Overall, the results of our today’s test session for the gaming Gigabyte G1.Sniper and overclocking Gigabyte GA-X58A-OC mainboards turned out pretty interesting. We were particularly surprised by the second board. I have to admit that I didn’t expect to see anything like that at all. In my understanding an overclocking mainboard is a board which allows fast and easy overclocking. I am aware that many won’t agree with me. For example, DFI mainboards with numerous complex and undocumented BIOS options also used to be considered overclocking-friendly. By putting a lot of time and effort into finding the optimal settings in constant trial and error you could in the end achieve slightly higher overclocking success than you would on a regular board without spending too much time on it. I was subconsciously expecting something like that from Gigabyte GA-X58A-OC, but it turned out totally different. Its BIOS was exactly the same as the BIOS of other Gigabyte mainboards. Its design was pretty surprising, as it had a minimal amount of onboard controllers and a very limited number of ports and connectors. It can certainly be used for a PC, but mostly for overclocking experiments in an open testbed. Especially, since it is loaded with all sorts of buttons and switches that allow changing the operational modes quickly and easily. There are also some drawbacks. Namely, we had some problems with the processor cooler installation, which means we may not be the only ones out there. It was a little unclear why they would have a 4G button for automatic overclocking, which will hardly ever be utilized by overclocking professionals. It would make much more sense on a gaming Gigabyte G1.Sniper, because its own O.C.Button is pretty useless.
The gaming Gigabyte G1.Sniper board made a more restrained impression. It has a few unique features that distinguish it from the regular mainboards, such as integrated Creative CA20K2 sound processor and Bigfoot Killer E2100 network processor. However, if they focus on the sound quality, then they should have made a separate module instead of integrating the sound card onto the board. As for the network processor, the traffic routing may be performed by the router or a separate program, such as ROG GameFirst on Asus mainboards, for instance. Does a special network processor really unload the CPU? However, LGA1366 processors are only available in quad- and six-core form and they are capable of processing 8-12 threads at the same time. There are hardly any games out there that can load these processors 100% especially if it is an online game and most of the load falls on the graphics accelerator. I assume that the CPU can manage the network traffic. We won’t deny the benefit of having a special network processor, but the real need for it is a little doubtful. Besides, we didn’t particularly like the uniquely beautiful, but not very efficient cooling system on Gigabyte G1.Sniper board and its very average overclocking potential.
Both Gigabyte mainboards discussed in this review suffer from the same pretty serious drawback: they both have very high power consumption. In fact, it is not a deal breaker for the overclocking Gigabyte GA-X58A-OC, which is intended for occasional use and setting new overclocking records, but for a gaming Gigabyte G1.Sniper it does matter a lot.
Overall I have to stress that both mainboards are not mainstream solutions, they are targeted for very specific user groups – those in love with online games and high-quality sound and those who dedicate their time to extreme overclocking. So, you have to seriously consider your usage model in order to decide whether any of these unique products are the right one for you.