Asus Striker II Extreme Reviewccokeman - June 8, 2008
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The Extreme Tweaker section of the BIOS is front and center, eliminating any need to scroll through a bunch of menus just to get to the one that houses the options that dictate the performance of the system. The list of items in this section can easily make your head swim, if you let it. Without further ado, let's see what it can do for us.
CPU Level Up and Memory Level Up both lead to settings that will automatically try and set the Striker II for the best possible performance. Options on CPU Level Up include Crazy and Auto, while the Memory Level Up chooses specific memory speeds.
AI Overclock Tuner is another part of the automatic overclocking features. Manual, Auto, Standard, AI Overclock and CPU Level Up are the given options to increase performance. When choosing from these options, the motherboard manages the other board settings to allow operation in the CPU Level Up and Auto modes. When set to Manual mode, the CPU multiplier can be adjusted within the ratios your CPU allows. The Intel Q9450 used in this review, for instance, has a maximum multiplier of x8, and can be adjusted as low as x6.
FSB Memory Clock mode can be set to Auto, Linked and Unlinked. Auto, of course, automatically chooses what is most likely to work with the parameters already set. Linked syncs the memory FSB to the CPU clock speed. Unlinked allows the memory clocks to be set independently of the CPU clock speeds. FSB Memory ratio can be set to Auto, 5:4, 3:2, or Sync Mode. Linked and Synced is supposed to offer the best performance when using Nvidia chipset-based motherboards. Running Unlinked, there will be a performance penalty that may be tough to overcome.
CPU FSB can be adjusted from 100 MHz (400) to 750 MHz (3000), and with some hardcore enthusiasts hitting 600MHz FSBs, the limits are being pushed. The memory FSB falls into the same range, allowing for Linked or Unlinked operation.
The LDT Frequency Multiplier is adjustable from x1 to x5. The PCI-E clock for slots one and two can be adjusted independently of slot three; the range is 100 to 200 MHz. Most will not push the boundaries of this adjustment.
The SPP<->MCP Reference Clock can be adjusted from 200 to 500 MHz, or to Auto so the board can make the decision for you. SLI Ready memory gives the user an easy way to overclock the RAM with a preset batch of settings.
Under the main menu there are several other menus - Memory Timings, Overvoltage, CPU Configuration, and Spread Spectrum Control. Let's look at each one in turn to find out where the performance can be tweaked.
The voltage options available on the Striker II Extreme are advanced enough that if the Moon is your goal, voltage will not be factor holding you back. The voltages rise in smaller increments at the lower end of the scale, but as the voltages increase, the spread between voltage points increases as well. The CPU voltage can be increased to 2.40 volts, and the memory to 3.10 volts! Both extremes offer certain death, but if the hardware needs more juice, it's there. The PLL volts, VTT voltage, NB, and SB volts are all on the extreme side of the fence when they are maxed out. The good thing is that you should not need that kind of voltage, but it's nice to have the ability to use it.
The GTL Reference and DDR3 voltages are for the experienced tweaker who understands the reasons for their use. For most people, Auto should be enough to get you to the performance "Promised Land".