Asus Blitz Extreme Review
Reviewed by: ccokeman
Reviewed on: January 20, 2008
Blitz Extreme? Just what the heck does that mean? Well if you break it down you get lightning quick (Blitz: a shortened version of Blitzkreig) and with Extreme there are any number of definitions, but usually the definition is to the utmost degree or furthest point. So by combining those two words the point is made clear what the performance expectations are. The Blitz Extreme is part of the Asus Republic of Gamers series of boards. It uses the Intel P35 northbridge chipset and Intel ICH9R southbridge, much like many of the Asus P5K series of boards. So what makes this one different? Dual phase power for the DDR3 memory would be a start. Crosslinx technology for 8x X 8x PCI-E bandwidth instead of the usual 16x X 4x setup normally seen on P35 chipset boards. The Fusion Block cooling system would be another of the items in the long list of differences that separates this model from its non-ROG brethren.
Will the Asus Blitz Extreme live up to the performance expectations that its name implies or will it fall by the wayside, never to be seen again? Let's find out!
The Asus Blitz Extreme comes in a cold gunmetal gray and black box. The front panel shows some of the highlighted specifications such as Crosslinx technology as well as the P35 chipset and RoHS compliance. The game Stalker is highlighted as an added bonus to the package. The rear panel hits on the basic specifications of the Blitz. Highlighted again are the game Stalker and the Crosslinx technology, Supreme FX sound and the inclusion of a D-tek fusion block for the northbridge cooling.
The left side panel gives a glimpse at the I/O panel. The Republic of Gamers logo is everywhere on the Blitz Extreme Packaging. The right hand side shows the ROG logo and has the bar coding for serial number and model number should you need these items.
The packaging features a flip up panel that allows more of the features of the Blitz Extreme to be highlighted and examined through the windows into the box. The Supreme FX add-on sound card is visible through one window while the Crosslinx technology is visible through the bottom opening. The ROG status of the Blitz Extreme is highlighted many times on the pagakging.
Once removed from its protective shell the Blitz can be seen. Asus has chosen to use a black PCB to match the dark look of the packaging. The Blitz Extreme is built around the Intel P35 and ICH9R chipsets. This allows for support of DDR3 memory up to 1333MHz. The Stack Cool method of cooling the heat generating components of the board by transferring the heat load through the specially designed PCB continues to be used on this Republic of Gamers board from Asus.
The I/O panel looks a little sparse when compared to the P5K3 Premium we recently reviewed. But this board is targeted at a different audience. Asus has moved away from supplying a PS/2 connection for the mouse but still features the connection for the keyboard. Additional connections include optical and coaxial S/PDIF sound outputs, 2x eSATA, 6x USB2.0, 1x 1394 Firewire, 2x RJ-45 LAN ports and finally a feature that some of Asus's competitors have had for a while now, the clear CMOS button on the I/O panel.
Instead of an integrated sound solution, Asus used an add-in 8 channel high definition sound card that mounts into the PCI-E 1x slot. This slot is dedicated for the Supreme FX II sound card and is marked by the black color of the slot. When powered up, the Supreme FX logo on the top of the card is lit up in blue and is visible through the case window. All you gamers have one to show off your hardware, don't you?
Expansion capabilities are available through the three PCI-E 1x slots (black is dedicated to the audio solution), two PCI 2.0 slots and two PCI-E 16x slots for the graphics solution. Crossfire is supported and the cards will run at 8x in each slot instead of the standard 16x/4x solution that is so commonly used today. This is accomplished via the Crosslinx technology Asus has employed on the Blitz. Much of the additional connectivity is along the bottom edge of the PCB. Additional USB2.0, Firewire, fan and thermal sensor headers, as well as the front panel connections, are made along this edge of the Blitz. Power and Reset switches are included if this board will be going into a tech station. No more shorting pins to start up the system. Sweet!
Disk drive connections are all on the right hand side of the PCB. Included on the Blitz Extreme are six SATA 3.0Gb/s ports controlled by the ICH9 chipset. A single PATA connection and floppy drive connection are also present. The Blitz Extreme supports up to 8 gigabytes of system memory if using a 64-bit operating system. Maximum module size is two gigabytes. Asus has used a two phase power design to allow overclockers just that little extra something to maximize clock speeds.
Room around the CPU socket looks more crowded than it really is. Asus uses an eight phase power design to provide a sound solution to managing the power load to the CPU when overclocking or providing a heavy load to the CPU.
