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Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5 Z87 Motherboard Review

AkG

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A Closer Look at the G1.Sniper 5, pg.3

A Closer Look at the G1.Sniper 5, pg.3



Beside the Marvel 9230 controller and underneath the black and green ‘glowing’ skull is the Z87 chipset and an ITE IT8728F Super I/O controller. The controller monitors several critical parameters on the board, including power supply voltages, fan speeds, and temperatures.


The user-friendly colour-coded front panel header is always a welcome addition, as is the second USB 3.0 header. The whole bottom of the motherboard is festooned with various ports as well: two USB 2.0 headers, four fan headers and front audio output.


Besides the PLX PEX8747’s addition, the other standout feature of GIGABYTE’s G1.Sniper 5 is its onboard audio solution. While the Creative Sound Core3D chip is among the better options available it is not all that unique and many other motherboards have included this quad-core 7.1 chipset. Rather than the chipset, what does make this iteration of the Core3D sound is the removable OP-AMP. Unlike the ASRock Fatal1ty Pro which has the headphone OP-AMP soldered to the motherboard, GIGABYTE has included a socketed solution. This means swapping it out for a different, higher end OP-AMP is a quick and painless solution which is covered by the board’s warranty. Later in the review we will show exactly how big a deal this seemingly simple OP-AMP socket is, but suffice to say it is a game changer in the realm of in-game audio fidelity.


The default OP-AMP which comes pre-installed is a Burr Brown OPA2134 which is quite decent but GIGABYTE also includes a second OP-AMP (a Texas Instruments LM4562NA) and even offers a prepackaged upgrade kit which can be purchased separately. Further helping the Core3D stand out, the audio circuitry has been thoroughly isolated to reduce EMI and high quality Nichicon Muse ES and Nichicon MW capacitors have been added for enhanced quality. These are the same caps found in ultra-high end audio equipment and they should further help the G1.Sniper 5 stand out from the crowd.


The G1.Sniper 5 certainly has a good list of connectivity options on its rear I/O panel, many of which are plated in gold. There are two USB 2.0 ports, a single mouse/keyboard combination PS/2 port, a SPDIF port, an Optical audio output port, six USB 3.0 ports, dual HDMI ports, a DisplayPort and 5.1 audio jacks with a dedicated OP-AMP powered headphone jack capable of powering 600ohm headphones.


While the gold plating and OP-AMP equipped headphone jack are nice, these are all features you can find on most upper end motherboards. What makes the I/O panel of the G1.Sniper truly stand out is the inclusion of two dedicated NICs: a Qualcomm’s Atheros ‘Killer’ E2205 Network Processing unit and Intel’s latest generation ‘Clarkville’ I217V. Simply put, this combination of Intel plus Atheros gives the G1.Sniper 5 a level of flexibility and performance that few motherboards will be able to match.
 
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AkG

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Hardware Installation

Hardware Installation


In order to test how different hardware combinations will fit onto the GIGABYTE G1.Sniper 5, we installed a Noctua NH-U12S, a 16GB dual channel kit of G.Skill Trident X memory, and a GTX 580 video card. The GTX 580 is a long length, dual slot GPU so it should so it should provide a good reference for other premium video cards and highlight any spacing issues. The NH-U12 is a moderate sized aftermarket CPU cooler so it should provide a good reference for other coolers so we can see if there any clearance issues around the CPU socket. We installed the memory in the sockets closest to the CPU to ensure clearance with 4 DIMMs.


Unlike most LGA1150 motherboards, the E-ATX sized G1.Sniper 5 has more than the standard amount of room between the memory slots and the CPU socket. Because of this there should be no clearance issues even with all slots populated with standard height RAM. Very deep CPU cooling solutions will overhang the first and possibly second slots, but even this issue is not as severe as it will be with an ASRock Fatal1ty Pro or MSI MPower MAX.

As an added bonus the extra room between these two vital sets of components means that if you are so inclined, installing a memory cooler will be also be a lot easier. However, while there is some additional room the amount is not that much and as you can see the cooler will not be perfectly centered over the ram. Proper heatsink selection will still be important, but the G1.Sniper is simply more forgiving in this regard than many of its competitors.


Even though the motherboard’s VRM heatsinks are located on three sides of the CPU socket area, their low profile design ensures compatibility issues will be nonexistent with most air-based cooling solutions. Once again though it will depend on the CPU cooler you opt for. For example while it would physically fit we would not want to install a Cooler Master V8 GTS or any other heatsink which requires a wrench to install the mounting bolts. The gap between the cooling tower and heatsink is small enough that it would take a contortionist to install all four bolts.


