On Board Peripherals

The Intel Z87 chipset is a single-chip solution, which is also known as a PCH (Platform Controller Hub). This chip has six SATA-600 ports, supporting RAID (0, 1, 10, and 5). The Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5 comes with four additional SATA-600 ports, controlled by one Marvell 88SE9230 chip (supporting RAID 0, 1, and 10). The SATA ports are installed on the motherboard edge and rotated 90°, so the installation of video cards won’t block them.

Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5Figure 5: The four SATA-600 ports controlled by the Marvell chip (gray) and the six SATA-600 ports controlled by the chipset (black)

The Intel Z87 chipset supports 14 USB 2.0 ports and six USB 3.0 ports. The Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5 offers six USB 2.0 ports, two located on the motherboard rear panel and four available through two headers located on the motherboard. There are 10 USB 3.0 ports, all of them controlled by the chipset. Two of them (available through a header) are connected directly to the chipset, while the other eight (six located at the rear panel and two available through a header) are connected to four USB 3.0 ports from the chipset by way of two Renesas uPD720210 hub chips.

The Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5 doesn’t support FireWire ports.

One of the highlights of this motherboard is the professional-grade onboard audio, generated by a Creative Sound Core 3D chip (5.1 channels, 24-bit resolution, 102 dBA signal-to-noise ratio at the analog outputs and 101 dBA signal-to-noise ratio at the analog inputs). This chip is covered by a gold-plated shield, and all the audio section is physically separated from the other circuitry by a line that glows in green (there are some green LEDs at the solder side of the board, near the semi-transparent line). These features reduce interference and helps the audio section to achieve its nominal signal-to-noise ratios. All the capacitors on this circuit are audio models from the Japanese manufacturer Nichicon. The analog audio outputs are independent and gold-plated, and the motherboard also comes with an on-board coaxial and optical SPDIF outputs.

Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5Figure 6: Onboard audio section

Another unique feature of the G1.Sniper 5 is the replaceable operational amplifier (op-amp) for analog headphones. You can choose to use the Burr-Brown OPA2134PA op-amp that comes with the board, or an LM4562 that also comes with the motherboard, in order to adjust the audio nuances to your personal taste. Probably, only a seasoned audiophile will hear the difference, but it is very cool to swap components on your motherboard, which comes even with an integrated circuit extractor tool to do so.

Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5Figure 7: Replaceable audio op-amp

The portrayed motherboard has two Gigabit Ethernet ports, one controlled by an Intel I217V chip and the other controlled by an Atheros Killer 2201 chip, which is a high-performance Gigabit Ethernet controller.

The Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5 comes with a Wi-Fi/Bluetooth module. This module supports the IEEE802.11n/g/b/a standards, with dual band (i.e., 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz). The module supports Bluetooth 4.0 and it is also compatible with Bluetooth 3.0.

Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5Figure 8: Communications module

In Figure 9, you can see the motherboard rear panel with two USB 2.0 ports, a shared PS/2 keyboard/mouse connector, coaxial SPDIF output, six USB 3.0 ports, DisplayPort output, two HDMI outputs, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, optical SPDIF output, and the analog audio jacks.

Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5Figure 9: Motherboard rear panel

Rafael Otto Coelho is a physicist with a master's degree in Education, and is a college professor in Brazil.