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

Author: Josh Walrath
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: Gigabyte

Power and Overclocking

Kaveri is built to be more power efficient than the previous generations of APUs from AMD.  This comes from a combination of design and process technology.  The 6800K is a 100 watt TDP part while the 7850K is slightly lower at 95 watts TDP.  AMD has also worked quite a few firmware and software tricks to make power go down even more.

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At idle all of the chips were in the same general vicinity, but we did see a pretty significant drop with the 6800K going from the older F2A and onto the G1.Sniper A88X.  5 watts at idle is fairly significant.  The 7850K was right around there with 42 watts.

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At load the differences are night and day.  The 6800K pulls 38 watts less at load on the G1 board than the older F2A.  The 7580K is a full 32 watts lower at load than the 6800K.  AMD did prioritize graphics performance and power consumption over the CPU portion, so Kaveri does have the downclocked CPU core as well as process level decisions to improve power for the graphics portion.  Compromises were made, and the CPU sort of got the shaft.  Still, Kaveri is a very power efficient part as compared to the older Richland chips.

Overclocking AMD’s APUs can be a little bit annoying.  The primary issue is that the CPU portion typically does not overclock that well.  On the bright side, the graphics portion overclocks very well!  Unfortunately, that graphics portion is still more memory bound than AMD would like to admit.  In OpenCL applications where data can be stored in caches, overclocking results in very positive results.  In gaming applications the results of overclocking the graphics portion are not as large as one would expect, unless they also overclock the memory to 2400+ speeds.

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The 6800K overclocked nearly the same on both boards.  On the F2A it could be pushed to 4.7 GHz, while on the G1 it could get to 4.6 GHz.  The GPU portion could attain 1 GHz on both boards without issue.  The 7850K is not a tremendous overclocker.  I was able to get to 4.5 GHz with a bit of trouble, but the graphics portion did make it up to the 1 GHz mark without any real issue.

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Once the base bus clock went over 105 MHz, errors started to occur.  First there are AHCI issues, and then it spirals from there.  For best overclocking results, users absolutely have to use unlocked/K series APUs.

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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