Switching from air to water cooling also didn’t create any clearance issues. Having heatsinks wrapped around three sides of the CPU socket certainly harkens us back to an earlier time but the space is once again more than adequate.


Unfortunately one issue did become readily apparent once we installed a video card along with a CPU cooler: the distance between the G1 Sniper’s topmost PCI-E slot and the memory is tighter than it would be on some other models. This is why the lower half of the ram slots do not have clips; otherwise, the video card would have to be removed before installing or uninstall any ram.

Also remember this first PCI-E slot has to be used if you plan on opting for dual video card solutions since the first and third slots are hardwired for x16 speeds while the second and fourth run in x8 mode and share lanes with the first and third. This is a common problem with four way SLI capable motherboards but not an insurmountable one by any stretch of the imagination. If you plan on using only one video card we would recommend moving it down to the third x16 slot to give plenty of room. If you plan on using two video cards, the additional space – filled with x1 slots – will ensure proper cooling so we do think GIGABYTE made the right decision here.
 
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AkG

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Test Setup and Testing Methodology

Test Setup and Testing Methodology

To full test the built in over-clocking abilities of a given motherboard, we have broken down testing into four categories:


  • Stock Turbo Boost - To represent a 4770K at stock with turbo enabled.
  • EasyTune - To represent a Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5 Z87 at best proven stable overclock achieved via included software based overclocking (4.5GHz).
  • Manual OC –To represent an experienced overclocker that is looking for the optimal long term overclock to maximize system performance while keeping voltage and temperatures in check.

We chose benchmark suites that included 2D benchmarks, 3D benchmarks, and games; and then tested each overclocking method individually to see how the performance would compare.

The full list of the applications that we utilized in our benchmarking suite:

3DMark 8
3DMark 2013 Professional Edition
AIDA64 Extreme Edition
Cinebench R11.5 64-bit
SiSoft Sandra 2013.SP4
SuperPI Mod 1.5mod
RightMark Audio Analyzer 6.2.5
Sleeping Dogs Gaming Benchmark
Metro: Last Light Gaming Benchmark


Instead of LinX or P95, the main stability test used was the AIDA64 stability. AIDA64 has an advantage as it has been updated for the Haswell architecture and tests specific functions like AES, AVX, and other instruction sets that some other stress tests do not touch. After the AIDA64 stability test was stable, we ran 2 runs of SuperPI and 2 runs of 3DMark to test memory and 3D stability. Once an overclock passed these tests, we ran the full benchmark suite and then this is the point deemed as “stable” for the purposes of this review.

To ensure consistent results, a fresh installation of Windows 8 was installed with latest chipset drivers and accessory hardware drivers (audio, network, GPU) from the manufactures website. The BIOS used for overclocking and benchmarking was version F7 and the Nvidia drivers used were version 326.80.

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Our test setup consists of an Intel Haswell 4770K, a 4670K, Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5 Z87 motherboard, a NVIDIA GTX 690, 16GB of G.Skill Trident X 2133 9-11-11-31 1.6v memory, a Intel 335 180GB SSD, and a WD Black 1TB. All this is powered by an EVGA SuperNOVA 1000 P2 1000 watt PSU.

For cooling we used a Corsair H100i AIO w/ four 120mm fans attached. For hardware installation testing we also used a Noctua NH-U12S and a XSPC Raystorm waterblock.

Complete Test System:

Processor: Intel i7 4770K Retail Lot# L310B506
Memory: 16GB GSkill 2166 Trident X 9-11-11-31 1.6v
Graphics card: NIVIDIA GTX 690
Hard Drive: 1x 180GB Intel 335 SSD. Western Digial Black 1TB.
Power Supply: EVGA SuperNOVA 1000 P2
CPU Cooler: Corsair H100i AIO

Special thanks to EVGA for their support and supplying the SuperNOVA 1000 P2.
Special thanks to G.Skill for their support and supplying the Trident X RAM.
 
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AkG

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Feature Testing: Onboard Audio & AMP-UP

Feature Testing: Onboard Audio


While the Sniper 5 is mainly orientated towards PC gaming enthusiasts, the upgraded onboard audio is one of its main selling features. As such, it behooves us to see exactly what this upgrade brings to the table. To do this we have used RightMark Audio Analyzer.

