UEFI BIOS and Overclocking
The simple mode consists of a row of icons at the bottom of the screen (Advanced, Boot, Language, Fan Control, Time, Load Defaults, and Save & Exit), a real-time CPU and memory frequency clock in the upper-right corner, and a large 3D representation of the motherboard. The image can be flipped 180 degrees, and when you mouse over a particular section of the board, a text balloon will appear describing that particular component; if you click the component, you can access a menu that lets you adjust its settings.
To get to the Advanced mode, just click the Advanced icon in the lower left corner. This mode also uses a graphical interface, but it’s more subdued and evokes the layout of the old AWARD BIOS many enthusiasts were used to a couple of years ago.
There are but six sections in Advanced Mode--M.I.T., System, BIOS Features, Peripherals, Power Management, and Save & Exit--and for the most part, everything you’re looking for is where you’d expect it to be. Finding what you need isn’t difficult, yet Gigabyte has included a bevy of options for fine-tuning performance, from CPU and memory settings to fan power.
Although we do like the look of Gigabyte’s 3D BIOS and feel that it’s organized fairly well, performance is another issue entirely, which is something we’ve stated in previous reviews. After developing a UEFI relatively late in the game, we had high hopes for Gigabyte’s 3D BIOS, but up to this point it’s been a bit of a let down--compared to UEFI utilities from Asus and ASRock, Gigabyte's solution feel slow and can be frustrating.
With the latest version of the BIOS (F5), things improved somewhat, but there are still some issues we’re not thrilled with. The mouse performance in the BIOS is still laggier than we’d like, navigation isn’t especially intuitive, and it seems as though the system doesn’t always feel like recognizing mouse clicks. Further, once you’ve selected an item, it’s not always clear that you have actually selected it nor how exactly you’re supposed to input a setting change. It’s not that it’s impossible to figure it out, it’s just that it’s not readily apparent; in other words, it looks like an interface you’ve used before, but it doesn’t feel like it. When you’re using a good interface, you shouldn’t have to think for a moment about that sort of thing.
With the slew of other Z77 motherboards we’ve reviewed recently, we found that they could all be pushed to about 4.6GHz with an Intel Core i7-2600K on air cooling and without any voltage alterations. Aside from the EVGA Z77 FTW, which stepped out with a monster clock of 4.83GHz, the Gigabyte G1.Sniper3 is a cut above the pack at 4.73GHz with a base clock of 105 and a multiplier of x45.
We also tested this Gigabyte motherboard with an Ivy Bridge Intel Core i5-3470 (3.2GHz), and with that mid-range chip inside, we hit just under 4.2GHz (base clock 105, multiplier x40). The reason for the lower clock is that the i5-3470 is just a partially unlocked processor, which inhibits what you can do when overclocking. For example, the multiplier can only go four bins higher than the stock Turbo clock, which is 3.6Ghz--hence the low multiplier of x40.
With a higher-end Sandy Bridge chip inside, though, you can see how well this board overclocks. Note that there are plenty of additional settings begging to tweaked, including memory, CPU voltage, and fan power, so there’s plenty of headroom yet to explore.