Asus Striker II Extreme 790i DDR3 Motherboard Page: 1
Introduction & Specifications
 
Having only reviewed the Asus Striker II Formula board a couple of months ago, the prospect of reviewing the same board yet again - just with DDR3 slots initially didn't spark much enthusiasm amongst the team here at Overclock3D. After all, the 780i chipset used on the "Formula" was really nothing more than aAsus Striker II Extreme re-hash of the ageing 680i chipset with a PCI Express 2.0 support stapled to it. Issues such as poor overclocking with Quad-core chips and an insanely hot northbridge still hadn't been resolved and overall we left the review feeling a little short changed. However, in much the same way as the recently reviewed Asus P5E3 Premium got a spangly new X48 chipset (much to the envy of it's elder P5E3 Deluxe brother), the Striker II Extreme has also undergone a chipset upgrade, and is now kitted out with the greatly anticipated 790i SLI Ultra.
 
While the difference in model numbers seem to imply that there was more of a jump in technology between the 680i and the 780i, this couldn't be further from the truth. Comprising of a C73 Northbridge and MCP55 Southbridge, the 790i SLI Ultra provides full support for DDR3, the latest Intel 45nm CPU's with 1600mhz FSB and PCI Express 2.0 on-chip. The "Ultra" suffix in the name also denotes support for "SLI" memory modules at speeds of DDR3-1600, DDR3-1800 and DDR3-2000. PR peeps will also be quick to tell you that the 790i produces a lot less heat than than its predecessors and should be able to give Intel's X38 and X48 chipsets a run for their money where overclocking is concerned.
 
Unfortunately the Asus website didn't have any information available for the Striker II Extreme board at the time of review, so for the moment we've bodged together our own unofficial specs list compiled from various sources around the web:
 
CPU
LGA775 socket for Intel Core 2 Quad / Core 2 Extreme / Core 2 Duo / Pentium Extreme / Pentium D / Pentium 4 processors
Supports Intel next-generation 45nm multi-core CPU's
Compatible with Intel 06/05B/05A processors
 
Chipset
Striker II Extreme: NVIDIA nForce 790i Ultra SLI
Striker II NSE: NVIDIA nForce 790i SLI
 
System Bus
Dual-channel memory architecture supports NVIDIA SLI ready memory technology
- 4x 240-pin DIMM sockets support unbuffered non-ECC DDR3 2000 (O.C)/1800(O.C)/1600(O.C)/1333/1066/800 memory modules (Striker II Extreme)
- 4x 240-pin DIMM sockets support unbuffered non-ECC DDR3 1600(O.C)/1333/1066/800 memory modules (Striker II NSE)
- Supports up to 8gb system memory.
 
Expansion Slots
2x PCIe 2.0 x16 slots (support NVIDIA SLI technology: blue @ x16, x16 speed)
1x PCIe x16 slot (white @ x16 speed)
2x PCIe x1 slots (PCIEX1_1 (black) is compatible with the audio slot)
2x PCI 2.2 slots
 
Scalable Link Interface
Supports NVIDIA 3-way SLI graphics cards (triple at x16 mode)
 
Storage
Southbridge supports:
- 1x UltraDMA 133/100/66/33
- 6x SATA 3.0 Gb/s
- NVIDIA MediaShield RAID supports RAID 0, 1, 0+1, 5 and JBOD configuration across SATA drives
JMIcron JMB363 SATA controller
- 2x External SATA 3.0 Gb/s port
 
LAN
Dual Gigabit LAN, both featuring AI NET 2
Supports Teaming Technology
 
High Definition Audio
SupremeFX II Audio Card
- ADI 1988B 8-channel High Definition Audio CODEC
- Noise Filter
Coaxial / Optical SPDIF Out ports at back I/O
 
IEEE 1394
2x IEEE 1394a ports
 
USB
10x USB 2.0 ports (4 ports at midboard, 6 ports at back panel)
 
