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HARDWARE

Full-ATX Motherboard Gigabyte G1-SNIPER A88X

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Gigabyte’s sniper series is all about gaming. Does that make for an awkward fit with any system based on AMD’S Kaveri APU? After all, it’s not exactly a gaming beast.

GIGABYTE G1-Killer series motherboards are packed with absolutely everything
you'll need to build an uncompromising, high-performance gaming PC.

However, pretty much our whole pitch this issue is that Kaveri makes a lot of sense for a certain kind of console-ish gaming box, and if that’s your aim, a gaming-centric board has to be appealing. What’s more, you’re not paying much, or maybe even anything, for the privilege since the only board here that’s significantly cheaper is Gigabyte’s sibling rival, the bargain basement F2A88XM-DS2.

So what does gaming-centric mean for an FM2+ motherboard? First, it’s a full-sized ATX board with four DIMM slots, allowing for a few more memory configuration options compared to the SFF alternatives. Even more significantly, there are two physical PCI express 16-lane slots, enabling dual-graphics crossfire gaming. You could question the viability of Kaveri for high-end dual-GPU gaming, but you can also imagine a scenario a couple of years from now when you’d want to give your rig a gaming boost by adding a second-hand graphics card. It could make sense.

Description:

Featuring a gold plated USB 2.0 port,
GIGABYTE USB DAC-UP provides clean, noise-free power

Another really nice feature is the audio Noise Guard. It’s basically electrostatic insulation for the audio circuit to reduce interference and noise. How much you’ll care about the likes of the swappable OP-AMPs (which allow for different audio amplifier characteristics) is another matter, but this board is clearly the pick of the bunch for audio enthusiasts.

Video-out is well catered for too, with DVI, HDMI and VGA, the former supporting dual-link, and therefore 1600p and 1440p displays. There’s no displayPort, which could be a long-term problem for 4K support, but you always have the option of an add-in 3D card to paper over that crack.

OC letdown

Of course, something has to give at this price point, so enthusiast-friendly frills like led debug displays, on-board power and reset switches and voltage checking points don’t form part of the mix. That said, we expected a strong showing in the CPU core overclocking stakes. The bios has all the CPU-tweaking options, but the 4.2 GHz result is disappointing. Admittedly, that was in our quick and dirty testing. Spend an afternoon fine-tuning the settings and no doubt a better result could be achieved, but other boards given the same treatment managed up to 4.5 GHz. The sniper doesn’t offer easy access to big CPU core frequencies.

For integrated graphics overclocking, we had no problem getting good numbers. Results of 1,000 MHz-plus on the GPU core and 2,400 MHz on the memory side for that much-needed boost in bandwidth are just a few bios tweaks away. We’re not convinced that anyone buying this full-ATX board will want to use Kaveri’s integrated 3D gubbins though, so that might be a moot point.

GIGABYTE motherboards feature GIGABYTE DualBIOS™, an exclusive technology from GIGABYTE that protects arguably one of your PC's most crucial components, the BIOS.

Overall, this feels like the best value of the big ATX boards and runs the ASUS A88X-Pro awfully close. The question is whether the ASUS’ easier access to big CPU overclocks is worth the extra $36, or whether the sniper’s superior audio clinches the deal. The choice is yours.

Specifications:

·         Socket FM2+ supports AMD FM2+/FM2 A-series APU

·         GIGABYTE Ultra Durable™ 4 Plus Technology

·         GIGABYTE UEFI DualBIOS™

·         GIGABYTE AMP-UP Audio technology

·         Exclusive Upgradable OP-AMP

·         Exclusive Gain Boost

·         Audio Noise Guard with LED path lighting

·         Nichicon High End Audio Capacitors

·         Noise-less USB DAC-UP port

·         2way CrossFire™ Support

·         HDMI, Dual-link DVI, D-sub ports for Triple-Monitor support

·         High ESD Protection on GbE LAN and USB ports

·         Realtek ALC898 with High Quality 110dB SNR HD audio

·         Bundle CFOS Speed Internet Accelerator Software

 

 

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