Today we're taking a closer look at Gigabyte's G1.Sniper A88X, the first motherboard with Socket FM2+ processor socket that we've tested. That makes it compatible with the current generation of AMD A processors and, more importantly, the next generation called Kaveri, set for release next week.
The G1.Sniper A88X is based on the AMD A88X chipset (Bolton) which, in its turn, is a new version of the existing A85X that now supports Kaveri. Other than that, the specs of the A88X are identical to those of the A85X, AMD’s current flagship chipset for APUs. These include eight Serial ATA 600 ports and support for RAID 0/1/5, four USB 3.0, ten USB 2.0 and support for High Definition Audio.
Like the other G1.Sniper boards, the G1.Sniper A88X is aimed at gamers. AMD A processors wouldn't be our first choice for a gaming rig (Intel Core or AMD FX would be better) since you tend to want a dedicated video card for that, but perhaps Gigabyte is hoping that the upcoming Kaveri processors will be more interesting for gaming purposes.
In the centre of the motherboard the Socket FM2+ processor socket is located, with next to it four DDR3 memory slots. According to Gigabyte, RAM up to DDR3-2400 is supported, but officially the current generation of AMD A processors are limited to DDR3-1866. The board has two PCI-Express x16 slots with a total of 16 lanes. By splitting this into two times 8 lanes you can combine two AMD or Nvidia graphics cards. The board has three PCI-Express x1 slots and two standard PCI slots.
Two of the four USB 3.0 ports are external and four of the eight USB 2.0 ports are external. All of them come from the AMD chip, just like the eight SATA 600 ports. The single Gigabit LAN port is provided by a Realtek RTL8111F chip.
Audio is provided by the older Realtek ALC898 codec, likely in an effort to keep the cost down. It's supported by a powerful headphone pre-amp to get the most out of high-end gaming headsets.
Monitor connectors consist of VGA, DVI and HDMI.
The board has four fan connectors, three of which are PWM. The CPU is powered by a 6-phase power supply. You won't find any hardware-based overclocking features, not even an onboard power or reset button. The board has an UEFI BIOS, but it's not the comprehensive Full HD version found on recent Gigabyte Intel boards. Overclockers can increase the bus clock to a maximum of 140 MHz, the CPU and chipset voltage can by raised by 0.3V and the RAM can be a maximum of 1.9V. It's possible to create profiles in the BIOS. Below are a few screenshots.
The G1.Sniper A88X is available for the affordable price of $114.