Gigabyte G1.Sniper A88X Review: FM2+ for the Enthusiast?
Currently the Gigabyte G1.Sniper A88X is selling online for around $105. This is a relatively inexpensive motherboard. Sure, there are cheaper, but the less expensive ones start taking some serious feature hits. The area around $105 is a little crowded. There are a couple of higher end boards that go to $119 featuring the A88X FCH, but nothing above that (so far).
The Socket FM2+ market cannot handle a high priced board, so we see manufacturers being very careful with feature and chip selection. The G1.Sniper is a good example of that. They really worked to make the audio portion pretty amazing, but left other areas about as bone stock as possible. The networking chip is Realtek, but Gigabyte bundles the QoS software for free. There is no second USB 3.0 chip onboard to give more USB 3.0 ports, but they have improved the rear 3.0 ports with individual fuses in case something goes wrong. The power delivery system is 4+2 rather than 6+2, but they use Ultra Durable 4 parts to improve the lifespan and performance of those parts.
Sacrifices must be made, or price points cannot be hit. When dealing in 10s of dollars, these sacrifices add up in the budget market. AMD does not have the overall CPU performance to push Intel out at the low end, so they rely on the performance of their GPU as well as the extra features that an inexpensive A88X part affords, as well as the promise of HSA. These are the things that will sell parts for AMD and their partners.
The G1.Sniper board does a lot of these things right. It is not a big board, and it certainly is not an extreme board when it comes to being overbuilt for overclocking. What it does have are features that are usable for a large section of consumers. It has outstanding audio capabilities that are actually not just fluff or marketing. It has a compact design that will fit into any ATX chassis. It supports CrossFire up to two cards. The latest Kaveri APUs, while not being CPU speed demons, are very solid parts with outstanding integrated graphics capabilities.
I have been running this board for several months now. Typically it gets used daily for browsing, video, and gaming. So far it has not experienced a single problem. I have seen some online postings complaining about quality and RMAs, but oftentimes complaints are posted much more frequently than posts that just say, “Hey, this seems to work fine.” I have also heard anecdotal evidence that this board does not in fact support 16 GB DIMMS (2 x 16 GB), but that the competing MSI board does. I would probably lend some credence to this, but you really must ask yourself if it is worth it to bundle 16 GB DIMMS in with the A10-7850K. 2 x 4GB, 2 x 8GB, and 4 x 4GB combinations seem to work without a problem.
The green glow is very apparent, even with a crappy camera and a flash!
I like this board quite a bit, and it hits a lot of positive notes. What we have to ding it on is that it brands itself as an enthusiast motherboard, yet it does not have the ability to push the latest APUs in terms of overclocking as well as some of its competition. At first glance it is pretty exciting, but once a user starts digging into the actual design and specifications of the board, it is not nearly as impressive. This is not entirely unexpected considering that it is $105 online. Gigabyte has done a good job in branding this product, and it does have a lot of value due to its design. If there is one saving grace, it is the audio support. It really is a terrific unit in terms of quality.
The package is very basic in terms of what is included: two manuals (very thin), driver disk, a backplate, and SATA cables. It is about as simple as it gets, which again reflects the price of the board. The EUFI is well fleshed out, but it again is the older implementation in terms of visuals and implementation. It hits all the major settings that can be adjusted, but it not nearly as snazzy as what is offered on the Intel side.
Overall the product is a very good buy for its price. It would have been nice had it been more robust in terms of power delivery and overclocking prowess, but instead we get a solid, good looking board with a very nice audio portion. Gigabyte has done well with this product, but they have left themselves room to do better.