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

Author: Josh Walrath
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: Gigabyte

Audio Impressions

So how does this darn thing sound?  I do not have a lot of higher end testing equipment, so I have to rely on the Human Ear Mark 1.  I tested with multiple 2.1 speaker systems as well as several different headphones.  Unfortunately, the highest impedance set I have are the Grado SR125s which are rated at 32 Ohms.  As mentioned before, some higher end units can have up to 600 Ohms of impedance.  Having such a high impedance make these types of headphones a hard sell for the mobile market (requires more power to drive these units).  These are the types of units that Gigabyte designed this board for.

I utilized a nice, older Logitech 2.1 system which pushes some 120 watts between the subwoofer and the satellites.  I have to admit that this is about the cleanest integrated sound setup that I have ever heard push these particular speakers.  I would dare say that it is quite an improvement over some of the sound cards I have tested in the $25 to $50 range.  It does match overall output quality of higher end sound cards that are $50+.  It is almost as clean as the very high end sound cards that fit in the $150 to $200 range.  Where it differs dramatically from those parts are the added software based features that these cards typically integrate.  DSP functionality to improve lossy content, more 3D effects, ASIO, and other features of these higher end cards are obviously not available with this board.

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Lower impedance headphones are pushed very well at the standard 2.5x gain.  The output is clean and the volume can go up really high.  Bass response is good with a nice punch, and I did not experience any real boominess.  Complex compositions did not suffer (such as orchestral music with a lot of positioning and representing audio content from the very low end of the frequency scale to the very high end).  Poorer quality source material will be accentuated by this setup, even with the lower end and lower impedance headphones.  Good quality source material will shine though.

I then tested with the 8x gain with the higher impedance Grados.  These get loud really fast.  The user will have to really work on volume settings and levels to get the most out of their headphones.  600 Ohm units will receive the greatest overall benefit as the board acts as a good quality amplifier.  Lower impedance headphones should probably stick to the standard 2.5x setting.  This setting does improve bass response and overall performance.  The output is very clean, and the SNR of the implementation is very high considering it is onboard audio.  Have I mentioned that it does get very loud?

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Overall, the audio implementation is really top notch when it comes to onboard sound.  Gigabyte did a very nice job with the design.  The sound quality is excellent for integrated audio, and overall approaches that of cards in the $150 to $200 range.  The ability to swap out the L/R OPAMP allows individual users to customize the color of their sound.  It honestly is the best onboard sound setup that I have yet experienced.

It is not perfect.  I did notice a couple of clicks and pops when other components were activated, such as the optical drive being opened and closed.  Gigabyte did a pretty good job in isolating the circuitry, but the inside of a computer case is a pretty electrically noisy beast.  During gaming or just music listening these issues do not crop up, unless of course the user decides to do such operations as opening the drive to swap out some sort of media.

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

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