There are plenty of telltale signs that Zotac has aimed for speed as well as small dimensions with its latest mini-ITX motherboard, the Zotac Z68 Mini-ITX WiFi. There’s an 8-pin EPS12V power socket to provide the LGA1155 CPU of your choice with up to 95W of juice (130W CPUs are supported, but may not run at full speed) for example.
Zotac also includes an EPS12V extender cable to help when designing or building your PC, but you should check that your PSU has an 8-pin connector. The BIOS code readout near the 24-pin ATX power connector can be useful when building or upgrading (or overclocking) your new system too.
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To back up the enhanced CPU power delivery, the Zotac is decked out with two banks of large heatsinks; one for the Intel Z68 chipset and another for the 8-phase VRMs. It’s unusual to find a mini-ITX motherboard with such elaborate VRM cooling, and even more so, one with such complex power circuitry.
It’s fairly advanced too, with small MOSFETs and eight sealed, fancy-looking chokes, even if there are only three capacitors hidden under the heatsink. Both heatsinks are positioned well clear of the CPU socket to avoid cooler clashes.
The Zotac has a single 16x PCI-E slot and two DDR3 memory sockets that can accept memory rated at up to 2,133MHz. It’s also endowed with an M-SATA socket into which Zotac has installed the 802.11n WiFi card; you could remove this module and replace it with an M-SATA SSD if you wanted to build a really tiny system and use either of the two Gigabit Ethernet ports instead.
Equally, you could take advantage of the Smart Response hybrid SSD technology that the Intel Z68 chipset supports. For more typical storage needs, there are two SATA 3Gbps ports (the red ones) and two SATA 6Gbps ports (in blue). You’ll also find four USB 2 ports at the rear with two headers to add four more, and two USB 3 ports with a header to add two more.
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To save space, Zotac has routed the display outputs from the CPU socket to a mini-DisplayPort (with DisplayPort adaptor) and pair of HDMI ports – the HDMI ports only support resolutions up to 1,920 x 1,200, and you can only use up to two of the outputs concurrently. To round off the media capabilities, there’s 8-channel surround sound provided by the Realtek ALC892 codec, and an optical S/PDIF if you want to circumvent this.
Chipset Intel Z68
CPU support LGA1155 Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 and Pentium
Memory support 2 slots: max 8GB DDR3 (2,133MHz)
Expansion slots 16x PCI-E 2.0 slot
Sound Intel HD Audio via Realtek ALC892 with 8-channel support
Networking 2x Realtek RTL8112 Gigabit Ethernet
Overclocking CPU Clock 100-300MHz, CPU Multiplier 34-59; max voltages, CPU +1.020mV, PCH +0.15V, RAM +1.16V
Ports 2x SATA 3Gbps, 2x SATA 6Gbps, PS/2, 8x USB 2, 4x USB 3, 2x LAN, audio out, line in, mic, optical S/PDIF out, 2x HDMI, DisplayPort