Although Intel rendered its mainstream LGA1156 platform (Socket H) obsolete by launching the Sandy Bridge processors in January, LGA1366 (X58) has remained the company's flagship platform since its consumer debut in November 2008. There's no denying that the Z68 chipset has knocked some wind out of X58's sails, but the near-antiquated socket is still the only way for enthusiasts to get their hands on a six-core Core i7 processor.
Not only does X58 have exclusive support for hexa-core processors, but it's better equipped to handle multi-GPU configurations. Without the aid of Nvidia's NF200 chip, Intel's new Z68 and P67 motherboards can only run two graphics cards in an x8/x8 setup. Because of those reasons, Gigabyte originally released its elite G1.Killer boards (the G1.Guerrilla, G1.Sniper and G1.Assasin) for LGA1366.
Naturally, this prompted requests for LGA1155 versions of Gigabyte's premium boards because the newer platform supports Sandy Bridge, namely the Core i5-2600K and i7-2600K CPUs. Answering to that demand, Gigabyte has unleashed the G1.Sniper2, an enthusiast-minded board based on the Z68 chipset, an amalgamation of Intel's H67 and P67 chipsets with the company's SRT hybrid storage technology.
Priced at $360, the G1.Sniper 2 is $50 cheaper than the original G1.Sniper. Nonetheless, it's a lonely territory in the Z68 market as few products can demand such a high price. The Asus Maximus IV Extreme-Z is among the few boards that reside in this price range, fetching $360 on Newegg, while Gigabyte's own Z68X-UD7-B3 is $350 and stands as one of the most feature-packed boards available.
Like Asus' ROG motherboards, Gigabyte's G1.Killer series targets hardcore users by including additional hardware on-board such as a dedicated sound chip by Creative and a network controller from Bigfoot Networks. Those extras are backed by a fierce matte-black military theme (note the magazine-style heatsink) that is sure to attract gamers. Those niceties make the G1.Sniper2 one of the most expensive Z68 motherboards available, which begs the question: are you getting your money's worth?