G1.Sniper 3 Review - Circuit Analysis

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Circuit Analysis
For this segment of the review we have the board naked:

 

G1.Sniper 3 Review

 Circuit Analysis:

 First of all here is the manual’s depiction of the motherboard’s connections:

G1.Sniper 3 Review

 

 A lot of people never open the manual, but there is much you can learn, GIGABYTE isn’t shy to people knowing how everything is connected.

G1.Sniper 3 Review

 The first thing I will talk about is my favorite, the voltage regulators. I don’t know why I like them so much, perhaps because there is so much variety and it reflects upon the build quality of the board. GIGABYTE has nothing to hide in this respect, the VRM is extremely powerful. Below is a list of the parts used:

 

G1.Sniper 3 Review

 

 On the Z77X-UD5H and the G1.Sniper 3, the IR3598 is used in doubler mode, effectively cutting maximum switching frequency to 600KHz, which is more than enough to facilitate WR overclocking. The GIGABYTE Z77 VRMs are extremely strong, run extremely cool, and have extremely good voltage regulation. GIGABYTE’s build quality shines through like rays of sunshine on a rainy day when it comes to the VRM.

G1.Sniper 3 Review

 That is how 16X PCI-E 3.0 can be changed to 32X PCI-E 3.0 and divvied up between 4 slots to provided 2-way at 16x/16x PCI-E 3.0, 3-way at 16x/8x/8x PCI-E 3.0, and 4-way at 8x,8x,8x,8x PCI-E 3.0.


Ways to implement PLX8747 and their Pros and Cons.
There is more than one way to implement a PLX8747 and produce different performance results, there are three options or actually 4 that come to mind.
1.Direct connect: All CPU lanes to PLX, and then to all slots. Pros: simple and effective, produces best multi-GPU results. Cons: Single card performance lower than without PLX.

2.Half Connect: 8x of the CPU’s PCI-E lanes are connected directly to the first PCI-E 16x slot, with the rest going to the PLX (still outputting 32x lanes even from 8x). This method can be used to help single card performance and also increase marketing by allowing the manufacturer to state that the board will have 8x more lanes than other boards with PLX, that is because the PLX will output 32x lanes whether you provide it 8x or 16x. Pros: Single card performance helped. Cons: Multi GPU (3 or more) performance may be hurt because PLX might have more delay than normal because of fewer lanes provided to it.

3.Single lane bypass: This method can give you the best of both worlds, it allows for one 16x slot or the PLX to get all the 16x lanes from the CPU at once. So one slot, can take all the CPU’s lanes, and then all the other PCI-E 16x slots will be disabled, or the PLX takes all lanes. This brings back single card performance to its best, and also provides the best multi-GPU performance from the PLX. Pros: best of both worlds, Cons: space for the switches, cost, and layout considerations.

The G1.Sniper 3 uses the direct connect implementation where all lanes go to the PLX.

 

G1.Sniper 3 Review

 The PLX8747 is a very new IC, used on any Z77 board which has PCI-E 3.0 and more than 16X PCI-E 3.0 lanes for the CPU; it is a novice in its field. It hinders the BCLK OC by ~1 MHz the maximum, I was able to reach 114.38 MHz, opposed to slightly more than 115 MHz on the UD5H, UD3H, and Sniper M3. So it is more than enough for anyone, even extreme benchers, as 7GHz (which is like winning the lottery) can be hit with 63x, 62x, or 61x 114MHz.


It isn’t as mature as the NF200, so support for it is pretty new, yet seems to be fine. I was able to run SLI without issues (two GTX570s), and before I had run 7970s in multi GPU configurations without too much issue. However if you are going to OC the BCLK, then the 7970s need to be run in PCI-E 2.0 mode.

Below is a list of the more interesting ICs on the motherboard, dealing with the audio and NICs.

 

G1.Sniper 3 Review

 We can see that GIGABYTE listened to its users because a lot of users asked for Intel NIC instead of BigFoot, so GIGABYTE included both! That is their way to please everyone, and bring in a new crowd who want dual NICs.

 

G1.Sniper 3 Review

 Here is a list of all the connectivity ICs on this board, all 8 PCI-E 2.0 lanes from the PCH itself are being used, and the VIA 1394a controller works off of one of the PCI outputs from the iTE8892E which provides PCI from PCI-E. That way GIGABYTE saves an extra PCI-E 1x lane for something else, and doesn’t waste an extra PCI lane. That is smart thinking, as I have seen other manufacturers not be that efficient in their designs, for instance using a PLX 4x chip to help consolidate 6 PCI-E 2.0 1x connections into 4x PCI-E 2.0 lanes as they had run out of PCI-E 2.0 1x lanes.


Here is how the USB 3.0 is done, as you are probably wondering how GIGABYTE is taking 4 native USB 3.0 ports and making them 10.

 

G1.Sniper 3 Review

 Now you might be thinking, hubs? Is that going to hurt performance? The truth is I tested with an SSD and USB 3.0 external drive enclosure. Let’s just say that while the other Z77 boards I tested topped out around 205-210mb/s the Sniper 3 was faster at around 225MB/s and that was using the internal header which uses the hub. If you fill the ports up, I am sure it might slow down. I wouldn’t worry, as I believe the G1.Sniper 3 has faster USB 3.0 than any other GIGABYTE Z77 board, perhaps its BIOS is more attuned to it. USB 3.0 tests are shown later in this review.



Below is the Z77 PCH:

 

G1.Sniper 3 Review

 The Z77 PCH, BD82Z77 (SLJC7) Platform Controller Hub (PCH), has a 6.7W TDP which is 0.6W higher than the Z68 PCH! This would account for the higher PCH temperature readings from the Z77 PCH; however this is nothing to be alarmed about. This PCH seems very capable of dealing with a heatsink with no active cooling. Compared to the Z68 chipset, the new Z77 chipset has the same number of SATA 6GB/s ports. In fact most everything is the same except for the fact that the Z77 Chipset new supports 3 independent displays, USB 3.0, and some newer Intel technologies like Rapid Start and Rapid Connect. The Z77 PCH provides 4 native USB 3.0 ports, which Intel says cannot work in Windows XP or Vista as USB 3.0, so users much switch their xHCI mode to “auto” from “smart auto”. This is very simple to do in the UEFI under the integrated peripherals section in advanced mode.

 

G1.Sniper 3 Review

 Here are the random extra ICs that didn’t fit in on the other two charts.

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