ROG Exclusive Overclocking Features
Extreme Tweaker
2-Phase DDR3
Loadline Calibration
Intelligent overclocking tools:
- CPU Level Up
- ASUS EPU
- AI Gear 3
- AI Overclocking
- AI Booster Utility
- OC Profile
Overclocking protection:
- COP EX (Component Overheat Protection)
- Voltminder LED
- Frequency LED
- Asus C.P.R
 
ROG Special Features
Fusion Block System
LCD Poster
EL I/O
Onboard Switches: Power, Reset, Clr CMOS
Asus Q-Connector
Asus Q-Fan Plus
Asus EX Flash 2
Asus CrashFree BIOS 2
ROG BIOS Wallpaper
Asus MyLogo 3
 
Being a motherboard from Asus' Republic of Gamers line-up, the Striker II Extreme is packed with more features than you can shake a very large stick (of RAM?) at. While we'll undoubtedly cover most of these features as we take a closer look at the board over the next few pages, let's have a quick look at some of the features that often get overlooked:
 
Asus EPUThe ASUS EPU is an on-board, hardware-based power saving IC controller that digitally monitors and fine tunes your CPU's power supply in real-time, providing improved VRM efficiency under light and heavy loads. According to Asus, this can provide up to 58.6% CPU power savings - but only when Intel's on-chip energy saving "C1E" technology is disabled.
 
Loadline CalibrationLoadline Calibration is a feature recently introduced on Asus motherboards which helps prevent CPU voltage droop when the system is under heavy load. While many enthusiasts often obsess over vdroop and hold it solely responsible for unstable overclocks, the truth of the matter is that vdroop was very much part of Intel processor specifications and can play an important role in the longevity of your CPU and Motherboard.
 
Voltminder LEDThe Voltminder LED provides enthusiasts with a quick and easy way to monitor how much voltage they are putting through components such as the CPU, Northbridge and Memory. Simply look at the area surrounding the component you are interested in, and you will find a series of LED's that change colour between Green, Orange and Red depending on the amount of voltage applied.
 
Now that we've got most of the specs out of the way, it's time to delve into what Asus have thrown in the box...


Asus Striker II Extreme 790i DDR3 Motherboard Page: 2
Packaging & Contents
 
Packaging has always been one of the strong points with Asus, especially where their Republic of Gamers motherboards are concerned. The Striker II certainly isn't any different and manages to look professional while also maintaining a "Gamer" feel.
 
Asus Striker II Extreme Box Front
 
As you can see from above, the cardboard outer-box is printed with a grey gradient along with a bullet hole effect situated just above the large silver "Striker II" lettering. Very little information about the motherboard can be found on the front of the box, however Asus have made it blatantly obvious that a full version of "Company of Heroes - Opposing Fronts" is included as part of the package.
  
Asus Striker II Extreme Box Front Asus Striker II Extreme Box Front
 
An easy feature to miss on the Striker II packaging is the flap that Asus have placed at the front of the box. Once opened you are presented with two plastic windows that show off the Fusion block cooling system along with the SupremeFX II soundcard. Also at the top of the flap is a wealth of information regarding the features of the board along with brief explanations on what they do.
 
Asus Striker II Extreme Box Back Asus Striker II Extreme Box Specs
 
Around the back of the box Asus have printed the technical specifications for the Striker II. As we saw on page 1, the board provides support for all LGA775 processors along with DDR3 memory and 3-way SLI with all cards in x16 mode.
 
Asus Striker II Extreme Box Side Asus Striker II Extreme Motherboard Box
 
To allow the motherboard to be seen from the top and side of the outer-box, Asus have placed the board inside a clear plastic molded shell. This provides good protection against courier inflicted damage and keeps the board separate from other items that could possibly be responsible for damaging the fragile components on the board during transit.
 