Please note: Due to an unavoidable cable issue previous RMAA numbers are not compatible with this motherboard’s numbers. All future reviews should however align properly with this motherboard’s results and allow for more complete comparison and contrast.


As you can see, GIGABYTE has created what is easily the best onboard audio solution we have seen to date. It seems the replaceable OP-AMP, isolated hardware and other add-ons aren’t just gimmicks but really do enhance the overall audio experience. Simply put these numbers represent a paradigm shift and calling this merely an ‘onboard audio solution’ is doing the Sniper 5 a great disservice. From the looks of it GIGABYTE has packaged a high grade soundcard with the Sniper 5, one just that happens to have been part of the motherboard rather than separate.

The only real drawback is that you’ll need fairly high end speakers or headphones to fully appreciate what the Sniper 5 has to offer. In our subjective testing, the differences between this board and its competition was readily apparent provided an adequately-equipped output device was used. But the fun doesn’t stop here either since GIGABYTE allows for a large amount of soundstage customizability with the inclusion of those upgradeable OP-AMPs.


OP-AMP Upgrade Kit (AMP-UP


GIGABYTE are well aware that a ‘one size fits all’ approach to audio rarely results in a great match for everyone and this is why they have gone above and beyond by including a standard OP-AMP socket for their Sniper 5. This removable OP-AMP, dubbed the AMP-UP really does present a great opportunity for consumers to customize the sound of their Sniper 5 and make it more suitable for their particular needs.

The highly demanding nature of audio enthusiasts knows no bounds and while GIGABYTE does include include two OP-AMPs in the Sniper 5’s box (along with an appropriate removal tool) they also have created an separate upgrade kit which will give consumers a grand total of five different sound signatures to choose from (two included with the board and three additional OP-AMPs with the stand-alone kit). However, this upgrade kit is anything but cheap and at nearly $80 it does deserve a closer look. GIGABYTE also features a full list of compatible upgrades on their website.


As you can see, none of these OP-AMP drastically change the Sniper 5’s audio output and all are decent options. However, what RMAA cannot tell you is how each colours the music. So let’s take a bit more detailed look at the two stock options and the upgrade kit so that you can cut through the PR jargon and get a better understanding of exactly what GIGABYTE is offering.



The default option installed onto GIGABYTE’s G1.Sniper 5 is the Burr Brown OPA2134. This is a relatively generic mid-range OP-AMP that many motherboard manufacturers choose for their products. The reason it has become nearly ubiquitous is twofold: while its soundstage is more veiled than other options the overall warm sound it can create will be pleasing to a wide range of consumers and, at just $5 when bought individually, the 2134’s bang-for-buck ratio is excellent.

Unfortunately by trying to please everyone this OP-AMP doesn’t excel in any area and is more a ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ option. If edge-of-your-seat performance in the low, mids or highs there are other OP-AMPs better suited for those environments. Hence why the AMP-UP feature is so critical to audiophiles.


The second included OP-AMP is the Texas Instrument LM4562NA. Much like the TI / Burr Brown OPA2134 this is another nearly ubiquitous OP-AMP that has been around for many years. Also like the 2134, it is so extensively used because the output is excellent and should be pleasing to many consumers. However, while it can be classified an everyman OP-AMP it is more focused than the ‘2134 and will not be as pleasing to as wide a group of consumers. Simply put, even though its exhibited soundstage is quite wide and the highs are reasonably bright, many consumers will find the bass reproduction to be a touch reserved and even a bit underwhelming.

While the OPA2134 is considered a “warm” OP-AMP, this 4562 has been described as neutral to cool sounding. However, with the right headset the overall sound is anything but dull or generic. The 4562 is simply a little less forgiving than the 2134. It will however be perfect for anyone who doesn’t like much coloration to their music or usually boost the treble and lower the bass on their equalizer. This certainly won’t be a great option for consumers who use low bitrate music as 4562’s are considered 'fast' and will enhance the bad along with the good. If you do opt for them they can take a while to burn in so we recommend not making a final decision on this OP-AMP for at least 20-30 hours of listening. Like the 2134 this is another economical OP-AMP and it can be found online in the $5 range.
Between these two options, most consumers will find one that will be a decent fit for their needs, but as their tastes grow and develop, many may crave even more options. This is where the OP-AMP upgrade kit enters the equation.


