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::>Motherboards > 2014 > 09 > GIGABYTE G1.Sniper Z97

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Republish review

12-09-2014


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GIGABYTE G1.Sniper Z97 motherboard: review and testing

Continuing the familiarity with the motherboards of series GIGABYTE G1.GAMING, we will talk about relatively affordable model GIGABYTE G1.Sniper Z97. It has very good equipment, including traditional advantages targeted primarily at gamers. Of course, we are talking about the game network controller, a good audio subsystem, as well as a number of overclocking options that will help you get an extra overclocking in the modern gaming industry. But let's move on to the review of GIGABYTE G1.Sniper Z97 and first of all learn its characteristics.

GIGABYTE G1.Sniper Z97

The specs:

Producer

GIGABYTE

Model

G1.Sniper Z97 (rev 1.0)

Chipset

Intel Z97

SPU socket

Socket LGA1150

Supported CPUs

Intel Core i7 / Core i5 / Core i3 / Pentium / Celeron 4th nad 5th generation: Intel Haswell, Intel Haswell Refresh, Intel Devil`s Canyon, Intel Broadwell

Memory frequency

1333 / 1600 / 1800* / 1866* / 2000* / 2133* / 2200* / 2400* / 2500* / 2600* / 2666* / 2800* / 2933* / 3000* MHz
(*OC)

Memory support

4 x DDR3 DIMM- slot with memory support up to 32 GB

Expansion slots

2 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 (CPU)

х16
x8+х8

3 x PCI Express 2.0 x1
2 x PCI

Expansion slots

Intel Z97 chipset supports:
6 x SATA 6 Gb/s
RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 10

LAN

1 x Qualcomm Atheros Killer E2201 (10/100/1000 Мb/s)

Sound subsystem

Codec Creative Sound Core3D
5.1-channel sound
S/PDIF Out

Power

24-pin ATX main power connector
8-pin ATX12V power connector

Fans

1 x CPU fan connector (4-pin)
3 x system fan connector (4-pin)

Cooling

Aluminum radiator on chipset
Aluminum radiators on power subsystem elements

Extenral I/O

1 x HDMI
1 x DisplayPort
1 х PS/2 (mouse or keyboard connection)
1 x LAN (RJ45)
4 x USB 3.0
3 x USB 2.0
5 x audio jacks
1 х optical S/PDIF Out
1 х coaxial S/PDIF Out

Internal I/O

1 x USB 3.0 each with support of two USB 3.0 (19-pin)
2 x USB 2.0 each with support of two USB 2.0
6 x SATA 6 Gb/s
1 х COM port
1 x connector of audio output to front panel
1 х power button
1 х reboot button
1 х CMOS
1 x diagnostic LED-indicator
1 x set of front panel connectors
2 х BIOS switches
2 х audio amplifier switches

BIOS

AMI UEFI BIOS
2 x 64 Мb
PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.7, SM BIOS 2.7, ACPI 5.0

Packaging

User’s manual
Warranty description booklet
Driver and utility disc
4 x SATA cables
1 x bridge 2-Way NVIDIA SLI
2 х cable holders
1 х interface panel plug

Form-factor, dimensions

ATX
305 х 233 mm

Producer website

GIGABYTE
Updated versions of BIOS and drives are available on support page

Packaging and content

GIGABYTE G1.Sniper Z97

GIGABYTE G1.Sniper Z97

Motherboard GIGABYTE G1.Sniper Z97 is shipped in a deep cardboard box that is decorated with high-quality color printing. Most of the front side takes the logo of the series GIGABYTE G1.GAMING. The box has a hinged lid. Its back side has  the description of the key benefits:

