Articles

ASUS Striker Extreme

Author:Daniel Dobrowolski

Editor:Kyle Bennett

Date: Tuesday , December 05, 2006

ASUS brings their technological expertise in motherboard design to NVIDIA’s new 680i chipset for Intel processors. Listing an incredible set of features and official SLI support, does this board have it all? Or does the ASUS Striker strike out when the heat is on?

Introduction

ASUS has been known in the world of computing as a major player and they have been making motherboards for a number of years. ASUS has always catered to a variety of markets ranging from OEM, Enthusiast, and even consumer electronic markets. In the recent years, ASUS has built a reputation for unparalleled quality and stability with their motherboards in the enthusiast hardware community. Typically, ASUS boards arenآ’t slouches in the overclocking department either. Last year ASUS shipped 52 million motherboards, and according to ASUSآ’ website, one in every three PCs has an ASUS motherboard inside it. Such a statistic is impressive indeed.

The ASUS Striker Extreme has been touted by ASUS as the worlds best gaming motherboard. With a long list of features, one could see why ASUS might make such a claim. The ASUS Striker Extreme supports all current Intel Pentium 4, Pentium D, Core 2 Solo, Core 2 Duo, and Core 2 Extreme series Processors. This includes the mighty Core 2 Extreme QX6700 quad core CPU. The board brings with it a healthy and long list of features as well and includes SLi support, as well as three PCIe x16 slots. Two of which are full speed x16 slots, while the third is an x8 slot. Following industry trends, there is a mammoth list of integrated components and therefore few things are required to complete a full system out of such a board. Components required are a socket LGA775 CPU, ATX 2.0 compliant power supply, hard drive, DDR2 memory and a video card. ASUS Integrated the following components into the Striker Extreme: 1 ATA-133 port; 1 floppy port; 6 SATA ports on the NVIDIA south bridge; 2 eSATA 3G ports via an on board Silicon Image 3132 controller; 10xUSB ports (4 on the black plane, and 3 headers supporting 2 ports each.); 2 GigE Ethernet ports; on board ADI 1988B 8-channel High Definition Audio CODEC Support Jack-Sensing, Enumeration, Multi-streaming and Jack-Retasking, Coaxial, Optical S/PDIF out; IEEE1394 input and of course standard PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports.

Main Specifications Overview:

Detailed Specifications Overview:

Packaging

The packaging for the Striker Extreme is interesting. The box showcases off the features of the motherboard and it's accessories. All the included accessories and the board itself are well packed to prevent damage during shipping and come with everything your motherboard needs. The motherboard is inside a hard plastic shell to prevent shipping damage. The sound board is also packed in the same container as the motherboard itself. Items included are: SLI bridge; ASUS Array Mic; ASUS Optional Fan; 3 in 1 ASUS Q-Connector Kit; UltraDMA 133/100/66 cable; Floppy disk drive cable; SATA cables; SATA power cables; 2-port USB2.0 module; IEEE1394a module; EL I/O Shield; Thermal sensor cables; Cable Ties; ROG key ring; and of course, the User's manual.

Board Layout

Often I am asked what the difference is between an expensive board, and a less expensive board using the same chipset. The answer is two fold, quality, and attention to detail. When it comes to both counts, ASUS has really set a new standard for themselves. The layout for this board is exemplary. It seems crowded at first glance, but when looked at closer, the layout is brilliant. I tried several large cooling solutions on this board and though they were close to the heat pipes, they never got too close and left me with as much clearance as I needed. The memory slots arenآ’t too close to the video card when itآ’s installed and that makes future memory installation a snap. The expansion slot layout is almost identical to the NVIDIA reference design, which is a good thing. ASUS seems to have followed suit with some of abitآ’s designs and taken the on board audio card off the motherboard, and placed it on an included daughter board. This is really a nice approach, though Iآ’d rather them include something that interfaces with a standard PCIe x1 slot, so that I didnآ’t have to give up that PCIe x1 slot above the main PCIe x16 slot found on so many NVIDIA 680i reference boards. Aside from that and some difficult to reach fan headers, this board has a nearly perfect layout. The included power on, reset, and clear CMOS switches are a nice touch as well and make testing very pleasant.

The CPU area of the Striker Extreme looks troublesome at first glance. Though it is tight enough to prevent the use of some cooling solutions, this heat pipe laden area works out well. I was able to test fit a Zalman CNPS9500 AT, Cooler Master Hyper 48, and a Thermaltake Big Typhoon without issues. Though it was close as Iآ’ve already said, it worked out fine. Do be advised, there are some coolers that will not fit here due to the size of the heat pipe cooling solution. So caution is advised here when you are choosing a cooling solution, but given the amount of integrated components and available PCB space, ASUS has done a great job leaving space to be utilized by the enthusiast.

The boardآ’s 4 DDR 2 DIMM sockets are located in front of the CPU area, and thatآ’s to be expected as it is pretty much standard with almost all boards made today. Fortunately ASUS has left us with just enough clearance to install and remove memory modules without having to remove the video card. Even if that card is an 8800GTX. The same is true on the eVGA and BFGTech 680i motherboards as well.

The north bridge is located just to the left of the CPU area. It is covered by tons of copper tubing and copper fins that make up its unique cooling system. The heat pipe system covers the north and south bridges, and all the motherboard voltage components around the CPU area in an interconnected highway of copper tubing. Itآ’s actually the most visually stunning north bridge cooling Iآ’ve ever seen. Besides form, it also functions really well, and during my tests, the temperature of this bizarre rig never got out of hand.

As I mentioned before, the south bridge is part of the network of heat pipes laid out across the surface of the Striker Extreme and if you follow this highway of tubing from the north bridge, and head to the left of the CPU socket, youآ’ll find the south bridge. Covered in copper and adorned with the Republic of Gamers logo, it sits just in front of the expansion slot area, and behind the massive block of SATA ports on the boards outer most edge. As with the north bridge, the cooling system worked well during testing.

The Striker Extreme has a grand total of three PCIe x16 slots, and one PCIe x1 slot. There are also two legacy PCI v2.2 slots. The two blue PCIe x16 slots operate with a full compliment of 16 PCI Express lanes, while the third white slot operates with only 8.

The Striker Extreme includes the following on the back plane: 1 PS/2 mouse port; 1 PS/2 keyboard port; 2 eSATA ports; 1 IEEE1394 port; LCD screen (for diagnostics and status); LCD back light button; SPDIF out and optical in port; two RJ-45 ports and finally 4 USB ports.