Looking first to Intel’s new Ivy Bridge i7-3770K we have a CPU which at first glance doesn’t seem to offer a huge change over the i7-2700K, for example matching the existing model in cores, clock speed, cache levels and so on. When we look a little closer the advantage of the new processor become clear though and that starts with the power use of the two chips where the Ivy Bridge based model offers significant power savings over the older Sandy Bridge part. The i7-3770K also manages to consistently edge ahead in benchmarks when paired with a Z77 board and of course unlocks PCIe 3.0 compatibility for anyone who has appropriate parts.
There is one small blip on the Ivy Bridge results, that it doesn’t overclock as well as the 2700K on decent liquid cooling but this is offset by a far better GPU in the 3770K. If anything Intel should probably have come in at a 3.6GHz base clock with 4.0 turbo for this model to put some decent light between it and the existing CPU but sadly the lack of CPU from AMD which can compete in every test meant this probably wasn’t seen as necessary from a business standpoint. An impressive CPU overall.
Moving to the Gigabyte boards we have to admit to being rather surprised at just how good they were. On the M3 first we have a product which tries to pack as much of the full version in as possible and overall it succeeds. Performance is good, there are plenty of PCIe slots and ports and the build quality is top notch. That said on-board buttons would have been nice, or at least an external CLEAR CMOS but that is really being picky considering everything good that is present here.
The G1.Sniper 3 is pretty much flawless though…and that isn’t an exaggeration. It is without doubt one of the best boards we have tested, on any platform, ever. A few minor annoyances are present, such as a BIOS which doesn’t know if it wants to offer drop-downs or require keyboard inputs… and the CMOS button really shouldn’t be beside, and identical to the reset button but otherwise its all good…
Two 16x slots, quad GPUs, mSATA, WiFi-N, Bluetooth 4.0, 10 SATA ports inc. 6 SATA 3.0, 10x USB 3.0, 4 display outputs (inc. DVI, DisplayPort, HDMI), 3D support, Dual GB LAN (inc. one gaming orientated), Creative audio, dedicated audio amps and capacitors, dual BIOS, GUI BIOS, USB Flashing, Voltage read points, Debug LED, DDR3-2666, 32GB, every 1155 CPU, USB Fast Charging, Solid Caps, 12 phase PWM… the list just goes on and on.
With performance which matches the features we can expect to pay a premium for the G1.Sniper 3 however this is very much a case of getting what we pay for… including a very thorough set of bundled extras and decent warranty.
Intel Core i7-3770K Processor
GIGABYTE G1.Sniper 3 Z77 Motherboard
GIGABYTE G1.Sniper M3 Z77 Motherboard