G1 Sniper M3 Motherboard Hands On Review
With the NDA over, now is the time to share the Gigabyte G1 Sniper M3 review. This is the mATX version of the G1 sniper 3 which is the Full ATX version.
We’ll go thru several key features of the board and then some benchmarks, to test the functionality and “overclockability” of this small motherboard. The box is noticeably smaller than the other boards available in the den but does contain some eye candy (given the box design) in our opinion. It lists several key features of the board and displays Gigabytes Gaming Series Logo.
This probably is the smallest motherboard I have seen in the bartman’s den. All of his boards are full ATX. By simply looking at the board, I was told that there are 3 physical x16 slots. The first slot is the x16 where the graphics cards are usually placed. The next x16 slot is actually running only at x4 linkwidth while the last x16 slot will only run at x8.
There are 4 SATA ports in 90 degrees. The white SATA ports are the 6Gbs while the black ones are the SATA 3Gbps. There is one additional SATA located at the lower portion of the board which is also a SATA 3Gbps.
The front panel header is the conventional header from Gigabyte. You can’t go wrong with this as they are properly labeled. There are 3 USB 3.0 headers which is equivalent to 6 USB ports. F_USB1 supports the Gigabyte’s On-Off Charger.
This will not belong to the G1 series if the audio is just an ordinary chip. Gigabyte included a Creative CA0132 chip which actually supports Recon3Di. This chip accelerates THX Studio Pro and comes with Crystal voice processing. There is also a built-in front audio amplifier to ensure that even if you are using the front audio in your casing, you will still get the best sound quality a motherboard can give.
We do not know yet what we can say about the LAN of the card. The bartman is still using his G1 Sniper 1 motherboard that comes with Big Foot LAN and we all notice that there really is no lag with this. The Sniper M3 comes with Intel Gigabit LAN. As per the manual, this Intel Gigabyte Network comes with cFosSpeed which is the industry leading bandwidth accelerator. No reaction can be given yet on this area as again we have not yet tested the network capability of the board.
Gigabyte ensures that the users will be well protected if something happens to the BIOS especially when you are trying to update it. Even with just a mATX motherboard, Gigabyte still comes with a dual BIOS.
The Z77 chipset on this board is just below the simple heatsink provided by Gigabyte. To be honest, when the system is running at full overclock speed, we noticed that the heatsink is pretty hot and needed a small 30mm fan to cool it down. The story is most likely different with its big brother (G1 Sniper 3) as it has a heatpipe loop.
Moving on to the processor area, we can see that the area is clear and free of obstructions. Gigabyte has been doing a pretty good job on this in all of their boards. Putting large heatsinks will not be a problem and neither will extreme cooling. Insulation will be fairly easy as there are only limited components surrounding the processor area.
The VRM area is also covered with just a small heatsink. When overclocked, the heatsink also gets hot but not extremely hot. Maybe the design of the heatsink is simple but it does a pretty good job for an mATX board.
The board supports Dual Channel RAM configuration which is the standard for both Sandybridge and IvyBridge processors.
Moving on to the Rear I/O. The board comes with 4 USB 2.0 slots and 2 USB 3.0 slots, a PS2 port that can be used for either KB or mouse, a VGA, DVI, HDMI and the new display port. There is also one Esata available which is part of the total 6 SATA supported by the Z77 chipset. The Intel LAN and audio cables are also present along with the optical out of the board.
On with the benchmarks, below will be the configuration that we will be using. Comparison between 2600K and 3770K will be done. This is for the readers who are still undecided if they will be keeping their 2600k or will upgrade immediately to 3770K.
Processor : 2600K and 3770K
Motherboard : G1 Sniper M3
RAM: Gskill 2400 CL11 ram
Power Supply : Gigabyte 1200W SUMO
SSD : OCZ vertex 3 Graphics Card :
Built it intel HD graphics.
Test Results :
Spi1m 2600k Stock
Spi1m 2600k OC
Spi1m 3770k stock
Spi1m 3770k OC
Spi32m 2600k Stock
Spi32m 2600k OC
Spi32m 3770k stock
Spi32m 3770k OC
Heaven 2600k Stock
Heaven 2600k OC
Heaven 3770k stock
Heaven 3770k OC
Cinebench 2600k Stock
Cinebench 2600k OC
Cinebench 3770k stock
Cinebench 3770k OC
Conclusion: For a mATX board, this G1 sniper has a lot to offer. The first thing we love is the creative chip on the board. The layout of the processor side is very advantageous as the enthusiast will not have a hard time insulating the board when doing extreme overclocking. The RAM support is pretty good as well. In fact if we look closely our Gskill 2400Mhz RAM was able to do 2600 by simply setting the RAM voltage to 1.68V. The processor can easily do 4.8Ghz without very little effort of overclocking. Just bump the voltage up and change the multiplier and you are all set.
Benchmark scores are pretty close except for cinebench and uniengine heaven benchmarks. This is because the 3770K comes with a better built in graphics.
On the other hand, we think that Gigabyte should have still included a power, reset and clear CMOS button. These add-ons are pretty essential nowadays with the overclocker. It could have also been better if the heatsinks were a bit bigger. When the system is running at 4.8Ghz, they tend to get hot and a small fan is needed to cool them down. But at 4Ghz and below, heat is not a problem.
On the overall, this board is recommended to people who would want to move to a Z77 based setup. It will be a small form factor but still very powerful system if paired with the 3770K processor and a good graphics card.