With the maze of heatpipes on some boards out today, it is refreshing to see just a single pipe being used to manage the heatload on the Blitz. One thing that is different from the crowd is the use of the Fusion Block cooling system. The Fusion Block cooling system uses a D-Tek Fusion water block integrated into the heatpipe cooling solution on the board to remove the heat generated by the chipsets and power management circuits.
The accessories pack that comes with the Blitz Extreme is quite prodigious. It includes items you would not normally find in an accessory kit, such as rubber feet and clamps and adapters to hook up the water cooled northbridge. Plenty of add-ons if I do say so myself. The accessory box fills the space in the main box that the motherboard does not inhabit. The accessory box also mirrors the main packaging to keep the theme consistent throughout the experience.
When laid out on the table, the size of the accessory bundle is pretty impressive. The documentation for the Asus Blitz includes a manual and quick start guide, driver and application disk (including a licensed version of 3dmark 06). The FPS game STALKER is included as an added bonus.
Drive cabling that is included in the bundle consists of six SATA cables, one floppy cable, one IDE cable and a two-in-one four-pin molex to SATA power adapter. The SATA cables have one 90 degree end for use in tight quarters.
The LCD Poster allows the user to view post codes and other diagnostic information on this little display rather than having to look inside the case or on the I/O panel. Rubber adhesive backed "feet" are included if you want to go case less and still keep the Blitz off of the table. An odd inclusion, but worthwhile to the "Extreme" crowd.
One of the features of the Asus Blitz is the D-Tek Fusion water block on the northbridge. Since this block uses 3/8 barbed fittings, Asus has included adapters and clamps to connect to either 3/8 or 1/2 inch lines.
One of the heatsinks on the Blitz is thinner than the other, creating a mounting problem for the fans used when the Blitz is passively cooled. To solve this, Asus has included an adapter to mount the fan.
Speaking of the fans, Asus includes two of these babies, one for each power management circuit. They are used only when the CPU is water or passively cooled. Otherwise, they create clearance issues for the CPU heatsink. Each one comes with an instruction manual detailing the installation of the fan.
The I/O panel on the Asus Blitz has a little extra something for the end user. The I/O panel is lit by an LED, so making connections on the panel in the dark is a breeze. The "Q" connectors make connecting all those single front panel wires much easier by allowing the connection to be made where it is easily accessible. Then just plug in one connection and you are ready to go.
The last of the items in the bundle of accessories are the thermal sensors and the firewire/USB expansion slot bracket. The thermal probes are installed onto headers designed specifically for this purpose and the results can be monitored through the LCD poster. Pretty cool!
With such a bundle of accessories you are not left wanting for more. The Blitz comes with everything you need and more.
The Asus Blitz uses an American Megatrends BIOS. The BIOS can make or break a good motherboard. This BIOS has seven main tabs, each tab features subsections to configure the motherboard and attached hardware to your liking. I will look briefly at the sections that are non-overclocking specific and spend most of the time in the sections that matter most to the enthusiast.
The Main section of the BIOS is where the current date, time and preferred language are set. Disk recognition and configuration can be accomplished as well under this tab.
Under this tab is where all of the system performance settings are accessed. The AI overclocking section allows for four different settings to be used. Auto is for using optimal system settings. Manual is for manually setting all of the parameters (the enthusiast section). Standard is for basic no nonsense settings and N.O.S. is to allow the system to dynamically enhance performance based on the system load. I will look deeper into this section later in the review.
Under the Advanced section of this BIOS you can adjust the CPU features, enable or disable the onboard devices, monitor the network connections and configure PnP status of the OS.
Under the Power section you will find the hardware monitoring option. In this section you can monitor critical system temperatures such as the Northbridge, CPU, motherboard and southbridge. Automatic temperature protection can be enabled and configured to prevent damage to system components.
This section lets the user set the boot order of the installed disk drives as well as some of the boot specific items.
This is a nice little section built for the enthusiast. Say you have found a spot on combination or two that you don't want to lose. You can save that combination of settings as a profile in this section of the BIOS. Also in the tools section Asus has built in access to the BIOS flash utility. Easy access and easy flashing right from one screen.
Once you get past the basic settings in the BIOS, it's time to dig a little deeper into the Extreme Tweaker section. Unlocking the potential of this board is accomplished under this tab. The Extreme Tweaker section contains all of the settings that the PC enthusiast needs to maximize the performance of the board.
