Motherboard Buyer’s Guide - A Home For Haswell (Part 2) : Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5, Gigabyte Z87X-UD3H

9/4/2013 11:27:00 AM

Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5

When money is no obstacle

Price: $560

What better way to relax after a session of day trading than playing games on your new rig powered by this uber board? At $560 it’s one of the most expensive Z87 boards on the market, but it’s designed for those who don’t know the meaning of the word ‘compromise’.

Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5

Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5

We tested the amazing removable headphone amp and Creative Sound Core3D audio chip at Computex, and it propelled this board to the top of our list for quality onboard audio. Unfortunately, our review sample had a faulty audio system, exhibiting a lot of static, but we’d have no qualms in using the onboard audio for gaming, provided you’re using headphones (the removable amp doesn’t power the speaker outputs, only the headphones). With incredibly high quality power components, it’ll overclock like a demon, and quad GPU support makes it top tier. It’s even ready for water cooling, while the Killer 2200 Ethernet is a nice touch. If only the Wi-Fi supported 802.11ac it’d be perfect.

Despite a bizarrely low score, the G1. Sniper 5 performed admirably in nearly all of our other tests. If you don’t mind paying such a high price, this board has basically everything a PC gamer could ever need.

Verdict: 9/10

·         Welcome to the big leagues – this board is for those who put PC gaming above all else.

·         Top quality throughout

·         Excellent onboard audio

·         Includes all the things

·         A couple of low benchmark results

·         Review sample had faulty audio

Gigabyte Z87X-UD3H

The quiet achiever

Price: $229

This is the only board we reviewed that isn’t directly targeted at game freaks like you. What do you miss out on in exchange for such a nice price? To be honest, not a great deal. Three PCIe x16 slots provide plenty of bandwidth for a dual SLI/CrossFire setup, and the three PCIe x1 and single PCI slots round out your options. The cooling solution has been tamed from the water block seen on the Sniper, but serious over-clockers probably wouldn’t even bother changing it, as this area remains cool to the touch.

Gigabyte Z87X-UD3H

Gigabyte Z87X-UD3H

The audio chip has been downgraded to an old Realtek ALC898 chip, but for just $28 you can buy a decent headphone soundcard in the ASUS Xonar DG that’ll equal most of the quality onboard solutions seen here, with the exception of the Sniper’s upgradeable amps. The BIOS retains most of the overclocking options of the other boards, and will happily get your Haswell up to 4.5GHz provided the CPU is able. Even the performance was fine, benching around the middle of the pack.

If you don’t mind using a board that doesn’t have gaming labels all over the packaging, this is a solid offering, though the MSI board below offers more features around the same price point.

·         Verdict: 8/10

·         If you want maximum bang for buck, this isn’t a bad option especially considering the performance.

·         Great price

·         SLI/CrossFire ready solid over-clocker

·         Poor onboard audio

·         Not many advanced features

MSI Z87-GD65

Dragon on a budget

Price: $260

This is the follow-up product to MSI’s long delayed Z77-GD65 board, and it’s a much timelier product. It’s using the latest Z87 chipset obviously, but also includes many of its predecessor’s interesting features. Considering the excellent price, the range of extras is really rather remarkable.

MSI Z87-GD65

MSI Z87-GD65

First, there’s the same Killer Ethernet adaptor as found on Gigabyte’s dollar-demon. It’s also got solid audio in the form of MSI’s Audio Boost. It’s branded as a Creative solution, but actually uses Realtek’s ubiquitous ALC1150 chip. As expected, this is bundled with high quality caps and shielding to deliver much better audio quality than other onboard solutions, and is perfectly fine for headphone users. With three full length x16 PCI slots and another four PCIe x slots there’s plenty of space for other components. We love MSI’s new BIOS and software suite, which are equal to Gigabyte’s brilliant UI.

If there’s one issue, it’s the inconsistent performance we saw in our test. However, for the price you get a whole lot of motherboard, and we’ve no doubt that MSI will iron out any wrinkles in future BIOS updates.

Verdict: 9/10

·         Amazing value, this is the board to use when money is tight but you don’t want to sacrifice features.

·         Feature rich for a low price

·         Excellent BIOS and software experience

·         Looks good

·         Some inconsistent performance results

Home tests, no OpenCL acceleration

·         Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5: 4792

·         ASRock Z87 Extreme4: 5257

·         ASUS Maximus VI Extreme: 5421

·         ASUS Maximus VI Hero: 5323

·         SanDisk Extreme II 240GB: 4756

·         MSI Z87-GD65: 4998

Aggregate Memory Performance (GB/sec)

·         Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5: 26.54

·         ASRock Z87 Extreme4: 21.77

·         ASUS Maximus VI Extreme: 27.81

·         ASUS Maximus VI Hero: 27.78

·         SanDisk Extreme II 240GB: 26

·         MSI Z87-GD65: 27.08

Grid 2 – 800 x 600, Ultra Low Detail, 0xMSAA

Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5

·         FPS Minimum: 202

·         FPS Average: 281

ASRock Z87 Extreme4

·         FPS Minimum: 181

·         FPS Average: 244

ASUS Maximus VI Extreme

·         FPS Minimum: 183

·         FPS Average: 257

ASUS Maximus VI Hero

·         FPS Minimum: 209

·         FPS Average: 287

SanDisk Extreme II 240GB

·         FPS Minimum: 176

·         FPS Average: 278

MSI Z87-GD65

·         FPS Minimum: 180

·         FPS Average: 247

Metro Last Light – 1024 x 768, DX10, Ultra Low Quality, Low Tessellation

Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5

·         FPS Minimum: 9

·         FPS Average: 133

ASRock Z87 Extreme4

·         FPS Minimum: 29

·         FPS Average: 135

ASUS Maximus VI Extreme

·         FPS Minimum: 23

·         FPS Average: 143

ASUS Maximus VI Hero

·         FPS Minimum: 24

·         FPS Average: 143

SanDisk Extreme II 240GB

·         FPS Minimum: 31

·         FPS Average: 140

MSI Z87-GD65

·         FPS Minimum: 35

·         FPS Average: 138


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