The board comes in the usual packaging. Gigabyte makes it very clear about their mSATA Implementation.
Gigabyte has implemented couple of new stuff on this board: Newer Etron EJ168 USB 3.0 controller and the mSATA connector in the middle.
There are 2 things you should know:
# The 2nd and the 3rd PCIE x1 slot have a switch and therefore share PCIE bandwidth with the second PCIE x16 that is on x4 mode by default. If you use any one of them, the second PCIE x16 will run on x1 mode.
# The mSATA and the Port_5 SATA II also have a switch. If you’re using mSATA, you cannot use the 5th SATA port.
Its good that Gigabyte put up a SATAII port with a switch rather than ditching it. SATAII ports is way more useful than mSATA till the time mSATA matures with more storage space. MLC based Intel 40gigs MLC mSATA drive costs about a $100. Truth be told, I would like to see MSATA on Mini-ITX boards. Eventually mSATA will have SATA 6Gb/s support.
The MOSFET and the SB heatsink is secured via a plastic push pin.
The U12PSE2′s heatsink secure kit bumped the MOSFET sink and pushed it a little behind which didn’t have enough contact in the middle. There’s no problem if you mount the heatsink horizontally.
There are 3x 3-pin fan headers and a 4 pin CPU header. The Z68AP-D3 uses all eight of the Z68’s PCIe lanes. The board has a PCIe to PCI bridge, a two-port (marked white) SATA 6Gb/s controller, Ethernet controller and 2x USB 3.0 port. Truth be told, its more like an M-ATX board with about 2-3 PCIE slots thrown in.
SPDIF headers is now at the bottom of the board rather than being next to the PCIe slots. Like all Gigabyte motherboards, this comes with Dual Bios Chip.
I/O connectors on this board is something I don’t see it when I get boards for evaluation. Rear I/O comes with 4x USB 2.0 port, 2x USB 3.0 port, a parallel and a serial port, 1 SPDIF out connector, a HDMI port, a Gigabit Ethernet and a 3 audio jacks (Line in/Line out and Microphone).