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Comprehensive Mainboard Gigabyte G1.Sniper A88X Review

APUs AMD Kaveri gave push to the emergence of high-performance systems, which can cope with the majority of modern Full HD games. In this light, demanding customers are preoccupied with the choice of motherboards for Socket FM2+ platform in order to satisfy their basic gaming needs. Gigabyte was one of the first companies to come forward with those demands and the launch of G1.Sniper A88X mainboard is an attempt to win the audience. Except for gaming bells and whistles, this model is ready to offer a comprehensive list of functional for high-end systems.

Key Features

Gigabyte G1.Sniper A88X belongs to the G1-Killer exclusive series, featuring:
— form-factor: ATX (305x225 mm);
— chipset and APU: AMD A88X for socket FM2+, AMD Athlon/A4/A6/A8/A10 series APUs (Kaveri, Trinity, Richland);
— memory: 4x DIMM slots, DDR3 standard, 64 GB maximal capacity, 1333 MHz-2400 OC MHz frequencies;
— integrated graphics: Radeon HD R7/7000/8000 series;
— expansion slots: 2x PCI, 3x PCI-e 2.0 x1, 1x PCI-e 3.0 x16, 1x PCI-e 2.0 x16;
— integrated audio: Realtek ALC898 controller, 7-1-channel HD;
— network: Realtek RTL8111F controller, gigabit Ethernet port;
— storage: 8x SATA III 6 Gb/sec ports under A88X control, RAID support (0/1/5/10/JBOD);
— fan sockets: 1x 3-pin, 3x 4-pin;
— BIOS: AMI UEFI;
— I/O (external/internal): 3x video ports (DVI-D, HDMI, D-Sub), 1x DAC-UP port, 1x PS/2, 1x optical S/PDIF, 13x USB ports controlled by A88X chipset (4x v3.0 and 9x v2.0), 1x COM;
— shipping contents: DVD with software and drivers, comprehensive user’s manual, case sticker, 4x SATA 6 Gb/sec cables, I/O Shield.

Design and Layout

This model is a typical ATX mainboard, though with unusual dimensions. It offers multiple opportunities to expand the functional of the system, due to numerous dedicated slots. The PCI-e 3.0 x16 slot is thought to house the most exclusive graphics cards; its companion, the PCI-e 2.0 x16, always runs at x4 mode but can be used for the installation of another card to enable AMD CrossFireX operational mode. The other PCI slots are predestined for add-ons, which can’t but hearten the owners of sound cards and TV-tuners.

An advanced audio subsystem is supposed to be one of the board’s key advantages. The audio path is separated from other PCB nodes by an isolating split in copper capacitors; such framework trick is due to reduce the framing. The integrated controller is covered by a metallic shield; stability of sounding is ascribed to high-quality Nichicon Pro Audio capacitors. If there is a need to enhance the subsystem, the user is able to change the OPA2132 amplifier (Texas Instruments) by the other one. Furthermore, the availability of two dedicated switches provides for the adjustment of output signal level.

To continue, Gigabyte has furnished the model with DAC-UP port. It is a unique interface predestined for the connection of external sound cards and other devices with rather high demands towards power voltage. As for the integrated graphics core, it is thought to enable Eyefinity technology that supports up to three monitors at a time.

VRM system comes with 6-phase scheme layout: four phases provide power to the computing units and the two left phases – to the built-in northern bridge. Power elements include MOSFETs with an open channel resistance. VRM cooling consists of a middle-sized heatsink, whereas the chipset if cooled by a voluminous heatspreader of a traditional shape.

UEFI Setup

Gigabyte G1.Sniper A88X firmware is based on AMI UEFI microcode. Similar to other manufacturer’s mainboards, this model features an original graphics interface. Once after the user enters UEFI Setup, he is headed to M.I.T. tab (Mainboard Intelligent Tweaker). This tab is responsible for all overclocking and response time functional. M.I.T. Current Status section unveils data about the working mode of computing modules and RAM subsystem.

Advanced Frequency Settings submenu embraces all options pertained to overclocking. Here, one may find dedicated option to adjust XMP or AMP RAM memory profiles. Advanced CPU Core Settings tab is responsible to the adjustment of APU technologies, including SVM, TurboCore, and Coll’n’Quite. Advanced Voltage Settings submenu combines VRM setup options; apart from the voltage, the user is able to alter Loadline Control index (for computing cores and northern bridge).

PC Health Status section displays information from two thermal and three tachometric sensors, and tells about APU/memory/power buses voltage index. The availability of several fan profiles allows for the manipulation of their rotational speed.

Finally, System Information menu is dedicated to the data about UEFI Setup version, local time/date settings, as well as security parameters. Apart from the standard options, the firmware is equipped with Q-Flash utility for the update of a microcode, saving the profiles and user settings.
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  • 14 March 2014, 18:36
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