Astute followers of the Z87 motherboard market might start to notice a trend.  For each generation we have had gaming focused motherboards, designed with hardware to lure gamers with improved audio, better network priority hardware and software, as well as a few extras in the box.  With Z77 and Z87 launch, the high end models of these can feature combination air/water cooling, independent audio calibration and a focus of WiFi connectivity.  There is also some overlap with extreme overclockers, and thus boards can be aimed at both markets simultaneously in order to reduce an overall number of SKUs.

At Z87 launch, very few models were aiming at gamers for the low-end.  GIGABYTE for example has the G1.Sniper 5, a high end ($400) motherboard supporting removable OP-AMP technology and four-way graphics card support.  For users wanting smaller systems, there is the G1.Sniper M5 which is a $205 micro-ATX alternative, or for non overclockers there is the B85 model.  On the ASUS side the cheap gaming ATX is the Maximus VI Hero ($195) and ASRock offer the Z87 Professional from the Fatal1ty range.

Today GIGABYTE has launched a new G1.Sniper Z87 model, sans numeral, for the lower budget machine but still with overclocking support and SLI/Crossfire:

GIGABYTE's Z87 gaming range is all about the audio, so we get a Creative Sound Core3D audio codec paired with Nichicon Pro Audio Caps, an upgradable OP-AMP system, separation of digital and analog audio signals on the PCB to reduce crosstalk and interference, gold plated audio connectors and a specific USB DAC-UP port on the rear IO designed to provide a clean, low-noise power to any USB DAC:

Another feature is a direct gain switch in the audio, allowing users of high impedance headphones to choose between 2.5x and 6x amplification through the OP-AMP.  To keep costs down, the motherboard uses the PCH for all SATA 6 Gbps and USB 3.0 ports, but the system does come with a Killer E2200 NIC to add to the gaming flavor.

I am being told that it will retail in the ~$170 range (still to be finalized, which puts it head to head with motherboards such as the ASRock Z87 Professional.  MSI has two gaming motherboards within arm's reach as well, along with a number of non-gaming oriented motherboards.  With any luck I am hoping to push out a round-up of several of these products in the near future.  GIGABYTE say the G1.Sniper Z87 is on display at Blizzcon for attendees, and should be available soon after.

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  • Stimpack - Friday, November 8, 2013 - link

    I refuse to buy this until they include the word murder on the box. Otherwise I'll never be able to take them seriously.
  • jdon - Friday, November 8, 2013 - link

    nice.... I'm just glad they abandoned the ammo-clip heat spreader. That thing was horrendous looking.
  • headbox - Sunday, November 10, 2013 - link

    I wish it would come with a 48-inch ammo belt... the average waistline of a Gaymer sniper!
  • jdon - Friday, November 8, 2013 - link

    This is a significant step back (price-wise) from the PLX-enabled quad-CFX/SLI boards of previous generations. Realistically, I think this is the better fight to pick then going up to the range where you might as well be picking up an Ivy-Bridge E for the native PCIe channels and add'l memory bandwidth anyway.... Good on you, Gigabyte!
  • IanCutress - Friday, November 8, 2013 - link

    There is a PLX-enabled quad-CFX/SLI board for this generation too - it came out at/near launch. The G1.Sniper 5. It's a halo board, designed to showcase the best of a company within a generation. The sub $200 gaming motherboards are where more people will focus, and the differences more down to software and minor choices in hardware.
  • Neden - Monday, November 11, 2013 - link

    There are some good features on this board, but why do so many higher-end motherboards only have 6 rear USB ports? My current (old 'beater) PC has 8 rear ports, and I use every one of them. I prefer not to have consistently attached devices in my front USB ports; they clutter my desk and get in the way of temporary devices that I want to plug in. I could just add a PCI add-on card, but would it be that difficult to place 8 or 10 USB ports back there? The chipset supports that many, and there seems to be plenty of room.

    Is this lack of rear USB something that anyone else notices, or am I just going crazy?
  • jamesurry - Saturday, November 16, 2013 - link

    Perfect board for me, but the 2 PCI slots make me sad. Why can't we have a couple of extra PCI-Express slots?
  • C.C. - Sunday, November 17, 2013 - link

    I see the appeal in having a single PCI slot for some legacy cards, but I agree they should have dropped the 2nd one in favor of another PCI-E 4X or 16X slot..Still nice to see the prices coming down on the 1150 boards, especially if the Haswell refresh just requires a BIOS update (it is the same socket after all)..
  • Jay77 - Thursday, November 21, 2013 - link

    What is it with Gigabyte and those damn pci slots...

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