Asus Striker II Extreme Accessories Asus Striker II Extreme Accessories
 
Asus Striker II Extreme Accessories Asus Striker II Extreme Manuals
 
As you'd expect from motherboards coming from Asus' "Repubic of Gamers" series, the Striker II is bundled with a whole host of goodies. We've already mentioned the inclusion of Relic Entertainment's latest RTS: "Company of Heroes - Opposing Fronts", so let's see what else is included:
 
• LCD Poster
• 2x Optional Fans
• 3 in 1 ASUS Q-Connector Kit
• 1x UltraDMA 133/100/66 cable
• 1x Floppy disk drive cable
• 6x SATA cables
• 2x SATA power cables
• 2-port USB2.0 module
• IEEE1394a module
• Q-Shield
• Cable Ties
• User's manual
• Futuremark ® 3DMark® 06 Advanced Edition
• Kaspersky® Anti-Virus
• SupremeFX II HD sound card 
  
Some of the more notable accessories are the items shown below. From top left to bottom right we have: the Asus LCD poster, Asus optional fans, 3-in-1 Q-Connector's, Dual/Triple SLI connectors and the Q-Shield
 
Asus Striker II Formula LCD Poster Asus Striker II Formula Fan
 
Starting with the LCD Poster, this device displays information on the motherboard POST sequence. If at any point the board fails to boot or gets stuck during POST, a quick glance at the LCD Poster should identify what component in your system is malfunctioning.

Moving on to the optional fans...these coolers have been included with many of Asus' Premium, Deluxe and ROG motherboards for quite some time. Designed to clip on to the finned heatsink that covers the mosfets at the top of the board, the fans pull air up through the heatsink fins and expel the hot air out the back of your PC case. They are reasonably quiet and come complete with 3-Pin connectors so that they can easily be controlled using the BIOS or Asus software.
 
Asus Striker II Formula Q-Connectors Asus Striker II Formula SLI Cables
  
Next up are the 3-in-1 Q-Connectors. These three small blocks are quite simply a godsend for the enthusiast who regularly disconnects their motherboard and is then faced with the frustration of trying to place the power/reset/activity LED connectors back on the motherboard header. They are also very clearly labelled - so no need to refer to the manual while setting your new motherboard up.
 
Being an nVidia SLI chipset based motherboard; Asus have included the necessary bridges for Dual and Triple graphics card configurations. While the Triple-SLI connector is fixed length PCB style bridge, the Dual-SLI connector is an extremely flexible ribbon cable. This style of connector should allow users to install dual graphics cards in any of the three PCI-E x16 slots.
 
Asus Striker II Extreme Q-Sheild Asus Striker II Extreme Q-Shield
 
Back in our review of the P5E3 Premium, we introduced a new accessory from Asus called the Q-shield. The Q-shield is essentially a re-design of the standard motherboard I/O plate, but without the annoying metal tabs that often get stuck inside  the USB and Network ports when installing the motherboard. The Striker II Extreme takes this design one step further by also illuminating each one of the ports so that you don't have any problems finding the correct hole in the dark.
  
Asus Striker II Formula SupremeFX II Asus Striker II Formula SupremeFX II
 
As with the rest of the ROG series, Asus have bundled their add-in SupremeFX II sound card in with the Striker II Extreme. With so many decent after-market sound cards available, users of high-end motherboards are more than likely to already own a PCI based solution that will generally outperform any type of on-board sound.

However, in testing it has to be said that the ADI AD1988B based SupremeFX II PCIx card did offer well above average sound quality for a card of its type. Not quite on par with the likes of our Creative X-FI card, but certainly not abusive on the ears either.


Asus Striker II Extreme 790i DDR3 Motherboard Page: 3
Board Layout & Features
 
For the most part, the Asus Striker II Extreme shares exactly the same motherboard layout and features as its "Formula" counterpart. However, for the benefit of those who haven't already read our Striker II Formula review, let's revisit board and find out if Asus have made any improvements.
 
Asus Striker II Extreme Overview Asus Striker II Formula Overview
 (Left) Striker II Extreme - (Right) Striker II Formula
 
Starting with the basics, it's good to see that Asus have stuck with the inoffensive blue, black and white colour scheme found on the rest of the ROG series. This not only looks much more professional than multi-coloured combinations used by some other manufacturers, but also ensures that the Striker II doesn't stand out in modified cases with windows.
 
