The Gigabyte G1 Sniper M3 is the mATX version of the full ATX G1 Sniper 3, based on their Killer series of boards. This Killer series is more of a high-end gaming board, whereas the Sniper M3 is geared more towards those who are looking to spend significantly less while still improving the gaming experience, and building a system that takes up less space. Its size lends itself to smaller cases.
Design and Features
The Gigabyte Sniper M3 is designed to run Ivy Bridge, and as such, supports dual channel DDR3 up to 2400MHz. As with other Gigabyte boards, it is a stylish green and black. One downfall in its design: it features a 4 pin CPU power connector, whereas competitors in the gaming world feature full 8 pin CPU power connectors.
The chipset cooler is the standard size when compared to other mATX boards, and in testing an issue popped up. In BIOS, chipset temperatures read very high after a cold boot (around 40-50 F), and if kept running in BIOS for some time, it would get up to the low 60's which is a bit high. The heatsink was removed and it was discovered the thermal paste had hardened. This was removed and new thermal paste was applied, and no further temperature issues arose. This shouldn't normally be an issue, but if you are an overclocker, it likely will. It should be noted that this was a review sample, which means it is pre-production. Gigabyte has been informed of the issue and they replied that their Quality Control department is aware and watching for this problem. That said, the area around the processor is uncluttered, leaving room for heatsinks and cooling solutions.
The Sniper M3 offers up dual SATA 6G ports as well as dual horizontal 3G ports and a single 3G port located vertically at the lower edge of the board. There is also, oddly enough, an eSATA port located at the rear IO. Interesting also is the board's slot configuration, as the 2 lower GPU slots that would utilize x8 each are triple slot spaced, negating the option for a cooling grid outlet for the lower card as the slot dual slot spaced away from it is only an x4 slot. This rules out ALI setups in LANBOX cases thanks to the triple slot spacing, and limits users to a single card configuration.
On the upside, the Sniper M3 offers numerous display options, with VGA, DVI, HDMI, and diaplayport connectivity. With all of these options for display connectors, this does take away space from other ports. It offers 4 USB 2.0 ports, 2 USB 3.0 ports, one Gigabit LAN port, and one eSATA port. There are also standard PS2 port, audio up to 5.1 outs, and optical S/PDIF port. Audio is provided by the Creative CA0132 Chip, implementing a front audio headphone amplifier to make your gaming experience like no other when using a gaming headset, as well as a metal shield around the audio capacitors to keep noise out of the audio source and high-end Nichicon Muse caps which are often used in high-end audio solutions in gaming.
If you are an avid overclocker, this probably isn't the board for you. However if you are looking for a low price tag but still want great gaming features while running Ivy Bridge, this board will do nicely for the price tag of $179.99.