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Diehard PC Gamer and Hardware Enthusiast. I mainly cover the Hardware and Gaming Section on WCCFtech.

With Kaveri APUs pushed to early 2014, motherboard manufacturer’s can’t wait out but to launch their next iteration of A88X chipset based FM2+ socket motherboards. Gigabyte being one of the leading motherboard makers has launched new FM2+ socket boards which support AMD’s current FM2 and upcoming Kaveri APU lineups.

F2A88X-UP4 A88X

Gigabyte Launches FM2+ Socket Based A88X Chipset Boards

The new FM2+ motherboards from Gigabyte fall in their G1.Sniper and legacy F2A88X lineup which consist of a total of 7 new products. The ones being showed off by Gigabyte are the G1.Sniper A88X and F2A88X-UP4 boards. The F2A88X-UP4 is the direct replacement to the F2A85X-UP4 which we reviewed with Trinity and Richland while the G1.Sniper A88X is the first gaming series motherboard from Gigabyte for AMD processors.

The F2A88X-UP4 is the top tier FM2 board aside the G1.Sniper featuring an Ultra Durable 5 design with an 8 Phase PWM supply. The CPU is supplied power through an 8-Pin connector while we can see a large heatsink set laid out next to the VRM and on the PCB interconnected with a heatpipe to dissipate heat. The FM2+ socket is largely similar to older FM2 and AM3 sockets so it should be easy to reuse coolers on the new socket since the retention bracket is same. Four DDR3 DIMM slots offer support for 64 GB of memory with speeds of 2133 MHz+ O.C. There are 6 SATA 6GBps ports along with a front header USB connector. The image is quite small but i can spot a 7th SATA port right near the edge of the PCH heatsink beneath the DEBUG LED. Expansion slots include three PCI-e x16, three PCI-e x1 and a single legacy PCI slot. I/O includes, 4 USB 3.0, 2 USB 2.0, HDMI/DP/VGA /DVI, Gigabit Ethernet, PS/2, SPDIF and a 6 Channel Audio jack ports powered by Realtek ALC898.

G1.Sniper A88X

The G1.Sniper A88X is the second A88X chipset and FM2+ socket based product that sticks loyal to its green and black theme. The CPU is powered by an 8-Pin connector and offers 8 SATA ports, two PCI-e x16, three PCI-e x1 and two PCI slots. The up gradable OP-AMP exists on both parts. Aside from these two parts, Gigabyte’s FM2+ socket motherboard lineup includes:

  • G1.Sniper A88X
  • F2A88X-UP4      
  • F2A88X-D3H      
  • F2A88X-HD3
  • F2A88XM-D3H  
  • F2A85XM-DS2  
  • F2A88XM-HD3  

Press Release - “We’ve had a lot of customer interest in expanding our G1-Killer gaming motherboard range to include an AMD platform model.” commented Henry Kao, Vice President of GIGABYTE Motherboard Business Unit. ”By also developing unique audio features that make a real difference to the overall experience, we’re confident this board will be a real hit with gamers and audiophiles alike.”

GIGABYTE AMP-UP Audio: Redefining Motherboard Audio
GIGABYTE AMP-UP Audio combines a range of unique features and technologies that are designed to give audio enthusiasts and PC gamers more control over their motherboard audio than ever before.

USB DAC-UP
Featuring a gold plated USB 2.0 port, GIGABYTE USB DAC-UP provides clean, noise-free power delivery to your Digital-to-Analog Converter. DACs can be sensitive to fluctuations in power from the other USB ports, which is why GIGABYTE USB DAC-UP takes advantage of an isolated power source that minimizes potential fluctuations and ensures the best audio experience possible.

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GIGABYTE USB DAC-UP also allows the port to be configured in BIOS for enthusiast system configurations which do not require USB power to the DAC. This makes it suitable for high-end audio enthusiasts building extreme fidelity audio systems.

Gain BoostTo further optimize the audio experience provided by the onboard OP-AMP, GIGABYTE motherboards also debut Gain Boost. Gain Boost provides onboard switches to select between 2.5x and 6x amplification modes depending on output device. Most OP-Amps are capable of providing a high-gain audio output that is ideal for high-end headphones and speakers that have higher impedance headroom. Gain Boost allows users to switch between 6x and x2.5 amplification modes depending on the speakers or headphones being used.

Upgradable Onboard OP-AMP
GIGABYTE motherboards are the world’s first to feature an onboard operational amplifier (OP-AMP). OP-AMPs are commonly found in high-end audio equipment and offer not only amplification of the audio signal, but a superior audio experience generally. The motherboard’s OP-AMP is mounted on a socket which allows users to physically switch out and try different OP-AMPs which offer distinct and nuanced properties that make the audio clearer, punchier and more life-like. Additional OP-AMPs can be purchased separately to further expand audio capabilities.

Audio Noise Guard   
To help protect and insulate the the Realtek ALC898 audio processor and onboard amplifiers from electrostatic interference (ESD), the GIGABYTE G1.Sniper A88X motherboard features an audio noise guard that essentially separates the board’s sensitive analog audio components from potential ESD pollution at the PCB level. LED trace path lighting illuminates to show the separation of the PCB layers.

Nichicon Pro Audio Caps
The GIGABYTE G1.Sniper A88X motherboard uses the highest quality Nichicon MUSE ES series audio capacitors at each channel layout. These professional audio capacitors deliver the highest quality sound resolution and sound expansion to create the most realistic sound effects for professional gamers.

Gold Audio Plated Hardware
The GIGABYTE G1.Sniper A88X motherboard uses top quality gold plated hardware for improved connectivity and long lasting durability for the USB DAC-UP port and audio connectors. Gold has superb signal conductivity and will not tarnish over extended periods of use. The Realtek ALC898 audio processor is also shielded by a gold-plated cover which eliminates electrostatic interference.

GIGABYTE G1.Sniper A88X: Ready for Kaveri on AMD Socket FM2+ 
The GIGABYTE G1.Sniper A88X motherboard features the new FM2+ APU socket, and is designed to get the most from forthcoming ‘Kaveri’ AMD APUs, while preserving compatibility for current AMD FM2 ‘Trinity’ and ‘Richland’ APUs.

FM2+ AMD APUs offer native support for 8 GT/s PCI Express gen 3.0 as well as DX11.1 support, integrating the high performance ‘Steamroller’ core. AMD socket FM2+ APUs also offer native support for 4K resolution displays on HDMI and DisplayPort.