Asus Striker II Extreme Reviewccokeman -
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The Striker II Extreme is an ATX form factor motherboard that's based on the Nvidia 790i Ultra SLI Northbridge and the 570 SLI Southbridge chipsets, and is designed for use with Intel's Quad Core 1333/1600 MHz FSB Socket 775 processors. DDR3 system memory - up to 2000MHz - is supported on this board, and considering 2000MHz modules are now shipping, it's nice to see support from the motherboard side as well. Covering a vast portion of the Striker II Extreme is the Fusion Block cooling system; this system is made liquid cooling capable by integrating the water block on the Northbridge into your liquid loop. The Stack Cool system is used to help reduce component temperatures by spreading the heat load across the specially designed Stack Cool 2 motherboard PCB. The heatsinks across the rear face of the Striker II are screwed into place rather than using spring loaded push pins. Why is this significant, you ask? It maintains better contact with the PWM circuits by reducing board flex across the area. This helps reduce the operating temperatures and may help increase the overclocking capabilities of the board.
The I/O panel looks a little sparse when compared to some of the non-gaming desktop boards in use today; the Asus P5E3 and Gigabyte X48-DQ6 come to mind. Everything you need is there though - six USB 2.0 ports, two Gigabit LAN jacks, two e-SATA ports , one 1394 FireWire jack, coaxial and optical digital S/PDIF out ports, and one lone P/S2 port to plug in a keyboard. The heatsink over the PWM circuits butts right up to the I/O panel to help exhaust the heat generated by the PWM out of the rear of the case. The external clear CMOS button is always a welcome sight when it comes time to push the limits of the installed hardware.
Expansion needs are met by the use of three PCI-E x16 slots, two PCI slots and two PCI-E x1 slots - one black, and one white. The black slot is reserved for the Supreme FX II HD sound card. The two blue PCI-E x16 slots are PCI-E 2.0 compliant, and offer more bandwidth for increased performance; they each run at true x16 speeds. The other x16 slot runs at x16 as well, making the availability and performance of Tri-SLI a reality.
Across the bottom and up the right side is where we'll find the majority of the connectivity for the Striker II Extreme. The bottom of the board from left to right has a red FireWire header, a fan and thermal sensor plug, two additional USB 2.0 headers in blue, ADH connection, built-in Start and Reset buttons, another chassis fan and the front panel connections. Just above the chassis fan header, you will see a small sliding switch, which is used in lieu of the clear CMOS jumper that's usually present - this option is easier to use.
The drive connectivity is all on the right edge of the Striker's PCB, with the exception of the eSATA jacks on the I/O panel. The six SATA ports are controlled by the Nvidia chipset, and are rotated over so that the ports aren't blocked when a large - think 3870X2 or 9800GX2 - video card is used. The IDE port is farther up the side, and is close to the drives in most cases. The floppy drive connection is still in place for those still using this option. Right next to that is the ATX 24-pin power plug.
Power is supplied to the Striker II Extreme through just two connections - the 24-pin ATX connection, and the 8-pin EATX power connection located above the CPU socket. In the top corner of the board are a few unique connections, where the wires for the I/O panel lights and the LCD poster wiring are connected.
The Striker II Extreme features four DIMM slots capable of supporting up to 8GB of DDR3 2000(OC),1800 (OC) 1600(OC),1066, and 800MHz memory. The CPU socket area is pretty crowded, but liquid cooling blocks and large air cooled heatsinks should fit without issue.
The Fusion Block System is a hybrid cooling system, using heatsinks, heatpipes and a D-Tek Fusion water block on the Northbridge heatsink/pipe assembly. Using this hybrid system with the liquid cooling option is said to offer cooling performance increases of 50%. This seems pretty stout, but considering the heat generated by Nvidia chipsets, this might be a worthwhile time investment. The assembly starts at the 570 SLI Southbridge and works its way up to the Northbridge, and then on to the PWM heatsinks. The D-Tek block uses 3/8" barbed fittings to connect to the liquid cooling system, and an adapter/clamp kit is supplied with the board to allow for both 3/8" and 1/2" setups.
The PWM heatsinks are screwed down instead of being secured by spring loaded push-pins. This helps keep the heatsink in place and in contact with all of the MOSFETs on the PWM circuit, increasing overclocking stability and component lifespan.
Let's take a look through the Extreme Tweaker section of the BIOS to see what it has to offer.