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Next, in the G1.Sniper series from Gigabyte, is the G1.Sniper2 motherboard. The previous version came out in Socket 1366 form while the Sniper2 in Socket 1155. The Sniper2 like its older brother, boasts features such as Bigfoot Networks’ Killer™ NIC (E2100) and Creative’s top of the line Digital Audio Processor (20k2), both discrete chips on the board making it a gamers delight. Let’s take a look at the board and how it performs.
Packaging and First Look
One of the first things I noticed when I received this package in the mail was the ‘double din’ size of the box. Gigabyte was sure to give you a lot of goodies in a well protected package on this one. It has a box inside a box packaging with the motherboard being separate from accessories. As one can tell, Gigabyte shows off a lot of the major features of this board on its packaging. Maybe its just me, but I love the digital camouflage inner box.
Tour de Board
Next we will take a look at the board. I have to say I’m a fan of the black and bright green theme on a black PCB that was chosen. Frankly, I’m not about the bling on a board, but the green glow supplied by the 5 LED’s on the heatsink give glow inside a case. So for me, nice job Giga! In sticking with a military theme, Gigabyte has also used a gun ‘clip’ style heatsink, “Locked and Loaded” as Gigabyte calls it, on the lower part of the board which is a neat aesthetic addition compared to other boards’ coolers in the same area. Also pictured are the onboard Creative and Killer NIC chips, SATA ports, magazine clip, and rear/bottom I/O for the board which has 8 USB ports (2 of which are USB3), ‘easy’ overclock button, audio with optical out, as well as the Ethernet port.
The G1.Sniper2 sports 12 total power Phases with 8 specific to the CPU and 4 for memory and features Gigabyte’s Ultra Durable 3 technology: twice the copper for both the power and ground layers of the PCB, Japanese Solid CAPs, Lower RDS(on) MOSFET and Ferrite Core Chokes making for a cooler running, more efficient power delivery, and longer lasting board.
This board is limited to a dual card Crossfire/SLI configuration as it only has two PCIe slots for GPU’s. This shouldn’t be a problem to most as there is a very small minority of people that use or frankly need more than that. But, if you do require a three card solution for your Eyefinity or multi-monitor setup, you may have to look elsewhere depending on the frames per second you want to achieve and GPU setup. I don’t think this is a deal breaker, but it is an omission, in my opinion.
As with most boards of this caliber, it comes with all the necessary goodies. The G1.Sniper2 even comes with a front panel insert containing two USB3.0 ports, SATA3.0 cables, I/O plate, manuals, as well as a large double sided poster and stickers for case bling are also included (not pictured).
Specifications and Features
Before I list the dry specifications, let’s take a look at what makes this board special for its target audience, the gamer.
First up is the onboard Creative Soundblaster X-Fi Digital Audio Processor (20K2) with X-Fi Xtreme Fidelity™ and EAX® AHD 5.0™ Technologies. This is a unique feature on a motherboard which “allows you to experience sound in your gaming world exactly as you would in real life.” While I know there are a few out there that are not exactly fans of Creative’s audio equipment, it certainly beats the standard Realtek solutions found on the overwhelming majority of motherboards. The sound has more depth and clarity and seems to have more directional sound even without the 5.1 processing on. Again, leaps and bounds better than onboard. Just note if you are rocking some cheap speakers or cans, you may want to upgrade those to get the full benefit of this audio solution.
Below, one can see the familiar Creative software panels:
Next up of exclusive features on motherboard is Bigfoot Networks’ Killer™ E2100 Game Networking Platform. The addition of this Network Processing Unit (NPU) and associated software (Game Networking DNA) allow this system to classify and accelerate network traffic for the game you are playing. It even has its own 1GB DDR2 onboard cache memory (Samsung chip next to it on the motherboard). Of course, it’s only as good as the lag from outside the box (i.e.. from your router to the server), however once inside the information is processed more efficiently than most other integrated solutions. This functionality will give you the edge over most onboard solutions.
