GIGABYTE G1.SNIPER2 Intel Z68 Motherboard Review

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GIGABYTE G1.SNIPER2 Intel Z68 Motherboard

GIGABYTE G1.SNIPER2 Intel Z68 Motherboard Layout

Earlier this year Legit Reviews was fortunate enough to attend the launch of the GIGABYTE G1 Killer series of motherboards while at CES 2011. This was also just days after the launch of the new Intel Sandy Bridge processors. When GIGABYTE started planning and designing the G1 series of boards, I’m not sure they had an idea of how big of a hit that the LGA1155 series of processors was going to be. This is somewhat evident by the fact that GIGABYTE first launched this line as an Intel X58 platform. By the time that we were able to get some hands on time with the GIGABYTE G1 Assassin X58 motherboard, the X58 platform was well past it’s prime and for the most part Intel “Sandy Bridge” was the dominating force.

Just as a refresher to what I said about the GIGABYTE G1 Assassin:  I really like the concept behind the GIGABYTE G1 Killer series of motherboards. The issue I have though, is that it is an Intel X58 motherboard. It’s still a strong system if you are already using it, but if I were to be building a new system, an Intel X58 system wouldn’t be my first choice. Our Intel Core i5 2500K processor in the Intel P67 motherboards was giving the i7 950 a solid run for the money. If GIGABYTE had release the G1 Killer series of motherboards in the Intel P67 chipset I think it would have been a better move on their part. Please don’t mistake this for knocking the board, the board was great, just a little late. Perhaps GIGABYTE will release another version of the G1 Killer Series motherboards for the up and coming Intel Z68 chipset, or for Socket R later this year.

Looking back, I suppose it’s a good thing that GIGABYTE didn’t release an Intel P67 version of the G1 Killer motherboards. Mainly since the P67 chipset is quickly fading into the shadows of the Intel Z68 platform. On that same note though, rumors of the Intel X79 platform on the horizon are swirling around, should GIGABYTE have waited for the LGA2011 socket. I suppose if you keep waiting for the next great thing, you will be forever waiting since something better is always being talked about.

GIGABYTE G1.SNIPER2 Intel Z68 Motherboard

As I said, I really liked the GIGABYTE G1 Assassin X58 motherboard, but wished that it had come out in a LGA1155 socket motherboard. Well, now it does! The GIGABYTE G1.SNIPER2 is built around the same military concept and features many of the same integrated peripherals. Except now it features the Intel Z68 chipset, and socket LGA1155! Just about everything I wished the G1 Assassin was.

Among the usual high quality features that we find on GIGABYTE motherboards, the GIGABYTE G1.SNIPER2 also has integrated peripherals that are usually only found on discrete cards. While most motherboards use either a Realtek network interface card (N.I.C.) or an Intel N.I.C., the GIGABYTE G1.SNIPER2 uses a Bigfoot Networks Killer E2100 NIC. the E2100 features a dedicated NPU (Network Processing Unit) with 1Gb of dedicated DDR2 memory. The NPU helps offload network traffic from the CPU freeing it up to do much more important tasks, like completing that ever so important “Head Shot” with no lag! The Killer E2100 takes advantage of Bigfoot Networks Game Networking DNA. The Game Network DNA software offloads gaming data to the NPE by bypassing the Windows network stack.

In addition to using the Killer E2100 NIC, the G1.SNIPER2 also integrates a high end audio card on to the motherboard. Instead of a Realtek audio codec, the SNIPER2 features Creative Soundblaster X-Fi Digital Audio Processor (20K2). The CA20K2 has X-FI Xtreme fidelity and EAX Advanced HD 5.0 technologies. What does this translate into for you? Crystal clear sound allowing you to experience your games like they were meant to be heard!.

The GIGABYTE G1.SNIPER2 has 8 Phases of power being delivered to the CPU help to build a much more reliable power delivery system. The entire GIGABYTE 6 series of motherboards uses DUAL CPU Power Technology. This technology allows the CPU VRM power phases to split into a pair of power engines that work together. In the case of the G1.SNIPER2 4 phases will be inactive while the other 4 are supplying power.

The GIGABYTE G1.SNIPER2 features a pair of PCIe X16 slots. If only the first PCIe X16 slot is populated it will run at the full X16 bandwidth. If you throw in a second graphics card into the G1.SNIPER2 in CrossfireX or SLI both of the cards will be run at X8. The GIGABYTE G1.SNIPER2 features support for the next generation of Intel 22nm “Ivy Bridge” processors as well as native support for PCI Express Gen 3. PCI Express Gen 3 offers up to double the bandwidth of the current PCIe 2.0. GIGABYTE also states that their entire line of 6 series motherboards will support these features as well. MSI is claiming that the only motherboard from GIGABYTE that offers native support for PCI Express Gen 3 is the G1.SNIPER2. Good news for us since that happens to be the board we are looking at. We are currently awaiting a response from GIGABYTE about these accusations, as soon as we hear anything about this we’ll be sure to let you know.

GIGABYTE G1-Killer Instinct Features

Super Sight Super Hearing Super Speed Super Shield
CrossFireX and SLI Onboard Creative
Soundblaster X-Fi Digital Audio Processor (20K2)
Bigfoot Networks Killer
E2100 Game Networking Platform
Locked and Loaded Heatpipe Design
1 x HDMI port, supporting a maximum resolution of 1920×1200 X-Fi Xtreme Fidelity Front Access Control Panel with OC button 5 Smart Fan Connectors
  EAX AHD 5.0 SATA 3.0 (6Gbps), USB 3.0 and 3x USB Power GIGABYTE Ultra Durable 3
  Dolby Digital Live   Maximum CPU Power Delivery
  DTS Connect   Dual CPU Power
  Front Audio Headphone Amplifier   Driver MOSFETs
  Nichicon High-end Audio Capacitors    


GIGABYTE G1.SNIPER2 Intel Z68 Specifications

CPU  - Support for:

  • Intel Core i7 processors
  • Intel Core i5 processors
  • Intel Core i3 processors
  • Intel Pentium processors
  • Intel Celeron processors in the LGA1155 package
Chipset  - Intel Z68 Express Chipset
Memory
  • 4 x 1.5V DDR3 DIMM sockets supporting up to 32 GB of system memory
  • 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
Onboard Graphics Integrated Graphics Processor:

  • 1 x HDMI port, supporting a maximum resolution of 1920×1200
Audio
  • 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
  •  2/4/5.1/7.1-channel
  • Support for S/PDIF Out
LAN
  • 1 x Bigfoot Killer E2100 chip (10/100/1000 Mbit)
Expansion Slots
  • 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16 (PCIEX16)
  • 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x8 (PCIEX8)
  • 2 x PCI Express x1 slots
  • 2 x PCI slots
Multi-Graphics Technology
  • Support for AMD CrossFireX/NVIDIA SLI technology
Storage Interface 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

Chipset:

  • 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
USB Chipset:

  • 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)
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
Back Panel Connectors
  • 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)
I/O Controller iTE IT8728 chip
H/W Monitoring
  • 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
BIOS
  • 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
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
  • 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
Bundle Software
  • Norton Internet Security (OEM version)
  • Intel Smart Response Technology
  • LucidLogix Virtu
Form Factor
  • ATX Form Factor; 30.5cm x 26.4cm

Now that we know what to expect from the GIGABYTE G1.SNIPER2, at least in terms of features we can start our tour. Join us on the next page as we take a look at the retail packaging and the bundle for the G1.SNIPER2!

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