Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5 Z87 Motherboard Review

Author: AkG
Date: January 5, 2014
Product Name: G1.Sniper 5
Part Number: G1.Sniper 5
Warranty: 3 Years
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GIGABYTE’s G1 series has been one of the most highly regarded on the market for a number of generations now and if anything, time has allowed it to mature like a fine wine. Not only is the G1.Sniper 5 altogether more mature than its predecessors but with a wide ranging feature set that includes some must-have additions and a well implemented, gamer-focused design. The end result is easily the best G1 motherboard Gigabyte has ever produced and arguably one of the best LGA 1150 ‘gaming’ orientated motherboard’s available today.

There’s no denying the G1.Sniper 5 is an expensive motherboard that costs more than the CPUs it’s supposed to backstop but cost isn’t the dead weight it was in previous generations. This new model is perfectly suited for a wide range of scenarios and its high asking price is surprisingly easy to justify. No matter what standards for excellence you use, be they hardware, software, PC gaming abilities, overclocking abilities or any combination thereof, the Sniper 5 will surely impress.

On the hardware side of things GIGABYTE has packed their newest board with features which work together to create an experience suited for just about anyone. For example, the dual Intel + Killer NIC networking controllers, ten SATA 6Gb/s ports and dual front USB 3.0 internal headers are sure to satisfy those looking for a litany of connectivity options. Meanwhile, the innovative onboard audio solution with its AMP-UP feature is easily one of the best and most adaptable we’ve come across in recent memory. It actually has the capability to run neck and neck with most mid-range dedicated sound cards in the soundstage quality department.

The PLX chipset is another significant addition and allows the Sniper 5 to become one of a select few LGA1150 motherboards to support quad graphics card setups across four x8 PCI-E 3.0 slots or dual GPUs across two x16 lanes. On paper there is a small amount of latency caused by this non-native implementation but the actual impact upon framerates will be slim to none.

On the software side of the equation GIGABYTE’s APP software suite is user-friendly, surprisingly powerful and offers a wonderful amount of customizable. It may not be the absolute best we’ve come across, but it is in another league compared to what most typical ‘gaming’ motherboards offer. The same holds true of the customizable BIOS as it is not only head and shoulders above the competition but can actually be useful for seasoned overclockers.

Even the overclocking abilities of the Sniper 5 are impressive. While its 16 phase digital power system may not be able to go toe to toe with the Gigabyte OC Force or MSI XPower II’s of the world, its potential will be more than capable of bottlenecking even high end ‘off the shelf’ air or water CPU cooling solutions. Sure, the auto-overclocking options could have included a built in stress testing feature and a bit more granularity but it’s hard to argue against a perfectly stable 4.5GHz overclock with the press of a single button.

Is the GIGABYTE G1.Sniper 5 a perfect motherboard? Not quite since there are a still a few areas that need some improvement. For a motherboard that costs this much, we would have hoped for a 5 year warranty rather than the anemic 3 years of coverage. In addition, while the addition of two in-box options the stand-alone AMP UP kit is outrageously priced considering the total cost of its three op-amps is less than $40 should they be purchased separately. In our view, they should have simply been bundled alongside the board. We also found ourselves wishing for a properly positioned Clear CMOS button; its current location next to the reset button can lead to some serious missteps.

The G1.Sniper 5 may be the very definition of feature overkill but it also provides a first class experience for just about anyone looking for a system upgrade that will last for years. Sure, the cost of entry is extreme but if you are looking for a premium motherboard it deserves serious consideration provided your case supports its E-ATX form factor.


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