The default settings of Auto will allow the installed hardware to perform at the expected levels you would get with no tweaking. The good thing is that the base settings are pretty good right out of the box. There are several options available to the user here. You can use Auto to load optimal settings, Manual for manual settings, Standard to load the non-optimized options, or the N.O.S. (Non-Delay System overclocking) option to allow the system to make changes based on system load. CPU ratio control is used to adjust the clock multiplier up or down based on the limits of the installed CPU.
FSB strap setting can help or hinder performance and ultimate clock speeds when overclocking. DRAM Frequency is adjustable in a narrow range based on the clock speed of the installed processor and the clock speed the processor is manually se to run at. DRAM Command Rate allows for Auto 1t or 2t. 1t of course offers the best performance.
DRAM timing control can be set to Auto or Manual. The manual setting allows the memory timings to be tweaked for the best system performance.
Manual adjustment of the CPU frontside bus frequency is adjustable from 200 to 800 FSB. The room is there to play if your hardware is capable. Additional bandwidth on the PCI-E bus can be gained by adjustments to the PCI-E frequency.
The voltage options on the Blitz are substantial enough that voltage tweaking should be the least of your worries. CPU voltage up to 1.90 volts and memory voltage up to 3.04 volts! That's double the DDR3 specification! There is also the ability to manually offset voltage to the memory, and t he loadline calibration feature allows the voltage droop on the CPU to be minimized.
The rest of the voltage options have varying effects on the maximum overclock and system stability. Each voltage will need to be tried on your particular combination to get the most from your hardware.
After installing the Blitz Extreme into the chassis of your choice and sorting through the BIOS to properly optimize the settings you can install the operating system of your choosing. Once the OS is installed the motherboard and peripheral drivers will need to be installed.
Start off by inserting the driver and application disk into the optical drive and allowing the autorun feature to open the driver installation GUI.
The first tab to make choices from is the "Drivers" tab. Here is where you can choose to install the motherboard drivers individually or use the Asus InstallAll program to complete all of the driver installations in one action.
The Utilities section includes a wealth of software utilities and applications that can be installed. Again, there is the InstallAll option to install all of the applications. Proprietary applications such as PcProbeII allows for the monitoring of voltages, temperatures, and fan speeds. Asus Update provides an application to flash the BIOS from a Windows environment.
The AI Suite is a tool that allows the user to view and minipulate the clock frquencies and voltages from the windows environment. Many of the adjustments that can be made in the BIOS can be made in this suite of tools. Each tool has its own special function but I prefer to do the work through the BIOS.
The bundle of software included on the driver disk is actually pretty substantial. Included on the driver disc are Futuremark's 3D Mark06 Advanced Edition benchmark, ULead Photo Impact 12 photo editing software, CyberLink's Power Backup utility and Intervideo's WinDVD 8 Trial edition.
Three other tabs are available on the driver disk GUI. Make Disk allows the creation of a driver disk to use when setting up a RAID array during the OS installation process. Manual is a soft copy of the manual included with the accessory bundle. The last tab on the list is the contact information for the manufacturer. In this case, that would be Asus.
LGA775 socket for Intel® Core™2 Extreme / Core™2 Quad / Core™2 Duo / Pentium® Extreme / Pentium® D / Pentium® 4 / Celeron® D Processors
Support Intel® next generation 45nm Multi-Core CPU
Compatible with Intel® 06/05B/05A processors
* Refer to www.asus.com for Intel CPU support list
** Please update the latest BIOS to support Intel 45nm CPU
Intel® P35/ICH9R with Intel® Fast Memory Access Technology
Front Side Bus
1333 / 1066 / 800 MHz
Dual channel memory architecture
2 x PCI Express x16 slot, support dual graphics solution
Support ATI CrossFire™ graphics cards (both at x8 mode)
Dual Gigabit LAN controllers, both featuring AI NET2
High Definition Audio
SupremeFX II Audio Card
2 x 1394a ports(1 port at back I/O, 1 port onboard)
max. 12 USB2.0/1.1 ports(6 ports at mid-board, 6 ports at back panel)
Fusion Block System
Back Panel I/O Ports
1 x PS/2 Keyboard port(purple)
Internal I/O Connectors
3 x USB 2.0 connectors supports additional 6 USB 2.0 ports
16Mb AMI BIOS, PnP, DMI2.0, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.4, ACPI2.0a Multi-Language BIOS
WOL by PME, WOR by PME, Chasis Intrusion, PXE
Fusion Block System Accessory
The hottest 3D Game: S.T.A.L.K.E.R.
