GIGABYTE G1.Sniper 5 LGA 1150 Motherboard Review

We evaluate GIGABYTE’s G1.Sniper 5 in an attempt to see if GIGABYTE hit the target or missed its mark. It comes prepared to water cool the chipset as well as a robust air cooling system on the motherboard's power components if you wish to go sans water. Along with 9 fan headers down on the PCB, it should support about any cooling you want.

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Subsystem Testing

NOTE: For all Subsystem Testing, an Intel Core i7 4770K (3.5GHz) and 2 x 4GB Corsair Vengeance (2400MHz DDR3 10-12-12-31@1.65v) memory modules running at DDR3 1600MHz speeds (stock testing, 2400MHz overclocked) were used. The CPU was cooled with a Koolance Exos 2.5 and CPU-370 water block.

Sound Hardware

When it comes to sound hardware the G1.Sniper 5 distinguishes itself even against the likes of ASUS’ Republic of Gamers lineup. The basic design principles between the two are vaguely similar. Both have an isolated PCB which separates the audio components from the rest of the motherboard electrical system as much as possible. Both have headphone amplifiers and dedicated, purpose built audio capacitors. What makes the G1.Sniper 5 stand out is the inclusion of a Creative Labs Core 3D processor and a replaceable OP-AMP. You practically get a Sound Blaster Recon 3D card down on the PCB. All the audio connectors are gold plated and GIGABYTE even goes one step further than the other guys providing two OP-AMPs in the box. An IC extractor is also included so you have all the tools you need to make the switch.

The following specifications were taken from GIGABYTE’s website:

1.Creativeآ® Sound Core 3D chip

2.Support for Sound Blaster Recon3Di

3.High Definition Audio

4.2/5.1-channel

5.Support for S/PDIF Out

I tested the audio with both OP-AMPs. On the stock one I thought the bass was a bit lacking but the overall sound quality was good. With the second OP-AMP the bass was much improved but the midrange sounds were almost muffled. I tried this with a few different songs in my MP3 library and this seemed to be universally true regardless of what I was listening to.

Audio آ– Subjective Listening

For subjective listening you want to listen to something that covers a range of sound types. For this portion of the review I went with Five Finger Death Punch’s American Capitalist CD.

CD audio was flawless, and if it hadn’t been I’d have been scared.

Audio آ– Microphone Port Testing

The onboard audio MIC-IN port was tested using a Logitech Internet Chat Headset. Spoken words were recorded from the Windows Sound Recorder found under the Accessories folder in the start menu within Windows. The recording was using the highest quality settings available in the control panel for the audio device being used to record.

The recording sample was audible with the microphone boost option enabled or disabled. Both samples were relatively clear though there was a brief pop in the playback of the sample that had the boost option enabled only once. It is possible there was a wiring fault in the headset as I did catch my cat chewing on the cable briefly but I wasn’t able to duplicate the noise after a couple of tries. Also it’s worth noting that the OP-AMP didn’t seem to change anything with regard to recording quality.

DPC Latency

Deferred procedure call latency or DPC testing is something that we’ve been asked about and this is the first article we’ve done which integrates that type of testing. For those who may not know what DPC is I’ll explain. Deferred procedure calls are a function within Windows that allows higher priority tasks such as device drivers to defer lower priority tasks for execution at later times. It’s an interrupt and reassignment of sorts performed by the operating system.

DPC latency varies from board model to model and brand to brand. DPC issues show up in the form of audio dropouts and streaming video issues. Naturally this is something that the enthusiast would want to avoid. Fortunately there is a nice tool for checking this which doesn’t even require and installer. I used the DPC Latency Checker and let it run for 10 minutes to graph the results.

I thought it necessary to look at some systems which I wouldn’t have suspected of having any DPC latency issues around my house to get some baseline numbers for comparison. The utility graphs out the data nicely and tells you what your latency results mean in terms of the real world problems you might encounter with the current system configuration. I went with my own personal machine which uses the ASUS Rampage IV Extreme motherboard.

ASUS Rampage IV Extreme

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Our baseline system has an absolute maximum DPC latency of 174آµs. This means that you shouldn’t experience any drop out issues with audio or video on this system.

G1.Sniper 5

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At first glance the graph is good showing a reasonable DPC latency. However at some point not captured in the visual graph the DPC latency did reach 1415آµs which is not good. I let this one sit for awhile and monitored it and though I saw spikes in the low 300آµs range I never saw the results go above 1000آµs much less break 1400آµs.

Drive Performance

To test the capabilities of the on board USB 2.0 connections, we used an ACOMDATA HD060U2FE-72-USB 2.0/FireWire HDD connected first to the USB port. USB 3.0 functionality was tested using a Super Talent USB 3.0 SuperCrypt 32GB Flash Drive. SATA drive tests were performed using Western Digital Caviar Black WD1002FAEX hard drives on all SATA headers. The SATA drives were used for testing in RAID 0 16k block size configurations on all applicable controllers. Testing was also conducted using the same model SATA drives in a stand-alone SATA configuration on all applicable controllers. All drive benchmarks were done using the freely available CrystalDiskMark 3.0 program, run with both 50MB and 100MB sized test sets.