Burr-Brown’s OPA2111KP is good, middle of the road OP-AMP that is warmer than a LM4562 but not so warm as to reduce clarity. In fact, many consider this to be a fairly neutral sounding and balanced OP-AMP without exhibiting truly neutral tonal properties. The soundstage is also noticeably cleaner and wider than the 4562's and you will get significantly better bass reproduction while keeping the clear highs of the 4562s. In other words, the 2111s are nearly everything you will like about the LM4562 OP-AMP, but only a bit better.

This OP-AMP will also work with a wide range of headphones and will provide results that may in fact be nearly perfect for most gamers. If you listen to a variety of music genres and do not have a preference for very forward bass, vocals, treble - or any combination thereof - these would be a very good option. This is why you will find them inside many mainstream amplifiers such as the Fiio E9, AudioEngine N22 and many more DACs. Since this is a Texas Instrument 2100 series product, it also very economical and can be found online in the $5-$10 range.


The second of the three include OP-AMPs in the upgrade kit is the Linear Technology LT1358CN8. The LT1358CN8 is another midrange level OP-AMP that some people will find suitable to their needs while others will generally dislike. Unlike the Burr Browns, the LT1358 is a very fast, very unforgiving OP-AMP that will bring out and even highlight any problems with the source material. As such this is not a unit we would use with low bitrate material but it can reward users with FLACC and other high bitrate music libraries.

The LT1358CN8 also places emphasis on the mid-range and tends to push lows and highs to the background. Unfortunately, some of the coloration it adds can be annoying; even though it brings vocals to the front, some clarity is typically lost. We would not use these in conjunction with headphones which already add 'warmth' as the results may be overpowering. However, with that being said, many of us prefer warm over cold sounding playback so don’t rule this OP-AMP out before trying it. Like the others they can be found online in the $5-$10 range.


Rounding out the list of included OP-AMPs in the upgrade kit is the Analog Devices AD827JNZ. What this OP-AMP is really great at providing is powerful, but clean distortion free bass. Unfortunately going hand in hand with this bass boost is a loss of detail on the high end as the lows are pushed to the front.

If you are interested mainly in making explosions bigger or hearing clean but heavy bass in your music genre of choice, this would be a good place to start. Of course, if your headset also colors the music and favors the lows over highs you may find this combination a touch overwhelming. The AD827JNZ is not found in many amps - most opt for the more well-rounded Analog Devices 6 series instead- but they can be found online in the $10-$15 range.

Adding up the total of these three OP-AMPs you will be looking at about $30 plus shipping if you were to purchase them separately from online sources such as DigiKey. For anyone who wants to sample the different soundstages the Sniper 5 can offer, this upgrade kit may be their ticket to nirvana but the premium attached to it is quite extreme.
 
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AkG

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Feature Testing: Software Auto-Overclocking

Feature Testing: Software Auto-Overclocking


Since GIGABYTE has designed the G1.Sniper 5 with PC gaming enthusiasts in mind, a good bit of care has been taken to ensure that obtaining a stable overclock is as fast and painless as possible. After all, most gamers don’t want to waste a lot of time getting the most out of their CPU; they just want the increased performance potential that comes with higher than stock clock speeds. In this regard, GIGABYTE has hit it clear out of the park.


To overclock the CPU via GIGABYTE’s included software, just press the EasyTune button in the GIGABYTE Apps’ pop-up menu. Then navigate to the Smart Quick Boost section and choose from the three main options: Light (4.1GHz), Medium (4.3GHz) and Extreme (4.5GHz). Every one of these, including the manual overclocking or Advanced setting, will require a reboot before the new settings take place.

Not only will the EasyTune software overclock your CPU speeds but it will also boost the uncore speed to 4.0GHz and automatically load the fastest XMP profile for your memory. In our case this was DDR3-2133 and a step very few other auto overclocking applications take into account.

For anyone looking for a simple way to boost performance, EasyTune is about as easy as it gets.


While the overclock chosen for our processor was quite good, EasyTune does introduce some limits which weren’t present in previous versions of GIGABYTE’s overclocking software stack. Rather than carrying in the now-discontinued AutoTune’s footsteps, EasyTune’s new approach simply takes a one-size-fits-all approach by giving three predefined clock speeds to choose from regardless of the unlocked processor you choose. Stability is far from guaranteed since there isn’t any secondary testing performed before a given clock speed is applied. We’ve seen some Haswell processors which struggle to hit 4.5GHz (the maximum of EasyTune’s three presets) which would present a serious problem in this case.

