Asus Striker II Extreme Reviewccokeman -
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The Striker II Extreme has the capabilities to allow the enthusiast to push the limits of his hardware. Data corruption issues have been one of the biggest sticking points from the enthusiast community in regards to the 790i and 790i Ultra chipset motherboards, and while this gremlin did not show its ugly face in the testing, the grumblings of the masses were loud enough for the manufacturers to hear. Along that vein, Asus released a new BIOS that addresses this issue specifically on 5/29/08. The only real issue I encountered was with the earlier shipping BIOS - after swapping the memory for a lower rated set to test compatibility, the board gave me a CPU INIT error on the LCD Poster. After going back and forth with the board for a few hours and finally getting a POST, I updated the BIOS to the 0603 beta, and from that point on the Striker II Extreme has been golden. If you lean too hard on it, the recovery from a failed overclock is just a matter of a powering down and up, and you are right back in action. Nvidia chipsets are notoriously hot, and can produce some hurdles detrimental to getting the most from the board. To combat this, the heatsink assembly on the board has an integrated water block to help with the heat removal, and it really works! Not once was the heatsink assembly over the Northbridge warm to the touch, something I have grown accustomed to having to manage in a variety of ways. One other gripe that has to be mentioned is price -at $469, the Striker II Extreme carries a hefty premium over many other boards on the market. Performance does come at a price - but that price, it seems, is a bit steep for a motherboard. Not only is the DDR3 a pricey item, the board is too - now more than ever. The age-old question in auto racing is "How fast you wanna go?" Answer - "How much money you got?" I guess that applies to this round of chipsets as well.
Overclocking the Striker II Extreme can be accomplished in several ways. Auto settings will only take you so far in your quest for speed - to get the most from this, board, expect to spend some time tweaking to maximize the performance of your combination of parts. If the memory modules and CPU are capable, 2000MHz is easy enough to accomplish. One thing that has carried over from the 680i chipset boards to today is the ability to run the memory unlinked from the CPU. The ability comes at a price, however - running unlinked results in a performance loss compared to running the memory linked and synced (essentially a 1:1 ratio). During testing, the performance scores were lower when the CPU and memory were unlinked. It's a hit, but every positive has a negative, and you just have to manage the trade-off. The BIOS has plenty of adjustments to allow the performance to be tweaked. More tweak time would result in even better numbers that those delivered in the testing. The Auto settings do give a decent level of performance, but as with everything the more time you spend tweaking, the more benefits you will see in the performance of the board. Performance-wise, the Striker II Extreme either tied or won 44 out of 67 benchmark tests. It outright topped the X48 chipset based board in 28 of 67 benchmarks, with the balance showing the same performance. With tweaking, I see the performance of the Striker II getting better and better. The 790i Ultra SLI chipset's capabilities outshine the 780i's, so moving to the newer boards is the way to go if SLI or Tri-SLI/Quad SLI is in your future. If you need an Nvidia chipset based board for your multi GPU gaming solution, the Asus Striker II Extreme should be in your shopping cart.
Stay Tuned for our SLI and Tri SLI roundup coming soon.
- Tri-SLI capable
- Liquid cooled Northbridge
- Linked and Synced performance.
- Memory overclocking
- Unlinked memory
- BIOS options
- Early BIOS