We’ll start off with an overview of the board itself, before moving on to a tour of all the components that make it special, including some nice nudie shots of the interesting PWM Gigabyte implements.
If there’s one thing Gigabyte has nailed down, it is aesthetics and layout. As you’re about to see, everything is essentially where it should be.
You can click any image below to view it in full-resolution.
Starting with the expansion slots, we have three PCI-E X16 form factors with variable path settings. The first 16 lanes are shared between the two top ports – install one video card, and it has 16 lanes to itself. Install dual cards, and they get 8x each. The third port runs at 4x, as long as you don’t use the second PCI-X1 slot, in which case it backs down to 1 lane.
And by the way, if no graphics cards are installed at all, and you use integrated graphics, the x16 gives up some of its bandwidth to the USB 3.0 controller, giving it 4 lanes to work with instead of 1.
Finally, you can see all the headers neatly lined along the bottom edge of the board, and very clearly labelled. Unfortunately there is no USB 3.0 header, so if you have a case with integrated USB 3.0 ports, you’ll need to use an adapter to connect them to the back of the board itself.
Moving on to the side, we can check out the horizontally-aligned SATA ports, which you might love or hate depending on your case situation. One thing is certain, they do a good job of keeping SATA cables out of the way of any graphics cards. The two white ports on the right are for the Z68’s native SATA 3.0 connectivity (yes, Z68 has SATA3, but only two ports).
At the top of the board, we can check out the CPU area which is extremely open because of the somewhat lacklustre VRM on this board. It is a 4+1+1 phase board, with 4 phases for CPU Vcore, 1 phase for VTT, and 1 phase for VAXG. We’ll talk about this more in detail on the next page.
With three video outputs, not a lot of space is left for much else unfortunately. You get four USB 2.0 ports; the red colour indicates that they are capable of high current mode, which will allow you to quickly charge devices, even ones that normally can’t be charged by PC USB ports. For audio, the Z68A-D3H-B3 only includes stereo analog output, along with Line In and Line Out. If you want to make full use of the 8 channels of sound this board provides via analog connection, you’ll need to use the internal header. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a rear panel this bare.