Comparing the Striker II Extreme (left) to the Striker II Formula (right) we can see that Asus have made a few subtle changes to the location of components on the board and have actually reversed the positioning of the floppy disk and ATX 24-pin connectors. This is certainly a wise move as it brings the ATX connector closer to the top of the motherboard, making it easier to hide that bulky ATX cable.
 
Asus Striker II Extreme Expansion Slots
 
One area that remains unchanged is expansion slots; with both Striker II boards featuring two PCI slots, three PCI-E x16 slots and two PCI-E x1 slots. In most scenario's you will have access to at least two PCI slots and a PCI-E x1 slot for expansion cards. However when running an SLI or Triple SLI setup this will be reduced significantly.
 
Asus Striker II Extreme I/O Asus Striker II Extreme I/O
 
With the on-board sound being offloaded to an add-in PCI-E card, Asus have managed to kit out the I/O area of the Striker II Extreme with a total of six USB 2.0 ports, two eSATA ports, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, one IEE1394 Firewire port, a legacy PS/2 keyboard port and Coaxial/Optical connectors. Also located to the left of the Firewire port is a switch for clearing CMOS should  you run into trouble while overclocking.
 
Asus Striker II Extreme Socket Area Asus Striker II Extreme Mosfets
 
The Striker II Extreme features the same 8-Phase VRM as most of Asus' latest high-end boards including the recently reviewed P5E3 Premium. As we can see from the images above, the board features low RDS (on) MOSFETs, Yageo ferrite chokes and Japanese made conductive polymer capacitors. All of this should ensure extremely stable and clean voltage being provided to the CPU while also maintaining a high level of efficiency.
 
Asus Striker II Extreme Memory Slots Asus Striker II Extreme NB Power
 
The DDR3 memory slots also get a similar treatment; and are fed by their own 2-Phase power circuits. While this may not be quite as impressive as the 3-phase DDR3 VRM used on the P5E3 Premium board, it is still a step up from a lot of other boards on the market that regulate memory power with only a single phase circuit.
 
Similarly, the Northbridge chipset is also fed by a 2-phase circuit located just above the Southbridge heatsink.
 
Asus Striker II Extreme Fusion Block Asus Striker II Extreme Southbridge
 
Asus Striker II Extreme Heatsinks Asus Striker II Extreme Heatsinks
 
Improvements have been made to the cooling on the Striker II Extreme, with the Northbridge featuring the latest revision of Asus' Fusion waterblock system. Those with a keen eye may have also spotted that Asus have dumped the "push-pin" style retention of the mosfet heatsinks in favour of spring loaded screws. This should offer improved heat transfer as well as making the cooling system easier to remove if you want to swap it out for a 3rd party alternative.
 
Asus Striker II Extreme SATA Asus Striker II Extreme Reset Switches
 
Asus Striker II Extreme USB Asus Striker II Extreme Firewire
 
At the bottom of the board we can see the obligatory power and reset switches found on all ROG series motherboards along  with six SATA2 ports, one legacy PATA port and two USB 2.0 headers all connected to the nVidia 790i MCP. Support for IEE1394 Firewire is provided by a separate VIA VT6308P controller and also making an appearance in the photographs is ITE's IT8718F-S hardware monitoring chip.


Asus Striker II Extreme 790i DDR3 Motherboard Page: 4
The BIOS
 
Unlike most of Asus' Intel chipset based boards we've reviewed recently, the Striker II Extreme makes use of an American Megatrends (AMI) BIOS. Personally I'm not much of a fan as it reminds me of an old Compaq 486 I used to own, but let's take a closer look anyway...
 
Asus Striker II Extreme BIOS Asus Striker II Extreme BIOS
 
Asus have gone "in ya face" with the overclocking BIOS options, making the "Extreme Tweaker" section the first thing you see after pressing the DEL key. This certainly saves a lot of messing around toggling between sections just to make a few adjustments to you overclock settings.
 
