As well as offering the G1.Sniper 3 board for those who can accommodate the E-ATX form factor Gigabyte are also offering a micro ATX version, called the G1.Sniper M3. It shares the same box styling but has a more standard bundle of documentation, software disc, poster, stickers, IO shield, SATA cables and SLI bridge.
The M3 shared the same box styling as the larger model and the board itself does the same with a black PCB using green components. This may be a smaller mATX model but it still retains the same key features which begin with an all-digital PWM controller array which provides precise power to the CPU, VTT, graphics and memory (including auto voltage compensation).
The G1.Sniper M3 is also part of the Ultra Durable 4 family which means it features high temperature protection, humidity protection, electrostatic protection and power failure protection. This is in addition to the Japanese solid capacitors, lower RDS(on) MOSFETs and 2Oz copper PCB based on glass fabric materials… all combining to offer cooler operation, enhanced durability, energy efficiency and maximised overclocking potential.
With this being a compact board there are fewer add-in card slots than we would find on a ATX model but key items are present. This includes PCIe 3.0 compatibility and slots with a layout of 16x, 1x. 4x 8x which support 2-way CrossFire and SLI. Then again, like the larger board, we have dual BIOS chips in this area and along side it some impressive audio hardware.
As before this consists of the Creative Core3D processor, front audio headphone amplifier (150Ω), 4 additional amplifiers for the back panel connectors and Nichicon MUSE ES/MW bi-polarized audio capacitors.
At the bottom right we find our drive connectors. There are five present here and all run off the Intel chipset (3x SATA2, 2xSATA3) with RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10 supported along with AHCI.
At the top right we find the front panel USB 3.0 connector, voltage read points and 24-pin power connector. Beside these are our four memory slots, these are of course split into a dual channel configuration allowing installation of up to 32GB and speeds well in excess of 2600MHz. All socket 1155 CPUs are supported too.
At the back panel connectivity starts with 2x USB 2.0 and PS/2 before moving on to VGA, DVI, DisplayPort and HDMI. Next up is eSATA (Intel), 2x USB 2.0, Intel GB LAN, 2x USB 3.0 (Intel) and 3.5mm/Optical audio connectors which use the Creative CA0132 chip.
BIOS and Software
It is no surprise that Gigabyte use a GUI BIOS on this board too and it is split into two areas also. The first is called 3D BIOS and allows us to navigate round by clicking on components on the board along with sub options. The second is a more traditional list based interface, of course still using mouse/keyboard inputs. As always the enthusiast options are found in the M.I.T. screen and allow us to tweak the board, CPU and memory easily In addition to the main screens we also have a tool, which allows us to update the BIOS from a USB drive for quick and easy flashes.
Gigabyte offer plenty of software on the M3 as well including tools which add support for faster charging of USB devices and BIOS updates. In addition to this we get two tweaking tools, one based around the boards 3D concept and the other the standard Gigabyte EasyTune software.
Finally the G1.Sniper M3 supports Rapid Start Technology (quicker boots), Smart Connect (updates to applications while powered down) and Lucid VirtuMVP (GPU enhancements).
In recent months we have taken a look at a number of Z97 boards, including Gigabytes exceptional Z97X- Gaming G1 WIFI-BK and their more affordable, mainstream Z97X-Gaming 5. Of course when it comes to motherboards there are many needs and budgets which require solutions and so as with their...