Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 Motherboard
By Gabriel Torres on May 22, 2012


Introduction

The Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 is a high-end socket LGA1155 motherboard targeted to the “Ivy Bridge” processors (third-generation Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 processors), using the microATX form factor. Let’s see what the Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 has to offer.

The Intel Z77 is an upgraded version of the Z68 chipset with the same basic features (Intel Smart Response Technology and Virtu video switching technology), plus native support to four USB 3.0 ports. It also includes the addition of two new technologies: Smart Connect (allowing the computer to receive emails and refresh webpages while it is in sleep mode) and Rapid Start (faster boot times).

In addition, the Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 supports the Virtu Universal MVP, which allows you to combine the performance of the integrated graphics processor available in the CPU with the performance of any video card installed. This is similar to what occurs with the Hybrid SLI and ATI Hybrid Graphics technologies, with the notable difference of not being limited to GPUs from a specific manufacturer.

Gigabyte has launched 12 different motherboard models based on the Intel Z77 chipset; we list the differences between them in the tables below. We won’t describe the Z77X-UD5H-WB WIFI and the Z77X-UD3H-WB WIFI models, as they are simply a version of the Z77X-UD5H and the Z77X-UD3H models bundled with a PCI Express x1 expansion card containing IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n wireless networking and BlueTooth 4.0. This card is also included with the G1.Sniper 3 motherboard. Prices were researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this article.

Specification

G1.Sniper 3

Z77X-UD5H

Z77X-UD3H

Z77X-D3H

Z77-D3H

Z77-DS3H

Z77P-D3

Form Factor

E-ATX

ATX

ATX

ATX

ATX

ATX

ATX

Memory Sockets

4

4

4

4

4

4

4

PCI Express x16

4 (x16/x0/
x16/x0 or x16/x0/
x8/x8 or x8/x8/
x8/x8)

3 (x16/x0/x4 or x8/x8/x4)

3 (x16/x0/x4 or x8/x8/x4)

3 (x16/x0/x4 or x8/x8/x4)

2 (x16/x4)

2 (x16/x4)

2 (x16/x4)

PCI Express x1

2

3

3

3

3

2

2

Standard PCI

1

1

1

1

2

2

2

CrossFireX

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

SLI

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

SATA-300

4

4

4

4

4

3

3

SATA-600

6

5

2

4

2

2

2

eSATA-300

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

eSATA-600

0

1

2

0

0

0

0

mSATA

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

USB 2.0

4

6

6

6

10

8

8

USB 3.0

8*

8*

8

8

6

4

4

FireWire

2

2

0

0

0

0

0

BlueTooth

Yes, 4.0

No

No

No

No

No

No

Gigabit Ethernet

2

2

1

1

1

1

1

Wi-Fi

Yes, a/b/g/n

No

No

No

No

No

No

VGA

1

1

1

1

1

1

0

DVI

1

1

1

1

1

1

0

HDMI

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

DisplayPort

1

1

1

0

0

0

0

Audio

CA0132

ALC898

VT2021

VT2021

VT2021

ALC887

ALC887

Voltage Regulator

12+2+1

12+2+1

6+2+1

6+2+1

6+1+1

4+1+1

4+1+1

Price

USD 280

USD 190

USD 160

USD 145

USD 120

USD 105

NA

* The motherboard has only four “real” USB 3.0 ports that are expanded to eight using hub chips.

Specification

G1.Sniper M3

X77MX-D3H

Z77M-D3H

Form Factor

microATX

microATX

microATX

Memory Sockets

4

4

4

PCI Express x16

3 (x16/x0/x4 or x8/x8/x4)

3 (x16/x0/x4 or x8/x8/x4)

2 (x16/x4)

PCI Express x1

1

1

1

Standard PCI

0

0

1

CrossFireX

Yes

Yes

Yes

SLI

Yes

Yes

No

SATA-300

3

4

4

SATA-600

2

2

2

eSATA-300

1

0

0

eSATA-600

0

0

0

mSATA

0

0

0

USB 2.0

10

10

10

USB 3.0

4

4

4

FireWire

0

0

0

Gigabit Ethernet

1

1

1

VGA

1

1

1

DVI

1

1

1

HDMI

1

1

1

DisplayPort

1

0

0

Audio

CA0132

VT2021

VT2021

Voltage Regulator

6+2+1

4+1+1

4+1+1

Price

USD 180

USD 135

USD 115

Figure 1 shows you the G1.Sniper M3 motherboard.

Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 motherboard
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Figure 1: Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 motherboard

Slots

The Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 comes with two PCI Express 3.0/2.0 x16 slots, one PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot, and one PCI Express 2.0 x1 slot.

The two PCI Express 3.0/2.0 x16 slots are controlled by the CPU, with the first slot working at x16 when only one video card is installed, and with both working at x8 when two video cards are installed. Since these slots are controlled by the CPU, they will offer PCI Express 2.0 bandwidth (8 GB/s at x16) when a “Sandy Bridge” CPU is installed, but PCI Express 3.0 bandwidth (16 GB/s at x16) when an “Ivy Bridge” CPU is used.

It is important to know that, differently from most motherboards, the second PCI Express 3.0/2.0 x16 slot is not the one close to the first slot; it is the third slot of the motherboard, the one closer to the edge of the board.

The third PCI Express x16 slot is controlled by the chipset and always works at x4, offering PCI Express 2.0 bandwidth. This slot is the one in the middle.

So, if you want to install two video cards, the second video card must be installed in the third slot (labeled “PCIEX8”) and not in the second, as is the norm. Also, if you want to install a dual-slot video card in this slot, you will need to use a computer case with at least five expansion slots. (Small computer cases targeted to microATX motherboards usually have four.)