Previous versions of EasyTune included that aforementioned AutoTune option which slowly increased performance, tested each frequency and voltage change and then repeated the process until it found the best, most stable overclock for a particular CPU. Removing such a great ability seems like a step back since even significantly less expensive boards like the ASRock Fatal1ty Pro have some rudimentary abilities in this regard.

With that being said, EasyTune’s pre-defined voltage settings are aggressive enough to ensure that any CPU should power up and run with relatively good stability. This also means temperatures were actually higher than our manual results so a heavily upgraded cooling solution is recommended. Thankfully it is easy to dial these settings down a notch or three, but until you do take this additional step expect temperatures to run high.

Once again this issue goes back to the fact that GIGABYTE has removed the AutoTune feature from their software stack which tends to curtail the G1.Sniper 5’s abilities. However, the included overclocking application is still quite good and while not without a few issues which need to be worked on, most consumers will find its capabilities more than enough to satisfy their needs.
 
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AkG

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Manual Overclocking

Manual Overclocking


With the software overclocking solutions bringing our CPU to relatively high levels, we doubt many of the Sniper 5’s intended customers will feel the need to resort to manual overclocking. However, additional performance is necessary, GIGABYTE provides a full range of well implemented manual tuning options within their BIOS and EasyTune Advanced section. In fact due to the unique nature of the BIOS, old school overclocking is simple.

It may be because we have used GIGABYTE motherboards for many, many generations and are more used to the ‘Classic’ layout, but in its default configuration the ‘Dashboard’ BIOS feels almost like a unfinished work in progress more than a fully mature BIOS. While the Dashboard is certainly pretty, the Classic Mode is simply easier to navigate.

A lot of these Dashboard Mode shortcomings are due to GIGABYTE’s focus on making its pages fully customizable which, for many enthusiasts, will be a waste of time due to the Classic Mode’s excellent layout. However, ff you do spend the time to take advantage of the Dashboard Mode’s chameleon-like nature, it can pay dividends over the long term.

As for the actual capabilities of this motherboard, it quickly became apparent that the weak link was not going to be a combination of our CPU’s limitations and CPU cooling. We could easily get a 4.7GHz overclock 4770K but to hit those speeds more than 1.4V was required. Needless to say the resulting overclock quickly hit a thermal wall even with a higher end all in one water cooler and caused us to back down to 4.6GHz with less voltage.

While this overclock may seem disappointing, it highlights the limitations of Intel’s 22nm 3D lithography which tends to concentrate heat output into a smaller area. This in turn causes nearly every CPU cooler (be it air or water) to falter when voltage increases. In most cases, motherboards are more than able to boost frequencies well past what the chip is able to provide, as is the situation here.



After working within the chip’s thermal boundaries, 4.4GHz on the Uncore was possible as well. With this taken care of we turned our attention to the RAM and – by loosening the timings we were able to overclock our kit from the XMP profile of 2133 to 2400. This combination of 4.6+4.4+2400 resulted in a fast, yet very stable system that –while it did skirt the upper boundaries of reasonable temperatures – never caused thermal throttling to occur.


The one area which was not as straightforward was the manual BCLK overclocking stage. As with most motherboards the G1.Sniper 5 offers multiple options which range from 1.0 to 2.5. However, unlike most motherboards we have recently looked the BCLK strap in this case works slightly different.

Instead of setting the BCLK and then using the BCLK strap as a divider to arrive at the PCI-E clock frequency, GIGABYTE uses the strap as a PCI-E frequency multiplier to arrive at the actual BCLK speed for the CPU. For example, on most motherboards a 1.66 strap and a 166 BCLK would result in a PCI-E frequency of 100, whereas on the G1.Sniper 5 it would result in an impossibly high 166MHz and a 277.2MHz BCLK!

This is certainly an odd approach but it will be more intuitive for most consumers who have not used many – or any - LGA1150 systems. In either case it will not take you long to understand this minor quirk since you just are dealing with different portions of the three way equation.


While we were unable to hit our highest BCLK of 171MHz achieved on some previous boards these results were actually a bit better than on MSI MPower MAX and miles better than what was achievable on ASRock’s Fatl1ty Pro, which would not even work with our 4770k.

Overall we would classify manual overclocking on the Sniper 5 to be straightforward but not entirely issue free. While this board does recover well from a poorly optimized overclock that causes a hard lock, GIGABYTE could use some improvement in some key areas.

