With the BIOS multiplier issue, I requested a new BIOS from Zotac that follows Intel specifications. This was so I could rerun all the benchmarks and find out where the Z68ITX-A-E actually lies in comparison to the other boards.

Zotac got back to me quite quickly with an internal BIOS (which is now available as a beta version online). As there is no utility in the BIOS to update, I used the Windows update tool. It was a fairly straightforward process; however it seemed that something went wrong and the board failed to POST. It wouldn’t do anything and gave random codes on the debug LED – however it was able to boot from a USB.

I must stress that this was probably a freak event, and Zotac suggested I use their DOS flash utility to update the BIOS using a bootable USB key that went to the command prompt. After a long while of searching, I found this guide, and created a USB key and flashed the 2K110809 beta BIOS without issue.

This new BIOS has some minor changes, such as XMP support, following the Intel specifications for boost multipliers and CPU usage, CPU Vcore control, and deep S3 control. However, I found another issue with my board. The 2nd DDR3 slot was not reading any memory, and whenever it was populated, would cause the motherboard to enter an infinite reset cycle.

This limits the board to one DDR3 slot, and has a direct impact on some of the benchmarks, especially memory intensive ones like Sorenson Squeeze and gaming, which benefit more from dual channel memory.

With this unfortunate turn of events, it does leave the Zotac results in some sort of limbo. While it’s unfair to compare the original BIOS results to other motherboards without this issue, the benchmarks run using single channel memory are also at a significant disadvantage and does not represent truly where this board stands performance-wise compared to others.

Ultimately, the best result for consumers is the ability for high speed which the shipping BIOS gives, even if it is outside of Intel specifications, and I would recommend (so would Zotac until the beta BIOS gets a full release) to stay with the shipping BIOS until such time.

Both the original BIOS and the new beta BIOS results (although in single channel memory mode) are given in the relevant benchmarks in this review.

Edit: It has come to our attention that this BIOS is now gone on full release since our testing.

Test Setup, Temperatures and Power Consumption System Benchmarks
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  • GeorgeH - Thursday, September 22, 2011 - link

    This review mirrors my experiences with Zotac motherboards - awesome hardware on paper that's completely let down by abysmal BIOS and tweaking support.
  • dlang1234 - Thursday, September 22, 2011 - link

    Heat and noise...

    More interested in those, looks like an awesome HTPC. mini itx usually isn't targeted at a gamer, but Home Theaters or specific in car or other unique installations.

    I'm more interested in how well it would work playing Blu-Rays, streaming media all at 1080p. Audio over HDMI? etc..
  • Anosh - Thursday, September 22, 2011 - link

    There's a new version of the bios which seems to fix some of the issues mentioned (XMP, undervolting etc) and it would be great if you could take a look at what they tried to fix and what they actually managed to fix.

    I've had this board under consideration for a long time now since it's one of the few 1155 itx with both displayport and hdmi (and wifi) but I'm glad I didn't go for it since there are so many issues floating around (buzzing, faulty memory slots, doa, lacking bios, stops booting after x months etc) that I would've had to replace it not long after getting.

    I've read retailers are dumping zotac inventory based on the horrible experiences customers have had with this product. Also there seems to be new revision under way.

    I'm typing this on an iPoop so trying to find all the reference links to backup my claims would take forever but search a bit and you'll discover they're easy to find.
  • mayankleoboy1 - Thursday, September 22, 2011 - link

    all the other boards are tested with c300 and this board is tested with vertex3, gibing higher numbers??
  • IanCutress - Thursday, September 22, 2011 - link

    We tested the board with both, and both results are given in the graphs.

    OCZ were kind enough to provide Vertex3s for Brendan and I to use in future reviews (Brendan does not have access to a C300), but we currently do not have enough Vertex3 results to warrant a graph using purely Vertex3 results So for the time being we're showing C300 results with an example of what happens with the Vertex3.

    All the best,
  • Breathless - Thursday, September 22, 2011 - link

    Why would you not have updated the bios prior to doing the review? The bios has been out for quite some time now...
  • IanCutress - Thursday, September 22, 2011 - link

    Simply put, a lot of people never update their BIOSes from the shipping version, so we have to test that. With the Intel spec issues, when the testing for this board was done, Zotac sent me the BIOS while it was still in beta phase, and I've been in contact with Zotac regarding the issues I was having with that beta release (the DIMM slot not working being a big issue). It seems to have been pushed into a full release since then (as of 9/9), despite my issues. As a result, I have updated the review to notify it is now a full BIOS release.

  • Mr Perfect - Thursday, September 22, 2011 - link

    Do you have any information on what caused the DIMM slot to fail? There is one guy on HardForums who, after having that problem on his own machine, then went on to test every board he had in stock at his shop. I'm not sure if it's something he was doing, or a fault with the design, but every one he tried had that issue.
  • FATCamaro - Thursday, September 22, 2011 - link

    You barely talked about stability. Reviews are useless without it to me. I'd rather look at the star rating on newegg to figure out whether i want the board or not. It's the single most important aspect, yet it doesn't even get lip service.
  • Iketh - Thursday, September 22, 2011 - link

    how could he comment on stability? if he didnt experience any and thus didn't comment on it, it's quite obvious that it ran fine... newegg's ratings are a bunch of boards from daily users, this is one board that was ran through benchmarks... so how the hell can you ask him to, at the minimum, reproduce newegg's results???

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