Gigabyte G1 Sniper M5 Review Z87 1150 Haswell
The G1.Sniper M5 is a bit of a pocket rocket.
With stock results being so stable across all of our test motherboards we only looked at the overclocking performance today, and the M5 performed admirably, albeit with a very minor note of caution. The MSI GD65 Gaming easily achieved 5GHz although we had to reduce the speed to 4.8GHz for our testing because of the high temperatures. The Gigabyte M5 however was stable at 4.9GHz, even if it couldn't quite squeeze 5GHz out of it. So at a glance it should have given us better results.
In practise that clock speed was only really beneficial in the extreme calculation heavy tests such as CineBench or wPrime, whereas the GD65 was equal to it in all our other tests and occasionally ahead on memory bandwidth and PC Mark. That is by no means to slight the Gigabyte G1.Sniper M5 though. Merely pointing out that it didn't quite make the most of the extra megahertz.
When the first G1.Sniper appeared the heatsink was in the shape of a gun, with the magazine cooling the chipset. The next version just had the magazine on the chipset, and with the Z87 M5 Gigabyte have given up completely trying to make the motherboard themed to the name. We don't know if the rather realistic weapon heatsinks gave them export problems, or whether it's just a cost-saving measure, but we know that we liked the unique design whereas now it's all a bit generic.
Audio though is tremendous and reflects the effort that Gigabyte have put in to bring the finest sound quality yet seen on a motherboard. The Creative 3D chip is separated off from the main part of the PCB which helps to reduce interference from the rest of the components. The really fantastic thing though is the ability to switch the amplifier to one that better suits the type of music you listen to. We often choose our speakers and headphones depending upon whether we prefer an Aria to ACDC, a symphony to Skrillex, so why shouldn't we be able to further tune our listening experience. It's not only a matter of forcing you to purchase the motherboard equivalent of a DLC expansion pack, as Gigabyte have provided a chip in the M5 box. That way you can swap them around yourself and if your speakers/headphones/ears aren't capable of spotting the difference you can save your money, and if you find the sound transformed then you can purchase the additional three chips.
All in all a nice compact motherboard with very good performance and the brilliant, innovative AMP-UP audio, only let down slightly by the generic nature of the design compared to previous Sniper models. If you prefer your motherboards in the mATX format, and love the colour green, then the Gigabyte G1.Sniper M5 is an excellent choice and worthy of our Gold Award. The AMP-UP feature is especially worthy of note and wins our very rarely offered OC3D Innovation Award too.