The load-line calibration and overall power related abilities of this motherboard are a touch on the basic side when compared to the less expensive MSI MPower MAX. The position of the power and reset buttons is also tends to be a pain in some instances where higher memory modules will obstruct your view. If you try to feel your way between the buttons, it’s entirely possible that Clear CMOS will be pressed instead of the similarly-sized Reset button.

GIGABYTE certainly did pack a lot of features into the motherboard but was space at such a premium that the crucial clear CMOS could not fit somewhere else like the rear I/O panel? We would also have loved to see a restart and enter the BIOS button option – or what MSI calls a Go2Bios button – as it would make tweaking a lot faster.

While the G1.Sniper 5 may not be targeted primarily towards overclockers, its wide-ranging feature will allow you to easily push frequencies far further than most CPU cooling solutions will allow.
 
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AkG

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System Benchmarks

System Benchmarks


In the System Benchmarks section we will show a number benchmark comparisons of the 4770K and G1.Sniper 5 using the stock speed (turbo enabled), maximum stable software overclocking (4.5GHz) and our manual overclock (4.6GHz). This will illustrate how much performance can be gained by the various overclocking options this board has to offer.

For reference the CPU speeds, memory speeds, memory timings, and uncore speeds used for these tests are as follows:




SuperPI Benchmark


SuperPi calculates the number of digits of PI in a pure 2D benchmark. For the purposes of this review, calculation to 32 million places will be used. RAM speed, RAM timings, CPU speed, L2 cache, and Operating System tweaks all effect the speed of the calculation, and this has been one of the most popular benchmarks among enthusiasts for several years.

SuperPi was originally written by Yasumasa Kanada in 1995 and was updated later by snq to support millisecond timing, cheat protection and checksum. The version used in these benchmarks, 1.5 is the official version supported by hwbot.





Results: While a stock 4770K is quite fast in this benchmark, the extremely easy to implement software results are much, much better. Of course a lot of this has to do with the fact that the Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5’s software is intelligent enough to turn on and use the fastest XMP profile of G.Skill's Trident X ram. This in combination with a very fast overclock means the gap between the software results and our manual results is not as great as it usually would be.


CINEBENCH R11.5


CINEBENCH is a real-world cross platform test suite that evaluates your computer's performance capabilities. CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation.

In this system benchmark section we will use the x64 Main Processor Performance (CPU) test scenario. The Main Processor Performance (CPU) test scenario uses all of the system's processing power to render a photorealistic 3D scene (from the viral "No Keyframes" animation by AixSponza). This scene makes use of various algorithms to stress all available processor cores. The test scene contains approximately 2,000 objects which in turn contain more than 300,000 polygons in total, and uses sharp and blurred reflections, area lights, shadows, procedural shaders, antialiasing, and much more. The result is displayed in points. The higher the number, the faster your processor.





Sandra Processor Arithmetic & Processor Multi-Media Benchmarks


SiSoftware Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is an information & diagnostic utility. The software suite provides most of the information (including undocumented) users like to know about hardware, software, and other devices whether hardware or software. The name “Sandra” is a (girl) name of Greek origin that means "defender", "helper of mankind".

The software version used for these tests is SiSoftware Sandra 2013 SP3. In the 2013 version of Sandra, SiSoft has updated operating system support, added support for Haswell CPUs, as well as added some new benchmarks to the testing suite. The benchmark used below is the Processor Arithmetic benchmark which shows how the processor handles arithmetic and floating point instructions. This test illustrates an important area of a computer’s speed.




Results: Once again the Gigabyte software overclocking results are damn impressive considering it only takes a of couple seconds – and a reboot – to implement. With this level of performance we doubt many gamers will ever bother with full on manual overclocking.


PCMark 8 Benchmark


Developed in partnership with Benchmark Development Program members Acer, AMD, Condusiv Technologies, Dell, HGST, HP, Intel, Microsoft, NVIDIA, Samsung, SanDisk, Seagate and Western Digital, PCMark 8 is the latest version in FutureMark’s popular series of PC benchmarking tools. Improving on previous releases, PCMark 8 includes new tests using popular applications from Adobe and Microsoft.

The test used in below is the PCMark 8 Home benchmark. This testing suite includes workloads that reflect common tasks for a typical home user such as for web browsing, writing, gaming, photo editing, and video chat. The results are combined to give a PCMark 8 Home score for the system.




AIDA64 Benchmark


AIDA64 Extreme Edition is a diagnostic and benchmarking software suite for home users that provides a wide range of features to assist in overclocking, hardware error diagnosis, stress testing, and sensor monitoring. It has unique capabilities to assess the performance of the processor, system memory, and disk drives.

The benchmarks used in this review are the memory bandwidth and latency benchmarks. Memory bandwidth benchmarks (Memory Read, Memory Write, Memory Copy) measure the maximum achievable memory data transfer bandwidth. The code behind these benchmark methods are written in Assembly and they are extremely optimized for every popular AMD, Intel and VIA processor core variants by utilizing the appropriate x86/x64, x87, MMX, MMX+, 3DNow!, SSE, SSE2, SSE4.1, AVX, and AVX2 instruction set extension.

The Memory Latency benchmark measures the typical delay when the CPU reads data from system memory. Memory latency time means the penalty measured from the issuing of the read command until the data arrives to the integer registers of the CPU.




Results: Even if you have no interest in manual overclocking the fact that getting a decent 4.5GHz overclock is only a few mouse clicks away makes this an obvious first step when buying a G1.Sniper 5
 
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AkG

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3D and Gaming Benchmarks

3D and Gaming Benchmarks


In the 3D and Gaming Benchmarks section we will show a number benchmark comparisons of the 4770K using the stock speed (turbo enabled), highest stable software overclock of 4.5Ghz and our manual overclock. This will illustrate how much performance can be gained by the various overclocking options this board has to offer.

For reference the CPU speeds, memory speeds, memory timings, and uncore speeds used for these tests are as follows:

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/Sniper5/results.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>


3DMark Fire Strike Benchmark


<i>The latest version of 3DMark from FutureMark includes everything you need to benchmark everything from smartphones and tablets, to notebooks and home PCs, to the latest high-end, multi-GPU gaming desktops. And it's not just for Windows. With 3DMark you can compare your scores with Android and iOS devices too. It's the most powerful and flexible 3DMark we've ever created.

The test we are using in this review is Fire Strike with Extreme settings which is a DirectX 11 benchmark designed for high-performance gaming PCs. Fire Strike features real-time graphics rendered with detail and complexity far beyond what is found in other benchmarks and games today.</i>

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/Sniper5/3dm.jpg" border="0" alt="" /> </div>


Valve Particle Simulation Benchmark



Resolution: 1920x1200
Anti-Aliasing: 4X
Anisotropic Filtering: 16X
Graphic Settings: High

<i>Originally intended to demonstrate new processing effects added to Half Life 2: Episode 2 and future projects, the particle benchmark condenses what can be found throughout HL2:EP2 and combines it all into one small but deadly package. This test does not symbolize the performance scale for just Episode Two exclusively, but also for many other games and applications that utilize multi-core processing and particle effects. As you will see the benchmark does not score in FPS but rather in its own "Particle Performance Metric", which is useful for direct CPU comparisons. </i>

<i>Please note: For clarity sake we have removed the SLI numbers from the chart as this benchmark is not SLI aware and the result for both single and dual GPU were the same.</i>

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/Sniper5/VALVE.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>

<b>Results:</b> While we put <i>very</i> little stock in ‘synthetic’ game benchmarks such as these two test suites, the results do point towards a very nice improvement in overall performance.



Sleeping Dogs Gaming Benchmark


<i>Sleeping Dogs is an open world action-adventure video game developed by United Front Games in conjunction with Square Enix London Studios and published by Square Enix, released on August 2012. Sleeping Dogs has a benchmark component to it that mimics game play and an average of four runs was taken.

The settings used in the testing below are the Extreme display settings and a resolution of 1920x1200. World density is set to extreme, high-res textures are enabled, and shadow resolution, shadow filtering, screen space ambient occlusion, and quality motion blur are all set to high.</i>

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/Sniper5/S_DOGS.jpg" border="0" alt="" /> </div>


Metro: Last Light Gaming Benchmark


<i>Metro: Last Light is a DX11 first-person shooter video game developed by Ukrainian studio 4A Games and published by Deep Silver released in May 2013. The game is set in a post-apocalyptic world and features action-oriented gameplay. The game has a benchmark component to it that mimics game play. Scene D6 was used and an average of four runs was taken.

The settings used in the testing below are Very High for quality and a resolution of 1920x1200. DirectX 11 is used, texture filtering is set to AF 16X, motion blur is normal, SSA and advanced physX turned on and tessellation is set to high.</i>

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/Sniper5/METRO.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>


BioShock Infinite Gaming Benchmark


<i>BioShock Infinite is a first-person shooter video game developed by Irrational Games, and published by 2K Games released in March 2013. The game has a benchmark component to it that mimics game play and an average of four runs was taken.