Given that boards are now supporting UASP and various USB 3.0 boost methods on many models, we’ve updated our testing methodology to include a UASP test. The USB 3.0 implementation that some manufacturers are using does allow for a performance boost with non-UASP compliant hardware as you’ll see using what these companies call "turbo" mode. Granted the difference isn’t as pronounced as it is when enabling UASP on a device that supports it. The USB 3.0 Flash drive tests are essentially the same as these have always been since we started doing these tests, but with the added turbo mode test to showcase the feature in action. The USB 3.0 SSD UASP Enabled / Disabled tests are utilizing a Corsair Force GT 60GB SATA 3 SSD plugged into a Thermaltake BlacX 5G docking port which uses a USB 3.0 connection. This device was selected due to having UASP compatible firmware.

The G1.Sniper 5 has two storage controllers. There is the Intel Z87 Express chipset itself and the Marvell 9230 which increases the total number of SATA ports from 6 to 10. All these ports are SATA 6Gb/s capable. The 9230 is also capable of RAID 0, 1, and RAID 10 modes while the Intel controller is far more robust. It is able to do RAID 0, 1, 5, RAID 10 and do so in a larger range of stripe sizes. Up to 8x USB 3.0 ports are provided by a combination of the Z87 Express chipset and a pair of Renesasآ® uPD720210 HUBs.

50MB Test Set

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In the 50MB sequential read test the standalone AHCI results, were comparable with the RAID controllers also being more or less in the same range. The Marvell controller did achieve a slightly better result. The USB results were within expectations. In the 50MB sequential write test the Intel controller achieved the best results, though again RAID 0 test results were close for both controllers. AHCI standalone tests were similar with the edge going to the Intel controller as expected. Again USB results were within their expected ranges.

100MB Test Set

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In the 100MB sequential read test the AHCI results heavily favored the Intel controller, but there was a reversal in the performance figures for the RAID 0 test configuration. USB results were again no surprise. In the 100MB sequential test the AHCI results were almost identical and again the Marvell 9230 actually outpaced the Intel controller.

Network Utilization Tests

LAN Speed Test software was used with Windows Task Manager to determine the performance levels of the onboard network interface. LAN Speed Test was used to measure bandwidth and transfer speeds, while Windows Task Manager monitored CPU utilization on the test system. For the testing, a 800MB file test was used with the default packet configuration for the application. The test was run three times with the middle result chosen. Results were captured for the low, medium and high transfer rates. The test was performed using a plenum rated category 5e crossover cable to bypass any traffic, routing or other transfer issues and possible packet loss or corruption that can be caused by a router/switch or hub. The cables were connected between two test machines, one using the onboard NIC(s) of the board being reviewed and the other is an Intel EXPI9400PT 10/100/1000Mbps PCI-Express Gigabit Ethernet adapter installed into a test machine using an Intel D5400XS motherboard.

Wireless network testing, if applicable was performed using an AdHoc connection between the review system and my own machine based on equipped with an Atheros AR9002WB-1NG wireless adapter which is integrated into my ASUS Rampage III Black Edition motherboard. The control panel used all the default settings save for the AdHoc 11N setting which was enabled on both systems.

The G1.Sniper 5 has three networking solutions. First there is the Qualcomm Atheros Killer NIC E2200 and an Intel i217v Ethernet controller. Teaming isn’t supported due to the vast hardware differences. These wired solutions are capable of 10/100/1000Mbit speeds. The third solution is a wireless device based on an Atheros AR5B22. It is compliant with the Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n standards and also supports 2.4/5 GHz Dual-Band, Bluetooth 4.0, and 3.0+HS, 2.1+EDR.

LAN1 (Killer NIC E2200)

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The average write speed for this solution was 30.21MB/s. The average read speed was 44.11MB/s. The maximum write speed was 45.11MB/s while the maximum read speed reached as high as 44.83MB/s. The minimum write speed was 23.34MB/s with the read speed hitting 43.51MB/s. CPU usage during the write tests spiked hard on occasion but generally settled around 2%. In the read test the CPU usage spiked allot harder than in the write test but usually settled at around 3%.

LAN2 (Intel i217v)

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The average write speed was 26.21MB/s while the read was 43.90MB/s. The maximum write speed climbed to 36.96MB/s and the read speed hit 44.93MB/s. The minimum write speed was a fairly low 20.94MB/s but the minimum read speed was pretty close to the maximum at 42.85MB/s. CPU usage was all over the place at times during the write test on some cores but settled around 3%. In the read test the CPU usage often read almost nothing but there were some occasional spikes.

WLAN (Atheros AR5B22)

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The average write speed for this controller was 7.33MB/s with an average read speed of 9.19MB/s. The maximum write speed was 8.27MB/s and the maximum read speed reached 9.45MB/s. Lastly the minimum write speed was 6.38MB/s with a read speed of 9.00MB/s. The write speed CPU usage was a very low 2% with few spikes above that. The read test CPU utilization was 2%, but there were almost no spikes at all.

Benchmark Test Systems

The following system configurations were used for the Sandra memory benchmark graph, as well as all graphs listed under the Application and Gaming Benchmarks sections:

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SiSoft Sandra

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Note that all results above were obtained running the installed memory in dual channel mode with one exception. The ASUS X79 Deluxe test was run in quad-channel mode.

The G1.Sniper 5 did well here but didn’t top the chart.

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The G1.Sniper 5 did amazingly well in this test as we have seen some other motherboards do in the past as well. This is rather an anomaly we have begun to see with this test. It does not represent an actual processing advantage.

Hyper Pi

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The score of 8.001 was roughly middle of the road in this test.

wPrime

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The result scored by the G1.Sniper 5 in this test of 5.866 is very competitive.