Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5 review - the 5rite weapon for gamers

Just when I’ve finished with Z87X-UD5H, Gigabyte sent me the G1.Sniper 5 motherboard for review. This is what most of you were waiting for, so let’s not waste any more time.

G1.Sniper 5 sports the new Intel Z87 chipset and some Gigabyte features to drive it into the overclocking arena. The integrated technologies should help the board achieve a really nice performance.

Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5 set

Its specs are fairly common to other Z87 boards, but let’s stick to Gigabyte’s own technologies.

 

CPU

  1. Support for Intel® Core™ i7 processors/Intel® Core™ i5 processors/Intel® Core™ i3 processors/Intel® Pentium® processors/Intel® Celeron® processors in the LGA1150 package

Chipset

  1. Intel® Z87 Express Chipset

Memory

  1. 4x 1.5V DDR3 DIMM sockets supporting up to 32 GB of Dual channel memory architecture
  2. DDR3 up to 3000(O.C.) MHz memory modules
  3. non-ECC memory modules
  4. Support for Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) memory modules

Onboard Graphics

Integrated Graphics Processor:

  1. 2 x HDMI 1.4a ports, supporting a maximum resolution of 4096x2160
  2. 1 x DisplayPort 1.2, supporting a maximum resolution of 3840x2160
  3. Maximum shared memory of 1 GB

Audio

  1. Creative® Sound Core 3D chip
  2. Support for Sound Blaster Recon3Di
  3. High Definition Audio
  4. 2/5.1-channel
  5. S/PDIF Out

LAN

  1. 1x Qualcomm® Atheros Killer E2201 chip (10/100/1000 Mbit) (LAN1)
  2. 1x Intel® GbE LAN phy (10/100/1000 Mbit) (LAN2)

Wireless Communication module

  1. Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, supporting 2.4/5 GHz Dual-Band
  2. Bluetooth 4.0, 3.0+HS, 2.1+EDR

Expansion Slots

  1. 2x PCI Express x16 slots, running at x16 (PCIEX16_1, PCIEX16_2)
  2. 2x PCI Express x16 slots, running at x8 (PCIEX8_1, PCIEX8_2)
  3. 3x PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots

Multi-Graphics Technology

  1. Support for 4-Way/3-Way/2-Way AMD CrossFireX/NVIDIA SLI technology

Storage Interface

Intel Z87 Chipset:

  1. 6x SATA 6Gb/s connectors (SATA3 0~5) supporting up to 6 SATA 6Gb/s devices
  2. Support for RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10

Marvell® 88SE9230 chip:

  1. 4x SATA 6Gb/s connectors (GSATA3 6~9) supporting up to 4 SATA 6Gb/s devices
  2. Support for RAID 0, RAID 1, and RAID 10

USB

Chipset:

  1. Up to 2 USB 3.0/2.0 ports (available through the internal USB header)
  2. Up to 6 USB 2.0/1.1 ports (2 ports on the back panel, 4 ports available through the internal USB headers)

Chipset + 2 Renesas® uPD720210 USB 3.0 Hubs:

  1. Up to 8 USB 3.0/2.0 ports (6 ports on the back panel, 2 ports available through the internal USB header)

Internal I/O Connectors

  1. 1x 24-pin ATX main power connector
  2. 1x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
  3. 1x PCIe power connector
  4. 10x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
  5. 1x CPU fan header
  6. 7x system fan headers
  7. 1x water cooling fan header (CPU_OPT)
  8. 1x front panel header
  9. 1x front panel audio header
  10. 2x USB 3.0/2.0 headers
  11. 2x USB 2.0/1.1 headers
  12. 1x Clear CMOS jumper
  13. 1x heatsink LED power connector
  14. 1x heatsink fan connector
  15. 1x power button
  16. 1x reset button
  17. 1x Clear CMOS button
  18. 2x BIOS switches
  19. Voltage measurement points

Back Panel Connectors

  1. 1x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port
  2. 2x HDMI ports
  3. 1x DisplayPort
  4. 1x coaxial S/PDIF Out connector
  5. 1x optical S/PDIF Out connector
  6. 6x USB 3.0/2.0 ports
  7. 2x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
  8. 2x RJ-45 ports
  9. 5x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out, Rear Speaker Out, Line In/Mic In, Line Out, Headphone/Speaker Out)

H/W Monitoring

  1. System voltage detection
  2. CPU/System/PCH temperature detection
  3. CPU/CPU_OPT/System fan speed detection
  4. CPU/System overheating warning
  5. CPU/CPU_OPT/System fan fail warning
  6. CPU/CPU_OPT/System fan speed control

BIOS

  1. 2 x 128 Mbit flash
  2. Use of licensed AMI EFI BIOS
  3. Support for DualBIOS™
  4. PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.0, SM BIOS 2.6, ACPI 2.0a

Form Factor

  1. E-ATX Form Factor; 30.5cm x 26.4cm

 

Build and features

The box is pretty big denoting a generous bundle. The handler is very useful for carrying the package.

Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5 box

On the cover there is a teaser about the VRM dual cooling solution.

The back of the box presents the motherboard with most of its parts and technologies explained.

Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5 box back

This is the outside box, as the product is contained in another package, as you can see in the first image of the article. There is the motherboard along with all accessories.

Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5 accessories

The G1.Sniper 5 comes in G1-Killer series aesthetics, colored in black and green.

Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5

The top-half contains the LGA1150 socket, made by Foxconn, and guarded by the VRM. A dual system – liquid and air – is responsible for cooling down the VRM and raising up the overclocking frequency. For water-cooling, Gigabyte mounted two ¾ fittings.

The VRM has 16 phases for the CPU, claiming powerful overclocking capabilities. We will see that in a minute.

For better cooling, the CPU_FAN and CPU_OPT headers can serve two fans when necessary.

Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5 top half

The memory slots are color-coded by dual channel usage, 2 being black and the other 2 green. They support up to 32GB of DDR3 @ 3000 MHz (overclocked) of non-ECC modules. The space between the socket and memory slots is rather large, but some big coolers may interfere with tall DIMMs in the nearest position.

There are 2 switches from which we can control the BIOS usage. One switch (BIOS_SW) enables/disables the dual BIOS function while the other one (SB) takes care of what BIOS, main (MBIOS) or backup (BBIOS), will be used to boot the PC. There are also 2 LEDs (between  the 2nd and 3rd PCI-E x16 slots) that indicate which BIOS is active (MBIOS_LED and BBIOS_LED). A USB 3.0 header completes the area. It can be connected to the 3.5" panel from accessories.

Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5 measurement points

The top-right edge presents 3 buttons: Power, Reset and Clear CMOS. The measurement area is here also, offering points for VCore0 (CPU cores), VDIMM (memory), VRING (cache), VIOA (CPU PLL analog), VAXG (integrated video controller), VSA (System Agent), VIOD (CPU PLL digital) and VRIN (CPU input). To use them connect the red lead of the multimeter to the pin 1 (Power) of a voltage measurement point and the black lead to the pin 2 (ground).

The 2-digit POST LED display shows status/error codes during boot and the CPU temperature when in OS. System fans have 2 members here: SYS_FAN6 and SYS_FAN7. The top-half of G1.Sniper 5 has 5 such headers, the last one (SYS_FAN1) being under the VRM heatsink.

Just before the PCI-E slots there is the PEX8747 controller which brings and commands 48 lanes of PCI-E. It is cooled by a heatsink, bound through a heatpipe to the radiator of Intel Z87 chipset. It is also responsible for 4-way SLI/CrossfireX capabilities of the motherboard.

There are 4 green PCI-E x16 and 3 PCI-E x1 slots. No PCI is present anymore. All PCI-E x16 are 3.0 compliant. The PCIEX16_1 slot shares bandwidth with the PCIEX8_1 and the PCIEX16_2 with PCIEX8_2. The PCIEX16_1/PCIEX16_2 slot will operate at x8 mode when the PCIEX8_1/PCIEX8_2 is populated. So for multi-GPU configurations, the PCI-E x16 slots will work at x16/-/x16/-, x8/x8/x16/-, x16/-/x8/x8, x8/x8/x8/x8.

Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5 bottom half

The chipset is covered by a massive heatsink featuring the G1-Killer logo. The bottom edge contains 4x fan connectors (SYS_FAN2, SYS_FAN3, SYS_FAN4 and SYS_FAN5), plus 1x audio, 2x USB 2.0 and 1x USB 3.0 headers and the front panel interface.

For better cooling a total of 9 fans can be connected to the G1.Sniper 5 motherboard.

To complete the gaming orientation of G1.Sniper 5, Gigabyte chose a Creative sound card and built a dedicated audio hardware zone on its motherboard, delimited by a LED lighting path.

Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5 sound area

For obvious reasons, the quad-core Creative Sound Core3D audio processor is shielded with a Gold plated cover. Gigabyte used Nichicon high-end audio capacitors to offer the best possible sound experience. G1.Sniper 5 also has a built-in 600Ω Headphone Amplifier specially designed for gamers.

