Review Index:
Feedback

Gigabyte G1.Sniper A88X Review: FM2+ for the Enthusiast?

Author:
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: Gigabyte

FM2+ Has a High End?

AMD faces a bit of a quandary when it comes to their products.  Their APUs are great at graphics, but not so great at general CPU performance.  Their products are all under $200 for the CPU/APU but these APUs are not popular with the enthusiast and gaming crowd.  Yes, they can make excellent budget gaming systems for those who do not demand ultra-high resolutions and quality settings, but it is still a tough sell for a lot of the mainstream market; the primary way AMD pushes these products is price.

Perhaps the irony here is that AMD is extremely competitive with Intel when it comes to chipset features.  The latest A88X Fusion Control Hub is exceptionally well rounded with four native USB 3.0 ports, ten USB 2.0 ports, and eight SATA-6G ports.  Performance of this chipset is not all that far off from what Intel offers with the Z87 chipset (USB and SATA-6G are slower, but not dramatically so).  The chip also offers RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 support as well as a 10/100/1000 Ethernet MAC (but a physical layer chip is still required).

View Full Size

Now we get back to price.  AMD is not charging a whole lot for these FCH units, even the top end A88X.  I do not have the exact number, but it is cheap as compared to the competing Intel option.  Intel’s chipset business has made money for the company for years, but AMD does not have that luxury.  AMD needs to bundle effectively to be competitive, so it is highly doubtful that the chipset division makes a net profit at the end of the day.  Their job is to help push AMD’s CPU and APU offerings as much as possible.

These low cost FCH chips allow motherboard manufacturers to place a lot of customization on their board, but they are still limited in what they can do.  A $200+ motherboard simply will not fly with consumers for the level of overall performance that even the latest AMD A10 7850K APU provides in CPU bound workloads.  Unfortunately, HSA has not yet taken off to leverage the full potential of the Kaveri APU.  We have had big developments, just not big enough that the majority of daily users out there will require an AMD APU.  Until that happens, AMD will not be viewed favorably when it comes to its APU offerings in gaming or high performance systems.

The quandary obviously is how AMD and its motherboard partners can create inexpensive motherboards that are feature packed, yet will not break the bank or become burdensome towards APU sales?  The FX series of processors from AMD do have a bit more leeway as the performance of the high end FX-8350 is not considered bad, and it is a decent overclocker.  That platform can sustain higher motherboard costs due to this performance.  The APU side, not so much.  The answer to this quandary is tradeoffs.

Click here to read the entire review of the Gigabyte G1.Sniper A88X!

The Gigabyte G1.Sniper A88X

The Sniper brand is the enthusiast series from Gigabyte that was initially introduced for Intel processors.  This obviously has changed to include the latest AMD APUs and their corresponding motherboards.  Typically the Sniper boards are much higher priced than their more mainstream counterparts, due to build quality and features.  The FM2+ platform has not yet made waves with the majority of enthusiasts, and so the focus on the Sniper branding for FM2+ has to be laser sharp so as not to inflate the price of the motherboard.

View Full Size

The focus of the G1.Sniper A88X is most obviously audio for this release.  The amount of audio features for this board is pretty impressive.  This is all well and good, but there had to be some compromises with the design to be able to hit the sub-$125 US price point that Gigabyte is aiming for.  Before we go into those compromises, let us take a look at what I consider to be a pretty beefy audio implementation.

The first feature is the USB DAC-UP functionality.  Gigabyte implements a single USB port, that is gold plated, and has very fine voltage and current control.  Not every user will utilize the built-in audio of the board, and may in fact opt for a USB based device for sound (headphones, external sound card, etc.).  This particular implementation smooths out the power delivery and utilizes the gold plating to give the best possible connection.  This is an interesting idea, and a useful feature for some, but it likely will not be universally utilized.  I guess the gold connections are nice, but since the USB specification is digital, we will not be experiencing any “Monster Cable” type improvements.  The improved electrical contact in this case just means that the connection will theoretically be better so no data is dropped.  The gold color also allows users to easily identify which USB port is the DAC-UP unit.