Last, but not least, in the plethora of features on this board, is support for PCI Express Gen.3 in which Gigabyte states, “is one of the first to provide gamers with the latest Gen.3 PCI Express technology, delivering maximum data bandwidth for the latest discrete graphics cards.” I know I can’t wait for the next gen GPU’s supporting this feature…let’s see if they can come close to saturating the bandwidth available.
Below is a list from the Gigabyte website for the specifications of this board.
(Please refer “CPU Support List” for more information.)
(Please refer “Memory Support List” for more information.)
|Onboard Graphics||Integrated Graphics Processor: |
|Storage Interface||1 x Marvell 88SE9172 chip: |
2 x Etron EJ168 chips:
|Internal I/O Connectors|
|Back Panel Connectors|
You can see a complete list of the boards features at the Gigabyte website.
Here you will find some screenshots of the standard (non touch) BIOS from Gigabyte. As you can see, there are plenty of overclocking options to get the most out of your system. An abundance of power options (feeding off the 8 phase VRM), all the needed voltage options for overclocking including PLL override voltage to push your CPU well past 4.5Ghz, and the usual suspects for memory tweaking as well as a slew of subtimings. There are plenty of options to push your CPU to its limits.
As with most Gigabyte products, the G1.Sniper2 comes with EasyTune6 (ET6) software. There isn’t much to see here as this product has done its job, well, for quite some time with few changes. Per usual you can change all voltages in windows, the CPU multiplier (be sure that you have that function enabled in the BIOS). One new addition, at least for me, was that you can set Load Line Calibration level in the software now. For the green overclocker, you can just push a button on the Quick Boost mode and get a conservative and stable overclock (what frequency will depend on the CPU you have).
Not pictured here is the Cloud overclocking software which allows you to overclock/adjust settings via browser. This is a novel idea, but more geared towards the extreme overclocker than anyone. I also had trouble using this software on my GA-P67-UD7 in that a lot of options were not available for me to use. I did contact Gigabyte support, but they were unable to assist after a lengthy exchange. I have brought this up on the forum and it seems as though others could complete this function so it may have been a system issue on my end.
- i5 2500k
- Gigabyte G1.Sniper2
- Gskill Ripjaws DDR3 2133 Mhz
- Asus GTX 580 Direct CU II
- Seasonic X560
- NZXT Tempest 410 Case
Overall, I was able to push this machine to 5 GHz. I was limited by my cooling (Air, Hyper 212+) and not the board. I’m quite certain with the robust power delivery area on this board, extreme clockspeeds with better cooling will not be an issue. In that light, this board is not made for an extreme overclocker that would use more than water cooling. There are no power and reset switches on the board or a helpful debugger LED. So if you want to try your luck at extreme overclocking outside of the case, be prepared to short out the front panel headers to power on/off/reset…but who hasn’t done that before? This board just isn’t made specifically for enthusiast with no cases, but for gamers with more conventional setups who like to overclock.
This is a tough conclusion for me, writing as an enthusiast anyway, as there are some features such as power/reset buttons, that are missing on the board for the true hardcore and extreme overclocker. I have to take a step back and look at this through the eyes of who it is marketed towards, gamers. As an avid gamer, I’m really not certain I can ask for anything more out of a motherboard. Superior sound with the inclusion of Creative X-Fi chip (20k2) over most motherboards, check. A superior network card (Bigfoot Networks’ Killer E2100) over most other boards, check. Great overclocking ability, check.
One of the only downsides I can see for this board is the price. Coming from NewEgg.com the price is a steep $359.99 + Shipping. This puts the G1.Sniper2 $10 more than Gigabyte’s top of the line enthusiast board, the z68X-UD7 and $25 more than Asus’ top of the line offering, Maximus Extreme-Z. While I understand the boards serve different markets, the price point is almost unbearably high to me, even with all the features it has over the UD7/MIVE-Z for gaming.
With that said, this board is still going to receive an Overclockers Approved stamp. The features that it has specifically for hardcore gamers are unlike any motherboard on the market. If you want arguably the best motherboard geared specifcally for gaming with its exclusive features, then you are going to have to pay for it. And lets not forget when gaming in First Person Shooters that you ‘always run faster with a knife’. Now go get ’em!