The most important audio feature is the possibility to change the OP AMP. The board comes with 2 AMPs, one on-board and one in the box.

Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5 OP AMP

The first chip (BB OPA2134) offers a neutral sound with full frequency range and it’s suitable for all types of music. The replacement one is a LM4562NA which brings a soft sound.

Gigabyte also has an OP AMP Premium Upgrade kit with 3 more chips: BB OPA2111KP, LT1358CN8 and AD827JNZ.

Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5 OP-AMP upgrade kit

To change the OP AMPs easily, Gigabyte delivers an IC extractor in the box.

The storage is backed by 10x SATA3 6Gbps ports, more than enough to have high performance and large capacity.

Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5 SATA

The 4 grey ports are controlled by a Marvell 88SE9230 chip and support RAID 0, 1, 10, while the 6 blacks come from the Intel Z87 chipset and support RAID 0, 1, 5, 10.

For extra power to the PCI-E slots, Gigabyte installed the OC-PEG interface (ATX4P) that comes as a SATA connector. It’s a little confusing as it is near the SATA ports and it serves the PCI-E, but this way the cable management would be easier as the power cable won’t cross the motherboard.

Last but not least, there are the on-board interfaces.

Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5 interfaces

G1.Sniper 5 has 2x USB2.0, 1x combo PS/2, 1x coaxial SPDIF out, 6x USB 3.0, 2x HDMI, 1x DisplayPort, 2x LAN RJ45, 5x audio 3.5mm jacks and an optical SPDIF out.

For best connectivity, the HDMI, DisplayPort, coaxial SPDIF and the 5 jacks are all gold plated. The video outputs support 3 simultaneously monitors.

The network is covered by an Intel Gigabit controller (LAN2) and a Qualcomm Atheros Killer E2201 Gigabit chip (LAN1). The latter is well-known in gaming communities.

Gigabyte bundled an 802.11 a/b/g/n wireless PCI-E card with G1.Sniper 5. The GC-WB300D riser has dual band capabilities (2.4Ghz and 5GHz) with speed up to 300Mbps. Bluetooth 4.0 (Bluetooth Smart) is also integrated in this card.

Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5 wireless

The back of the board contains only the backplate behind the CPU, but we can observe the audio area border.

Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5 back

 

Software

Gigabyte added a software panel to control all the apps related to the motherboard: APP Center. It stays in tray and gives the option to launch EasyTune, Live Update, and any other Gigabyte installed software.

Gigabyte Easy Tune

EasyTune has a new aspect that completes the UEFI one. It brings the BIOS options into the OS, through a user-friendly interface. The utility is divided in 5 tabs and the bottom side where we can find the temperatures and voltages values.

1. The System Information tab provides information on the installed CPU and motherboard.

2. Smart Quick Boost provides you with different levels of CPU frequency to choose to achieve desired system performance. After making changes, be sure to restart your system for these changes to take effect. The Advanced menu allows you to change specific clock/frequency/voltage settings.

Gigabyte Easy Tune Smart Quick Boost

3. The Smart Fan tab allows you to specify a Smart Fan mode. The Calibrate menu displays the detected linear fan speed for the fans on the motherboard from the fastest to the slowest. The Advanced menu allows you to set temperature thresholds, based on which the fan speed can be changed linearly.

Gigabyte Easy Tune Smart Fan

4. The System Alerts tab allows you to monitor hardware temperature, voltage and fan speed and set temperature/fan speed alarm.

Gigabyte Easy Tune System alerts

5. The 3D Power tab allows you to change power phase and voltage settings.

Gigabyte Easy Tune 3D power

A Hardware Monitor window can be opened to keep an eye on the sensors.

Gigabyte Easy Tune Hardware monitor

 

The Creative Sound Core3D supports Scout Mode, EAX Advanced HD 5.0, Creative ALchemy, VoiceFX and SBX Surround features. All these can be controlled from the Pro Studio software bundled with the motherboard.

mt_gallery

 

The Killer network chip has its own software. There are some settings that can affect the data transfer for online gaming.

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Technologies

GIGABYTE Ultra Durable™ 5 Plus debuts on GIGABYTE 8 Series motherboards, with a range of features and component choices that provide excellent performance, cool and efficiency, and extended motherboard lifespan.

1. Ultra Cool comes with modern heatsinks and supports passive, active and water cooling solutions for extreme torture of the motherboard.

