G1.Sniper 3 Review - Layout and Design

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Layout and Design:

 

G1.Sniper 3 Review

 The G1 Killer series motherboards are always well laid out. They GPU spacing is always at optimal levels, and since the G1.Assassin(X58) GIGABYTE has made sure to not make any of them ATX-XL which would require a special sized case. Instead boards like the G1.Sniper 3(Z77) and G1.Assassin 2(X79) are designed in the Extended-ATX (EATX) form factor. The EATX form factor is the same length as the ATX form factor but slightly wider, which shouldn’t pose a problem to 99% of ATX cases as most of the time, present included, the EATX boards don’t require extra screw holes.

 

G1.Sniper 3 Review

 The VRM is made up of 15 phases, 12 phases provide VCore for the CPU, 1 phase provides the VCCIO(VTT) and VCCSA(IMC) outputs for the CPU system agent and memory controller, and 2 phases provide the iGPU voltage. The G1.Sniper3 also has a PLX8747 which takes 16X PCI-E 3.0 lanes from the CPU’s PCI-E controller and provides the GPU/PCI-E slots with 32X PCI-E 3.0 lanes. As you can see there are 3 fan headers in the upper half of the Sniper 3, the two on either side of the CPU socket are tied together in the BIOS for PWM fan control and work off of the CPU temperature. This is great if you are going to use both fan headers to power cooling fans for the CPU’s heatsink, which most people will no doubt take advantage of. The VRM heatsinks are of a one piece design, and this limits their styling, but also helps make them much better at cooling components. The memory DIMMs are color coded to help users determine where to put their modules (use green slots first). There is also an OC area which will be discussed a bit later. We also have one more thing of interest, the USB 3.0 internal connector is well situated right behind the ATX 24-pin connector, which works great with the front panel bay, as it is in an optimal position.

 

G1.Sniper 3 Review

 Here we see the PCI-E slots, which are laid out for 4-way SLI/CF and can do 4-slot spacing for 2-way SLI/CF. There are 10 total internal SATA ports; two white are Intel SATA6GB’s, four black are Intel SATA3GB’s, and 4 gray are Marvell SATA6GB/s. GIGABYTE has also provided an SATA power connector, this power connector provides the PCI-E 16x slots with extra power for larger multi-GPU arrays. We also see an mSATA connector, as well as a bunch of internal headers. There is also a PCI slot which is not native to the Z77 PCH, but is provided for users who have PCI sound cards. There is a dual BIOS switch, which can be used to switch between two BIOSes.


Sin’s Take: The position of the front panel headers should be switched with the position of the TPM module connector, making it easier for the jumpers to reach, as I know many more people use the front panel headers than the TPM header.

 

G1.Sniper 3 Review

 I made this picture for those who want to know what the G1.Sniper 3 has to offer in terms of overclocking features, and there are many. Just like the UD5H and UD3H the G1.Sniper 3 possesses buttons (power, reset, and clear CMOS), voltage read points, and a POST Code display. The location of these buttons is optimal for any extreme overclocker as the features won’t be covered by GPUs and most benchers bench with their boards positioned horizontally, not vertically which means this little OC area is in a perfect position as the user is closer to the CPU for extreme cooling while also being able to monitor each GPU. The Dual BIOS switch is in a bit of an odd position; I would prefer it closer to the rest of the OC features. The PCI-E power connector (SATA power) is in a very good position as well, easily accessible and it doesn’t get in the way of the GPUs. The strong VRM on the Sniper 3 is identical to that of the UD5H.


Sin’s Take: This is the first G1 Killer motherboard which has OC features, and that is a big deal as GIGABYTE is blending the gaming and overclocking board a bit more than before. Only time will tell where this will lead us.

 

G1.Sniper 3 Review

 Here we have the specialized G1 Killer features, the Creative chip and the Bigfoot chip. Now if you can’t spot the creative chip, it is that little IC in the center of the picture, now unlike many other motherboards, the G1 Sniper 3 actually has a real Creative chipset, in this case the Recon3Di (CA0132). This little chip replaces the XF-I provided by the CA20K2 as well as all the other components like external DACs and ADCs. However GIGABYTE has provided on-board line drivers which are amplifiers. GIAGBYTE also provided a few Nichicon MUSE series audio capacitors and an EMI shield. Now it is safe to say that if a motherboard on the market currently for Z77 says that it has XF-I, then you can automatically assume they are referring to software emulation with a Realtek ALC892 or ALC898, the Z77X-UD5H and Maximus 5 Gene both have this software emulation with ALC898 ICs. However now that the G1 Killer series is using Core3D/Recond3Di, Core3D isn’t even in the XF-I family, and it has its own software suite.


BigFoot Networks(BFN) was bought out by Qualcomm/Atheros and since has come about a redesign, such that the BigFoot IC is a tiny IC with a “K” written on it. It is a miniaturized e2200, and is referred to as the e2201. The new IC reduces implementation and component costs and carries the same features and software.

Sin’s Take: A lot of people have some doubts about how the Core3D audio performs, so I have run some tests on the IC to see how it does in RMAA 5.5.

 

G1.Sniper 3 Review

 The only way to get 4-way GPU compatibility into an EATX form factor motherboard is to push the first 16X in the upper most position it can be, however that creates an issue for changing out memory modules while the first GPU is in the slot. On the G1.Sniper 3 this doesn’t seem to be an issue however, as I think GIGABYTE moved the DIMMs slightly north to compensate, and I can actually change out my DIMMs with a long GPU installed. Also users need not to worry about any interference with motherboard design and filling up all the GPU slots, as the board has been designed to accommodate GPUs in every slot.

 

G1.Sniper 3 Review

 The backside of the motherboard carries 1/3 of the MOSFETs used for the CPU and iGPU VRMs. The reason being because GIAGBYTE has used 3-MOSFETs per phase to increase power output and decrease temperatures, by putting an extra MOSFET on the back of the motherboard, and heat load is more evenly spread internally through the 2oz of copper in the PCB. Do not worry about these MOSFETs, they do not get hot, even under heavily overclocking. Users will be relieved to know that the heatsink hold down is done very nicely by screws and washers opposed to plastic push pins.


Let’s take a look at the heatsinks:

 

G1.Sniper 3 Review

 The heatsink design is very conservative, so as to attract a larger target audience. Perhaps GIGABYTE figured that the guns only attracted a smaller target audience, and thus adopted more widely accepted designs. You will notice that these heatsinks are the same style as those used on the Z77X-UD5H, except here they are a majority black, which makes them much more visually appealing. The neon green is a nice touch with the slots and DIMMs being color coordinated with the heatsinks. The gold/orange skull and knife actually match the color of the dual BIOS LEDs and the power button.

 

G1.Sniper 3 Review

 The paste on the PLX heatsink actually surprised me, maybe because it was actual paste, but it isn’t bad, and it is paste not a pad. Same goes for the PCH.

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