Sapphire Pure Platinum Z68
The Z68 chipset has many similar characteristics and features to P67 and H67, in what appears to be a successful marriage of the two. For any users expecting earth-shattering changes or mythical performance enhancements, there is no such thing here. Z68 is more of a minor evolution and refinement of P67, not a paradigm shift. It’s still the same socket, serving the same processors, and largely offering the same features. Of course, the major difference here is that Z68 brings onboard graphics to the performance market for the 2nd Gen Intel Core chips.
We’ve seen in the past that motherboards with onboard graphics were largely budget selections that offered sub-par performance in comparison to the enthusiast boards with discrete graphics. That no longer appears to be the case with Z68, as its performance has been pretty much on par with P67. While H67 truly occupies the budget-oriented range, and the P67 occupied the performance sector, the Z68 is a successful hybrid of sorts, combining the best of H67 and P67 into one.
We saw Sapphire jump into the flagship Intel market with the Pure Black Z68 motherboard, and we see a similar trend here on the Pure Platinum Z68. Sapphire is continuing to push forward, and we’re encouraged by their results. This board has sleek styling, plenty of features, solid performance and overclocking prowess.
There are a few flies in the ointment though. The expansion slot layout is poor with its lack of dual spacing between graphics card slots; this is not CrossFire-friendly, which is utterly baffling considering Sapphire is AMD’s largest GPU partner. The choice of three PCI slots is questionable, since it’s two more than necessary, and could have accommodated an x1 slot. On the implementation side of things, the lack of a graphical UEFI BIOS interface is also disappointing, as that is the future, and it’s already been implemented by several other manufacturers. There also aren’t any premium features we’ve come to see elsewhere, such as auto overclocking.
Sapphire isn’t a big player in the motherboard market, but the Pure Platinum Z68 continues to signal a move in the right direction. We like this board for its potential, but it doesn’t run with the big dogs yet. Overall, the Pure Platinum Z68 is not without some drawbacks, but Sapphire has done a good job here, and we hope this is a sign of more good things to come.