple of things worth pointing out.

For starters, ASRock is making a big deal out of the PLX PEX8608 PCI Express switch on the Z68 Extreme4, although we're not quite sure what the fuss is about. As the Z68 Extreme4 has a third x16 slot (x4 electrically) the PLX switch has make do with a single PCI Express lane from the chipset which is then split between the two x1 PCI Express slots, the Gigabit Ethernet controller and the PCI bridge chip. ASRock claims that this is better than solutions where things are disabled when you add a card in the third x16 slot and that might very well be the case, but we're not sure we'd be willing to trade down the performance of everything else on the motherboard for it.

asrock z68 ASRock jumps the gun, launches Z68 boards early

In all fairness this is more of a flaw from Intel's side, as the company simply hasn't created a platform that provides enough PCI Express bandwidth, a re-occurring problem when it comes to Intel's mass-market platforms. The other three PCI Express lanes from the chipset are in this case taken up by two USB 3.0 host controllers and one SATA 6Gbps controller. It's not an ideal situation for anyone intending to use any kind of PCI Express x1 or PCI expansion cards as well as all three PCI Express x16 slots, as 500MB/s isn't all that much bandwidth to go around once you start dividing it up between three different things, if not more.

For some very odd reason, ASRock has decided to bundle a 3.5mm audio cable with the Z68 Extreme4 as well, although seemingly neither of the other two boards get one in the box. At least all three boards will be supplied with Lucid Logix's Virtu graphics switching software which should be a boon to some. Also supplied is a copy of CyberLink's MediaEspresso 6.5, but sadly this is only a trial version which is limited to 30-days or 50 conversions to H.264.

For those of you interested in getting an idea of what these boards cost, we can help out with that as well. All three boards are already listed for sale in the UK with the Z68 Extreme4 listed for £145 (S$293), the Z68 Pro3 for £135 (S$273) and the Z68 Pro3-M for £125 (S$252). We're fairly certain that these aren't the final board prices, as the difference between the models; especially the Z68 Extreme4 is simply just too small.

Source: ASRock