As we mentioned earlier, ASUS uses an 8-phase power design on the Striker Extreme, much like they’ve done on their previous Core 2-ready motherboards like the P5W DH Deluxe and P5B Deluxe. This ensures that the Striker Extreme is ready for the most power hungry Intel CPUs out there, including Intel’s recently released quad-core Core 2 Extreme QX6700. ASUS goes one step further though by using all-solid capacitors throughout the rest of the motherboard. Typically motherboard manufacturers use a combination of solid capacitors and electrolytic capactiors.
Typically the solid capacitors are used to power the CPU, while the electrolytic capacitors are used for powering less intensive areas of the motherboard. On the Striker Extreme however, every capacitor is a solid capacitor. With all solid capacitors onboard, the idea is that the capacitors will last longer while also boosting system stability under extreme conditions. This is the first ASUS motherboard to support this feature.
Another nice touch ASUS has added to the Striker Extreme is onboard switches to power, reset, and clear CMOS on the motherboard. This is particularly convenient for hardware reviewers like us, we typically have to short the pins on the motherboard with a piece of metal to perform these functions. With the Striker Extreme, you can turn the system on with the press of a button! Or if your overclocked settings don’t take, you can press the clear CMOS button to start over (although ASUS’ C.P.R. BIOS tends to be pretty good about resetting the system after an unsuccessful overclock). For added convenience the buttons are backlit, you can easily read them in a dark room for instance, so seeing them inside your case shouldn’t be a problem.
Like previous ASUS motherboards, the Striker Extreme supports ASUS Q-Connector, which makes connecting the motherboard’s pins a snap, as well as Q-Fan for dynamic fan speed adjustment. Here we should note that while the Striker Extreme is cooled entirely passively with copper heat pipe cooling, ASUS still includes a small fan which can be attached to the motherboard to provide additional cooling, or for those of you using water cooling.
Also shipping with the board is ASUS’ SupremeFX audio card. Honestly we’re not big fans on these riser cards, as most enthusiasts already have a good external sound card (you can find X-Fi cards for less than $70 on Newegg), but ASUS also an array microphone with the motherboard, so those of you who are into videoconference/Skype may no doubt enjoy this feature.
ASUS provides a wealth of voltage options in the Striker Extreme BIOS, particularly when it comes to the memory. DRAM voltage options range from 1.85V-3.425V in 0.025V increments, so those of you with RAM that needs 2.2V of juice (or more) to run should have plenty of options with the Striker Extreme.
CPU voltages range from 0.83125V-1.6V in increments of 0.00625V, with increments that slim you can fine tune your CPU overclock without having to use too much voltage. You can also adjust voltages for HyperTransport (up to 1.95V), the North Bridge (2.75V) and South Bridge (1.85V) of the chipset, the memory controller, and even the individual DDR2 channels.
In terms of bus speeds, you can type in FSB speeds from 533MHz-3000MHz on the Striker Extreme, and memory speeds up to 1400MHz. All this is available in increments of 1MHz. In fact, ASUS even states that the Striker Extreme will support 1333MHz FSB CPUs once they’re released.
Overall we’re pretty impressed with this motherboard so far, the only disappointment we can note is that ASUS still doesn’t include round IDE and floppy cables with the Striker Extreme. Considering the high street price of this board (it’s currently listed at $400 on ZipZoomfly), this seems like it should be a standard feature. ASUS thought to include a package of zip ties, and the motherboard even comes with a copy of Ghost Recon, Kaspersky Anti-Virus Personal, 3DMark 06 Advanced Edition, and even a small keychain, but no round IDE cables? Seems a bit surprising to us.
Elemental: Fallen Enchantress Preview Elemental: Fallen Enchantress is a standalone expansion pack and follow-up to developer Stardock's previous game in the series, subtitled War of Magic. That 4X strategy game was highly-anticipated and slated to compete with games such as Sid Meier's Civilization V for your turn-based strategy play-time, but was released in an incredibly broken and unfinished state that it never fully recovered from. Lead designer Brad Wardell apologized profusely to fans and set out with his team to go back to the drawing board and try again.
Almost two years later, the result of that proverbial mulligan is currently undergoing closed beta testing. In today's article, Will reports his thoughts on how Fallen Enchantress is shaping up, and will tell you whether or not you should be keeping an eye on it as it nears release later this year.