ATX Form Factor, 12"x 9.6" (30.5cm x 24.5cm)
- LGA775 Intel® 45nm Processor Ready: This motherboard supports the latest Intel 45nm CPU which introduces new micro-architecture features for greater performance at a given frequency, up to 50% larger L2 caches, and expanded power management capabilities for new levels of energy efficiency.
- LGA775 Intel® Core™2 Processor Ready: This motherboard supports the latest Intel® Core™2 processors in LGA775 package. It also can support Intel® next generation 45nm Multi-Core CPU. With new Intel® Core™ microarchitecture technology and 1333 / 1066 / 800 MHz FSB, Intel® Core™2 processor is one of the most powerful and energy efficient CPU in the world.
- Intel® P35 Chipset: The Intel® P35 Express Chipset is the latest chipset designed to support 8GB of dual-channel DDR3 1066/800 MHz and DDR2 800/667 MHz memory architecture. It also supports 1333/1066/800 FSB (Front Side Bus), PCI Express x16 graphics and multi-core CPUs.
- ATI CrossFire™ Technology : ATI´s CrossFire boosts image quality along with rendering speed, eliminating the need to scale down screen resolutions to get the high image quality you want. CrossFire ignites with the higher antialiasing, anisotropic filtering, shading, and texture settings you desire. Adjust your display configurations, experiment with your advanced 3D settings, and check the effect with a real-time 3D-rendered preview within ATI´s Catalyst™ Control Center to rule your CrossFire system.
- CrossLinx Technology: Delivering better game play without the bottleneck of x4 solutions:Crosslinx is an unique technology utilizing a dedicated controller to optimize PCIe allocation with dual x8 lanes. Crosslinx eliminates the graphics data bottleneck found in other x16, x4 solutions. The result is unmatched graphics performance for smoother gameplay and maximum benchmark potential.
- Dual-Channel DDR3 1333 : To attain top performance, ASUS engineers successfully unleashed the true potential of DDR3 memory. Native DDR3 1333 maximizes system performance by eliminating the bottleneck when overclocking both the CPU and memory, providing great performance for 3D graphics and other memory demanding applications.
- Fusion Block System: H2O ready: The next step in thermal solution. : The Fusion Block System is a more efficient thermal solution compared to competing followers with complicated looks. It is a hybrid thermal design that combines the ROG´s renowned heatpipe design with the additional ability to connect to a water cooling system. By taking the entire integrated solution into design considerations, the user can enjoy exceptional thermal improvement to north bridge, south bridge, Crosslinx, and even VRM with a single connection. The Fusion Block System is the most versatile, efficient, and the most advanced thermal system there is on a motherboard.
- 8 phase DrMOS power: The DrMOS, the next generation of CPU power module, provides higher efficiency for energy saving and higher quality power supply to the processor. With this latest technology, this motherboard allows users to reach the highest overclock frequency and to have the most stable platform.
- COP EX: OC in confidence: The COP EX allows overclockers to increase chipset voltages without the worries of overheating. It can also be used to monitor and save an overheating GPU. The COP EX allows more freedom and less constraint for maximum performance achievement.
- Voltiminder LED: Friendly reminder on the intentional madness: In the pursuit of extreme performance, overvoltage adjustment is critical but risky. Acting as the "red zone" of a tachometer, the Voltiminder LED displays the voltage status for CPU, NB, SB, and Memory in a intuitive color-coded fashion. The voltiminder LED allows quick voltage monitoring for overclockers.
- Loadline Calibration: Stable and optimal power for sustainable CPU overclock: Maintaining ample voltage support for the CPU is critical during overclocking. The Loadline Calibration ensures stable and optimal CPU voltage under heavy loading. It helps overclockers enjoy the motherboard´s ultimate OC capabilities and benchmark scores.
- Extreme Tweaker One stop performance tuning shop: Extreme Tweakers is the one stop shop to fine-tune your system to optimal performance. No matter if you´re looking for frequency adjustment, over-voltage options, or memory timing settings, they´re all here!
- AI NOS™ Boost performance when you need it the most!: Applications such as 3D games and video editing demand a huge chunk of system resource. Inject "nitrous oxide" into your CPU! The patented AI NOS™ (Non-delay Overclocking System) technology intelligently detects system load and automatically boosts performance for the most demanding tasks. Unlike other dynamic overclocking techniques, AI NOS™ reacts much faster to satisfy your unending need for speeds .
