Four Multi-GPU Z77 Boards from $280-$350 - PLX PEX 8747 featuring Gigabyte, ASRock, ECS and EVGAby Ian Cutress on August 22, 2012 9:15 AM EST
Conclusion: Gigabyte G1.Sniper 3
The Gigabyte G1.Sniper 3 has followed the trend of its sister, the Z77X-UD5H (I say sister rather than brother because they are ‘mother’ boards, right?). The key to getting a good motherboard on market is to make it perform well, and then make it feel like it is good value. Not only is it imperative that you try and undercut the competition, but the package must be complete in comparison to the other boards you are being compared to.
This is what the G1.Sniper 3 does for $280. We have a package that includes the PLX PEX 8747 solution for multiple GPUs, a gaming network port from Qualcomm Atheros in the Killer 2201-B alongside an Intel NIC, ten USB 3.0 ports, ten SATA ports, all the video outputs on the IO, some legacy in the PS/2 and IEEE1394 connectivity, and a TPM for business users. Inside the box we have a plethora of SATA cables, along with a USB 3.0 bracket, WiFi card, antenna, an eSATA bracket with cables and a pair of SLI bridges.
Where the G1.Sniper 3 ends up being very sneaky is in terms of the default speed the CPU is set to run at. Currently ASUS and Gigabyte motherboards run a feature that ASUS call Multicore Enhancement, which means instead of running at 39x/39x/38x/37x at 1/2/3/4 core load for an i7-3770K, they will run at 39x/39x/39x/39x. The Gigabyte G1.Sniper 3 goes one further, in this case making the CPU run one multiplier above the maximum turbo bin – in this case 40x/40x/40x/40x. As a result, the G1.Sniper 3 takes effectively a clean sweep in all our 2D testing which requires most heavily on the CPU and memory. For your money, Gigabyte has provided an out-of-the-box overclock which will beat the competition, on the understanding that it technically breaks your CPU warranty (and probably the motherboard warranty as well). Not that they advertise this of course – it all comes out in the reviews though.
My take on this situation has varied over the past few chipsets where MultiCore Enhancement has been a factor. In X79, I disabled it and made the board run at Intel specifications. Then I realized that users will most likely run these boards at stock, so it is up to the manufacturer as to how adventurous they want their default settings to be, much in the same way manufacturers may provide aggressive memory settings. With Gigabyte taking it to a new level, I will still operate under the circumstance that it is a ‘feature’ – Gigabyte are clearly willing to take the inherent risk in their product.
This extra enhancement on the CPU translates in certain GPU tests as well, which will be good to the ears of gamers. Overclocking on the G1.Sniper 3 mirrored what we have achieved with other Z77 boards, as with Ivy Bridge our temperature limitations really kick in due to voltages above 1.2 V.
If Gigabyte were to be brought down by an area of the package, it would be the eternal issue of their software and fan controls, which have remained stagnant over the past 18 months or so. I do hope that they give a fresh injection to R&D to develop the potential of the software, and combine this with a bit more money in the fan headers, as Gigabyte’s main competitor has this tied up and in the bag for now.
It is easy to recommend the Gigabyte G1.Sniper 3 – for the price it provides the performance, the functionality and the extras in the box that a user needs. Somehow Gigabyte has been able to undercut the competition to good effect, and passing this good value package onto consumers. There are of course some rough edges as with any product, but out of this roundup it would be the Gigabyte I would recommend for most usage scenarios that require the PLX PEX 8747.
With this in mind, I would like to give the Gigabyte G1.Sniper 3 the AnandTech Editors Choice Bronze Award. For price, performance, and the sense of a good value package, the G1.Sniper 3 offers one of the best price competitive PLX PEX 8747 packages available today.
Editors Choice Bronze Award
Gigabyte G1.Sniper 3