Page 2 - Bundle, Chipset, BIOS
Upon opening the package for the Gigabyte G1.Sniper, you will find yourself pulling an additional briefcase-like box out of the one that is encompassing it. This interior box is designed with a green digital camouflage to further engrave the military theme into the user's brain. Out of the box, you will be presented with a plethora of eye-catching accessories that accompany the G1.Sniper. Usually, motherboards are wrapped in their anti-static bags with accessories and manual organized in a separate tray. However, the G1.Sniper is catered in its very own cardboard display box in the top half, while the bottom half contains the tray of accessories. You will be happy to find a poster and a series of stickers on top of the manual, driver DVD, CrossFireX Bridge, 2-Way SLI Bridge, 3-Way SLI Bridge, four SATA 3.0 cables, a front panel USB 3.0 expansion, and an I/O shield plate. Since Gigabyte marketed as a hardcore gaming motherboard, as promoted extensively around the box, the stickers and poster should come with no surprise to you. If you haven't noticed yet, the shield plate is decorated with some designs to match the entire theme, rather than using the usual plain aluminum finish.
Codenamed Tylersburg, the X58 chipset is designed to accommodate LGA1366 Core i7 processors exclusively. With Intel's Nehalem microarchitecture, the triple channel DDR3 memory controller now resides on the processor itself rather than the Northbridge; making the X58 I/O hub -- formerly known as the Northbridge -- to be the sole provider of PCI Express 2.0 lanes to the graphics card. 36 lanes are available for up to two full speed PCIe x16 slots in multi-card configurations. Connecting the processor and IOH is Intel's QuickPath Interconnect, or QPI, interface, with up to 25.6GB/s of bandwidth for maximum performance.
Meanwhile, a more traditional implementation is used between the X58 IOH and ICH10R Southbridge by a 2GB/s DMI connection. As shown in our chipset block diagram above, the chipset provides 12 native USB 2.0 ports, 6 PCI Express x1 lanes, and 6 Serial ATA 3Gb/s ports with full RAID capabilities. Because the Intel X58 chipset was first introduced in 2008, you will find no native USB 3.0 nor SATA 6Gb/s ports (Although no Intel motherboards support USB 3.0 natively anyway), but the Gigabyte G1.Sniper we are reviewing today does have SATA 6Gb/s ports as well as USB 3.0 via third-party controllers. We will take a look into that in more detail later on in this review.
Like all Gigabyte motherboards, the G1.Sniper uses an Award BIOS. This usually incorporates a series of menus and pages for each function, rather than tabs found in American Megatrends BIOSes popular with ASUS motherboards. Standard adjustment features and computer information are found on the left side, while other miscellaneous features are found on the right side. Since the miscellaneous features and some standard adjustment features are quite straightforward, I will mainly be covering the Motherboard Intelligent Tweaker screens for the interest of time.
The Motherboard Intelligent Tweaker screen is divided into five sections. From the top down, these sections are labeled M.I.T Current Status, Advanced Frequency Settings, Advanced Memory Settings, Advanced Voltage Settings, and Miscellaneous Settings. It should be pretty clear what the kind of settings are listed under each section, but if you are still unclear, you will find out in just a moment. In addition, we can see in a separate section below these subsections, providing information on the current BIOS version, base clock frequency, memory frequency, total memory size, CPU surface temperature, Vcore, and DRAM voltage. I found this particularly handy and convenient during my overclocking runs.
The M.I.T Current Status screen provides detailed information such as the CPU name, CPUID, CPU update revision, bus frequency, Uncore frequency, Turbo/Non-Turbo multiplier and frequency of each core, temperature of each CPU core, memory size in each DIMM, as well as current latency settings for each channel of memory. Like the M.I.T main screen described earlier, I found this particularly handy while going through the usual overclocking procedures. Having everything laid out in organized tables is particularly valuable to the end user to quickly get an idea of what is going on inside their computer.
The Advanced Frequency Settings screen lets the user tweak processor settings. Ahh screw that, I'll say the O-word -- overclocking. Adjusting the CPU clock ratio and BCLK frequency requires the user to enter an integer value, since we are not dealing with Sandy Bridge processors on P67, haha. Adjusting the memory ratio can be done by entering the desired value directly, and a dialog box will pop up and let the user select the nearest divider. Hitting Enter prior to that will bring up a dialog box for the user to select these values directly from a list. Under the Advanced CPU Core Features section are options for enabling or disabling features such as Turbo Boost, SpeedStep, and processor cores. It is also possible to select XMP profiles in the Advanced Frequency Settings screen.
The Advanced Memory Settings screen, as its name suggests, has memory setting options that the user can adjust. You can select XMP profiles in addition to the Advanced Frequency Settings menu discussed earlier. However, you will also find quick data relating to memory voltage as well. Timing settings for each channel can be adjusted under their respective timing settings screens, with default latencies in a static column and current/future settings in an adjustable column. Adjusting timing settings involves a dialog box for the user to enter a decimal value, so you won't need to scroll through a long list of numbers to find a desired value.
The last Motherboard Intelligent Tweaker screen covers the Advanced Voltage Settings screen. You will find an organized table with a column for voltage type, static normal values, and current/future values that you can adjust. Voltage is adjusted by bringing up a dialog box with a list of voltages. Sometimes, it is quite tedious to go through a long list of voltages before finding the desired value. Good thing you can type in the desired number directly, and the motherboard will automatically round what you have entered to the nearest allowed value. CPU Vcore values start at 0.750V and goes up by increments of 0.005V, to a maximum of 1.70V at the end of the list. DRAM voltage starts out at 0.900V, and goes up by increments of 0.200V until it reaches 2.600V. If the desired value is high, the listed or selected value will be written in purple. If the value is extremely high, then it will flash in red.
1. Introduction, Features, and Specifications
2. Bundle, Chipset, BIOS
3. A Closer Look, Board Layout, Test System
4. Benchmark: AIDA64 CPU
5. Benchmark: AIDA64 FPU
6. Benchmark: AIDA64 Memory
7. Benchmark: PCMark 7
8. Benchmark: 3DMark 11
9. Benchmark: PassMark PerformanceTest 7.0
10. Benchmark: SuperPI 1M, Cinebench R11.5
11. Onboard Sound (RMAA 6.2.3) Analyzation
12. Overclocking and Conclusion