Gigabyte has just announced that it plans to launch a motherboard with an integrated SSD in early June, which will be available from 'selected online retailers' around the world.

The new board, dubbed the Gigabyte Z68XP-UD3-iSSD, uses Intel’s new Z68 chipset and will feature a tiny m-SATA SSD module that effectively functions as a small Intel Solid State Drive 311.

'We are thrilled to deliver the world's first motherboard to come pre-bundled with an Intel SSD 311,' said Richard Chen, vice president of worldwide sales and marketing for Gigabyte. 'The Z68XP-UD3-iSSD is the easiest way for [Gigabyte customers] to instantly take advantage of the performance boost [of Intel Smart Response].'

We’ve tested Intel's Smart Response technology and found that it successfully delivered SSD speeds for commonly used data.

The only concern was whether the technology was appropriate for a high-end motherboard, although Gigabyte's UD3 branding indicates that this board may be keenly priced. We've asked Gigabyte for pricing information, but haven't had a response yet.

With only one chipset, which is located in the typical Southbridge position, Gigabyte has placed the m-SATA connection in the historical location of the Northbridge. This is clever thinking, as the SSD is just a bunch of ICs on a PCB – you won't need to swap the SSD in and out, and it won’t clash with connectors or cards there either.

Elsewhere the board looks fairly typical. It uses Gigabyte’s blue and white colour scheme (the company's high-end boards are black these days), but still uses the chunky, curved heatsinks that look a bit like the power stations of Hoth.

Given the UD3 branding, we were surprised to see a chunky heatsink on the VRMs and the overwhelming number of features advertised on the box. With two 16x PCI-E slots, three 1x PCI-E slots and a pair of PCI slots – plus four SATA 6Gbps ports and at least a pair of USB 3 ports – it’s hard to see where Gigabyte has skimped. There’s even Lucid Virtu support, if you fancy trying it.

Are you intrigued by the prospect of an integrated SSD on a motherboard – if not for Smart Response, then for ultra-compact builds – or are you more interested in buying a large, fast SSD for your data? Let us know in the forums.

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