Gigabyte Z68XP-UD3-iSSD Motherboard: 20GB SSD On-Board

By on July 19, 2011, 5:56 AM

Released last May, the Z68 chipset serves as Intel's enthusiast-level LGA1155 platform. In addition to combining the functionality of its H67 and P67 chipsets, the Z68 offers some impressive new features, including Intel's Smart Response Technology.

Smart Response Technology (SRT) is a hybrid storage solution that effectively marries the zero access time of a speedy flash drive with the massive storage capacity of an inexpensive hard drive. In doing so, users can expect to pay a modest price premium for significant speed gains.

We've seen many impressive Z68 boards since launch, but none are more intriguing than what we have today: the Gigabyte Z68XP-UD3-iSSD. Right out of the box, this board features an Intel SSD 311 20GB attached via an mSATA connector to take advantage of Smart Response Technology.

Read the complete review.




User Comments: 21

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Guest said:

Great review. There are some errors on the graphs though: AS SSD test, the access time should be "lower is better", same on the Excel/Photoshop/WinRAR. Anyway, the mobo is amazing :)

- gars

Staff
Julio Franco Julio Franco, TechSpot Editor, said:

Thanks for the note, graphs fixed now.

mosu said:

I wonder if there's an equivalent for the new Bulldozer processors, with mSATA connected on a SATA 3 port.

TorturedChaos, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

With the speed they are making improvements and upgrades to Intel's new platform I'm kinda glad I wouldn't be able to build my new computer until spring next year.

blimp01 said:

Will AMD's memory bandwidth ever even get near Intel's?

Guest said:

Oh, nice. So does this benefit from extra speed if you were running Windows from a SSD on SATA?

Guest said:

20 Gb. is not enough to install Windows 7. The one thing you can do to really accelerate your system is to put the swap file (pagesys), the temporary files and the browser cache. That will also reduce the fragmentation on your main drive.

Guest said:

"Gigabyte Z68XP-UD3-iSSD" The name just rolls off the tongue.

Guest said:

Great review - but, regarding the CMOs battery position complaint: is changing the CMOs battery *that* common of an operation that having to remove the video card (or cards) is really that inconvenient? I mean, how often is that necessary?

I've only ever had to replace a CMOs battery once in maybe the last ten years. I don't mind having to pop out the video cards if I'm only doing that once a decade :) Is there some use case that hasn't applied to me that I'm not considering?

mailpup mailpup said:

@guest just above. You might need to remove the CMOS battery for reasons other than just replacing a dead one. One major reason would be to reset the BIOS to default settings. Occasionally, a PC won't boot and physically removing the battery is the only way to accomplish the reset. That said, you shouldn't have to do it very often.

ghostchili said:

The guest that said "20gig is not large enough to install windows." Is confused about the purpose of the 20gig drive. The 20 gig is not meant to have anything "installed" on it...You would still put windows on a standard HDD or a seperate larger SSD. The 20 gig drive was designed to be used in conjunction with a HDD using Intel's Smart Response Technology.

Staff
Steve Steve said:

@guest just above. You might need to remove the CMOS battery for reasons other than just replacing a dead one. One major reason would be to reset the BIOS to default settings. Occasionally, a PC won't boot and physically removing the battery is the only way to accomplish the reset. That said, you shouldn't have to do it very often.

Don't forget it can be very useful when overclocking, especially when there is no CMOS reset switch. Granted you don't need to access the battery as much as you did a few years ago I felt it is worth a mention, its not like that comment shaped or was even mentioned in the conclusion.

bushwhacker, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Is it possible to attach a few new benchmarks to the graphs? I would like to see the results about numbers on folding software between this and the other motherboards

Guest said:

Samsung Spinpoint is shown in configuration; Seagate Momentus XT is shown in the graphs. It's not clear what configuration or what kind of comparison is being made here. Also, I have run quite a few tests with the on-board SSD cache version of the 500 GB Momentus XT in comparison with the non-cached version, and see no measurable change in either boot times (despite Seagate's videos showing otherwise) or in real world performance.

