Today we take a look at one of the most feature filled Z68 Sandy Bridge motherboard from GIGABYTE's G1 series of gamer oriented motherboards, the GIGABYTE G1 Sniper 2. Follow us as we put the Sniper 2 under the microscope and examine its every aspect.
Before we start looking at the G1 Sniper 2, let's take a look at the platform and its benefits to gamers over the P67 platform. To begin, it seems that GIGABYTE waited for Z68 before launching a LGA1155 based G1 series motherboard, and on top of that they gave the G1 Sniper 2 an HDMI output, something that sine of the top-end GIGABYTE boards (like the Z68X-UD7) lacks.
So why does that matter for gamers? Well a gamer can use the Lucid Virtu switching to help lower energy costs when not gaming, and any user can use D-Mode without having to use the HDMI output in the back which can limit resolution to 1920×1600. Another thing to realize is that most games do not take advantage of SSDs, so most gamers don't want to buy the expensive 128GB or 256GB SSDs, they would rather save the money and put it towards a sound card or even a few games. SSD Caching (Intel Smart Response) can let that gamer slowly upgrade to a faster storage system, while keeping their large HDD they can add a smaller and much cheaper SSD to help speed up things. They don't even have to reformat to do so. A game can easily fit into the 18-64GB cache that SSD Caching provides. Z68 is a better chipset for gamers than P67 would be, and generally better for users as a whole.
Intel probably should have skipped P67 and just come out with the Z68 PCH. This motherboard fully supports Lucid Virtu GPU switching which allows for switchable graphics, but only an HDMI port is used, so maximum resolution will be 1920×1080 for those of you who want to use i-Mode Virtu to save power. Of course D-Mode can be used on this board without plugging into the HDMI output, so gamers can still take advance of the faster transcoding that the Sandy Bridge iGPU provides. GIGABYTE also has an Easy Smart Responce program which can set up the SSD Caching with the press of a button, which might be to a gamer's benefit if they aren't a hardware enthusiast as well.
The Intel Z68 PCH is the main chipset on the motherboard, and there is no longer a North Bridge (IOH) and South Bridge (ICH) like we still see on most AMD boards.
GIGABYTE G1 Sniper 2
- Support for Intel® Core™ i7 processors/Intel® Core™ i5 processors/ Intel® Core™ i3 processors/Intel® Pentium® processors/Intel® Celeron® processors in the LGA1155 package
- L3 cache varies with CPU
Intel Z68 Chipset
- 4 x 1.5V DDR3 DIMM sockets supporting up to 32 GB of system memory
* Due to Windows 32-bit operating system limitation, when more than 4 GB of physical memory is installed, the actual memory size displayed will be less than 4 GB.
- Dual channel memory architecture
- Support for DDR3 2133/1866/1600/1333/1066 MHz memory modules
- Support for non-ECC memory modules
- Support for Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) memory modules
Integrated Graphics Processor: HDMI Output (1920×1600) max resolution.
Support for AMD CrossFireX™/NVIDIA SLI technology
- 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16 (PCIEX16)
* For optimum performance, if only one PCI Express graphics card is to be installed, be sure to install it in the PCIEX16 slot.
- 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x8 (PCIEX8)
* The PCIEX8 slot shares bandwidth with the PCIEX16 slot. When the PCIEX8 slot is populated, the PCIEX16 slot will operate at up to x8 mode.
- 2 x PCI Express x1 slots
(All PCI Express slots conform to PCI Express 2.0 standard.)
- 2 x PCI slots
1 x Marvell 88SE9172 chip:
- 2 x SATA 6Gb/s connector (GSATA3_6, GSATA3_7) supporting up to 2 SATA 6Gb/s devices
- Support for RAID 0 and RAID 1
- 2 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors (SATA3_0, SATA3_1) supporting up to 2 SATA 6Gb/s devices
- 3 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors (SATA2_2~SATA2_4) supporting up to 3 SATA 3Gb/s devices
- 1 x eSATA 3Gb/s connector (eSATA/USB Combo connector) on the back panel supporting up to 1 SATA 3Gb/s device
- Support for RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10
* When a RAID set is built across the SATA 6Gb/s and SATA 3Gb/s channels, the system performance of the RAID set may vary depending on the devices being connected.
1 x Bigfoot Killer E2100 chip (10/100/1000 Mbit)
- 1 x Creative CA20K2 chip
- Support for Dolby® Digital Live and DTS™ Connect
- Support for X-Fi Xtreme Fidelity® and EAX® Advanced HD™ 5.0 technologies
- High Definition Audio
- Support for S/PDIF Out
- Up to 14 USB 2.0/1.1 ports (8 ports on the back panel, including 1 eSATA/USB Combo connector, 6 ports available through the internal USB headers)
2 x Etron EJ168 chips:
- Up to 4 USB 3.0/2.0 ports (2 ports on the back panel, 2 ports available through the internal USB header)
GIGABYTE Unique Features
- Support for @BIOS
- Support for Q-Flash
- Support for Xpress BIOS Rescue
- Support for Download Center
- Support for Xpress Install
- Support for Xpress Recovery2
- Support for EasyTune
* Available functions in EasyTune may differ by motherboard model.
- Support for Dynamic Energy Saver™ 2
- Support for Smart 6™
- Support for Auto Green
- Support for eXtreme Hard Drive (X.H.D)
- Support for ON/OFF Charge
- Support for Cloud OC
- Support for 3TB+ Unlock
- Support for TouchBIOS
- Support for Q-Share
- System voltage detection
- CPU/System temperature detection
- CPU/System fan speed detection
- CPU overheating warning
- CPU/System fan fail warning
- CPU/System fan speed control
* Whether the CPU/system fan speed control function is supported will depend on the CPU/system cooler you install.
Back Panel I/O Ports
- 7 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
- 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port
- 1 x CPU overclocking button
- 1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
- 1 x eSATA/USB Combo connector
- 1 x HDMI port
- 2 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports
- 1 x RJ-45 port
- 5 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out, Rear Speaker Out, Side Speaker Out, Line In/Mic In, Line Out)
Internal I/O Connectors
- 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
- 1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
- 4 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
- 3 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors
- 1 x CPU fan header
- 4 x system fan headers
- 1 x front panel header
- 1 x front panel audio header
- 1 x S/PDIF Out header
- 3 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers
- 1 x USB 3.0/2.0 header
- 1 x serial port header
- 1 x Trusted Platform Module (TPM) header
- 1 x clearing CMOS jumper
- 1 x heatsink LED power connector
- 1 x CPU overclocking button header
- 2 x 32 Mbit flash
- Use of licensed AWARD BIOS
- Support for DualBIOS™
- PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.0, SM BIOS 2.4, ACPI 1.0b
- Norton Internet Security (OEM version)
- Intel® Smart Response Technology
- LucidLogix Virtu
* Make sure the monitor cable has been connected to the integrated graphics port on the back panel.
ATX Form Factor; 30.5cm x 26.4cm