2. Ultra Performance is supported by a complete Digital Power design that ensures extreme precision to the power delivered to the CPU.

3. Ultra Safe means UEFI DualBIOS technology, built to ensure motherboard protection against failure due to hardware malfunction, improper overclocking settings or power issues. A main and a backup BIOS work together for user’s peace of mind.

4. Ultra USB3+ brings a dedicated fuse for each USB 3.0 port, ensuring that a malfunction will affect only one of the ports, protecting the others from damage.

5. Durable Black Solid Caps are used in Gigabyte motherboards for extreme stability and a minimum of 10K lifespan hours. They are also capable of an ultra-low ESR (Equivalent series resistance) that makes them very stable over time.

 

GIGABYTE's 2X Copper PCBs design provides sufficient power between components to handle higher power loads and removes heat from the critical CPU power delivery area. This ensures the motherboard is able to handle the increased power loading for overclocking.

The Marvell SE9230 controller supports HyperDuo Technology which makes the SSD become the cache of the HDD and delivers SSD-like performance.

ON/OFF Charge2 automatically detects your mobile device and displays it on the screen. If your equipment does not support data sync, select Fast Charge/No Sync to enable a quick charge.

GIGABYTE USB Blocker provides you with an easy-to-use interface that allows you to block certain USB device types on your PC. Devices classes that are blocked will be ignored by the operating system.

To protect the USB ports from damage, Gigabyte set individual fuse per port. This way each port is independent and only the one in use will be affected by an eventual damage.

 

BIOS

The G1.Sniper 5 BIOS is the same as the one of Z87-UD5H, except it is green by default. The UEFI interface is extremely friendly and intuitive.

mt_gallery

 

Overclocking

From an overclocking dedicated motherboard we expect a certain level of performance in this direction.

As my Haswell CPU is capable of more than 4.9GHz @ 1.375V, but it gets very hot there, I will not try that way. The only overclocking I’ll make is following my own method with fixed voltage.

At 1.35V G1.Sniper 5 reached 4800MHz (the voltage went up to 1.368V) equal to the results from Asus Maximus VI Extreme. The difference would be that Gigabyte did this with 16 CPU power phases, while Asus used only 8 to achieve the same results. But the important part is the result itself and both motherboards rocks there.

Overclocking-validation

The system was perfectly stable at that frequency and all the benchmarks ran flawlessly.

 

Test setup

 

Configuration

CPU

Intel Core i7-4770K

Cooler

EKWB Supreme HF

Motherboard (BIOS)

 

Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5 (F6)

Gigabyte Z87X-UD5H

Asus Maximus VI Extreme

Asus Z87 Expert

Intel DZ87KPL

RAM

16GB G.SKill Ares DDR3-1600

Storage

Kingston SSDNow V+ 120GB

Graphics

Intel HD 4600

Monitor

Dell U2412M

PSU

Antec HCP-1200

OS

Windows 8 Pro x64

 

Methodology

Using different benchmark software I have tested most of the motherboard's capabilities and its performance. The results are divided by categories, so they can be easier read.

Because of the heat generated by the CPU, I‘ve decided to fill in a methodology to test the differences in overclocking between motherboards. I have set the CPU voltage to 1.35V and the LLC to auto or the highest value (whichever works better), so my liquid cooling could keep the CPU under 100C per core. Then the CPU is overclocked until becomes unstable. This way we will see the voltage regulator performance on each board from the highest frequency the CPU can get to.

 

Performance

PCMark 7

Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5 review PCMark 7

 

PCMark 8

Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5 review PCMark 8 

 

Passmark

Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5 review PassMark 

 

AIDA64

Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5 review AIDA64 CPU

 

Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5 review AIDA64 RAM  

 

3DMark

Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5 review 3DMark

 

Batman AC

Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5 review Batman AC

 

Tomb Raider

Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5 review Tomb Raider

 

Wireless add-on

Gigabyte delivers a 802.11a/b/g/n PCI-E wireless riser as bundle for the motherboard. It’s a Qualcomm Atheros AR5B22, capable of dual band (2.4GHz and 5GHz), with an external antenna.

I have tested the card and got the following results:

 

Wireless 2.4Ghz gaming = 59.86 Mbps

Wireless 2.4Ghz transfer = 61.93 Mbps

 

Wireless 5GHz gaming = 106.7 Mbps

Wireless 5GHz transfer = 110.4 Mbps

 

The gaming test uses small chunks of data (32-100 bytes) to simulate the environment the real games are using. The transfer test uses bigger chunks (16 Kbytes) to reveal the maximum capable speed of the device.