- Stack Cool 2 Effective and zero-noise heat dissipation: Stack Cool 2 is a fan-less and zero-noise cooling solution offered exclusively by ASUS. It effectively transfers heat generated by the critical components to the other side of the specially designed PCB (printed circuit board) for effective heat dissipation.
- C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall): When the system hangs due to overclocking failure, there is no need to open the case to clear CMOS data. Just simply restart the system, the BIOS would show the previous setting and then users can amend the CPU setting again.
- EL I/O: Connect in the dark: Today´s users demand more than good performance-they demand more heart touching services like user-friendly features. The motherboard comes with the EL I/O, an impressive design that increases convenience in connecting devices on the back I/O. The cool EL lights up your I/O panel under your desk, in the dark, or in a LAN Party. No more jamming devices into the wrong connectors! when you´re in the dark!
- LCD Poster: Debug with translation: When system malfunction occurs, LCD Notice Board automatically detects for device failure and posts physical system errors on the LCD during POST. No more reading "gibberish to find out what´s wrong.
- Onboard Switch: No more shorting pins or moving jumpers: With an easy press during overclock, this exclusive onboard switch allows gamer to effortlessly fine-tune the performance without having to short the pins or moving jumpers!
- Q-Fan Plus: Optimized quietness and cooling for more devices: The Q-Fan function automatically detects temperature and adjusts fan speed accordingly to achieve quiet and efficient cooling. With Q-Fan Plus, special temperature sensor cable is provided to detect temperature on any device. When used with a optional fans, you may activate Q-Fan function on up to 3 additional devices of your choice!
- ASUS Q-Connector: Make connections quick and accurate. The Q-Connector allows you to connect or disconnect chassis front panel cables in one easy step with one complete module. This unique adapter eliminates the trouble of plugging in one cable at a time, making connection quick and accurate.
- ASUS EZ Flash 2: Simply update BIOS from a USB flash disk before entering the OS. EZ Flash 2 is a user-friendly BIOS update utility. Simply launch this tool and update BIOS from a USB flash disk before entering the OS. You can update your BIOS only in a few clicks without preparing an additional floppy diskette or using an OS-based flash utility.
- MyLogo3: Personalize your system with customizable boot logo: The ASUS MyLogo 3 is the new feature present in the motherboard that allows you to personalize and add style to your system with customizable and animated boot logos.MyLogo3.
- 3D Game: S.T.A.L.K.E.R: S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Shadows of Chernobyl is one of the most highly-anticipated 3D FPS games released this year. With highly-realistic graphics and gameplay physics, gamers will be tested to their limits when they are ´transported´ to an immersive atmosphere that depicts real-life scenes from Chernobyl.
- 3DMark® Advanced Edition: The Gamers´ Benchmark 3DMark is the most popular and authoritative 3D benchmark application used by professionals around the world. The 3DMark06 is the latest version in the popular 3DMark series, including advanced SM2.0 and HDR/SM3.0 Shader graphics tests and now including single, multiple core and multiple processor CPU tests as part of the 3DMark score! The accurate performance and image quality diagnostic tool, designed for DirectX®9.0c, provides you with all the information you need to make all other competitors look bad.
- Kaspersky® Anti-Virus: The best protection from viruses and spyware: Kaspersky® Anti-Virus Personal offers premium antivirus protection for individual users and home offices. It is based on advanced antivirus technologies. The product incorporates the Kaspersky® Anti-Virus engine, which is renowned for malicious program detection rates that are among the industry´s highest.
- SATA on the Go: This motherboard supports the next-generation hard drives based on the Serial ATA (SATA) 3Gb/s storage specification, delivering enhanced scalability and doubling the bus bandwidth for high-speed data retrieval and saves. The external SATA port located at the back I/O provides smart setup and hot-plug functions. Easily backup photos, videos and other entertainment contents on external devices.
- Dual RAID: The south bridge incorporate six Serial ATA connectors with high performance RAID functions in RAID 0, 1, 5, 0+1, and JBOD. The Silicon Image 3132 controller provides another two external Serial ATA connectors for RAID 0, 1, and JBOD functions. This motherboard is the ideal solution to enhance hard disk performance and data back up protection without the cost of add-on cards.
- Dual Gigabit LAN: The integrated dual Gigabit LAN design allows a PC to serve as a network gateway for managing traffic between two separate networks. This capability ensures rapid transfer of data from WAN to LAN without any added arbitration or latency.
- IEEE 1394a interface: IEEE 1394a interface provides high speed digital interface for audio/video appliances such as digital television, digital video camcorders, storage peripherals & other PC portable devices.