GIGABYTE G1.Sniper Z97

  • 2-Way Graphics Support – the installation of two graphics cards with distribution lines according x8 + x8 scheme is supported.
  • Long Lifespan Solid Capacitors - all power circuits of the motherboard use exclusively Japanese solid capacitors of series Durable Black from companies Nippon Chemi-Con and Nichicon with extended life.
  • Quick Buttons & Debug Display - PCB has buttons "Power", "Reset" and "Reset CMOS», as well as diagnostic LED-indicator for quick and efficient stating the cause of faults.
  • Gold Plated CPU Socket - the socket contacts are covered with a 15-micron layer of gold.
  • Creative Sound Core 3D - model has a high quality quad core audio processor manufactured by Creative, as well as a set of proprietary software.
  • Swapable OP-AMP – preset operational audio amplifier TI OPA2134PA can be easily replaced by any other, which will meet the musical tastes of the user. To control its operation, there are special switches Gain Boost, which set the gain (from 2.5 to 6).  
  • Audio Noise Guard with Trace Path Lightning - the area of the PCB with soldered sound system is shielded with a special metal strip with red LED-backlit.
  • Nichicon High End Audio Capacitors - special upscale audio capacitors manufactured by Nichicon are used as elements of sound subsystem.
  • Gold Plated Audio Ports - the motherboard has high-quality gold-plated audio jacks resistant to interference signal.
  • Gold Plated DAC-UP USB Port - the interface panel has soldered special USB 2.0 port with a gold-plated socket, which is designed to connect an external sound card or amplifier. It gets power from not integrated into the chipset controller USB 2.0, but through a special converter directly from power lines. Therefore it provides a more stable and less noisy output voltage.
  • Qualcomm Atheros Killer E2201 - network controller has the capability to automatically allocate a game traffic and raise its priority with respect to the low-level system traffic, providing low latency to game data transfer.

GIGABYTE G1.Sniper Z97

On the reverse side there is a schematic diagram of the motherboard, its interface panel, and the continuation description of the key benefits of new product:

  • OC DualBIOS with switch & indicator – there is a technology GIGABYTE DualBIOS, which is supplemented by two switches (the choice between the two chips, and activation/deactivation of function GIGABYTE DualBIOS) and LED-indicator.
  • All New Heat Sink Design - construction and design of radiators in cooling system has been improved to ensure a spectacular appearance and efficient operation.

GIGABYTE G1.Sniper Z97

In addition to CD with software and interface panel plug in the box we found four SATA cables and a kind of bonus 2-Way NVIDIA SLI bridge and two holders for cables with logo GIGABYTE G1.GAMING.

Design and features

GIGABYTE G1.Sniper Z97

Model GIGABYTE G1.Sniper Z97 is made on matte black ATX PCB (305 x 233 mm). In general the design of the product has made us a very good impression due to the design of the radiators in cooling system. As for the on-board elements layout, almost all is performed at the highest level. The only nuance is the lack of mounting holes on the edges of the right side, which will require increased care when connecting the main power cable and memory modules.

GIGABYTE G1.Sniper Z97

The reverse side of the printed circuit board is notable for the presence of the standard base plate of CPU socket, as well as plastic clips of the radiator on elements of the power subsystem. In turn, the chipset radiator is fixed with screws.

GIGABYTE G1.Sniper Z97

At the bottom of the board there are the following connectors: front panel audio leading-in socket, CMOS reset, two of three sockets for systems fans, COM port, as well as front panel connection module (with color detection to simplify the connection process). Also here are two leading-in sockets for activation USB 2.0 ports. Total number of USB 2.0 sockets is seven: four are internal and three on the interface panel.

GIGABYTE G1.Sniper Z97

The possibilities of organize a disk subsystem are presented by six SATA 6 Gb/s ports arranged parallel to plate surface. There is a support RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5 and RAID 10. Operation of all interfaces is provided by Intel Z97 chipset.

GIGABYTE G1.Sniper Z97

The system board has two DIMM-slots for memory modules of DDR3 standard. RAM can operate in dual channel mode. To implement the plates must be installed either in the first and third or second and fourth slots. Modules operating at frequencies from 800 to 1600 MHz in the nominal mode and up to 3000 MHz in overclocking mode are supported. Maximum memory capacity can reach 32 GB, which is sufficient for almost all tasks.