 

 

Sound card

Being a motherboard for gamers, Gigabyte equipped the G1.Sniper 5 with an equally sound card. We are talking about a Creative Sound Core3D audio chipset, capable of multi-core audio hardware processing. We can even use the SoundBlaster software suite that includes SBX Pro Studio, Scout Mode, EAX Advanced HD 5.0, Creative Alchemy, VoiceFX and SBX Surround processing features.

Results

Frequency Response - also known as the ability to respond to certain input voltage at different input frequencies and the difference in amplitude caused by each frequency. The flatter the curve at wide frequency ranges, the better the result.

Frequency Response

Noise Level - this is the signal to noise ratio across the audio spectrum. Any kind of interference, from AC main hum, white noise, stray magnetic field noise and so on. The further away from zero the noise level is, the better. The close it gets to zero, the more the audio fidelity decreases.

Noise Level

Dynamic Range - the difference between the highest and lowest amplitude the soundcard can reproduce without distortions. It should be close to the SNR value, and as expected, the higher the range, the better the result.

Dynamic Range

THD + Noise - is the applied distortion to a certain sound. It can be unwanted harmonics, replicas to the original sound, overtones and many, many other things. It's measured by attenuating the narrow band-notch filter, followed by a measurement of the remaining signal. This indicates the linearity of the audio converter. The closer to 0 the value goes, the better the results.

THD

Stereo Cross-Talk - unwanted signal coupling from another stereo or multi-channel transmission. Lower values are better.

Stereo Crosstalk

Intermodulation Distortion - the measure of all non-harmonic frequencies added to the original signal. The distortion is the result of two or more non-harmonic signals mixing together. IMD is measured in many ways, just like THD, and like THD, the lower the value, the better the result.

IMD

 

Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5 falls a little behind Asus Maximus VI Extreme in terms of performance, but is bringing a better sound card, which is an important advantage for gamers.

 

Temperature

Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5 has a big cooling system, covering the VRM, the PCI-E hub and the Intel Z87 chipset. The temperature of the chipset, during the testing period, varies between 46 - 62C (114.8 – 143.6 F), according to EasyTune.

The VRM influences the CPU temperature, so here is the comparison with other motherboards.

Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5 review temperature

On the G1.Sniper 5, my Intel i7-4770K reaches 72C (161.6F) in stock load, 1C (33.8F) more than Gigabyte Z87X-UD5H and 6C (42.8F) more than Asus Maximus VI Extreme.

After overclocking, the Sniper goes 3C (37.4F) above Z87X-UD5H, but 7C (44.6F) less than Maximus.

The little fan present on the VRM heatsink is very silent, but efficient, although I’d prefer a sensor to measure the VRM temperature.

 

Power consumption

To have a stable system, stock or overclocked, it is important to acquire a proper power source. Measuring the consumption of the configuration, we’ll know the right value for the PSU.

Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5 review power consumption

G1.Sniper 5 draws a little more power, both in stock and overclocking, than the rest of the boards tested by me. The stock difference is approximately 20W, while in overclocking it went down to 15W. It is not much, but it’s there.

 

Value

The Amazon price for G1.Sniper 5 is $389.99 / €389.99 / £354.59 which is pretty decent. Asus Maximus VI Extreme is a little cheaper at $378.99 / €369.36 / £323.39.

The advantages of G1.Sniper 5 are the excellent Creative sound card and the gaming LAN interface which makes it the best buy for gamers. (I am considering this only from the boards I’ve written about.)

For overclocking, the Asus Maximus VI Extreme has the OC Panel add-on which is very helpful, so you decide which motherboard is best for you.

 

Conclusion

Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5 is an excellent motherboard, and I am talking about full featured gaming equipment to help gamers in their way to the top.

Starting with the black-green army aspect, the integrated technologies and the dual cooling system and going up to the gaming sound and network cards, G1.Sniper is a perfect choice for gamers.

If you don’t believe me, read this article again until you do J. Or share it with your friends and ask for their opinion. Then come back with some comments. I’ll be here waiting….

 

 

PROs

CONs

 

- nicest UEFI interface

- best performance

- best overclocking

- excellent power consumption

- accessories

- good price/performance ratio

 

-

 

 

Evaluation

Aspect & Build

9.5

9.16

Performance

9.3

BIOS

9.6

Overclocking

9.5

Features & Technologies

9.5

Power consumption

8.6

Accessories

9.5

Value

8.5

 

Awards

best-performance-9.3 best-overclocking-9.5

 


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