- High Definition Audio: Enjoy high-end sound system on your PC! The onboard 8-channel HD audio (High Definition Audio, previously codenamed Azalia) CODEC enables high-quality 192KHz/24-bit audio output, jack-sensing feature, retasking functions and multi-streaming technology that simultaneously sends different audio streams to different destinations. You can now talk to your partners on the headphone while playing a multi-channel network games. All of these are done on one computer.
High-Quality Capacitors & RoHS:
- Uses 100% All High-quality Conductive Polymer Capacitors: This motherboard uses all high-quality conductive polymer capacitors onboard for durability, improved lifespan, and enhanced thermal capacity.
- GreenASUS: The motherboard and its packaging comply with the European Union´s Restriction on the use of Hazardous Substances (RoHS). This is in line with the ASUS vision of creating environment-friendly and recyclable products and packaging to safeguard consumers´ health while minimizing the impact on the environment. The product (electrical , electronic equipment, Mercury-containing button cell battery) should not be placed in municipal waste. Check local regulations for disposal.
All specifications and features information sourced from http://www.asus.com/products.aspx?l1=3&l2=11&l3=534&l4=0&model=1689&modelmenu=1.
The Asus Blitz Extreme will be put through our benchmarking suite to see what kind of performance the motherboard delivers. The OverclockersClub series of benchmarks include both system tests and gaming benchmarks to verify the performance of this product. I will be comparing the performance of the Asus Blitz against another of Asus's offerings, the P5K3 Premium. The P5K3 was chosen because it features two gigabytes of on-board DDR3 memory. Testing will be a direct comparison of our stock speed benchmarking; all clock speeds and memory timings will be as close as possible to offer a fair comparison on each of the boards. All motherboard and video card settings were left at setup defaults, again to eliminate any variables.
- Processor: Intel Q6600 Core 2 Quad 266x9
- Motherboard: Asus Blitz Extreme
- Memory: OCZ ReaperX HPC DDR3 6-5-5-18
- Video Card(s): Evga 8800 GTS 640MB
- Power Supply: Mushkin 650watt Modular Power supply
- Hard Drive:1 x Seagate 320GB SATA
- Opticals: NEC DV5700
- O/S: Windows Vista Ultimate Edition
- Processor: Intel Q6600 Core 2 Quad 333 x 8
- Motherboard: Asus P5K3 Premium "Black Pearl Edition"
- Memory: 2 x 1GB Onboard memory 8-7-7-20
- Video Card(s): Evga 8800 GTS 640MB
- Power Supply: Mushkin 650watt Modular Power supply
- Hard Drive: 1 x Seagate 320GB SATA
- Opticals:NEC DV5700
- O/S : Windows Vista Ultimate edition
- Processor: Intel Q6600 484x7 1.496
- Sytem Memory: OCZ ReaperX HPC DDR3 774 8-7-7-20 1.7v
I never thought I would be able to pull more performance out of my existing hardware. My CPU has hit walls from 440 to 470 FSB on other boards but usually I could coax another 5 FSB from it with extreme voltages. As it turns out, the old Quad had a little more life left in it after all. 490 x 7 was stable in Memtest 1.70 but would crash upon loading Windows. Lowering the clocks a little further resulted in a boot into Windows at 484 x 7. Not only did this clock speed boot into Windows, but was Prime 95 stable for over 24 hours as well. Voltages on the northbridge, CPU and CPU PLL were increased to gain stability at this clockspeed. A nice little feature in the BIOS is the color coding of the miscellaneous voltages. Green, of course, for normal, Yellow for high and Red for crazy. This gives you an indication of what levels Asus thinks are "safe" and which are not. Overclocking the memory did not require a whole lot of tweaking to get the memory to perform. By focusing on the CPU clocks I ran the memory slower than it is capable of. This memory does indeed push to 940MHz on this board with timings of 8-7-6-20 at 1.96volts. Pushing the limits on the Asus Blitz Extreme was not a problem. The crash recovery requires just a shutdown and reboot. This takes you back to the default settings, so the next boot is trouble free. Kind of refreshing if you ask me. If it does get to the point where the simple reboot does not work, there is always the clear CMOS button on the I/O panel just in case. The final clock speed of 484 x 7 is the most "Extreme" clockspeed that my Q6600 has ever been able to achieve.
