by Rob Williams on December 2, 2013 in Intel Motherboards
Gamers with deep pockets who appreciate motherboards packed to the gills with features, features, and more features ought to have a look at GIGABYTE’s G1.Sniper 5. Its black and green aesthetics are eye-catching, sure, but its feature-set would surely make its rivals green with envy. Read on to find out what we think of the G1.Sniper 5!
An archive including all of these screenshots and more can be snatched here (.ZIP, 6.5MB).
Because the EFI on the G1.Sniper 5 is almost identical to the one found on the Z87X-UD3H, this page will feature much of the same text, but unique screenshots.
In the past, I’ve been a little critical of GIGABYTE’s EFI design choices, as I found them to force me to grab hold of the mouse to get around, rather than stick to just using the KB, which I find to be far more efficient.
In some of my past reviews, I said that GIGABYTE should focus on building an EFI around keyboard use, and not to mention enhance some other things just to make the overall experience better overall.
Well, for its Z87 lineup, GIGABYTE delivered. Big time:
With its latest EFI, GIGABYTE has pulled off a couple of things that I didn’t even realize were possible. The visuals, for example, are a level beyond what I’ve ever anticipated to see – it looks like a desktop app. Helping it to feel like a desktop app is the fact that it can run at full HD resolution (1080p).
Have you ever run a game or your OS at low resolution on your high-resolution display? The mouse will feel odd. That’s because your monitor is effectively reproducing 2 or 3 pixels for every 1 pixel that the app is rendering. You lose precision as a result. Thus, when your EFI runs at 1080p (even if you have a higher resolution monitor than this), the mouse work is going to feel a lot more natural – and in this particular case, I can state with assurance that it does.
Fortunately, that doesn’t mean that GIGABYTE decided to stick to the mantra of “mouse is better”. Keyboard interaction has been vastly improved here as well.
In our look at ASUS’ Z87-EXPERT, we explored a new EFI feature called “My Favorites”, where users can cherry-pick the EFI options that they’d like to gain quicker-access to. Here, we can see GIGABYTE has much of the same idea, except the entire screen can be built at once, via a pop-up menu system, seen here:
Both GIGABYTE’s and ASUS’ solutions here are quite nice, but I have to give a slight nod to GIGABYTE’s implementation, as I find it a lot easier to keep track of everything that I’m adding to my screen – on ASUS’ EFIs I have to go back to the My Favorites screen to see which options I’ve added (important for someone like me who forgets things instantly sometimes).
The above is an example of an EFI area where a mouse does come in handy, because it allows you to very quickly navigate the various menus in order to get to the option you’d like to add to your custom screen. It can of course be accomplished via a keyboard as well, but it’s just less efficient.
Moving on, a look at something else GIGABYTE’s doing that’s a bit interesting: Integrating pictures into the EFI to help explain a feature. Granted, this is the only particular area that I noticed an image being introduced, but it’s a useful one: Before choosing your loadline calibration, you can see how the board will conduct its scaling on the right.
Seeing this gave me the idea of a live updated image in a situation like this where you can see results of things in real-time, such as updating your fan speed configurations. Granted, that’d undoubtedly prove to be a little beefy for an EFI, but at this point it wouldn’t surprise me if it were possible.
Our last look at a full EFI screen showcases another simple yet attractive option: Setting the date. You get a real calendar, and if you want, can use your mouse to surf through the years and months to get it to where you need it.
I simply can’t get over just how attractive this EFI is (though I admit I am a little more keen on the styling of the UD3H board’s EFI).
I’d like to call out two other features to this EFI. On the bottom-left, you can see a menu that appears when you right-click your mouse in an open area, giving you quick access to key areas – a nice touch. On the bottom-right, an option that quite literally made me laugh out loud: “3DMark01 Boost”. Apparently, this is something overclockers had been demanding. It in effect screws with the memory whenever 3DMark01 is detected so as to deliver better results. I never thought I’d see such a specific benchmark targeted in a BIOS/EFI before.
Notice that “Classic Setup” option above? That’s for those who might not like GIGABYTE’s new EFI style, and instead would like to use something more familiar. Clicking it brings us back to the same EFI design we’ve seen for the past couple of years:
For some reason, select functions of the main EFI will bring us to this classic style – why, I have no idea. Fortunately, those options are few, so you can enjoy the “new age” EFI look most often.
It should go without saying at this point, but GIGABYTE’s latest EFI design is impressive. Let’s see if the company’s latest software suite matches up.