Well, this week I will be reviewing the Gigabyte G1 Sniper M3 motherboard, the first UEFI booting motherboard that I have used since Intel brought out one of the first desktop UEFI motherboards in the DP55KG which took me about 4 hours and 2 calls to Intel to get to boot a Windows 7 DVD booting EFI!
The G1 series is Gigabyte's equivalent to Asus's ROG series and ASrock's FATAL1TY series. With this in mind, Gigabyte have aimed this motherboard squarely at the gaming market, and since the Sniper M3 is a Micro-ATX board it is aimed at the consumer that might not want a massive case, but a more discreet gaming PC.
The Sniper M3 has been graced with Intel's new Z77 chipset which was out earlier this year, and when you compare similar boards from both Asus and ASrock, it is also the cheaper out of the three, but this does not mean that Gigabyte have slimmed down the motherboard, not at all!
Sniper looks great on paper with HDMI, DVI and VGA all on board waiting for that Ivy Bridge CPU with its integrated GPU. I will be using the Core i7-3770 in this review. In total the Sniper M3 has the following I/O connectors:
Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 mATX Gaming Motherboard - Rear I/O
- 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port
- 1 x D-Sub port
- 1 x DVI-D port
- 1 x HDMI port
- 1 x DisplayPort
- 1 x eSATA 3Gb/s connector
- 2 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports
- 4 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
- 1 x Gigabit LAN port
- 1 x Optical S/PDIF Out connector
- 5 x Audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out, Rear Speaker Out, Line In/Mic In, Line Out, Headphone)
Let's take a look at the board itself, it has:
- 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16
- 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x8
- 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x4
The space between the PCI-E 3.0 slots is generous enough that you could easily fit 2 GPUs for SLi or CrossFire if required, but I doubt that you would be able to fit anything else in there. That being said, who needs to when you have a great onboard sound card provided by Creative's CA0132 SoundCore3D, which I have to say is very impressive due to the superb sound quality.
Regarding memory, I count four DIMM slots in a typical dual-channel configuration. Two slots are green, while the other two are black to stick with the design and style on the rest of the board. The board supports up to 32GB of DDR3 of speeds up to DDR3 2400 (OC).
Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 mATX Gaming Motherboard
It also has 3 SATA II and 2 SATA III connectors, which is pretty standard in Z77 boards, but it is something that I wish they had more of. I find that 4 SATA III connectors would be just right for a motherboard, as 2 SATA II connectors just doesn't cut it in my book.
A little nifty thing that I like is provided by Asmedia. The two TMDS (see wiki for more information about TMDS) hardware that allows the motherboard to output dual display with just one little catch - you can either use DVI or VGA, and DP or HDMI. It is pretty cool feature, but just a little restricted.
One thing that I found missing was the on-board switches like you see on the Asus ROG boards. I understand that once the motherboard is in the case, there is no need use an on switch, but when testing and benching, I always find them useful.
Something that may put you off is the 4 pin connector that supplies the CPU VRM, but as you will find out soon enough it is more than enough to overclock the Core i7-3770 that I had in the board, and it remained stable. I had it running for at least 48 hours, you will not be disappointed with its overclocking potential.
It is a good point to discuss the overclock that I got out of this board. I was using a Corsair H50 that I had lying around to test the overclock, but I think that a decent air cooler would definitely provide a good overclock.
It was very easy to overclock using this board and chip, as the chip is known the be a very good overclocker and I was able to get a overclock of 4.2 GHz. I would have pushed it some more but it was starting to get a little toasty for my liking with temperatures under load of around 60 – 70°C. However, with a good watercooling system I think that you could push this CPU and board over 5GHz without too much trouble in the BIOS.
Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 mATX Gaming Motherboard - Overclock & CPUz Results.
Talking about the BIOS, not a fan, but don't be fooled by Gigabyte trying to pass off its 3D interface as 3D, it's a nice way for them to get a sticker on your box but nothing else, nice face image with a bit of highlighting, nothing useful for us, I recommend going straight to the advanced options.
Though I'm not a huge fan of the BIOS, using it to overclock was very easy. I had Sniper M3 a good 4.2GHz overclock with our Core i7-3770 – this demonstrates some good overclocking can be had out of this board.
Navigation was puzzling to get around, and trying to find some of the options in the BIOS meant I had to refer to the manual, or just take a good 15 minutes to find things. Nevertheless, the BIOS is very stable and never had any problems after learning my way around.
In conclusion, this board raises the bar for MATX gaming motherboards, even with the confusing at times BIOS, and the colour scheme that doesn't appeal to me. The board itself is a great overclocker, and very stable, couple this with the price that Gigabyte has these Z77 boards selling at, more established MATX gaming motherboards should be looking over their shoulders.