Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 Intel Z77 Express LGA 1155 Preview

Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 Intel Z77 Express LGA 1155 Preview

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The Board - A Closer Look


As is the norm for Gigabyte products, we find dual matched BIOS chips between the PCIe slots, a system that Gigabyte has offered for as long as I can remember, that helps users recover from bad flashes and improper BIOS settings. Board sensor monitoring and fan control is provided by an ITE IT8728F, which if you've read my other reviews, you'll have seen quite often.


There's an International Rectifier VRM controller found just to the right of the uppermost VRM bits, by the memory slots. Featuring quite a huge amount of BIOS-level control possibilities, this controller is part of what allows the G1.Sniper M3 to overclock CPUs fairly well. I was a bit shocked to find that the CPU power phases feature a very standard 1+2 HIGH/LOW MOSFET configuration seen in the second image above, rather than a DRMOS implemention, although this shouldn't affect things much, other than making cooling a bit easier as there would have been far less components that make up the VRM.


The CPU VRM is supplied via a 4-pin EPS connector, something that may put a few people off, but you can rest assured it's more than capable of supplying enough power for decent 24/7 overclocking contrary to what most may think. The DIMM VRM is a single phase design; nothing too fancy, and it doesn't need to be as I've seen very similar designs push DDR3 DIMMs over 3000 MHz with ease.


Inside the socket we find all component placings populated, but flipping the board over, we find not a single one populated, leaving me curious as to why so much is there if it's not needed. There are quite a few pins protruding around the socket rear, but not in a way that should interfere with aftermarket cooler's backplates.


For audio, I found a Creative CA0132 chip, taken directly out of Creative's SoundCore3D lineup of aftermarket audio cards. This is a much more compact chip than the X-Fi chip used on previous G1.Sniper products, allowing for a much cleaner board design, and there is still a little EMI shield and some high-grade audio-oriented capacitors found near the Rear I/O audio block. The audio of my Intel Z68 Express G1.Sniper2 is pretty good, and I expect better results with this chip.


Another component new to the G1.Sniper lineup is the Intel WG82579V GbE LAN controller, shown in the first image above. Again this component choice differs from previous G1.Sniper boards, but while it's different, it does also feature similar traffic-shaping software as found on other G1.Killer products, while also having a pretty good reputation for being one of the faster LAN controllers on the market today. That "cFos" logo I mentioned earlier, that I did not recognize? That's the name for the traffic shaping software supplied with the Intel WG82579V controller.
PCIe lane switching hardware is provided by Asmedia, with the ASM1480 components seen in the second image above.


Asmedia also provides the TMDS hardware that allows the Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 to output dual display signals, both of which are pictured above, one behind each pair of Display connectors. I assume this means you can use DVI or VGA but not both, and DP or HDMI, but not both of those together either. I'll have to verify how that all works while running performance testing in the weeks to come.
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