GIGABYTE has released a line of high performance, game-oriented motherboards called the G1 Killer series. Each motherboard in the series has just about everything you could need in a gaming motherboard. From the 6 slots for RAM, to the 3 way SLI and CrossFireX, each board gives you plenty of room to build the computer of your dreams. In this article, I am going to look at the middle child of this 3 motherboard series, the G1.Sniper.
The theme of the three motherboards, as is evident in the names, is combat. The heat sinks over the various components in the G1.Sniper look like an ammo clip, a scope, and the barrel of a gun. There is also a lot of green and black on the board that is reminiscent of camouflage. In person, I think the heatsinks look very nice and would work really well in a combat/military theme case. Unfortunately, the ammo clip is obscured by graphics cards that are 7+ inches long. If you are utilizing the 3 way SLI or CrossFireX, it is likely to be completely covered. The scope and pistol barrel are more visible, but can become partially obscured by heatsinks/graphics cards if you are looking at the motherboard from an angle. This doesn't particularly bother me though since I spend a lot more time actually using my computer than looking at its components.
The features of the G1. Sniper are where it really shines. The number of things packed onto this motherboard is astounding. It of course starts with straightforward things, like the CPU socket. The G1.Sniper supports the amazingly fast Intel Core i7 series processors with its LGA1366 socket. It also has 6 slots for RAM, which enables you to have up to 24 GB of DDR3 RAM running as three sets of dual channel memory. To go along with this large amount of RAM, are 3 PCI Express x16 slots that are spaced far enough apart that 3 dual slot graphics cards can be connected. What good is all that processing power if you have nothing to work on? Well in order to feed information to the system, The G1.Sniper has 2 SATA 6Gb/s connectors, 6 SATA 3Gb/s connectors, and 2 eSATA 3Gb/s connectors, with support for RAID 0,1,5 and 10. "What about peripherals?" you might ask. The G1.Sniper has 4 USB 3.0 ports and 12 USB 2.0 ports. The G1.Sniper also contains a few interesting pieces that are not generally seen on motherboards. The first, which will be discussed at greater length later, is the dedicated sound support that is on the G1.Sniper. There is a Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Digital Audio Processor onboard which provides amazing sound quality. The second unusual piece is the dedicated network processor. This beauty is the Bigfoot Killer E2100. The Killer E2100 from Bigfoot is a shrunk down version of their Killer 2100 standalone card. It does exactly the same things and performs just as well, all in a tiny little package. If you are interested in exactly what it does and how well it performs, check out the review of the standalone card here.
The crazy part is that all of that still just scratches the surface of the things on the G1. Sniper. Since this is a gaming board, the G1.Sniper has a great deal of hardware dedicated to power management. GIGABYTE designed each of the boards in the G1 Killer series with voltage regulator module that have a large number of power phases. The 8 power phases in the G1.Sniper, ensures that enough power is consistently provided to your CPU, even when it is heavily overclocked. Additionally the board follows GIGABYTE's "Ultra Durable 3" standard. This means that the G1. Sniper has thicker copper printed into it, solid capacitors that supposedly have 50,000 hrs of life, and ferrite core chokes. The cumulative effect of these things is that the G1.Sniper has better power efficiency, which means it runs cooler and can be overclocked more.
The final feature that I want to mention is not a big deal in your day to day operation of your computer, but it is something I really appreciate. GIGABYTE has two sets of BIOS ROM on the board which allows you to recover quickly when your BIOS has become corrupted. This might not seem like much, but it can be quite frustrating if your BIOS fails, so this extra insurance is something I can definitely agree with. The full list of features is available here for anyone that is interested in the things I left out.
Ok, now all of that is taken care of, we can get to the important things, benchmarks! The following benchmarks were performed on the following system:
- G1. Sniper Motherboard
- Intel Core i7-965 Processor Extreme Edition
- ATI Radeon HD 5770 w/ 1 GB RAM
- 8 GB DDR3-1600 RAM
To finish off the benchmarks we have wPrime performed with 8 threads.
As can be seen from the various benchmarks, the G1.Sniper, along with its Intel i7, is quite a mighty combination. When combined with an SSD and a good graphics card, this set of technology makes for some amazingly fast and responsive games. But sometimes that still isn't fast enough, so lets push the G.1 Sniper to the limit and look at overclocking.
Overclocking with the GIGABYTE's BIOS is fairly straightforward and the G.1 Sniper makes it even easier by providing a very stable platform. All of the power managements features on the G.1 Sniper allowed the CPU to run very smoothly. To test out the overclocking capabilities, I used a Core i7 975 ( base speed of 3.3 GHz) with an Akasa Venom heatsink. After running slowly through number of configurations, I ended up being most comfortable with an overclock to 4.0 GHz (26 multiplier of a 155 MHz base). This was acheived at a reasonable core voltage of 1.40 V and a QPI voltage of 1.25 V. Higher overclock also appeared stable, but 26 was the maximum I felt comfortable with due to temperature constraints (was hitting temperatures around 70 C). As expected, the major constraint to this overclock was not the motherboard. This is particularly impressive to me since the CPU at full overclock draws ~400 Watts, which indicates that all of those power management features were more than up to the job of supplying the CPU with as much power as it needs. Since the major limiting factor in this set of tests was temperature, I believe that with a water cooled system, the G.1 Sniper would be able to push your chosen CPU even further.
The G.1 Sniper has a very impressive set of features and components. In combination with all of the hardware it can support, you will be able to build the machine of your dreams.