Zotac Z68ITX-A-E Wifi Review - Mini-ITX meets Z68by Ian Cutress on September 22, 2011 10:01 AM EST
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.