zotac z68 2 Zotac planning return to ATX motherboard market, with a bang

It's been a while since Zotac launched an ATX motherboard, in fact Zotac's last ATX form factor motherboard was based on Intel's X58 chipset back in 2009 and it's not exactly what we'd call an impressive motherboard in terms of features and layout. Fastforward to now and pictures of an upcoming Z68 from Zotac has made its way online and it looks like nothing you've ever seen from Zotac, in fact, it doesn't quite look like anything we've seen before.

It's been a while since Zotac launched an ATX motherboard, in fact Zotac's last ATX form factor motherboard was based on Intel's X58 chipset back in 2009 and it's not exactly what we'd call an impressive motherboard in terms of features and layout. Fastforward to now and pictures of an upcoming Z68 from Zotac has made its way online and it looks like nothing you've ever seen from Zotac, in fact, it doesn't quite look like anything we've seen before.

The board in question is the ZT-Z68 Crown Edition-U1DU3 (note that the source is a Chinese website and that the Google translation of ??? might be wrong) and we're going to have to wait for the official announcement to find out what the actual retail name will be. The matter of a fact is that you haven't seen a feature packed board until you've seen this motherboard, as there's barely any empty space on the EATX PCB, despite being slightly wider than regular ATX boards.

For starters the board has a massive 24+3-phase VRM design featuring DrMOS, tantalum capacitors and a decoupling capacitor. Over the top springs to mind, especially considering that Intel's Sandy Bridge CPUs are "somewhat" limited when it comes to overclocking thanks to little to no adjustment of the BCLK.

zotac z68 2 Zotac planning return to ATX motherboard market, with a bang

Moving on the board sports an nf200 chip which gives the board 3-way SLI support and Zotac has kindly drawn lines on the PCB to indicate which slots are used in 2-way and 3-way configurations. There are a total of four x16 PCI Express slots, although one of them would only work with a single slot card and the bottom slot would be limited to a single slot card as well in a regular 7-slot chassis. There's also a single x1 PCI Express slot and a PCI slot. An extra Molex connector has also been fitted to the board to provide extra power to the PCI Express slots.

From here on in things are starting to get really complicated. The reason for a missing slot on the board is because Zotac has repurposed the PCI Express lane for use with a mini PCI Express slot into which a half-length 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi card has been fitted. Yes, that's correct, Zotac has decided to kit out this massive board with a built in Wi-Fi card.

zotac z68 1 Zotac planning return to ATX motherboard market, with a bang

There are a total of eight SATA ports at the front of the board, two of which are via a third party controller. However, there's also an mSATA slot on the board just behind the SATA ports, but an interesting thing here is that it can also double up as a full-length mini PCI Express slot. From what we can tell, it's sharing the same SATA controller as the eSATA port. Oddly enough Zotac has also included an IDE port on the board.

Next we have a VLI VL800 USB 3.0 host controller with two pin-headers for a total of four front ports. There are also headers for six USB 2.0 ports and a serial port. Other little titbits include power and rest buttons as well as a POST80 debug LED, three Voltage metering points and what looks like three BIOS chips. Disappointingly though, we only spotted a mere three fan headers on the board, of which one is for the CPU cooler. That just isn't good enough on a board of this calibre.

zotac z68 3 Zotac planning return to ATX motherboard market, with a bang

Moving to the rear of the board we find a PS/2 port, four USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports (presumably from a VLI VL810 host controller), an eSATA port, a Gigabit Ethernet port, 7.1-channel audio with optical S/PDIF out and DVI, HDMI a DisplayPort connectors. There are also two antenna connectors here for the on-board Wi-Fi.

We can only imagine how expensive this board will be when it launches, or rather if it launches. We fully understand that motherboard manufacturers like to produce halo products, but this board is so far over the top that we frankly just don't get it. We've seen a lot of crazy concept boards over the years, but most of them have never made it to market and in a way, we hope this one doesn't make it either, at least not in its current design.

Source: MyDrivers