Asus Striker II Extreme CPU Level Up Asus Striker II Extreme Memory Level Up
 
For those of us without any previous overclocking experience, Asus have provided "CPU Level Up" and "Memory Level Up" options on the Striker II Extreme. These options essentially allows you to pick a new model of processor or uprated memory speed from the available list and the BIOS will automatically adjust the frequency/multiplier settings to bring your existing processor and/or memory up to the chosen speed.
 
Asus Striker II Extreme CPU Multi Asus Striker II Extreme FSB MHZ
 
Asus Striker II Extreme Memory MHZ Asus Striker II Extreme FSB Ratio
 
Asus Striker II Extreme LDT Asus Striker II Extreme MCP Clock
 
The rest of the page is populated with options such as CPU Ratio, FSB frequency, PCIE Frequency, DRAM Frequency and LDT Frequency all of which can be adjusted using the +/- keys or entering the number manually. Changes have also been made for the new Intel Penryn chips with the CPU Ratio setting supporting 0.5 multipliers.
 
Asus Striker II Extreme Memory Timings
 
To keep things neat and tidy, Asus have placed all memory related options under the "Memory Timings Section". While the section offers several useful options for getting the most out of your DDR3 kit, it is nowhere near as fully featured as the memory section of the BIOS found on the Asus Maximus.
 
Asus Striker II Extreme Voltage Asus Striker II CPU Voltage
 
Asus Striker II Extreme VTT Voltage Asus Striker II Extreme Memory Voltage
 
Asus Striker II Extreme NB Voltage Asus Striker II Extreme SB Voltage
 
CPU Voltage: 1.10000v - 2.4000v (0.02500v steps)
CPU PLL Voltage: 1.50v - 3.00v (0.02v steps)
CPU VTT Voltage: 1.20v - 2.46v (0.02v steps)
DRAM Voltage: 1.50v - 3.10v (0.02v steps)
NB Voltage: 1.30v - 2.20v (0.02v steps)
SB Voltage: 1.50v - 1.85v (0.05v steps)
 
As we've come to expect from the Republic of Gamers series, the Striker II Extreme is kitted out with voltage options easily capable of turning your beloved hardware into a pile of smouldering silicon. Thankfully, when selecting voltages from within the BIOS, the text changes colour between Green, Amber and Red to give you a visual indication of just how dangerous your chosen settings are.
 
Asus Striker II Extreme Voltage Monitor Asus Striker II Extreme Temperature Monitor
 
Asus Striker II Extreme Fan Speed Asus Striker II Extreme Fan Speed
 
Finishing off the BIOS section is Asus' excellent voltage, temperature and fan speed monitoring system. Fans can be switched on/off at user-defined temperatures or run at percentages of their full speed all from within the BIOS and without the need for any additional software.


Asus Striker II Extreme 790i DDR3 Motherboard Page: 5
Test Setup & Overclocking
 
To ensure that all reviews on Overclock3D are fair, consistent and unbiased, a standard set of hardware and software is used whenever possible during the comparative testing of two or more products. The configuration used in this review can be seen below:
 
DDR2 Motherboard(s)
DFI LANPARTY UT X38-T2R (X38)
XFX nForce 780i SLI (780i)
Asus Maximus Formula (X38)
Asus Striker II Formula (780i)
DFI LANPARTY UT P35-T2R (P35)
 
DDR3 Motherboard(s)
Asus Striker II Extreme (790i)
Asus P5E3 Premium (X48)
Asus Maximus Extreme (X38)
 
Processor
• Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 "G0" 2.4GHz 2x4MB
 
Memory Modules
• Cellshock PC2-6400 @  DDR2-800 (4-4-4-12)
• Cellshock PC3-14400 @ DDR3-1066 (7-7-7-20)
 
Graphics Card
• Sapphire Ultimate X1950 Pro 256mb PCI-E
 
Hard Disk
• Hitachi Deskstar 80GB 7K80 SATA2 7200RPM 8mb
 
Operating System
• Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate (Latest Updates)
 
During the testing of the boards above, special care was taken to ensure that the BIOS settings used matched whenever possible. A fresh install of Windows Vista was also used between switching boards, preventing any possible performance issues due to leftover drivers from the previous motherboard install.

