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

Author: Josh Walrath
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: Gigabyte

Conclusion

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.

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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.

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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.

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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...

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