Due to an unforeseen circumstance, namely a 7-day free trial of RIFT (hey, it’s a gaming site too. Right?), I am a bit late in posting the latest news regarding the appearance of the very first Z68 mini-ITX motherboard, which popped up for pre-order in Japan a few days ago. It looks like Zotac has another, or rather two, new high-end mini-ITX motherboards based on the highly anticipated Intel Z68 chipset.
First up is the Zotac Z68-ITX. This motherboard features two memory slots beside which is boldly printed “DUAL CH DDR3-2133” which is printed just below the “SUPER OVERCLOCKABLE”. Zotac wants to make sure there is no mistake; these Z68 motherboards are ready to be overclocked. In addition to the 16 GB of memory support, the Z68-ITX also features a PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot and a mini-PCIe slot with an 802.11n wireless card connected to two external antennas on the rear panel. Gigabit Ethernet is also offered.
Drive connectivity is handled by two each of SATA 3Gbps and 6Gbps connectors. One external SATA connector is also provided. There are four (4) USB 2.0 ports on the rear panel and room for four (4) more via two internal headers. USB 3.0 also gets its own internal header (no more bulky adapters for front USB 3.0) along with two ports on the rear panel. Display options include dual HDMI and a mini DisplayPort. Audio is standard 7.1 channel HD with an optical SPDIF.
The second board, the Z68-ITX WiFi Supreme, is significantly different from its Zotac Z68 sibling, or any other Zotac 1155 mini-ITX motherboard. While not targeted at the gaming enthusiasts, as there is no PCI x16 slot (only x4), the Supreme model offers SFF users a bit more onboard graphics horsepower in the form of an Nvidia GeForce GT430 with 1 GB of discrete memory. With the large heat sink and fan on the GPU, Zotac had to make some adjustments to the layout of their Z68-ITX WiFi Supreme.
The most obvious, aside from the lack of a x16 slot, is the use of the smaller 204-pin So-DIMM’s. While some users are still undecided on whether the smaller sized memory suits the mini-ITX format better, clearly there is just not enough room on this motherboard for anything else. The board also has dual DVI outputs, one from the GT430 and the other from the Intel HD graphics on the Sandy Bridge processor. HDMI and DisplayPort are also offered.
Like its Z68 sibling, drive connectivity is handled by two SATA 6Gbps and two SATA 3Gbps connectors. Zotac has included an external SATA connection on the rear panel along with two USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0 ports. Two more of each port are provided by internal pin headers. The rear panel also houses gigabit Ethernet, 7.1 channel HD sound with optical output and a pair of antennas for the 802.11n WiFi.