Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5
The G1.Killer 5 is intended for the serious gamer. While the black and green color scheme from the previous versions remains, fortunately the cheesy gun-shaped heatsinks have disappeared. The heatsink on the voltage regulators is still impressive, it's equipped with an optional active fan and it can be connected to a liquid cooling set.
Like the GA-Z87X-OC, the G1.Sniper 5 has four PCI-Express x16 slots and three PCI-Express x1. This board has a PLX PEX8747 PCI-Express 3.0 switch that makes it so the slots can have 16/0/16/0 or 8/8/8/8 lanes. That makes the G1.Sniper 5 perfect for Triple- or Quad-SLI. It's been certified for this, and a number of SLI bridges are included.
Audio is provided by a Creative Sound Core3D chip, also used for the Creative Sound Blaster ZxR audio card. You also get a complete Creative driver package including various gaming features. The part of the motherboard where the audio chip is located has been shielded as much as possible to prevent interference. There's a powerful headphone pre-amp, with capacitors from Nichicon. The OpAmp on the pre-amp is replaceable, and Gigabyte even includes an alternative. The standard one is the Burr-Brown OPA2134PA, and the second is a National Semiconductor JR12ABE3. We'll leave it to the audiophiles to determine which one is best, but the standard one already has a loop-back signal-to-noise ratio of 96 dB(A), truly outstanding for a motherboard.
Another gaming feature is the Killer E2201 Gigabit network chip. The drivers let you prioritize internet traffic. The second Gigabit LAN port comes from an Intel WG-I217V chip.
The board has ten Serial ATA 600 ports, mostly from the Z87 chips, and the rest from a Marvell 88SE9230. There's 10 USB 3.0 ports, six of which are external. There's six USB 2.0 port, two external. Monitor connectors consist of two DVI and DisplayPorts, but gamers will of course use the connectors on the graphics cards. The monitor and audio connectors are in gold.
There are some overclocking features as well on the G1.Sniper 5, similar from the GA-Z87X-UD5H. There's a 16-phase power supply with digital PWMs, onboard power/reset/clear CMOS buttons, a HEX display, a manual Dual BIOS switch and eight voltage measuring points. The BIOS is the same. In the box you also get a PCI-Express x1 card with 300 Mbps 802.11n WLAN and Bluetooth 4.0.
The G1.Sniper 5 is indeed an ultimate gaming motherboard, but this is unfortunately reflected by the price. An average price of € 425 means that it's a niche board only for the real avid gamers out there, but it's a really good one.