Zotac's Mini-ITX Z68 motherboards have received some fresh competition with the arrival of ASRock's new Z68M-ITX/HT motherboard. Perfect for high-end HTPCs, the new board offers seemingly all the goodies commonly associated with Intel's latest chipset, including support for Sandy Bridge's IGP, K-Series processors and Smart Response Technology.
SRT is a hybrid storage solution that boosts performance by moving frequently accessed data to a low-capacity flash-based cache drive, while your operating system and other files are stored on a conventional hard drive. That speed increase varies depending on the situation, but we saw some impressive gains in our Gigabyte Z68XP-UD3-iSSD review.
Unlike the Gigabyte board we examined, this ASRock's Mini-ITX unit won't ship with an onboard cache drive, so you'll have to purchase an SSD separately if you want to utilize SRT. In addition to hybrid storage, the Z68M-ITX/HT comes with Lucid's Virtu graphics switching technology, which can dynamically assign tasks to integrated or discrete GPUs.
ASRock's board supports all LGA1155 Core i3, i5 and i7 processors, 16GB of dual-channel DDR3 2133MHz RAM, and one PCIe 2.0 x16 graphics card. Connectivity includes Gigabite Ethernet, two SATA 3Gb/s and 6Gb/s ports, four USB 2.0 ports (four more via headers), two USB 3.0 ports, eSATA, as well as HDMI, DVI-D, D-Sub, and Optical SPDIF outputs.
The board also comes with a Windows MCE-compatible remote for home theater users and the company isn't shy about mentioning its XFast USB, XFast LAN, AXTU, UEFI and other in-house features -- there's really too much to cover without a lengthy review. We haven't seen anything about pricing on the Z68M-ITX, but the company's H67M-ITX is only $87.