Leading-in socket on a remote panel with USB 3.0 ports is also located on the right side of the PCB. Total number of USB 3.0 ports is six: two internal and four on the interface panel. All of them are operated via set of system logic.

GIGABYTE G1.Sniper Z97

Separately, select the top right corner of the PCB. Here are some interesting control elements that will be useful in the case of new item use as the basis for an open bench for overclocking experiments. There are buttons "Power", "Reboot" and “Reset CMOS”, as well as diagnostic LED-indicator.

GIGABYTE G1.Sniper Z97

GIGABYTE G1.Sniper Z97

Cooling system of the product includes three heat sinks: the one is used to provide heat removal from chipset Intel H97 while other two cover CPU power elements. In the process of testing the following temperature indices were fixed:

  • radiator for chipset cooling – 33°C;
  • radiator for cooling of processor elements power – 37.5°C.

The obtained results clearly indicate the good performance of the installed system cooling, indicating about the correct selection of materials and design of radiators.

GIGABYTE G1.Sniper Z97

GIGABYTE G1.Sniper Z97

Processor power supply is performed via 8-phase scheme for computational cores and additional joints. Converter is based on a digital PWM controller ISL9582. The circuitry is made by high quality components such as: solid capacitors and chokes with ferrite core. Basic 24-pin and additional 8-pin connectors are use for power feeding. Also here you can find additional PCI Express socket next to 24-pin power socket. It will be useful for building of strong graphics subsystem made of several graphics cards.

GIGABYTE G1.Sniper Z97

To extend the functionality of GIGABYTE G1.Sniper Z97 user has seven slots:

  1. PCI Express 2.0 x1;
  2. PCI Express 3.0 x16 (mode х16 or х8);
  3. PCI Express 2.0 x1;
  4. PCI Express 2.0 x1;
  5. PCI Express 3.0 x16 (mode х8);
  6. PCI;
  7. PCI.

As you can see, the configuration is the most suitable for the installation of one or two powerful graphics cards. Also officially is declared the support of technologies AMD CrossFireX and NVIDIA SLI. Note in case of connection two graphics cards with three slot cooling systems, you will have one free slot PCI Express 2.0 x1.

GIGABYTE G1.Sniper Z97

If you decided to take advantage of the integrated graphics core, then you have two video outputs: HDMI and DisplayPort. The switching between them is realized by chip PTN3360DBS.

GIGABYTE G1.Sniper Z97

Multi I/O capabilities are based on ITE IT8728F chip which controls the operation of the system fans, PS/2 ports, as well as provides the monitors.

GIGABYTE G1.Sniper Z97

Since the chipset Intel Z97 does not support bus PCI, the functioning of the respective connectors is implemented using a bridge PCIe-PCI based on the controller ITE IT8892E.

GIGABYTE G1.Sniper Z97

To support network connections there is a GB LAN-controller Qualcomm Atheros Killer E2201. It has the set of hardware and software advantages to speed up the processing of gaming network traffic.

GIGABYTE G1.Sniper Z97

The audio subsystem is based on the HDA-codec 5.1-channel sound Creative Sound Core3D. It includes special audio capacitors Bi-Polarized produced by Nichicon and preset amplifier Texas Instruments OPA2134PA. According to the manufacturers' specifications, it has a neutral sounding for all genres of music. There is also the possibility of easy replacement to the other, which has a more narrow focus on a particular genre of music. Note the presence of the protective gold-plated housing for shielding audio codec, use of gold-plated audio connectors on the interface panel and the ability to control the sound power with two on-board switches (force 2.5 and 6 times).

Special attention is given to software Creative Sound Blaster SBX Pro Studio to set sound quality to the desired level.

GIGABYTE G1.Sniper Z97

Modding fans will appreciate the presence of the screening area of the PCB with the audio subsystem using the metal strips with LED-backlit.

GIGABYTE G1.Sniper Z97

Interface panel of the model contains the following ports:

  • 1 x HDMI;
  • 1 x DisplayPort;
  • 1 x LAN (RJ45);
  • 4 x USB 3.0;
  • 3 x USB 2.0;
  • 1 x PS / 2 (mouse or keyboard);
  • 1 x Optical S/PDIF out;
  • 1 x coaxial S/PDIF out;
  • 5 x audio jacks.

