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Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 - MicroATX Board Shoots For Your Dollar

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Best scores are bolded. We used a Core 17-3770,8GB DDR3/1866 set at DDR3/160D. a WD Raptor 150, a GeForce GTX 580, and 64-hit Windows 7 Professional. SATA 6Gh/s speeds were measured with OystalDiskMark and a Patriot Wildfire SSD in a USB 3.0 enclosure using an ASMed a controller. 32GB compliance was checked with four 8GB DDR3 modules and SU was run using two GeForce GTX 580 cards.

 

 

Description: Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3

The G1.Sniper M3 gets you SLI and CrossFireX in a compact package.

 

Benchmarks

 

Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3

Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H

Asus P8Z77-V

Price

$179

$189

$189

 

P6.015

P6.052

P6.308

 

5,542

5,570

5,856

 

3,644

3,549

3,739

Valve Particle (fps)

204

203

208

SISoft Sandra 2012 (GB/s)

19

21

21.3

SATA 6Gb/s Read / Write (MB/s

499 / 223

497.9 / 230.4

509.9 / 247.1

 

252/184

250.2/ 177.5

429.9/181.9

SLI Compliance

Yes

Yes

Yes

32GB Compliance

Yes

Yes

Yes

Auto Overclock

4.6 GHz

4.5 GHz

4.2 GHz

 

Gigabyte's g1.killer series of motherboards have always been love-it-or-leave-it affairs. While some laud the gun shaped heat sinks of the series, others think them garish or just plain tacky.

With the G1.Sniper M3, Gigabyte does away with the gun-sinks (though you still get a sheet of stickers riddled with faux bullet holes). More importantly, the board isn’t some budget microATX jobbie designed to get the price under or near $100. It’s based on Intel's performance Z77 chipset and features Lucid Logix’ Virtu as well as CrossFireX and SLI support out of the box.

The highlight of the board is the Creative Core3D sound chip using a CA0132. That’s the same part used in Creative’s new line of USB and PCIe audio devices. The most notable feature of the Core 3D is probably its "scout mode," which reduces some sound effects (like explosions) and amplifies footsteps so you can better discern someone approaching you in a game. If you think that’s cheating, then Steve Austin was cheating with his bionic hearing, too. There’s also more to the audio: The audio circuits feature a low-profile metallic RF shield, and an additional preamp is integrated to help gamers who run headsets from the front-panel connector. The result is very clean sound and a possible advantage in gaming.

Space is at a premium on microATX boards, so many features are kicked overboard. The most notable is the lack of a Killer NIC controller, a prominent feature of the original Killer motherboards. An Intel network card is included instead. Also gone are surface-mounted power switches, and secondary USB 3.0 and SATA controllers. As we said, SLI and CrossFireX are there, but like all performance microATX boards we’ve tested, the second card sits over the USB, audio, and front-panel connectors. That will make it a very tight squeeze if you run dual cards. Since a multicard config would leave the second card also hanging over the edge of the board, you'll want a case that’s designed for it.

In performance, the G1.Sniper M3 performs on par with the Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H from our Z77 roundup in August but the Asus P8Z77-V board from that same roundup slightly leads in performance, especially in USB 3.0 mode with Asus's Turbo Mode activated. The G1.Sniper M3 auto-overclocked the furthest, though. The board’s auto-tune successfully took the CPU to a stable 4.6GHz overclock, which is higher than what we saw from all previousZ77 boards. We did hit a snag trying to get the board back to stock speeds, however—the utility would not revert the speedsto stock no matter what we did. We had to finally load the defaults in the BIOS to get it back to its original state.

Overall, it’s a good board for someone looking to work within the constrained spaces of microATX. Yes, we really wanted more USB and SATA ports, but frankly, when you've made the decision to go microATX, you've already made a compromise, so just suck it up.

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