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Gigabyte Z68AP-D3 review

A budget motherboard with a lot to offer

Our Verdict

For

  • Bargain price
  • Decent feature set
  • Will still overclock

Against

  • Few I/O options

The Z68 platform has seen a lot of love from Gigabyte since it came about, and the Z68AP-D3 has to be one of the cheapest Z68 boards we've ever seen. But does that also mean it's one of the weakest?

Since the farce that accompanied the launch and subsequent silicon failure of the initial P67 platform, Gigabyte effectively ditched that chipset in favour of the Z68. When it made the announcement it would only be releasing a handful of P67 boards and focusing on the Z68 platform we thought maybe the low-end might suffer.

Gigabyte explained to us though that the cost difference between creating a P67 or Z68 board were negligible. With such budget Z68 boards arriving, like this one, that strategy looks to be working.

There's little missing from this budget board, but it still comes with Z68 specifics such as the Lucid Virtu and Smart Response Technology (SRT), as well as onboard video outputs.

Wallet friendly

This isn't the cheapest Z68 motherboard that Gigabyte has created, there are other boards out for just over £70, but the Z68AP-D3 doesn't skimp on the features that make the Z68 chipset attractive.

It comes with a single onboard HDMI port, but that does mean it can be used without needing to plug in a discrete GPU. And that makes it pretty much ideal for the market this board seems to be aimed at.

The Z68AP-D3 actually looks like it may be targeting the small business market not the budget gamer. I say that because of the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) that caters for the security-conscious network admins, but also because of the reappearance of parallel and serial ports. In the home those legacy connectors aren't much use, but in a small business/home office environment they're more relevant.

Still, us gamers can still pick it up as a bargain Z68 as the basis of a good value Sandy Bridge machine. Compared with something like the Asus P8Z68-V Pro the Gigabyte board represents a significant saving; you're shaving £60 off the mobo cost.

So what are you missing out on by opting for this bargain?

No corners cut?

Well, the big thing is the overclocking potential of the top-end Sandy Bridge CPUs. With the more expensive Asus board you can hit 4.9GHz by simply upping the multiplier.

On the Gigabyte Z68AP-D3 you're still able to clock up an extra 1GHz and top out at 4.4GHz, which should be enough for most bargain hunters. You also get the onboard mSATA connection. Compared with the Z68XP-UD3-iSSD you don't get to populate the slot with a teeny 20GB SSD out of the box, but you can pick one up later and take advantage of the Z68 chipset's SRT.

TechRadar Labs

Tech labs

CPU rendering performance
Cinebench R11.5: Index: Higher is better
Gigabyte Z68AP-D3: 6.93
ASRock Z68 Pro 3: 6.70
Asus P8Z68-V Pro: 6.99

CPU gaming performance
Shogun 2: Frames per second: Higher is better
Gigabyte Z68AP-D3: 26
ASRock Z68 Pro 3: 25
Asus P8Z68-V Pro: 27

Gaming performance
Just Cause 2: Frames per second: Higher is better
Gigabyte Z68AP-D3: 41
ASRock Z68 PRO 3: 42
Asus P8Z68-V PRO: 42

And thanks to Gigabyte's setup you don't need to reinstall everything before enabling that tech, which means picking up a small SSD later on gives you a nice upgrade path too.

If you're looking to build a budget Sandy Bridge machine the Gigabyte Z68AP-D3 will give you relevant performance compared with pricier boards and allow you to spend more in other areas of your build.

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Tech Specs

Product TypeDesktop Motherboard
Chipset ManufacturerIntel
Chipset ModelZ68 Express
Multi GPU SupportedCrossFireX
Onboard VideoCPU Dependent Video
Number of PCI Express x16 Slots1
Memory TechnologyDDR3 SDRAM
Processor SocketSocket H2 LGA-1155
Brand NameGigabyte
Form FactorATX
Processor SupportedCore i7, Core i5, Core i3, Pentium Dual-core, Celeron Dual-Core
Total Processor Supported1
Maximum Memory32 GB
64-bit ProcessingYes
Number of Memory Slots4
Number of PCI Slots2
Audio Channels7.1
Gigabit EthernetYes
Number of SATA Interfaces6
RAID SupportedYes
Number of Total Expansion Slots7
HDMIYes
Number of Network (RJ-45) Ports1
Network (RJ-45)Yes
Total Number of USB Ports6
Number of USB 3.0 Ports2
PS/2 PortYes
Number of PS/2 Ports1
Total Number of Onboard USB Ports6
Number of Onboard USB 2.0 Ports6
PCI Express StandardPCI Express 2.0
Total Number of PCI Express Slots5
Memory Form FactorDIMM
Processor TechnologyVirtualization Technology, Smart Response Technology, Turbo Boost Technology 2.0
Width305 mm
Depth215 mm
ManufacturerGIGABYTE Technology, Inc
Product ModelGA-Z68AP-D3
Product NameGA-Z68AP-D3 Desktop Motherboard
Controller TypeSerial ATA/600, Serial ATA/300
Manufacturer Part NumberGA-Z68AP-D3
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://uk.giga-byte.com
Marketing Information

The GA-Z68AP-D3 motherboard, based on the Intel Z68 Express Chipset and supporting the new 2nd generation Intel Core processors. Delivering the very best that Intel 6 series chipsets have to offer, including a significant performance boost with Intel Smart Response Technology, the first ever mSATA drive connectors on a standard desktop PC motherboard, and GIGABYTE's proprietary Touch BIOS technology, GIGABYTE Z68 series motherboards put users in the driver seat, allowing them to take total control over how their system operates and performs to best match their individual computing needs.

Package Contents
  • GA-Z68AP-D3 Desktop Motherboard
  • Motherboard Driver Disk
  • User's Manual
  • Quick Installation Guide
  • 4 x SATA Cables
  • I/O Shield