Asus Striker II Formula Reviewccokeman -
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Everyone remembers the introduction of the 680i chipset based motherboards about this time last year. There were boards from many different manufacturers. Some met with success, others did not fare as well. There were many small issues that needed to be worked around, such as memory holes where a board was unstable at certain speeds, but above and below that speed were just fine. Managing chipset heat was another small chore. The stock solutions were creative and were barely sufficient at stock speeds to manage the heat load. Usually this meant after market cooling was required or, at a minimum, a fan put over the area to help the heatsink cool down, as well as keeping an eye on the northbridge core voltages. The up side to the obvious deficiencies was the ability to run the memory unlinked from the CPU frontside bus speed. This meant eliminating some of the compromises that had to be made with an Intel chipset solution. Increased memory performance was the direct result of this ability. Now with the new 45nm processors out in the wild the 680i boards have become a bit long in the tooth. High frontside bus quad-core overclocking was never the strong suit of the 680i series. Will the release of the 780i chipset offer better quad-core overclocking, or will it fall in line behind the 680i chipset it replaces? The potential is there, it's just a matter of the potential being realized.
The Asus Striker II Formula is equipped with the Nvidia 780i SLI northbridge chipset, NF 570SLI and the NF200 chipsets. Support for the latest 45nm processors, up to eight gigabytes of DDR2 1066/800/667 system memory, as well as three way SLI with the appropriate video cards. Cooling the board is Asus's fanless cooling solution labeled "Stack Cool 2" that features a pin fin nortbridge heatsink. With features such as these, the Striker II should be ready for a prime-time gaming experience. Is it?
The Asus Striker II Formula is part of the Republic of Gamers series of motherboards from Asus. This lineup consists of products designed with the gamer in mind. The packaging is dark and features a single bullet hole graphic on the front to illustrate the "take no prisoners" nature of the series. The front panel highlights the fact that the board bundle includes the full version of Company of Heroes Opposing Fronts, labeling it as "The Hottest DX10 game". The rear panel illustrates features including the HD audio, voltminder LEDs and the overclockability of the Striker II. The complete list of specifications is included on the rear as well. The I/O panel can be seen through a window on the side giving the end user a glimpse of the connectivity of the Striker II.
The packaging features a flip up cover to give a more thorough description of some of the features on the Striker II. The "Pin Fin Thermal Module" for the chipset cooling and the Sound FX audio module take center stage on the lower panel, while the DIY and Overclocking attributes take up the upper panel.
The Striker II is housed in a plastic clamshell that is all the rage in motherboard packaging and marketing these days. It does make the showing of the features through a window in the product package easier than the standby static resistant bag. The bundled accessories are housed in a thin box under the motherboard. The graphic on the box mirrors the outer packaging to tie the whole package together.