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GIGABYTE G1.Sniper 3 Motherboard Review

GIGABYTE G1.Sniper 3
by Rob Williams on May 3, 2013 in Motherboards

The motherboard market is loaded with options targeted squarely at overclockers and the general enthusiast, but finding a board – much less an entire series – dedicated to gamers is difficult. GIGABYTE realized that back in 2011, and thus its G1 series was born. In this article, we’re taking a look at the company’s current Z77 offering, the G1.Sniper 3.

Performance Testing

From a performance perspective, we feel that motherboard benchmarking is useless. It’s the motherboard’s job to allow all of the installed hardware to operate at its full potential, so in theory, a $100 option shouldn’t be much (or any) slower than a $300 one. The differences in price instead come down to the quality of the onboard components and other features.

So why do it at all, then? We still perform benchmarks because it’s important to make sure that the board we’re dealing with doesn’t lack in one particular area versus the rest. If board A performs 2% slower than board B in PCMark 7, for example, that’s of no concern to us – random variance is a fact of life with benchmarking. However, if one board consistently performs weaker than the rest, that’s worthy of note – it could suggest that weaker components have been used which do not allow the hardware to operate at its full potential.

Please bare this all in mind when perusing our results. Just because a board under-performs in a single test, it doesn’t mean anything in regards to its quality as a whole. Our ultimate goal here is to make sure that each board we test performs as we’d expect across the gamut of scenarios we pit them against.

  Intel LGA1155 Test System
Processors Intel Core i7-3770K – Quad-Core, 3.50GHz, Default Voltage
Motherboard ASUS P8Z77-V DELUXE (BIOS: ‘1401’ 07/30/2012)
GIGABYTE G1.Sniper 3 (BIOS: ‘F8j’ 02/20/2013)
GIGABYTE Z77X-UD5H (BIOS: ‘F14′ 08/23/2012)
Intel DZ77GA-70K (BIOS: ‘0049’ 07/13/2012)
MSI Z77A-GD55 (BIOS: ‘1.5’ 07/17/2012)
Memory Kingston HyperX Genesis 4x4GB – DDR3-1600 8-8-8-24 @ 1.65v
Graphics AMD Radeon HD 7850 1GB (Catalyst 12.7 Driver)
Audio On-Board Creative X-Fi Audio
Storage Corsair Force F160 160GB Solid-State Drive (OS Drive)
Kingston HyperX 240 Solid-State Drive (I/O Testing)
Power Supply Corsair HX850W
Chassis Corsair Obsidian 700D Full-Tower
Cooling Corsair H70 Self-Contained Liquid Cooler
Et cetera Windows 7 Professional 64-bit

Let’s get on with it!

BCLK Values Result
GIGABYTE G1.Sniper 3 100.1 MHz
Intel DZ77GA-70K 99.8 MHz
MSI Z77A-GD55 100.0 MHz

All checks out – but let’s tackle something before going further. Both ASUS and GIGABYTE have mechanics in place where if the memory is adjusted at all, the CPU auto-overclocks. For a consumer, this is perfectly fine, and something I agree with (as long as the CPU’s not pegged to its max value, of course). This mechanic does however destroy our hopes of an apples-to-apples comparison, but as mentioned above, since we’re mainly comparing boards to make sure one doesn’t fall short in some regard, this is fine. So again, bare this in mind. 

General System Performance

To take a look at the “overall” performance of our PC configuration, we rely on a simple Windows boot test (cold boot > usable desktop) and dual Futuremark suites; PCMark 7 and 3DMark 11. Please note that we’re using PCMark 7 1.0.4, not the recently-released 1.4.0 (which has resulted in score changes).

Cold Boot to Desktop Result
ASUS P8Z77-V DELUXE 20.894s
GIGABYTE G1.Sniper 3 21.784s
GIGABYTE Z77X-UD5H 23.647s
Intel DZ77GA-70K 27.708s
MSI Z77A-GD55 22.604s
Lower results are better.
PCMark 7 Test 1 Test 2 Test 3 Test 4 Test 5 Test 6 Test 7
ASUS P8Z77-V DELUXE 23.07 8.49 95.66 12.34 19.98 21.95 5.43
GIGABYTE G1.Sniper 3 23.05 8.455 95.98 12.43 19.06 22.61 5.39
GIGABYTE Z77X-UD5H 23.06 8.774 96.54 12.36 18.61 22.67 5.41
Intel DZ77GA-70K 23.08 8.154 89.89 11.71 20.22 21.51 5.4
MSI Z77A-GD55 23.11 8.313 97.63 12.64 20.21 22.67 5.44
(1) Video Playback (2) Video Transcoding (3) Gaming (Graphics) (4) Image Manipulation
(5) Importing Pictures (6) Web Browsing (7) Windows Defender
All results in MB/s; higher is better
PCMark 7 Suite Scores Result
GIGABYTE G1.Sniper 3 5443
Intel DZ77GA-70K 5323
MSI Z77A-GD55 5506
Higher results are better.
Gaming 3DMark 11
GIGABYTE G1.Sniper 3 5432
Intel DZ77GA-70K 5599
MSI Z77A-GD55 5562
3DMark results in points; higher is better. Left 4 Dead results in FPS; higher is better.

The G1.Sniper 3 placed second in our boot-time test, while it performed admirably everywhere else. Interestingly, GIGABYTE’s own Z77X-UD5H managed to eke out an additional 100 points in 3DMark 11 – interesting only because the G1.Sniper is the “gaming” board.

I/O Performance

To properly give the internal SATA 6Gbit/s a good workout, we turn to HD Tune and Iometer.

