Intel Z68 Chipset
In the middle of May Intel launched its new "mainstream-enthusiast" product line, based on the Z68 Express chipset. With the P67 and H67 chipsets launched just a few months before, the Z68 takes the best features of both, and combines them together to offer extreme flexibility and several key features. The first, and most obvious of these features is the ability to use not only discrete graphics cards, but also allows use of the Sandy Bridge integrated GPU, at the same time. The majority of other chipsets that offered integrated graphics only allow use of one or the other, but the Z68 chipset has none of these limitations. In fact, through the use of third-party software, you can even use just one monitor, and both the Intel HD2000 integrated GPU and a discrete graphics card can work together, combining the features of both solutions into one big all-in-one solution.
The second feature not seen in P67 or H67 is Intel's "Smart Response Technology", which allows the combination of both a mechanical disc drive and an ultra-fast SSD into one, offering the superfast speed of the SSD, and the storage space of a mechanical drive in one solution. Combining technologies seems what Z68 is all about, and this is no different. Once set up, it requires no user intervention, and will automatically keep commonly used files on the SSD, for quick and easy access.
The Intel Z68 Express chipset also allows overclocking of both the CPU, and the GPU, which neither previous Socket 1155 offered. Intel has offered a lot with the Z68 package, such that it's questionable why the P67 and H67 chipsets are even around, and some OEMs agree, such as Gigabyte, who has dropped all P67-based products in favor for Z68 chipsets. And with that in mind, it's also important to mention that OEMs are not required to enable all features available on the Z68 platform, and certain things, like PCIe lane configurations and if the display outputs are enabled, are all up to the OEM to implement.
Gigabyte's latest implementation of the Intel Z68 platform has brought us a board that is 100% focused on gaming, while offering every other feature a gamer might need; compatibility for future products, real hardware-based RAID, network, and audio, and a snazzy stylized look, that some people love, but others hate. It seems Gigabyte has finally understood that a motherboard isn't always just a motherboard, but sometimes the platform by which a tactical machine, built for intense combat, is born. We put the G1.Sniper2 in a theatre of motherboard warfare: