Gosh, the motherboard manufacturers surely went bazerk with the new Series 8 motherboards. The G1.Sniper 5 is a killer alright. The features are just amazing from the Quad SLI support (thanks to an added PLX chip) towards WIFI, the ten 6 Gbps SATA ports the many USB 3.0 ports the enhanced audio solutions. And of course the don't forget about KillerNIC. I remember these PCI card based on that Qualcomm Atheros Killer E2200 chip topping over 100 bucks a pop. You now get it integrated at hardly any cost, that's a huge win alright. For a motherboard in this class overclocking overall was a breeze as well, pop a nice LCS kit on the processor and you will get to the 4700 MHz (like shown in this review) range with a 4770K easily. Our stable upper limit was hard to set though, as Haswell lust like Ivy bridge is a drag to cool once you increase CPU voltage. So for this review we used a dual-fan-dual-radiator D14 from Noctua, but even that beast of a heatpipe cooler can not deal with the processor at 4800~4900 MHz, and clocks down once the processor reaches certain thermal limitations. The overall baseline performance is really good, definitely a notch faster then Intel reference board, and that's thanks to the fact that Gigabyte also has slightly higher turbo's at CPU multipliers of 39. That's cool :)
Alright we have talk the looks. You know, when the first Sniper series where launched with the green theme, I dug that. I'm slowly changing my opinion as the color green is very hard to use in a PC with say a see through window. Sure you could get green coolant for liquid cooling, but otherwise it ends there. That's personal though, but the Hulk green is not a preferred color for me. The overall design of the motherboard however is excellent. A deep dark color schema with the 2 tone green of course. What is great to see is the gold plated stuff on the motherboard, it just looks good. The design overall including layout is excellent as well. The coolers are a little bulky and out there, then again the processor area cooler is actively cooled ensuring a chilled down VRM area. The lovely thing is that you may use that heatsink for your liquid cooling loop. That's definitely added value alright. The LED halo underneath the motherboard, a bit bright but I certainly like it. This is just a great looking solution for the enthusiast PC gamer.
I feel I have to dedicate at least a small chapter on audio solution of this motherboard in this conclusion and I know, that's a rare thing to do for a motherboard. But yeah, the design team did a fantastic job, the Creative Labs DSP combined with a 600 Ohm headphone amplifier, swappable OPAMPs for the audiophiles and the golden coated EMI shield and sheer quality capacitors simply deserve an extra recommendation. This really is the first "real" professional sound card solution that has been embedded onto a motherboard. We are impressed by the components, quality and gold plated outputs. The end result is a motherboard with enthusiast grade audio quality and there's a lot to say for that as we (me personally) have been asking stuff like this for years. Well done Gigabyte!
Overall non-overclocked performance as stated is above the baseline of the reference Z87 motherboards we tested, with an offset here and there of course. if you have two left hands in terms of overclocking then within the BIOS you can find a handful of easy to use configurations that will auto overclock the PC. Our Core i7 4770K for example has a preset that allows instant 4700 MHz, power up and after a few seconds your motherboard all of the sudden will be overclocked very nicely.
The tweaking performance of this motherboard was on par with what we expected. We got the 4770K processor rocking stable at 4700 MHz with the memory (XMP enabled) at 2400 very easily, and that's not bad at all. of course we could have gone higher, but the heat levels of Haswell will not allow this. Haswell processors run hotter when overclocked opposed to Sandy Bridge, reaching 4600~4900 MHz might be easy to accomplish with the motherboard but you'll find yourself needing juice in the 1.35~1.45 Volts range of the processor and that requires massive cooling. So be prepared for processor heat, proper liquid cooling definitely deserves a recommendation here alright.
Alright, the final words. The G1.Sniper 5 is mighty impressive board with its ten SATA ports: all SATA 6 Gb/s ports. WIFI, then one Gigabit Intel jack and next to that the KillerNIC Ethernet interface is something we love. You get serious quality 5.1 channel HD audio as delivered by the high-end solution as explained, and in conjunction with amplifier chip you get support for quality headphones that have an impedance of up to 600 Ohms. The Sound Blaster DSP is covered by a gold plated EMI shield, and the part of the PCB where the audio hardware is located is isolated to prevent interference. Once you power on the motherboard you'll actually see a trace going through the PCB that lights up the dedicated and separated audio zone. If that isn't sheer e-peen, I don't know what is. Thanks to an added PLX chip the motherboard can handly all kinds of multi-GPU nasy-ness. It is 4-way SLI/Crossfire ready. And sure add to that the sporty features like on board buttons, pre-overclock BIOS modes, the UEFI BIOS itself, diagnostic LEDs and on and on, overall this just a fantastic build really.
It's going to very hard to not like the G1.Sniper 5 really, excellent quality following the Ultra Durable standard. Anyway, I can repeat the features and onslaught of options over and over again, fact remains that I really seem to dig this motherboard. Obviously pricing is going to be hefty for a beast like this. But do see it as an investment with great NICs, professional audio, nice yet green looks and good overclocking potential. As such the G1.Sniper 5 is to be considered a top of the class series products that deserves our hard to earn Top pick award, well done Gigabyte.
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