HD Tune Pro 5 Minimum Average Maximum Latency
ASUS P8Z77-V DELUXE 353.4 379.6 412.4 0.043ms
GIGABYTE G1.Sniper 3 329.5 334.8 344.0 0.134ms
GIGABYTE Z77X-UD5H 371.9 375.7 384.0 0.046ms
Intel DZ77GA-70K 350.6 358.3 366.4 0.045ms
MSI Z77A-GD55 381.3 384.7 397.5 0.043ms
Min/Avg/Max results in MB/s; higher is better. Latency results in ms; lower is better.
  Database Workstation File Server
Iometer 1.1.0 Read Write Read Write Read Write
ASUS P8Z77-V DELUXE 4451.18 2191.30 5995.34 1501.51 6060.14 1515.90
GIGABYTE G1.Sniper 3 4138.48 2043.58 5674.01 1420.44 5690.62 1401.28
GIGABYTE Z77X-UD5H 4188.38 2062.59 5702.64 1427.58 5753.73 1436.30
Intel DZ77GA-70K 4272.09 2103.73 6056.63 1513.94 5772.78 1441.31
MSI Z77A-GD55 4439.99 2186.03 5937.08 1482.60 5947.93 1485.10
Results in IOPS; higher is better.

Once again, the results here look good, although where HD Tune is concerned, it’s hard to ignore the decreased performance overall. Even the latency saw a decline, and while 0.1ms is virtually nothing in the grand scheme, it’s the only board to have exhibited a result above 0.0XX.

Rendering & Image Manipulation

Writing files to disk or reading a website doesn’t do much to exercise our CPU, so for that, we turn to a couple of common scenarios; image editing, video rendering and 3D rendering, using a combination of Adobe and Autodesk products.

Adobe Lightroom 4.1 Result
ASUS P8Z77-V DELUXE 522.35s
GIGABYTE G1.Sniper 3 515.01s
GIGABYTE Z77X-UD5H 522.98s
Intel DZ77GA-70K 548.78s
MSI Z77A-GD55 526.89s
Results in seconds; lower is better.
Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5 Result
GIGABYTE G1.Sniper 3 661
Intel DZ77GA-70K 716
MSI Z77A-GD55 679
Results in seconds; lower is better.
Autodesk 3ds Max 2011 Result
GIGABYTE G1.Sniper 3 1380s
Intel DZ77GA-70K 1403s
MSI Z77A-GD55 1325s
Results in seconds; lower is better.
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL CPU
ASUS P8Z77-V DELUXE 83.29 7.45
GIGABYTE G1.Sniper 3 81.50 7.51
GIGABYTE Z77X-UD5H 86.20 7.85
Intel DZ77GA-70K 77.38 7.07
MSI Z77A-GD55 80.74 7.49
Higher results are better.

GIGABYTE’s G1 fell short in a couple of our previous tests, but it redeems itself here. As is typical of motherboard testing, you win some, you lose some.

Sub-system Performance

For memory and CPU throughput testing, we utilize SiSoftware’s Sandra 2012 (SP4), and for Ethernet testing, we use iperf (or more appropriately, the Java-based jperf which utilizes it).

Sandra 2012 SP4 Integer Float Cache Mem Latency
ASUS P8Z77-V DELUXE 20.90 20.90 123.05 22.20
GIGABYTE G1.Sniper 3 21.23 21.22 122.93 22.17
GIGABYTE Z77X-UD5H 20.79 20.79 123.39 22.8
Intel DZ77GA-70K 21.34 21.33 120.163 24.4
MSI Z77A-GD55 21.17 21.11 123.72 24.70
Int/Float/Cache results in GB/s; higher is better. Latency results in ns; lower is better.
Ethernet (iperf) 50 Jobs (64KB) 50 Jobs (1518KB)
ASUS P8Z77-V DELUXE (Intel 82579V) 939 941
GIGABYTE G1.Sniper 3 (Intel 82579V) 930 922
GIGABYTE Z77X-UD5H (Intel 82579V) 936 918
Intel DZ77GA-70K (Intel 82579V) 930 920
MSI Z77A-GD55 (Intel 82579V) 932 942
Results in Mbit/s; higher is better.

Wrapping up, both iperf and SANDRA gives us expected results. With that, it’s time to wrap this review up.

  • agooddecision

    Poor choice of audio chip from Gigabyte. The Sound Core 3D is nothing more than a rebadged low-end codec that only supports 5.1 (no 7.1 support) and has mediocre specs and performance.

    I would honestly much rather have a Realtek ALC898. The 898 chip is better featured and with a quality implementation can easily outperform Creative’s latest pile’o’crap. Heck even the budget-minded Gigabyte GA-X79-UD3 has an 898 with very good quality components and a 110dB SnR. Beat that Creative or give up.

    It also doesn’t hurt that Realtek’s drivers nowadays are much better than Creatives. But when has Creative ever been any good at software?

    • Rob Williams

      It’s kind of sad that decisions like these are made just because a board tends to look better with the Creative name attached to it (to some, I guess). It’s like when some board vendors bundled fake X-Fi solutions – which were regular audio solutions with a couple of X-Fi software layers on top of it.

      Those who really care about audio are unlikely to use ANY onboard solution, unless it’s a genuine X-Fi card (I think ASUS had a solution like this).

      • agooddecision

        Yes, you are right on this, the board has the Creative name attached to it because Creative still sells. It seems even a low quality ‘flagship’ product can’t kill Creative!

        Meanwhile excellent sound cards like the Asus Xonar HDAV are discontinued due to a lack of sales.