pure platinum z68 3 Sapphires Pure Platinum Z68 almost here

We didn't get a chance to see Sapphire's Z68 board at Computex, but the board has appeared on the company website as well as being listed by a few online retailers. The motherboard is called the Pure Platinum Z68 and as always with Sapphire boards it brings an interesting mix of features to the table.

We didn't get a chance to see Sapphire's Z68 board at Computex, but the board has appeared on the company website as well as being listed by a few online retailers. The motherboard is called the Pure Platinum Z68 and as always with Sapphire boards it brings an interesting mix of features to the table.

Sapphire has managed to position the Pure Platinum Z68 at a price point similar to Gigabyte's Z68X-UD3H and Asus' P8Z68-V, two boards that are offering fairly similar features, although Sapphire has managed to create something of a fusion of the two competitor's boards. That said, Sapphire still need to do some work on its board layouts if the company want to be really competitive.

pure platinum z68 3 Sapphires Pure Platinum Z68 almost here

The slot layout leaves something to be desired for one, as Sapphire has gone for three x16 PCI Express slots in a dual x8 and a single x4 config. This in itself isn't a bad thing, but considering that the remaining three slots on the board are all PCI slots, it's not ideal. That said, Sapphire has at least designed a board that won't disable any peripheral interfaces because there are too many PCI Express bus devices on the board, something that is common on many other boards.

We like the fact that Sapphire is sticking with Marvell Ethernet controllers, although do note that drivers for no Windows operating systems might be a bit tricky. The board also has a pair of additional SATA 6Gbps SATA ports, also courtesy of Marvell, on top of the two provided by the chipset alongside the four SATA 3Gbps ports. Sadly the board is missing a front USB 3.0 pin-header, although it has a total of four for up to eight USB 2.0 ports. Other little additions include a Molex connector for extra power to the PCI Express slots, a power and reset button, a BIOS selection switch and a POST80 debug LED display.

pure platinum z68 1 Sapphires Pure Platinum Z68 almost here

The PWM design is rather unusual, as Sapphire has replaced a fair few of the capacitors on the board with a proadlizer, something usually only found on really high-end motherboards and graphics cards. Sapphire has gone for an 8+2 PWM design and the company continues to use its unusual chokes with small heatsinks on top. The PWM is cooled by one larger and one smaller heatsink, although Sapphire seems to have decided against using a heatpipe to connect the two together.  

Around the back there's a PS/2 port, four USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports (via an ASMedia host controller), a Gigabit Ethernet port, 7.1-channel audio with optical S/PDIF out, a Bluetooth 2.1 dongle and a DisplayPort, HDMI, D-Sub and DVI connector. Missing is an eSATA port, although for most users an internal port should prove to be more useful.

pure platinum z68 2 Sapphires Pure Platinum Z68 almost here

We found the board listed for pre-order in Europe for about €139 (S$239) which is sadly about €10 (S$17) or so more than the similar models from Asus and Gigabyte. In as much as we want to like Sapphire's new boards, there are always a couple of things that puts us off them, especially compared to what's on offer from the more established board makers. The higher pricing also makes it difficult, but at the end of the day, we're going to have to see how the board performs before we draw any final conclusions.

Source: Sapphire