GIGABYTE G1.Sniper Z87 Review

by Ian Cutress on 2/24/2014 2:00 PM EST
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  • darthscsi - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    I continue to wish MBs would put a pair of RCA ports for the front speakers rather than mess of 3.5mm connectors for 7.1. Optimize for the common (and most important) case. Reply
  • Flunk - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    I don't think RCA are common at all. Reply
  • WithoutWeakness - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    RCA isn't nearly as common as 3.5mm in a desktop environment and if someone is planning on running out to a receiver they should probably be using the optical or digital output anyway. Adding RCA outputs on top of those 2 options is unnecessary. Reply
  • Samus - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    I actually agree with darthscsi. The market for this board is obvious, and with the attention given to audio performance, RCA would make a lot more sense than 7.1 3.5mm analog connections, especially when taking into account the swap-able OP-AMP is only for 2 channel stereo.

    Many T-AMP's from M-AUDIO, Dayton, Tripath, and so on, have RCA inputs that you annoyingly need to use a 3.5mm to RCA cable to connect. At a low level, 3.5mm is inferior to RCA at noise suppression while supporting shorter distance runs and less durability.

    http://www.amazon.com/Dayton-Audio-DTA-100a-Class-...
    Reply
  • MadMan007 - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    If you really care about audio you'll only use the onboard audio as a digital transport with an external DAC. Reply
  • Sancus - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    What would you use RCA for? If you have a serious audio setup, you'll have a separate receiver/amplifier and you definitely don't want to be using the DAC in the motherboard in that case, you'll either want digital out to the receiver directly, or digital out a separate, high-end DAC.

    If you have a standard self-amplified desktop speaker setup, you'll have 3.5mm inputs, not RCA.
    Reply
  • Samus - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    The whole point of this motherboards fancy Creative chip is that it has a superior DAC to most sub-$500 receivers. If you have a $3500 Denon, that's a different story... Reply
  • Frolictoo - Sunday, March 02, 2014 - link

    Consider trying out the MAYA44 XTe sound card. You may be pleasantly surprised by the many options offered. The Xte is a professional level sound card and there are many reviews on it. Reply
  • blackmagnum - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    Listening to music on an onboard sound device is like playing a game using an onboard video card: while possible, it's not enjoyable. Reply
  • baal80 - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    Really? I've been using onboard sound since my last Sound Blaster Pro and I really don't see the point in buying a discrete sound card (for casual gaming/using). To each his own, I guess! Reply
  • Flunk - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    Really? I didn't know that discrete GPUs used exactly the same chipsets as onboard GPUs and sometimes even inferior DACs. Oh wait they don't, making your comparison ridiculous and nonsensical. Reply
  • apoe - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    I have used exclusively sound cards for almost a decade. The first time I went from onboard to discrete, I was using a 5.1 system and the difference was massive. Recently I plugged my Beyer DT770s into the onboard (ALC1150) just to see how bad it was... and surprisingly, the audio quality was exactly the same. In fact it was better, since the sound card (HTO Striker) would pick up EM interference resulting in a buzzing noise whenever the frame rate went >140 fps in any game, yet this didn’t happen with the onboard audio. This buzzing under load is apparently still a common problem with discrete cards, which I guess is why some of them have shielding now. Reply
  • Kaihekoa - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    Have you tested this theory recently? The tech has made good progress. In my experience, the biggest difference in sound quality comes from the speakers/headphones these days. Reply
  • Samus - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    Totally, it takes a hell of a pair of phones or speakers to actually measure the SNR difference from one audio codec to another. Most of it comes down to capacitor quality these days since many caps aren't even designed for audio. I've replaced caps with Panasonic FM's and still couldn't tell the difference on my Beats (j/k I wear Grado's) Reply
  • lever_age - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    How are you getting the SNR figure from the graph under the RMAA section? Integrating and A-weighting in your head? Calculating with what?

    For what it's worth, RMAA is supposedly giving you A-weighted noise and dynamic range figures, which should deemphasize ultrasonics. So the figure for the motherboard as-is should be fine... as fine as RMAA is in general (frequently strange, high on bugs, and low on documentation). Though I believe the weightings are not defined above 20 kHz, so I don't know if they just carry through the equations / curves, notch them out for the actual calculation, or just use the weighting for the 20 kHz and extend it out to the ultrasonics.
    Reply
  • popej - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    RMAA can be configured to compute noise and distortion only in range 20-20kHz. And probably this is default setting, so problem simply doesn't exist. Please check your settings.

    And of course an attempt to estimate noise floor from the graph is plain wrong.
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    Have Creative's audio drivers gotten any better in the last 7 years? Their being bad enough in the first part of the prior decade that MS ripped the entire audio sub-system into userland to stop Creative's buggy drivers from BSODing the system is still fresh in my memory; and of more potential concern again now because to improve power management on tablets Win8 has moved the audio sub-system back into the kernel where boggy drivers can crash the system. Reply
  • ViRGE - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    For what it's worth I've been running an X-Fi Titanium for years without any issues. So I'd say their drivers are fine.

