Asus Striker II Extreme review
The regal-sounding Republic of Gamers range from Asus aims to provide the best performance possible – with no expense spared, as the luxury price-tag of this new board emphasises.
The cost is partly justified, though, by the debut of Nvidia’s brand new nForce 790i Ultra SLI chipset, as well as a raft of additions that concentrate on boosting frame-rates in games.
The chipset packs in some interesting features: it can handle processors with a front side bus of 1600MHz, higher than both Intel boards on our A List. It’ll also support quad SLI, should you wish to invest in a pair of Nvidia’s new dual-GPU GeForce 9800 GX2 cards.
Alternatively, the three PCI Express 2.0 slots mean you can install a trio of 8800 Ultra or GTX cards for triple SLI – though this is a huge outlay for performance little better than two cards. See our review of the Chillblast Fusion Trident for a fuller discussion of the shortcomings of triple SLI.
Another notable feature is a dedicated sound card, a miniature SupremeFX II which slots into a PCI Express 1x slot. Its small stature means it won’t obstruct air-flow to your graphics card, and its quoted 101dB output signal-to-noise ratio promises supremely clean sound.
The BIOS is well-loaded with performance-enhancing features, not to mention a certain sense of fun.
The front side bus multiplier can be turned all the way up to a ludicrous 50.5x, and the highest overclocking preset (known as ‘crazy’ mode) is indicated by an LED on the motherboard flashing bright red.
More sensible overclocking is indicated by a yellow light, or green if you haven’t tampered with the processor settings at all.
The processor socket is surrounded by copper cooling pipes: these are attractive, but may interfere with enthusiast heatsinks – the Scythe Zipang, for instance, won’t fit.
For additional cooling, six power connectors for case fans are scattered around the board, and one fan is included in the box.
That’s just as well – factor in the cooling pipes, heatsink, RAM, sound and graphics cards and the result is a busy system that may well need help with its air-flow.
The board also comes with some useful software utilities. PC Probe II monitors an impressive array of temperatures and voltages: statistics for each rail of the PSU are displayed alongside information about the CPU, memory and motherboard.
AI Suite, meanwhile, lets you overclock without fiddling with the BIOS, with a selection of pre-set configurations allowing for both increased performance and energy efficiency.
It’s a feature we’ve appreciated in previous Asus boards, like the P5E-VM HDMI . There’s also AI Booster, which provides access to various BIOS settings from the desktop.
The Striker II Extreme certainly offers a wealth of top-flight features. It’s hugely expensive, though, and the spending won’t stop there – it needs DDR3 RAM and anticipates multiple GPUs.
If you’re on a budget, the A-listed Gigabyte X48-DQ6 is a more affordable high-performance alternative. But if you have deep pockets and demand the latest chipset, this is a very impressive board.
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