What makes a motherboard a gaming platform? Simply stated, it has to offer more than fancy colors, packaging, and clever marketing labels. The features and components should be designed to improve or create a better than standard gaming experience. For motherboards, this is a difficult challenge because it requires serious quality control to ensure proper implementation of gaming specific features and that will normally mean premium price for premium features.
When the GIGABYTE G1-Killer Sniper 2 (Z68) arrived, it did that quite well offering an array of features including high quality audio and networking. But the GIGABYTE G1-Killer Sniper 5 promises to provide even more with a true gamer theme. Read on to see how this new board stacks up to an in depth inspection.
Features and Specifications
We debuted the Sniper 5’s ultra cool best features when we last visited GIGABYTE. The board delivers an attractive gaming theme, OP AMP or AMP UP optional audio amplifiers, Creative Labs Extreme Gamer audio processor, 4-way NVIDIA SLI and CrossFireX, and high quality implementation to ensure diamond target stability whether gaming at stock, or overclocked.
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Heat should never be an issue for this platform as the Sniper 5 offers nine onboard fan connectors. That’s enough to control any size computer enclosure on the market including a custom water cooling system. The VREG heat sinks around the CPU socket feature two nozzles should you want to liquid cool the sinks. Unfortunately, the size of the nozzles aren’t readily disclosed so consult the manual before ordering your water cooling supplies (or just measure with a set of calipers). However, the board will function perfectly fine without liquid cooling thanks to the small cooling fan and vents.
The latest software features include GIGABYTE’s new Easy Tune utility for overclocking and tweaking your system right down to the case fan control, G1-Killer Dual UEFI BIOS for redundant recovery should a variable take your board down, APP Center for an all in one tweaking and BIOS updating, and of course proper driver support to get you operational.
The GIGABYTE G1-Killer Sniper 5 will retail for around $399.99 US from most major retailers.
What’s in the Box?
The G1-Killer Sniper 5 comes with far more accessories than you’ll typically need to build your system. Inside you’ll find the following: six black SATA cables, one 3.5″ USB 3.0 case bracket, two SLI/CrossFireX ribbons, one three-way bridge, one four way SLI/CrossFireX bridge, audio media cable, black G1 Killer IO shield, WiFi adapter and antenna, manuals and software.
The board also comes with two OP AMP dual chips and tool kit inside. The AMP chips that come with the standard board bundle include an OPA2134 and LM4562NA. You’ll find the OPA2134 sounds best in live action games and LM4562NA works best with voice based games. While our board came with two amps, it appears newer SKU boards are bundled with a Premium Upgrade Kit with three different chips.
The upgrade kit bundled with new boards will have a Burr-Brown OPA2111KP, Linear Technology LT1358CN8, and Analog Devices AD827JNZ. What’s the difference? More on that next section.
GIGABYTE OP AMP Details
What is an OP AMP? After GIGABYTE tackled the audio implementation challenge, which resulted in better integrated audio quality, they added the OP AMP feature to only the Sniper 5, Sniper M5, and Sniper Z87 boards. There is a single IC socket where users plug in the optional amplifier of choice that works in unison with the integrated Creative Sound audio processor. To use the OP AMP feature, power off the system and simply plug in an amp of your choice. Each amp has a different quality of output.
The three amps that come with the upgrade kit enhance certain aspects of game genres. Referring to the previous section, the OP2111KP seems to rumble out more bass and midrange. While the LT1358CN8 focuses more on midrange which is good for MMO or RPG games where voices need to carry. The AD827JNZ blends the two as sort of an all around experience without deafening you.
As far as we can tell, most any compatible amp IC on the market will work on the Z87 Sniper series. However, GIGABYTE has currently certified eleven that work best on the G1-Killer Sniper series. So nothing is stopping you from pulling OP AMPS out of old high end hi-fi equipment to experiment with.
Let’s pop ahead and have a look at this board.