    As for Vista, my understanding is that it was Realtek that was BSODing everywhere and was the biggest motivation for the audio stack change, not Creative.
    Reply
  • Nfarce - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    Exactly, ViRGE. I've been usinggg an X-Fi Titanium for nearly 5 years now, bought originally and put into a C2D Duo/Vista gaming build, now being used in a near 3 year old i5/Win7 gaming build. No problems. And the sound blows away Realtek. Sounds like user error to me for this guy. Reply
  • angrypatm - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    I had an X-Fi Titanium and the drivers sucked, and the "critical updates" which would remove the entire program and require full reinstall took longer than loading an O/S -and you had to baby sit through the whole process to click yes or proceed. Afterward, no difference, still clunky and slow, and unreliable. Critical update for a sound card? Never fixed anything. I moved away from Creative to the CMedia based HT Omega Claro Plus, quick uncluttered app, sounds better, and rock solid, NO problems. And creative's crystalizer is btw artificial nonsense. Reply
  • erple2 - Saturday, March 01, 2014 - link

    I've been using an xfi for a while (PCI), but when I finally upgraded in September from a core2duo to haswell, the board didn't have any PCI slots. I got the g1.sniper m5 (same audio setup), and the reduction in noise alone was stunning. What's even more interesting was that the onboard audio on my core2duo sounded worse. At least when I turned up the volume on the xfi the sound wasn't a horrible muddy mush. But I have been very impressed with the subjective audio quality of this onboard sound. Reply
  • apertotes - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    Just a note, and something that I think people should know before buying any Gigabyte motherboard. Their Easy Tune software is great, and works perfectly, but it has 5 global hotkeys non-customizable that grab the total access to "Alt Gr" plus numbers 1-5, meaning that on many non-English keyboard layouts it is impossible to use the following symbols |@#~€. Three of them are used on almost daily basis, so unfortunately many Gigabyte users have had to uninstall Easy Tune.

    It is a shame, because the global hotkeys are undocumented and they appear nowhere on the settings window, so almost nobody uses them. In fact, even I that know about their existence do not use them because I have no way of doing what they do, other than crash the computer a few seconds after they are pressed.

    So, word of warning for non English potential buyers.

    Also, it seems that Gigabyte's technical support knows about this since at least 10 months ago, but they said that they won't change their software for minorities.
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    You'd think regarding everywhere outside of America as a minority would be a sin only practiced by American companies. *sigh* Reply
  • baal80 - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    I have G1 Sniper M.3 and I've never used EasyTune. This software is a piece of crap, IMO. The only reliable way to OC is manually via BIOS. Reply
  • apertotes - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    Well, I have not OC my CPU, but I used Easy Tune to control my fans, and it worked beautifully. It is a shame I can not use it any more. Reply
  • baal80 - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    Ah well, I use SmartFan for that. Reply
  • baal80 - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    Excuse me - I mean SpeedFan, naturally. Reply
  • bleucharm28 - Monday, February 24, 2014 - link

    WoW! is that the Thermalright Ultra 120 in full copper? is so....sexy. Reply
  • dashhbad - Tuesday, February 25, 2014 - link

    It is a shame to see a site like Anandtech that prides itself on objective measurement, pander to audiophile hokum. Switching out Op Amps (rolling as it's known) is a completely pointless exercise that at best is likely to do nothing detectable to the sound and at worst may actually ruin it or damage your equipment. I suppose we can trust that Gigabyte have tested their three Op Amp "Upgrades" such that they don't cause any damage but it would have been fairly straightforward for you to have measured the three options to show that there would be no detectable differences.

    For those interested there is a good breakdown of Op Amp myths and facts (including Rolling) here: http://nwavguy.blogspot.co.uk/2011/08/op-amps-myth...

    When you see that Gigabyte have a MSRP for the op amp kit of $79.99 but all three can easily be bought from Digikey for a total of $22 it is plain to see why they are providing this option. Its a marketing gimmick aimed at a clueless "Audiophile wannabe" crowd. And no, you don't need a tool to remove/replace a socketed op amp.
    Reply
  • edzieba - Tuesday, February 25, 2014 - link

    "Front Audio Headphone Amplifier (600ohm support)"

    This raises a huge flashing red flag, with bells on. What is the measured impedance of the 'headphone output'? Because if they're putting 600ohms out as a marketing figure (rather than advertising a sub-2ohm output), that sounds like the output impedance isn't much below 75ohms. Which is Really Bad: http://nwavguy.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/headphone-am...
    Reply
  • nos024 - Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - link

    Wow, PCI slots on a high-end Z87? Where was this when I wanted PCI slots? Reply
  • Jay77 - Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - link

    Have I mentioned how much I hate PCI slots? They were a waste of space and resources 5 years ago and they are an insult now. A PCIe 2.0 x2 or x4 slot is going to be real handy in the next couple of years (3-way crossfire, not so much). Pissing away lanes on PCI is just stupid at this point. Reply
  • Frolictoo - Sunday, March 02, 2014 - link

    Overall, this is a good motherboard. However, I wish they would include a second LAN port, one based the various Intel options. I have always built multi-boot systems and the ports do not behave the same under different OSs while the gaming must go on. Reply
  • RAYBOYD44 - Monday, March 03, 2014 - link

    my Aunty Violet got a new Volvo XC60 SUV by work part-time using a laptop. Reply
  • Antronman - Saturday, March 29, 2014 - link

    I thought PCI slots were extinct? Reply
  • trebor darnoc - Monday, April 28, 2014 - link

    I have such a stupid question. . . I love this review and ended up buying the board. But now I have a question about the F_PANEL (Front Panel Header) connections. On page 27 in the manual, there is a diagram for the F_PANEL. But it shows 2 different 'Power LED' locations! There is a 2 pin Power LED possibility at one corner and a 3 pin option at the opposite corner (of the F Panel) . The Power LED wires from my case (Corsair 450D) are 2 individual little connectors marked Power LED (one + and one -). All the other wires from the case are little 'doubles' with 2 wires each, clearly marked. If you look at that page in the G1.Sniper Z87 manual you will see one is labeled 'PWR_LED' and the other 'PLED', but each one of those has a little box describing that connection as 'Power LED' just like the cables say. Can I use either one? I thought the case wires might be split for a reason, which led me to considering the 3 pin grouping (connecting the outer pins and leaving the middle one bare)? ? ? ? ? Reply

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