The PCI Express x16 slots support both SLI and CrossFireX technologies.

Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 motherboard
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Figure 2: Slots

Memory Support

Intel socket LGA1155 CPUs have an embedded memory controller, meaning that it is the processor, not the chipset, that defines what memory technologies you can have and the maximum amount of memory that is possible. The motherboard, however, may have a limitation as to how much memory can be installed.

The integrated memory controller from socket LGA1155 processors supports DDR3 memories up to 1,333 MHz (“Sandy Bridge” CPUs) or up to 1,600 MHz (“Ivy Bridge” CPUs). According to Gigabyte, the G1.Sniper M3 supports memories up to 2,400 MHz.

The Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 has four memory sockets. Since DDR3 memory modules can be found in capacities up to 8 GB, you can have up to 32 GB with this motherboard if you use four 8 GB modules.

In order to enable the dual-channel mode, you must install two or four memory modules. When installing two memory modules, you will have to “skip” one memory socket. On the Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3, the first and third memory sockets are green, while the second and fourth are black. When installing two memory modules, use the green sockets.

Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 motherboard
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Figure 3: Memory sockets; install two or four modules for the best performance

On-Board Peripherals

The Intel Z77 chipset is a single-chip solution, which is also known as a PCH (Platform Controller Hub). This chip supports two SATA-600 ports and four SATA-300 ports, supporting RAID (0, 1, 10, and 5). Two of the SATA-300 ports and the SATA-600 ports are located at the motherboard’s edge and rotated 90°. One SATA-300 port uses a regular SATA connector and is located near the motherboard edge; a video card installed in the third PCI Express x16 slot (“PCIEX8”) may block it. The fourth SATA-300 port, routed to the motherboard rear panel, is available as an eSATA-300 port.

Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 motherboard
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Figure 4: The three SATA-300 ports (black) and the two SATA-600 ports (white)

The Intel Z77 chipset supports 14 USB 2.0 ports and four USB 3.0 ports. The Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 offers 10 USB 2.0 ports, four available on the motherboard rear panel and six available through three headers located on the motherboard. It also offers four USB 3.0 ports, two located on the motherboard rear panel and two available on a header located on the motherboard.

The Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 doesn’t support FireWire ports.

This motherboard supports 5.1 audio format, which may seem like a drawback, since most motherboards in the same category support 7.1 audio. However, this motherboard uses a high-end audio codec, the Creative CA0132. Unfortunately, the precise specifications for this chip are not available to the public. The motherboard has a shield against electromagnetic interference around its audio section. See Figure 5.

Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 motherboard
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Figure 5: Shield against electromagnetic interference

The motherboard has an optical SPDIF output and an amplified headphone output on the rear panel (the dark green jack).

The portrayed motherboard has one Gigabit Ethernet port, controlled by the chipset and using an Intel WG82579V chip to make the physical layer interface.

In Figure 6, you can see the motherboard rear panel with four USB 2.0 ports, shared PS/2 connector for keyboard and mouse, VGA output, DVI-D output, DisplayPort output, HDMI output, eSATA-300 port, Gigabit Ethernet port, two USB 3.0 ports, optical SPDIF output, and the analog audio jacks.

Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 motherboard
click to enlarge
Figure 6: Motherboard rear panel

Other Features

This motherboard has two BIOS chips, so if the main BIOS chip is corrupted by a virus or a bad BIOS upgrade, you can still recover the motherboard.

Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 motherboard
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Figure 7: Two BIOS chips

The Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 supports the installation of a TPM (Trusted Platform Module), a module that encrypts data in order to increase the computer’s security level.

The motherboard comes with a series of stickers (shown in Figure 8) for you to use on your computer case or wherever you want.

Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 motherboard
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Figure 8: Stickers

In Figure 9, you can see all of the accessories that come with the Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3.

Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 motherboard
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Figure 9: Accessories

Voltage Regulator

The CPU voltage regulator circuit of the Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 has six phases for the CPU main voltage (Vcc a.k.a. Vcore), two for the CPU VSA voltage (memory controller), and one for the CPU VTT voltage (PCI Express and DMI interfaces). Therefore, it uses a “6+2+1” configuration. The voltage regulator is controlled by an IR3567 integrated circuit, using a digital design.

Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 motherboard
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Figure 10: Voltage regulator circuit

The Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 uses solid electrolytic capacitors. All coils on this motherboard are ferrite-core models, which can provide up to 20% improvement in efficiency.

If you want to learn more about the voltage regulator circuit, please read our tutorial on the subject.

Overclocking Options

The Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 has a few overclocking options. Below, we list the most important ones (F6 BIOS):

Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 motherboard
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Figure 11: Overclocking options

Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 motherboard
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Figure 12: Voltage options

Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 motherboard
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Figure 13: Memory options

Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 motherboard
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Figure 14: Memory options

Main Specifications

The main specifications for the Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 include:

* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this First Look article.

Conclusions

Although it uses the microATX form factor, the Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 is a high-end motherboard, targeted to users who want to build a small yet powerful PC.

Its highlights include the presence of three PCI Express x16 slots (supporting both CrossFireX and SLI), which are great to see on microATX motherboards, and a high-end audio codec from Creative. Also worth mentioning are the overclocking capability in 0.01 MHz increments, the presence of two BIOS chips, and support for three PWM fans.

Motherboards using the standard ATX form factor may bring more SATA-600 and USB 3.0 ports, but we understand that it is very hard to squeeze so many ports on a microATX motherboard.

The price of this motherboard is not bad for all the features it brings, so it is a really nice choice if you are building a small form factor computer for playing games and carrying it around.

Originally at http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Gigabyte-G1Sniper-M3-Motherboard/1557


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