Synthetic tests are all well and good, but there needs to be a test that reflects the subjective "feel" of responsiveness, since that's what you see every day. I have yet to see a correlation between that feel and the benchmarks that are always run touting this or that marketware. Boot time is one of those things that is in a user's face every day, and that's why people obsess over it - but nothing seems to change it substantively.

Gaming measurements illustrate performance with frame rates, but if you don't game, what is the upside of new features that don't come cheap, by any means? From a marketing point of view, of course, it's advantageous to a vendor to have gamers gawk at high performance stats, but where, for example, in normal business or personal use, does better random access time provide a perceptible benefit?

Don't get me wrong - I've spent scads of money on performance hardware, so I'm not just a cranky Luddite. But I don't get a satisfying change in the feel of a machine from most of the goodies that are touted as the second coming. I've tried RAID, 4 GB ramdisk cards as boot and swapfile tools, SSD-enabled HD's, big drive caches, gobs of main memory, etc. Big whoop from all of them.

Something else is going on that prevents these things from showing what should be a blistering boot and responsiveness behavior. An article on that would be a great addition to the body of PC knowledge and understanding.

Guest said:

a little gotcha that isn't clear until you buy and try ... +3tb (uefi / efi gpt partition boot) support or issd cache support not both ... for efi gpt partition windows install / boot you must set pch sata control mode to achi not raid xhd ... therefore windows gpt boot and issd caching are mutually exclusive ...

Guest said:

This is the sort of dead end fad that will be laffed at in years to come. SSD's will obviously take over the role of booting and storing the OS. IT's a sort of jerry rigged halfway house and is a whopping pile of hit for very little benefit. If you can afford this board then you can afford a Full SSD to boot from. SSD's are going down in Price and up in capacity. 64gb is now the minimum and that will soon change to 128gb .. then who will be left running a 20gb read buffer? At least the DoDo led a long and useful life. This will last as long as a mayfly. Buy one tho ..they will be curiosity's very soon. come.

Guest said:

Very good review. The question I have is: If I plan to use a SSD 120GB to install the Operating system is it worthwile to buy this board, or I won't have any advantage with respect a Z68XP-UD4?

Guest said:

This motherboard is one of its kind....

As 20GB is useless , is it possible to upgrade this SSD to something like, 128GB SSD drive?

Staff
Steve Steve said:

This motherboard is one of its kind....

As 20GB is useless , is it possible to upgrade this SSD to something like, 128GB SSD drive?

Is it possible you don't understand what the 20GB SSD is doing? Its a cache drive and it is quite effective.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

20 Gb. is not enough to install Windows 7. The one thing you can do to really accelerate your system is to put the swap file (pagesys), the temporary files and the browser cache. That will also reduce the fragmentation on your main drive.

This motherboard is one of its kind....

As 20GB is useless , is it possible to upgrade this SSD to something like, 128GB SSD drive?

You should read the article and even some of the comments before posting.

Smart Response Technology

In computing, Smart Response Technology (SRT) (pre-launch name SSD Caching) is a proprietary caching mechanism introduced in 2011 by Intel for their Z68 chipset (for the Sandy Bridge-series processors), which allows a SATA solid-state drive (SSD) to function as cache for a (conventional, magnetic) hard disk drive.[1]

The on-board SSD is not used as an OS partition.

Guest said:

Most of the posts complaining that 20gb onboard ssd isnt enough are by people who clearly do not understand the SRT. All it does is copy the most frequently used files to the 20gb drive. The first few tims you use it you won't notice much of a speed difference - write time for the first episode is actually slower because it copies it to both your hard drive and the SSD

OVER TIME you will notice a tremendous speed gain. Onboard SSD are most certainly not meant to store all of windows and your most commonly used games/apps. The onboard SSD is DEDICATED to retaining fast access to frequently used routines. You could use it like a conventional hard drive, but you would be foolish to do so.

This makes a lot of sense if you think about it. Transferring data thru cables takes time - the longer the cable, the more time required. (All other variables being equal.) That's why processor cache is so important, L2 cache, L3 cache, consider the onboard SSD as if it were a L4cache.

Only use this mobo with onboard SSD with SRT enabled. THEN go buy a 240Gb SATA iii drive, install windows on it, and see how fast your system goes. (use the shortest cable that will work in your system too!)

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