To guarantee a broad range of results, the following benchmark utilities were used:

Synthetic CPU & Memory Subsystem
• Sisoft Sandra XII 2008c
• Lavalys Everest 4.0

File Compression & Encoding
• 7-Zip File Compression
• River Past ViMark

Disk I/O Performance
• HDTach 3.0.4.0
• Sisoft Sandra XII 2008c

3D / Rendering Benchmarks
• Cinebench 10
• 3DMark05
• 3DMark06

3D Games
• Quake 4
• Bioshock
• F.E.A.R
 
 
Overclocking
 
It's no secret that motherboards based on nVidia's 680i and 780i chipsets have always played second fiddle to their Intel P35, X38 and X48 counterparts where overclocking has been concerned. A large part of this problem has been down to the sheer amount of heat that the nVidia MCP produces, forcing many enthusiasts to water-cool their entire motherboards (see EVGA Black Pearl) just to come close to the overclocking results easily obtainable on Intel chipset based motherboards.
 
Obviously the question everyone is asking with the release of the 790i chipset is "are things any better this time around".  So armed with an Intel Q6600 G0 chip, a thermal probe and an entire day with nothing better to do than play around with Asus' latest motherboard, we set out to find the answer....
 
Maximum Overclock
 
In all honesty the graph says it all. The 790i chipset is MUCH MUCH better at overclocking than its 680i and 780i counterparts with the Striker II Extreme taking our Q6600 to 3798mhz with 1.50v vcore. Not only did the Striker II Extreme leave its 780i based "Formula" brother for dead, but it also managed to give all of the Intel chipset based motherboards we've reviewed over the past few months a run for their money.
 
The process of overclocking on the board was a pleasure too, with very little adjustments outside of the usual FSB, Vcore and Memory needing to be made. Unlike a lot of other motherboards and chipsets, we didn't come across any "gotcha's" on the Striker II Extreme, and for a motherboard that hasn't even hit retail yet, the BIOS felt extremely mature and recovered extraordinarily well from failed overclock settings.
 
Maximum FSB Speed
 
The improvements didn't stop there either with the Striker II Extreme managing an impressive maximum FSB of 490mhz on our Q6600 test chip. While this may fall a few mhz short of the top FSB obtained on some of the Intel based motherboards, we also tested the Striker II Extreme with a QX9650 chip and managed to effortlessly push the board to 508mhz.
 
We also need to bear in mind that the ASUS Striker ll Extreme FSB overclocking was performed with only the stock Asus passive cooling on the Northbridge (we didn't plumb in the Fusion waterblock), and despite increasing the NB voltage to around 1.50v; the chipset was never overly hot to touch and recordings taken from our Infrared thermometer never passed 43°c.


Asus Striker II Extreme 790i DDR3 Motherboard Page: 6
Sisoft Sandra
 
SiSoftware Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is an information & diagnostic utility capable of benchmarking the performance of individual components inside a PC. Each of the benchmarks below were run a total of five times with the highest and lowest scores being discarded and an average being calculated from the remaining three.
 
Sisoft Sandra CPU
 
Sisoft Sandra CPU Arithmetic
 
Sisoft Sandra CPU Multimedia
 
Sisoft Sandra CPU Multimedia
 
Sisoft Sandra Memory Bandwidth
 
Sisoft Sandra Memory Bandwidth
 
Sisoft Sandra Memory Latency
 
 
Everest
 
Everest is in many ways similar to Sisoft Sandra. Focusing mainly on Software and Hardware information reporting, Everest also comes with a benchmark utility suitable for testing the read, write and latency performance of the memory subsystem. Each of these benchmarks were performed a total of 5 times with the highest and lowest scores being discarded and an average calculated from the remaining 3.
 