The settings used in the testing below are Ultra DX11 for quality and a resolution of 1920x1200.</i>

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/Sniper5/BIO.jpg" border="0" alt="" /> </div>


Tomb Raider Gaming Benchmark


<i> Tomb Raider is an action-adventure video game. Published by Square Enix released in March 2013. The game has a benchmark component to it that mimics game play and an average of four runs was taken.

The settings used in the testing below are Ultimate default settings for quality, VSync disabled and a resolution of 1920x1200.</i>

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/Sniper5/TOMB.jpg" border="0" alt="" /> </div>

<b>Results:</b> This motherboard is able to harness a pair of 780s very well, even with the PLX chip at its heart. While the difference between the manual results and the software results are not all that great the jump from a stock 4770K system to the software overclocking results are downright massive. This is especially true in SLI configurations where every extra percent of performance results in noticeable increase in average frames per second.
 
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AkG

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Conclusion

Conclusion


GIGABYTE’s G1 series has been one of the most highly regarded on the market for a number of generations now and if anything, time has allowed it to mature like a fine wine. Not only is the G1.Sniper 5 altogether more mature than its predecessors but with a wide ranging feature set that includes some must-have additions and a well implemented, gamer-focused design. The end result is easily the best G1 motherboard Gigabyte has ever produced and arguably one of the best LGA 1150 ‘gaming’ orientated motherboard’s available today.

There’s no denying the G1.Sniper 5 is an expensive motherboard that costs more than the CPUs it’s supposed to backstop but cost isn’t the dead weight it was in previous generations. This new model is perfectly suited for a wide range of scenarios and its high asking price is surprisingly easy to justify. No matter what standards for excellence you use, be they hardware, software, PC gaming abilities, overclocking abilities or any combination thereof, the Sniper 5 will surely impress.

On the hardware side of things GIGABYTE has packed their newest board with features which work together to create an experience suited for just about anyone. For example, the dual Intel + Killer NIC networking controllers, ten SATA 6Gb/s ports and dual front USB 3.0 internal headers are sure to satisfy those looking for a litany of connectivity options. Meanwhile, the innovative onboard audio solution with its AMP-UP feature is easily one of the best and most adaptable we’ve come across in recent memory. It actually has the capability to run neck and neck with most mid-range dedicated sound cards in the soundstage quality department.

The PLX chipset is another significant addition and allows the Sniper 5 to become one of a select few LGA1150 motherboards to support quad graphics card setups across four x8 PCI-E 3.0 slots or dual GPUs across two x16 lanes. On paper there is a small amount of latency caused by this non-native implementation but the actual impact upon framerates will be slim to none.

On the software side of the equation GIGABYTE’s APP software suite is user-friendly, surprisingly powerful and offers a wonderful amount of customizable. It may not be the absolute best we’ve come across, but it is in another league compared to what most typical ‘gaming’ motherboards offer. The same holds true of the <i>customizable</i> BIOS as it is not only head and shoulders above the competition but can actually be useful for seasoned overclockers.

Even the overclocking abilities of the Sniper 5 are impressive. While its 16 phase digital power system may not be able to go toe to toe with the Gigabyte OC Force or MSI XPower II’s of the world, its potential will be more than capable of bottlenecking even high end ‘off the shelf’ air or water CPU cooling solutions. Sure, the auto-overclocking options could have included a built in stress testing feature and a bit more granularity but it’s hard to argue against a perfectly stable 4.5GHz overclock with the press of a single button.

Is the GIGABYTE G1.Sniper 5 a perfect motherboard? Not quite since there are a still a few areas that need some improvement. For a motherboard that costs this much, we would have hoped for a 5 year warranty rather than the anemic 3 years of coverage. In addition, while the addition of two in-box options the stand-alone AMP UP kit is outrageously priced considering the total cost of its three op-amps is less than $40 should they be purchased separately. In our view, they should have simply been bundled alongside the board. We also found ourselves wishing for a properly positioned Clear CMOS button; its current location next to the reset button can lead to some serious missteps.

The G1.Sniper 5 may be the very definition of feature overkill but it also provides a first class experience for just about anyone looking for a system upgrade that will last for years. Sure, the cost of entry is extreme but if you are looking for a premium motherboard it deserves serious consideration provided your case supports its E-ATX form factor.

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/Sniper5/dam_good.jpg" border="0" alt="" /> </div>
 
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