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Sapphire Pure Platinum Z68 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £125
inc VAT

A fine example of a Z68 board - if you want to use Quick Sync and SSD caching, it's a good buy


LGA1155, ATX, Intel Z68 Express chipset, supports: Core i3, Core i5, Core i7 (Sandy Bridge)

Intel’s SSD caching technology attempts to get around this by using a small-capacity SSD (you can use any size SSD you like, but the cache size is limited to 64GB, so it’s a waste to use a larger SSD) as a cache for frequently-accessed files from the normal hard disk. Setting up caching is easy, as long as you do it in the right order. You need to set your SATA controller to RAID mode, install Windows on the normal hard disk, then plug in the SSD. You then need to open Intel’s Rapid Storage Technology program and enable Acceleration.

Sapphire Z68 top
Plug an SSD into one of the red SATA3 ports for the best speeds

Using a Patriot Pyro SE drive as a cache for our 7200RPM SATA hard disk, we found our Windows 7 boot time cut from 45s to 11s – exactly the same boot time as when we used the same SSD as a boot disk. It also speeded up hard disk access times – in the CrystalDiskMark benchmark, sequential read speeds increased from 54.99MB/s to 363.6MB/s, while random read speeds of 512KB files increased from 30.45MB/s to 353.9MB/s. Both sequential and random small file write speeds stayed the same, however, at 55.31MB/s and 30.78MB/s – much slower than the 171.1MB/s and 170.7MB/s we saw when using the SSD as a normal disk.

Hard disk vs SSD cache
Using an SSD as a cache for your hard disk speeds up read times significantly, but, as expected, makes no difference to writes

The Z68 chipset has definite advantages over P67 Express and H67 Express, and Sapphire’s Z68 Pure Platinum is a good-value and well-specified Z68 motherboard, albeit with a mediocre BIOS and no automatic overclocking tools for novices. Unless you plan to use the Quick Sync and SSD caching features, you’re better off with an inexpensive P67 Express board such as Asus’ P8P67 LE.

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Basic Specifications

Rating ****
Processor socket LGA1155
Form factor ATX
Size 305x244mm
Processor support Core i3, Core i5, Core i7 (Sandy Bridge)
Processor external bus 100MHz
Chipset north bridge Intel Z68 Express
Chipset south bridge Intel Z68 Express
Passively-cooled north bridge yes
Integrated graphics No
Supported memory type DDR3 800, 1066, 1333, 1600
Maximum memory speed PC3-12800
Memory slots 4
Maximum memory 16GB
Dual-channel support yes

Buying Information

Price £125

Internal Ports

Power connectors 1x 24-pin ATX, 1x 8-pin ATX
PCI-E x16 slots 3
Dual graphics architecture none
PCI-E x4 slots 0
PCI-E x1 slots 0
PCI slots 2
Fan headers 4
Floppy ports 0
IDE ports 0
Serial ATA ports 8
RAID chipset (max disks) Intel Z68 Express (RAID 0, 1, 10, 5)


Wired network ports 1x 10/100/1000
Sound (ports) Realkek HD audio (6x analogue out)
USB2 ports / headers 6/4
Firewire ports / headers 0/0
Legacy ports none
Other ports VGA, DVI, DisplayPort, HDMI
Cables included 4x SATA
Brackets included none
Software included none

Setup and Overclocking

Voltage adjustment CPU/memory
CPU clock max adjustment 300MHz

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