- Scientific & Data:
- SpecviewPerf 10
- PCMark Vantage Professional
- Sandra XII
- ScienceMark 2.02 Final
- Cinebench 10
- HD Tune 2.54
- Knights of the Sea
- Call of Duty 4
- World in Conflict
- Call of Jaurez
- 3DMark 06 Professional
The first part of our testing regimen will be the system specific benchmarks.
Let's get started with Apophysis. This program is used primarily to render and generate fractal flame images. We will run this benchmark with the following settings:
- Resolution: 2750x2048
- Quality: 500
- Limit Memory use: 512MB
The measurement used is time to render, in minutes, to complete.
Lower is Better
WinRAR is a tool to archive and compress large files to a manageable size. We will use 10MB, 100MB and 500MB files and test the time needed to compress these files. Time will be measured in seconds.
The Blitz outperformed the P5K3 in virtually all of the tests. Apophysis was dead even at 36 minutes to render our image.
Specview 10 is a benchmark designed to test OpenGL performance. I will be using the multi-threaded tests to measure the performance when run in this mode. The tests used for comparison are listed below. The default multi-threaded tests were chosen to be able to compare across platforms. In these tests, higher scores equate to better performance.
Higher is Better
Higher is Better
Higher is Better
PcMark Vantage is used to measure complete system performance. We will be running a series of tests to gauge performance of each individual board to see which board, if any, rises above the others.
Performance in these benchmarks show how close the respective platforms really are with stock performance.
Sisoft Sandra is a diagnostic utility and synthetic benchmarking program. Sandra allows you to view your hardware at a higher level to be more helpful. For this benchmark, I will be running a broad spectrum of tests to gauge the performance of key areas of the motherboards.
Cache and Memory
Power Management Efficiency
The Blitz Extreme outright beats the P5K3 Premium in the memory tests in Sandra. Both boards are equipped with Intel P35 chipsets, so platform performance is similar.
Sciencemark tests real world performance instead of using synthetic benchmarks. For this test, we ran the benchmark suite and will use the overall score for comparison.
Higher is Better!
Cinebench is useful for testing your system, CPU and OpenGL capabilities using the software program CINEMA 4D. We will be using the default tests for this benchmark.
Higher is Better
HD Tune measures disk performance to make comparisons between drives or disk controllers.
Higher is Better
Lower is Better
The performance in these series of benchmarks is close enough to be within run to run variations. The Blitz came out on top in 25 of 35 system benchmarks.
Crysis is a new addition to the gaming benchmark suite used at OverclockersClub.com. This game is one of the most anticipated and system intensive games to be released to the market right now. The Crysis single player demo includes a GPU benchmark to test the performance of the video card installed in the system.
- 2x Anti-Aliasing
- Advanced settings to medium
The benchmark scores in Crysis are within +/- 1 frame per second on each benchmark. The demands that Crysis puts on a system makes small increases a measurable difference.
PT Boats: Knights of the Sea is a new DX10 title that features its own proprietary graphics engine currently in development. The game is a combination of real time strategy and simulation. You have the ability to control the entire crew or just a single member. Play as the German, Russian or Allied navies and prove your mettle on the open seas.
The settings we will use are below:
- AA: x0
- Image Quality: High
- Direct X Version: 10
- All resolutions 60HZ
The results in Knights of the Sea are dead even at the highest resolution. At the lower resolutions the Asus P5K3 beats it out by between one and three FPS.
BioShock is one of the newest games on the market. It is a demanding game that will make your hardware scream for mercy. This first-person shooter allows for an infinite number of weapons and modifications to provide a unique experience each time it is played.
- All settings to Maximum
- V-Sync off
The Blitz pulls ahead at each resolution in Bioshock but only by 1 to 2 frames per second.
Call of Duty 4 : Modern Warfare is the successor to the Call of Duty crown. This iteration of the game is fought in many of the world's hot spots with modern armaments and firepower. You can play as either a U.S. Marine or British S.A.S. trooper. SInce this game does not feature an in-game test, I will run through a section of the game and measure average FPS using Fraps 2.9.3.
The settings used are listed below:
- Anti-aliasing: x4
- Anistropic Filtering : Max
- Texture Quality: Extra
- All settings Max
The Blitz hammers the P5K3 in the two lower resolutions and falls a little short at 1680x1050.
World In Conflict is a newly released DX10 real time strategy game that simulated the all out war that the world hopes never comes. The difference in this RTS game is that it is not the typical generate wealth and build type of game. You advance by conquering your foe.