Everest Memory
 
Everest Memory
 
Everest Memory Latency
 
 
Result Observations
 
While the Striker II Extreme sits roughly in the middle of the CPU based tests, this all changes when it comes to the memory based tests. As we can see from above, the Striker II Extreme totally annihilates the memory bandwidth results for the rest of the boards used in the testing, sometimes by as much as 938MB/s. Equally, the latency results also left the other motherboards for dead - continually producing results ~11ns lower than the rest of the boards despite undergoing numerous re-tests.


Asus Striker II Extreme 790i DDR3 Motherboard Page: 7
ViMark
 
ViMark is the latest addition to the OC3D motherboard testing process and a relatively new benchmarking application in general. Designed to take the inaccuracies and guesswork out of measuring the time taken to encode video files, ViMark produces easily comparable and consistent results for encoding raw video into Windows Media, Quicktime, AVI and Gif formats. As always, a total of 5 benchmark runs were performed with the highest and lowest scores removed and an average calculated from the remaining 3 scores.
 
ViMark Windows Media
 
ViMark Apple Quicktime
 
ViMark AVI
 
ViMark GIF
 
 
7-Zip
 
7-Zip is an open source winzip-style file compression utility that has the ability to compress and decompress many file formats including its own .7z compression scheme. 7-Zip also comes complete with its own benchmarking utility for gauging the compression and decompression speed of the system that it is installed on.
 
7-Zip Compression
 
7-Zip Decompression
 
 
Result Observations
 
While the Striker II Extreme certainly couldn't separate itself from the rest of the motherboards in the ViMark encoding tests, the extra bandwidth and lower latency memory results seen on the previous page certainly gave the board quite a substantial lead when it came to 7-Zip compression.


Asus Striker II Extreme 790i DDR3 Motherboard Page: 8
HDTach
 
HDTach is a free hard disk benchmarking program from SimpliSoftware. This benchmark is not only capable of producing results on hard disk access times but also CPU usage required during disk access. The "Long bench" was run a total of 5 times with the highest and lowest results being omitted and an average calculated from the remaining 3 results.
 
HDTach Burst Speed
 
Read Speed
 
Random Access
 
HDTach CPU
 
 
Sisoft Sandra
 
SiSoftware Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is an information & diagnostic utility capable of benchmarking the performance of individual components inside a PC. Each of the benchmarks below were run a total of five times with the highest and lowest scores being discarded and an average being calculated from the remaining three.
 
Sisoft Sandra Disk Read
 
Sisoft Sandra Disk Access
 
 
Result Observations
 
Not much can really be said for the HDTach or Sisoft Sandra drive performance results, with all motherboard performing almost identical regardless of chipset. Whether or not this is down to the hard disk used not being able to fully stress the I/O of the motherboards, or the nVidia and Intel solutions just being extremely close in performance is something we'll certainly be investigating in the future.


Asus Striker II Extreme 790i DDR3 Motherboard Page: 9
Cinebench
 
Cinebench 10 is a benchmarking tool based on the powerful 3D software Cinema 4D. The suite uses complex renders to guage the performance of the entire PC system in both single-core and multi-core modes. Testing was performed a total of 5 times with the highest and lowest results being omitted and an average created from the remaining 3 results.
 
Cinebench Rendering 1x
 
Cinebench Rendering 4x
 
Cinebench OpenGL
 
 
3DMark053DMark06
 
3DMark is a popular synthetic gaming benchmark used by many gamers and overclockers to gauge the performance of their PC's. All 3DMark runs were performed a total of 5 times with the highest and lowest results being removed and an average calculated from the remaining 3 results.
 
3DMark05
 
3DMark06
 
 
Result Observations
 
Once again the 790i based Striker II Extreme manages to hold its ground against the Intel based boards in both 3DMark and Cinebench. This is quite a turnaround from the results of the Striker II Formula which consistently ended up as one of the lowest two performing boards in every test.