The Elder Scrolls Online Details Leak - Should Fans Be Excited? The Elder Scrolls Online, long rumored to be in development, was officially announced yesterday. Still in development at Zenimax Online Studios, this MMO aims to combine traditional genre mechanics with the spirit and sensibilities, not to mention setting and lore, of the immensely popular series of single-player RPGs. Though the game is set for a full unveiling in the next issue of Game Informer magazine, what appears to be the entire cover story article has been leaked to the interwebs already. In today's article, you'll find summary and analysis of all the alleged details, as well as feast your eyes on the very first screenshots and concept art from the game. Of course, the burning question now is, should you be excited?
ANNO 2070 Review
The year is 2070. The majority of life on Earth was devastated when global sea levels surged after the melting of the polar ice caps. Swaths of previously habitable land are now deep underwater, and sovereign nations are a relic of the past. But there is still hope...
This city-building RTS/simulation game from Ubisoft tasks you with re-colonizing what little land areas are left on the planet following a global warming apocalypse. Does it have what it takes to be worthy of your time and money, or should it be cast out to sea with the rest of civilization? Find out in today's review!
Hear that? It's the sound of the largest computer chip manufacturer in the world churning out new processors to power your gaming rig. This week, Intel is launching their next generation of Core CPUs, code-named Ivy Bridge. Like last year's Sandy Bridge chips, they're low-power, quad-core powerhouses that also feature integrated graphics processors. Want to find out more? Maybe check out a whole bunch of performance benchmarks on both the CPU and graphics sides of things? Well you can, in today's review!
Intel Z77 Chipset & DZ77GA-70K Motherboard Overview
Looking forward to those new Ivy Bridge CPUs? In anticipation of their release later this month, Intel has already unveiled the new Series 7 chipsets designed especially to take advantage of what will be the 3rd-generation of Core processors. In today's article, we take a look at the architecture of the enthusiast variant, the Z77, and how it's used in the Intel Desktop Extreme DZ77GA-70K motherboard. Even if you're not particularly interested in the motherboard itself, you'll probably want to see some of the new features that come along with it, so read on!
Mass Effect 3 PC Review
This latest release from EA/BioWare is the final entry in their trilogy of sci-fi action RPGs, putting you in a dire situation: rally the troops to save Earth at all costs. There was a lot of hype surrounding the final act of what has been a vast and highly-customizable story-telling experience, and the reception among many hardcore fans has been less than stellar. Even people that haven't played the game have probably heard about all the nerd rage going on over Mass Effect 3's ending...
If you want to cut through all the crap and find out whether or not the rest of ME3 is worth playing, come check out Will's spoiler-free take on the first blockbuster game release of 2012.
Batman: Arkham City PC Review Batman: Arkham City is the sequel to 2009’s smash-hit action game Batman: Arkham Asylum. As the name suggests, you will be reprising your role as the Caped Crusader and going against an even larger 'prison' filled with Gotham's criminals and villains. A textbook example on how to do a proper sequel, Arkham City takes what worked in the original, excised or improved upon what didn’t, and elevated everything to an even greater scope. The PC version suffered from a few months of delay, but in that time, Rocksteady worked closely to NVIDIA to implement some familiar technologies from the last game, such as PhysX and 3D Vision, along with new DirectX 11 optimizations. But how well was the whole package executed? Read on to find out!
Saints Row: The Third PC Review Saints Row is one of most unique series of games to build upon the open-world action template forged by Grand Theft Auto, and has met with plenty of critical and commercial success since it began on consoles back in 2006. This latest iteration, titled Saints Row: The Third promises the most outlandish fun and freedom of customization of them all, and in a much more PC-friendly package than its predecessor. Does it live up to those expectations and, more importantly, is it worth the price of admission? Find out in Will's latest review!
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim PC Review The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is Bethesda Softworks’ latest offering in their series of epic fantasy RPGs, as well as one of the most highly-anticipated PC titles of 2011. As the Dovahkiin, or Dragonborn, prepare to take the fight to the mythical beasts that have returned to the realm after centuries of slumber, all the while exploring a huge and highly-detailed open world.
The PC version of the game promises enhanced graphical fidelity, standard RPG trimmings such as hotkeys and quick-save, as well as unbridled mod support, something we’ll all be thankful for once they release that SDK. Skyrim has already sold millions of copies and set records for play-time on Steam... Find out why in today's review, which happens to be one of the biggest and most in-depth articles on the subject out there!
L.A. Noire Complete Edition PC Review L.A. Noire, as the name clearly states, is a video game built on the tropes of one of the greatest periods of American cinema: film noir. Developed by the now defunct Australian developer Team Bondi and published by Rockstar Games, this title has been out on consoles for a full six months before finally making its way to the PC. This “Complete Edition” of the game features improved graphics, keyboard/mouse controls, and every bit of previously-released DLC for free. But was it truly worth the wait? Read on and find out!