ASUS Striker Extreme
ASUS diverts from its naming scheme from letters and numbers to a single word naming scheme for this motherboard. We did a preview article on the board a while back. The Striker Extreme, or just Striker is the highest end motherboard for the 775 socket from ASUS. Like the ASUS Commando and CrossHair, the Striker Extreme is part of ASUSís Republic of Gamers series and are ďdesigned for gaming.Ē This is once again a marketing scheme which raises prices dramatically and does decrease the boardís bang for the buck. There are definitely advantages to the more expensive boards though.
ASUS stays with its dark PCB for the Striker. It is planned out very similarly to the Gigabyte board. The Striker sports four heatsinks on the motherboard that wind around the CPU socket. The MOSFETS and 680i SPP are cooled by this system. You can see 8 phase power near the MOSFETS. Some wide heatsinks will not fit unless their fins rise above the heatsinks. The ASUS Striker supports all quad core CPUs.
The expansion slots are arranged with one PEG and other slots alternating. This allows better airflow for dual slot cards and SLI configurations. Like all 680i boards, the Striker has a third PEG slot for a possible SLI physics or for three video cards if you need more than 4 monitors. All capacitors are solid, for longer life and durability. This is to be expected of one of the most expensive motherboards available.
ASUSís controller choices vary a bit from those of the Gigabyte board. It uses a VIA Firewire controller. The two Ethernet controllers are Marvell. ASUS chose not to overdo it on the amount of LAN ports. Almost all enthusiasts will get by with two ports.
Near the CPU socket area, you can see a Silicon image SATA controller. It is so far up the board because the two eSATA ports on the Striker are on the back panel. The bottom corner of the Striker is not as crowded as the corner of the Gigabyte board. There are only 6 SATA controllers from the 680i chipset and only two USB 2.0 headers. ASUS provided power, reset and clear CMOS buttons so you can test the motherboard and do all the overclocking outside of a case for less hassle. This is a very useful feature and is very common on premium boards. We were surprised to not find it on the Gigabyte N680SLI-DQ6. In addition, there are bright blue LEDs circling the motherboard
The back panel on the Striker is very unique. The USB, Ethernet, eSATA, Coaxial and other ports are pretty common on newer motherboards. The one thing that makes this panel stand out is the LCD screen. It can be used for all sorts of things like reporting speeds and temperature readings, but it is mainly designed for debugging outside of the case. The button with the light bulb toggles the backlight on the LCD screen. The screen definitely helped us when overclocking to the max since we got many reboots and BSODs before finally reaching stability.
The Striker and all of ASUSís 680i boards come with a separate Supreme FX sound card. This isnít a bad idea because you can choose not to use it if you have a better audio card. The Striker also has an array microphone which is great for VOIP or gaming.
The ASUS Striker Extreme is the best overclocking Intel board we have ever tested. It reached 537FSB (2148FSB effective). This is 9FSB higher than the Gigabyte N680SLI-DQ6. If you want the best, then this is it, despite its massive $350 price tag. The LCD debugger helped pinpoint problems we had to maximize our FSB reach.