The settings we will use are listed below:
- 0 X AA
- 16X AF
- Graphic Detail :Very High
Performance is dead even across the board at the highest resolution while at the lower two resolutions the Blitz pulls ahead.
Call of Juarez is a DirectX10 First Person Shooter set in the Wild West of the late 1800s. The game is inspired in part by the movies of the Wild West genre of the seventies and eighties. The game can be played as both single player and multiplayer. The game focuses on realistic graphics and gameplay designed to take advantage of the latest video cards on the market.
The settings we will use are listed below.
- Details: High
- Shadowmap size 2048x2048
- Shadow Quality: Normal
- Anti Aliasing: MSAA 4X
Testing between the two boards showed the level of performance by each board to be similar. In the end, at the 1680x1050 resolution, the performance was equal. In the lower resolutions the difference was one frame per second or less.
Benchmark: Company of Heroes (Opposing Fronts)
Company of Heroes (Opposing Fronts) is the latest chapter of the Company of Heroes series. The scene is WWII. The Mission is Operation Market Garden, the first allied attempt to break into the third reich. Play as the British or Germans. This real time strategy game is brought to us by Relic entertainment.
- 8x AA
- All other settings to maximum
This iteration of the game is more graphically demanding than its predecessor. System performance was slightly better at the higher resolutions with the Blitz.
3DMark06 is one of the benchmarks that always comes up when a bragging contest is begun. 3DMark06 presents a severe test for many of today's hardware components. Let's see how this setup fares. The settings we will use are listed below.
- SM2.0 Graphics Tests: GT1- Return to Proxycon, GT2- Firefly Forest
- CPU Tests: Cpu1- Red Valley, CPU2- Red Valley
- HDR/SM3.0 Graphics Tests: HDR1- Canyon Flight, HDR2- Deep Freeze
In 3dMark06 the Blitz fell short in all three resolutions. The largest margin is 45 points.
Does the Blitz Extreme live up to its name? Sure it does! With its two phase DDR3 power it allows for some really insane memory speeds. It allowed me to push my 1333 MHz DDR3 to over 1900MHz 1t without using massive volts to do it. I was able to pull an additional 20FSB from my poor little Q6600 at 484FSB. My Q6600 has never booted up into Windows at over 3680MHz, it just did not play nice any higher than that. After forgetting to switch the multiplier back to 7 while looking for the max frontside bus capabilities of the board with my chip, I booted into Windows at almost 3.9GHz. I was pretty stunned to say the least. That speed was good for a couple of Super Pi runs but definitely needed more voltage than I had cooling capacity. The Extreme Tweaker section of the BIOS allows the end user to go as wild or as mild as he wants. The voltage options are color coded to give an indication of how Extreme you are getting. Green for normal, Yellow for high and Red for "Crazy." If you want or need the voltage options to play with the big boys, the Blitz delivers. CPU voltage to 1.90volts and Memory voltage up to to 3.04volts - that's twice the DDR3 spec! Extreme you say? Why yes.....yes it is!
WIth its ROG (Republic of Gamers) status, the Blitz Extreme is loaded. The bundle of accessories with this board is pretty substantial and includes not only the adapters to make the Fusion Block cooling system a snap to hook up, but includes thermal probes to monitor additional temperatures, a remote diagnostic L.E.D. and a backlit I/O panel to make connecting to the board in those dark of night LAN parties a breeze. The Blitz has a cooling package that works fairly well. The Fusion block cooling system kept the temperatures of the chipsets and power management circuits in line. While using the touch temperature test, none of the heatsinks in the cooling solution felt even warm to the touch under load. It's not very scientific, but does speak to the efficiency of the solution.
While the use of high performance DDR3 memory offers incredible bandwidth at higher frequencies, it is not quite mainstream yet. Several reasons are the loose timings and high prices for performance DDR3 memory. Kind of like reliving the transition to DDR2 all over again. Even with those knocks on DDR3, there is a definite performance advantage to having the memory bandwidth available. The Blitz Extreme is a full featured board that gives the best of both worlds, speed and stability; two things high on my list of must haves when it comes to new hardware. If migrating to DDR3 is in the works for your next buildup, then the Asus "Blitz Extreme" motherboard offers a level of performance and overclocking capabilities that would be hard to pass up.
- Water Cooled Northbridge
- Crosslinx Gives 8x x 8x PCI-E for Dual Graphics
- DDR3 Bandwidth While Overclocked
- Software and Hardware Bundle
- Extreme Overclocking
- Extensive BIOS Options
- Memory Performance
- High Definition Soundcard