We note a very successful arrangement of the interface board, which includes not only more than enough USB ports, but two advanced digital video output, as well as opportunities to connect speaker system. Note a specific USB 2.0 port, which is designed to connect an external sound card through the implementation of technology GIGABYTE USB DAC-UP.

GIGABYTE G1.Sniper Z97

The possibility of organizing the cooling system inside the case of GIGABYTE G1.Sniper Z97 is quite standard. There are four 4-pin fan connectors, one of which is used for the cooling system of CPU, while the other three are designed for system fans.

UEFI BIOS

GIGABYTE G1.Sniper Z97

The motherboard is equipped with modern UEFI firmware based on microcode AMI with the ability to operate in four modes: “Smart Tweak HD” (resolution 1280), “Smart Tweak” (resolution 1024 without the display of CPU state, memory and system sensors), “Classic” (classical BIOS) and “StartUp” (mode of initial settings of BIOS).

GIGABYTE G1.Sniper Z97

As you may have noticed, during operation in the mode “Smart Tweak HD” there is no a separate section responsible for the monitoring of voltages and temperatures on the main components, as all the required data is displayed directly on the side panels. Here you can monitor the temperature of the processor and the fan speed; monitor the voltage on the modules of RAM, processor and on the lines of +12 V, +5 V and +3.3 V, as well as a number of other important parameters. Also note that not all items available in the mode “Classic” are in “Smart Tweak HD”.

GIGABYTE G1.Sniper Z97

All settings related to key elements of the system are grouped in the respective tabs.

GIGABYTE G1.Sniper Z97

Using “Frequency” tab you can choose one of six types of automatic optimization of system parameters.

GIGABYTE G1.Sniper Z97

Frequency multiplier allows to set module connection speed within 800-2933MHz. Memory frequency more than 2933 MHz can be run only with the appropriate memory profile.

GIGABYTE G1.Sniper Z97

If necessary, the section “Voltage” can provide the access the voltage on all the key components of the system.

Adjustments required to optimize the system:

Parameter

Menu name

Range

Pitch

CPU multiplier

CPU Clock Ratio

8 – MAX

 

 

CPU Base Clock

80,00 – 266,66

0,01

 

Processor Base Clock

1,00 – 2,50

 

RAM frequency

System Memory Multiplier

800 – 2933

 

CPU voltage

CPU Vcore

0,500 – 1,800

0,001

Profiles of automatic overclocking

Performance Upgrade

Auto, 20%, 40%, 60%, 80%, 100%

 

CPU Upgrade

Auto; 4,3; 4,4; 4,5; 4,6; 4,7 GHz

RAM Voltage

DRAM Voltage

1,160 – 2,100

0,020

Chipset voltage

PCH Core

0,650 – 1,300

 

0,005

GPU frequency

Processor Graphics Clock

400 – 4000

50

 

Turbo Power Limit

1 – 4096

1

 

Core Current Limit

10 – 1000

1

 

CPU VRIN External Override

1,000 – 2,400

0,010

GPU voltage

CPU Graphics Voltage

0,500 – 1,800

0,001

 

CPU RING Voltage

0,800 – 1,800

0,001

System Agent Voltage

CPU System Agent Voltage

-0,300 - +0,400

0,001

 

CPU I/O Analog Voltage

-0,300 – +0,400

0,001

 

CPU I/O Digital Voltage

-0,300 – +0,400

0,001

 

PCH I/O

1,050 – 1,900

0,005

Memory capacity for GPU

Intel Processor Graphics Memory

32, 64, 96, 128, 192, 224, 256, 320, 384, 448, 512, 1024

 

RAM timimgs

Timing Control

CAS, tRCD, tRP, tRAS, tRRD, tWTR, tWR, tWTP, tWL, tRFC, tRTP, tFAW

 


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