June 16, 2014 | 11:12 AM - Posted by JohnGR

Isn't it one of the first FM2+ boards that came out? I think it is about 10 months old.

And the funny thing about motherboard prices for the AMD platform is that using a search engine here in Greece, Sniper is the 5th most expensive model out of 27 with the "A88X" in their model name, costing 98 euros.

Using the term Sniper in the same search engine I can see that the FM2+ board is the cheapest of all "Sniper" boards available. All the others are for Intel. You can buy a B85 for 2 more euros than the FM2+ board, but after that it gets really ugly, with prices jumping from 147 to 375 euros.

June 16, 2014 | 11:43 AM - Posted by Josh Walrath

Yup, it is one of the first FM2+ boards to have come out last year.  If there was one problem that users complained quite a bit about, it is that Gigabyte shipped a lot of these boards without Kaveri APU support in the BIOS.  So, it has been problematic for some to update the BIOS as they don't have access to an older Richland based APU to do so.

This Sniper board is not nearly as high end as the other Sniper boards from Gigabyte.  Agian, price is the primary concern for these manufacturers when it comes to the FM2+ socket.

June 16, 2014 | 02:47 PM - Posted by Jeremytroid

Have you checked out the GA-F2A88X-UP4? It's one of the most expensive FM2+ boards out there at 109.99 USD. Just above the Sniper and a tad below an MSI Gaming series board.

It addresses many of the concerns you had about the Sniper. The GA-F2A88X-UP4 has a IR Digital 6+2 Power Phase design and only one "front" facing SATA port. All others are the normal angled style. It's rear video IO also includes a DisplayPort connection in addition to the others.

The only downgrade I can see compared to the Sniper is a much weaker RealTek audio chipset.

I'm probably going to use this in a build I'm doing in the next few months, but I'd like to hear your thoughts if you have any experience with it!

June 16, 2014 | 05:06 PM - Posted by Josh Walrath

I have not had the chance to work with this board yet, but the spec's do make it a bit beefier in terms of overclocking/performance than the Sniper.  At least with audio, you can always add a card if you don't like that particular implementation.  Good looking board!

June 17, 2014 | 12:34 PM - Posted by madhatter256 (not verified)

Can this handle 4k gaming?

June 17, 2014 | 12:46 PM - Posted by Josh Walrath

Only if you use an add-in, high end graphics card.

June 22, 2014 | 08:09 AM - Posted by hoxlund

Bought this board first and tried pairing it with 4x8gb G.skill Trident X ddr 2400 memory. would not run all 4 sticks at 2400 no matter what bios settings i did.

Sold it and bought the MSI a88x-g45 gaming. Runs all 32GB at ddr 2400.

Computer build - https://imgur.com/a/4DwZz

I also was forced to buy a x2-340 cpu just to flash my gigabyte. kinda sucked but hey it was VERY cheap.

June 26, 2014 | 11:32 AM - Posted by Josh Walrath

Good looking build!  I am working on the A88X G45 review now, and it is a really nice board for the price.  Nice looking build you have there!  I just hope that more HSA applications get released and support for it ratchets up.  I am running that MSI board with a last gen GTX 580 Lightning card... it seems to run well with both the AMD graphics part enabled as well as the GTX 580.  I probably should do some OpenCL testing with both running...

September 14, 2014 | 08:00 PM - Posted by Motee (not verified)

Greetings to all,
I recently bought G1.Sniper A88X (rev. 3.0 motherboard and was thinking of using the AMD A10-7850K or another APU from the fm2+ Kaveri line. My question after some research is, will I be able to update the bios with an fm2+ apu on this board, or will I have to get an fm2 apu for the bios update? Really wanted one of those Kaveri apu's to have the board function with the lastest technology it can handle. Any suggestions?

Best Regards
Motee

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <blockquote><p><br>
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.

More information about formatting options

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.