Asus Striker II Extreme 790i DDR3 Motherboard Page: 10
Quake 4
 
Quake 4 is a game built on the Doom 3 engine. Benchmarking was performed using Quake4Bench and a custom timedemo recording along with 0xAA, 0xAF settings at a resolution of 1024x768. The benchmark was set to run a total of 5 times, with Quake4Bench automatically calculating an average result at the end of the run.
 
Quake4
 
 
F.E.A.R
 
F.E.A.R. is a game based on the Lithtech Jupiter EX engine. It has volumetric lighting, soft shadows, parallax mapping and particle effects. Included in the game is a benchmark facility that taxes the entire PC system. This benchmark was run a total of 5 times, with the highest and lowest results being excluded and an average being calculated on the remaining 3 results.
 
F.E.A.R
 
 
BIOSHOCK
 
Bioshock is a recent FPS shooter by 2K games. Based on the UT3 engine it has a large amount of advanced DirectX techniques including excellent water rendering and superb lighting and smoke techniques. All results were recorded using F.R.A.P.S with a total of 5 identical runs through the same area of the game. The highest and lowest results were then removed, with an average being calculated from the remaining 3 results.
 
BIOSHOCK
 
 
Result Observations
 
While components such as Memory, CPU's and Graphics cards obviously have a large affect on the real-world performance of games, the difference between a lot of the top-end motherboards is negligible. This is certainly reflected in the results above, with none of the motherboards really being able to seperate themselves from the rest of the pack. If we wanted to, we could break all of the results down to two decimal places, but the discussion of 0.01 difference in FPS is really just a waste of breath.


Asus Striker II Extreme 790i DDR3 Motherboard Page: 11
Conclusion
 
There's no denying that Asus are on a roll at the moment when it comes to releasing top quality motherboards and the Striker II Extreme is yet another trophy for their cabinet. Featuring everything that we've come to expect from the Republic of Gamers series including an extremely comprehensive BIOS with insane voltage options and the Voltminder LED system to give you a visual warning when you're close to cooking your hardware, the Striker II Extreme is guaranteed to have overclockers drooling.
 
As we said not so long ago on the Striker II Formula review, all connectors on the board are just where you'd expect to find them and there are no stray molex connectors or other anomalies that are often common on motherboards from other manufacturers. Asus has also made a few small adjustments to the Striker based on customer feedback which ensure that the board is a delight to set up, and 'tidy freaks' aren't left with cables trailing across their motherboard that can't be hidden.
 
Of course, it's hard to talk about the Striker II Extreme without giving nVidia's latest chipset; the 790i some of the limelight. To put it simply, the 790i is everything that SLI'ers will have been waiting for. Not only does it run cooler than the likes of the 680i, but its performance is on par and often better than Intel's X38/X48 chipsets. Add to this the fact that the chipset is also an overclocking monster, effortlessly taking our Q6600 to new heights as well as managing a very respectable FSB speed of 508mhz on a QX9650, and it looks like nVidia may have just brought some of Intel's fun to an end.
 
If pre-order prices are anything to go by, the Striker II Extreme is set to be one of the most expensive boards ever to hit the market. Coming in at £260-£280 at various retailers, its hard to recommend purchasing the board unless you absolutely must have SLI along with DDR3 support and top overclocking all in one package. Hopefully nVidia will reduce the price of their latest chipset shortly after launch so that manufacturers like Asus can bring the price of their 790i boards more in line with their Intel counterparts.
 
 
The Good
• Thanks to the 790i, overclocking is no longer a weakness of the nVidia chipsets.
• 490fsb easily obtainable on a Q6600 - 508fsb on a QX9650
• Insane range of voltage options.
• Performance on par or better than a lot of Intel chipset boards.
• Great layout with tons of innovative features.
• Fusion cooling system works well without water.
 
The Mediocre
• BIOS options not as extensive as on some of Asus' Intel chipset based motherboards.
 
The Bad
• If it ends up costing anything near £280 - the price!!!
 
Overclock3D Performance Award
 
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