Gigabyte Z68 G1.Sniper 2 Review
There are many things we review that the numbers tell the whole story. You can look through the speeds of an SSD and know instantly if it's good enough or not. Graphics cards aren't so simple because you have the heat and noise issue to take into account. Input devices are largely a matter of personal taste. And so it goes on.
Motherboards fall in the middle ground. To a certain extent you can just look at the gaudy overclocking numbers, and also how much of that available power it can put to use. But there is also the accessories package, the aesthetics and the included features. To dig up a tired comparison, any car can pass 70MPH and provide space for your shopping, but do you really ignore the Mercedes S-Class because a Proton has the same basic bits and bobs? Of course not.
That segues us neatly into the Gigabyte Z68 G1.Sniper 2.
In pure overclocking terms it's right up there with every other Z68 around, capable of pushing our 2500K to 4.8 GHz. We saw a partially stable 4.9 GHz and with more time to get the voltages at the sweet spot we should have got it stable through all our tests. However 4.8 GHz was very easy to obtain and with greatly reduced voltages compared to most other Z68s we've seen.
So many of our benchmarks are heavily reliant upon the clock-speed of the CPU that the results seem pretty much on a par. The two major tests that really sort the chaff out from the wheat are both versions of PC Mark, and its graphics brother 3D Mark. Here the Sniper 2 stands like a Titan. The Z68A UD3P made good use of the IRST, but the G1.Sniper 2 is capable of maximising every ounce of power available to it and the results back that up. One of the biggest surprises was how well the extra bandwidth of the v3 spec PCIe can be utilised by our GTX570. Sure the GPU ran out of puff at serious image quality settings but with either a current dual-GPU card, or the inevitable next gen stuff, then we'll really see this thing fly.
Besides the next-gen benefits of having a PCIe 3.0 slot, the other two big features are the inclusion of a Creative soundcard and the Killer NIC. The Realtek ALC889 has been a stalwart of the onboard sound world for a long time and although it's better than a lot of earlier audio solutions the improvement from the Creative chip are clear. The Killer NIC we reviewed in its initial form a few years back and the gains were moderate. Now as we've all got fat broadband lines and seriously powerful computers the benefits of it are less obvious. As more and more games move towards server-side synchronization then the need to be a LPB is less apparent. However it's better to have it than not, and it's in keeping with the premium target audience.
Unfortunately that word Premium only means one thing. Yes the Sniper 2 comes with an eye-watering price-tag of £320. You might get a Creative soundcard and Killer NIC, but you pay for them too and not much less than they'd be if you purchased them as a separate addition to, for example, a UD5. It's harder to swallow the Premium market sector aim-point when, like all Gigabyte boards, they seem to be allergic to putting a EFI BIOS on them. We know that High-End boards command a high-end price, but sometimes it feels like they're charging such high prices because they can. However that's an argument for another day.
So really it all boils down to how much you like the design and if those expensive extra features are worthy of your hard-earned cash. We really do like it. It looks stunning, the package is excellent, performance is great too. The G1.Sniper 2 is a worthy winner of our Performance award. Just a shame about that enormous price for a few select features.