Truth being told, there isn’t much in the way of performance difference between motherboards these days. It all comes down to the features that you are looking for. With the recent launch of the Intel Z77 express chipset, one of the few distinguishing features between motherboards has become much more standardized. The Intel Z77 chipset brought with it Intel’s own solution for SuperSpeed USB 3.0. We are no longer seeing the various SuperSpeed USB 3.0 controllers that we were seeing with the Intel P67 and Intel Z68 chipsets. There are some motherboard manufacturers that have implemented third party USB 3.0 controller in addition to the Intel Z77 chipset USB 3.0, that does drive up the cost of the motherboard so only a few have done it.
When it comes to features though, few have more than the GIGABYTE G1-Killer series of motherboards. The entire line of GIGABYTE G1-Killer series of motherboards has always prided itself on that fact. In my eyes, the feature that stands out the most is the Creative Sound Blaster audio technology that has been implemented on the product stack. Few others have done this, and I don’t believe anyone has a product stack with this many motherboards that feature the Creative Sound Blaster chipset. There are a few out there that use the Creative software, but are still relying on the Realtek audio controllers. The GIGABYTE G1-Killer Series uses the Creative Software as well as the Creative CA0132 chip.
There may not be much in the way of performance difference between Intel Z77 chipset motherboards, but there is a huge difference it the way each board overclocks. Maybe not in the way that pushes the chip further than others, but in how quickly you can reach the maximum of your particular piece of Silicon. After about 15 minutes of minimal effort we were able to hit the maximum stable frequency of our Intel Core i7 3770K. None of the motherboards that we have had our Intel Core i7 3770K on have been able to be stable at anything over 4.7GHz. Early on with this chip we thought we were stable, but later discovered that Prime95 isn’t the best test for stability anymore. We recently switched to AIDA64 System Stability test, and have seen much better stable results for our testing. Both the GIGABYTE G1.Sniper3 and the G1.Sniper M3 were rock solid at 4.7GHz in a short time, quite possibly the smoothest overclocking sessions that I have had in recent memory! I had a blast with these boards!
Obviously there are some significant differences between the GIGABYTE G1.Sniper3 and the G1.Sniper M3. The smaller PCB of the GIGABYTE G1.Sniper M3 eliminates a significant amount of real estate to integrate features onto. The most notable difference is the expansion capabilities between the two Intel Z77 motherboards. The G1.Sniper3 has the ability to run up to four graphics cards in either NVIDIA SLI or AMD CrossFireX technologies, the G1.Sniper M3 only has the ability to run either 2-way NVIDIA SLI or AMD CrossFireX technologies. The GIGABYTE G1.Sniper M3 is also missing the Qualcomm Atheros Killer E2200 Game Networking Platform, instead GIGABYTE implemented an Intel Gigabit Ethernet solution which is no slouch in the networking world either.
Despite the GIGABYTE G1.Sniper3 and the G1.Sniper M3 both being part of the GIGABYTE G1-Killer Gaming motherboards product stack, they both file in at a very different price point. The GIGABYTE G1.Sniper3 carries a street price of $279.99 + $10.02 Shipping, while the G1.Sniper M3 carries a price of only $179.99 w/free shipping. With a hundred bucks separating these two boards, they are clearly in different leagues, so it’s not surprising that the G1.Sniper M3 doesn’t have all of the features of the G1.Sniper3 so we can’t fault it for that. Though no matter which of the GIGABYTE G1.Sniper motherboards that you choose, you are backed by a three year warranty from GIGABYTE in the event of failure.
Legit Bottom Line: The GIGABYTE G1.Sniper3 is a top tier motherboard that has all the features that one would expect to find on a motherboard of this quality! The GIGABYTE G1.Sniper M3 may not have the features, but it makes up for it with a price tag much lower and the performance to match the more expensive version! I would easily recommend either of these motherboard if you are looking to build a new Intel ‘Ivy Bridge’ system!