The G1.Sniper B5 is an affordable Haswell motherboard in Gigabyte's gaming line. Partially due to the fact it uses the Intel B85 chipset, Gigabyte was able to keep the price below £100. But were they able to keep the gaming DNA intact?
We've tested a number of Gigabyte G1.Sniper motherboards in recent months. There was the G1.Sniper 5, very expensive and with about every single feature a gamer could want. The Micro ATX G1.Sniper M5 made a good impression, it was smaller but kept the important gaming components such as the Creative Sound Core 3D audio chip and the KillerNic network card. More recently Gigabyte came out with the G1.Sniper A88X, an AMD Socket FM2+ board that's only slightly more expensive than the one we're looking at today. The G1.Sniper B5, like the first two we just mentioned, is equipped with a Socket 1150 processor socket which makes it suitable for Intel Haswell processors.
The G1.Sniper B5 is based on the Intel B85 chipset, the entry-level chipset for the 4th generation Intel Core processors. It's not as advanced as the Z87 chipset used in the G1.Sniper 5 and M5. Officially you can't use the B85 to overclock K processors, but Gigabyte and other manufacturers have found a way around the limitation. A bigger difference is that it only has two instead of six SATA 600 ports. The four SATA 300 ports remain. If you only have one or two SSDs that's fine, as optical drives and hard drives are fine on SATA300. There are also two USB 3.0 ports less. Here you can find more information about the different Haswell chipsets. Most importantly, the B85 is much cheaper than the Z87.
The board has four DDR3 DIMM slots and two PCI-Express x16 slots. The 6 PCI-Express 3.0 lanes from the CPU go to the first slot, and second one has four lanes from the south bridge. This meants it's not very well suited for two graphics cards, and SLI isn't even supported officially. There are also two PCI-Express x1 and two PCI slots.
The board has 2x Serial ATA 600, 4x Serial ATA 300, 4x USB 3.0 (2 external) and 8x USB 2.0 (4x external). The Gigabit LAN port is provided by an Intel WG-I217 controller. The onboard 7.1 channel audio comes from a Realtek ALC898 codec. That means that two important gaming features from the G1.Sniper 5 and M5 – the Killer network chip and the Creative Sound Core 3D audio chip – are gone. The audio part is shielded from the rest of the board to prevent interference, and the board does have a powerful headphone pre-amp. That feature is unique for a Haswell board of this price.
The board has four PWM fan connectors, and it has four phases for the CPU power supply. It's clear that this is not a board for overclockers, a Z87 board is a much better option in that regard. Nevertheless, the BIOS still has all of the options you get with Gigbyte Z87 boards. Here you can find more information about the BIOS. Other than the presence of two BIOS chips, there really aren't any extras, which is normal for a budget board.