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Appeared on: Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Asus Extreme Striker


1. Intro - Specs

Asus provides solutions for all categories of users and especially gamers. The release of the P5N32-E SLI motherboard onto the market also comes with the adoption of the Nvidia 680i SLI chipset. Asus further offers a more "advanced" motherboard with slightly different features and of course price. Asus Striker Extreme aims to become the number one choice where gaming/overclocking needs are concerned. We examine how Asus' Striker Extreme performs and what are its main differences compared with the P5N32-E SLI motherboard.

- Asus Striker Extreme

The Asus Striker Extreme is based on Nvidia's 680i SLI chipset, which supports Intel®Core™2Extreme, Core™2Duo, Pentium®4EE, Pentium®D, Pentium®4, CeleronD processors for Socket (LGA775). It features 1333/1066/800/533MHz(FSB), dual-channel un-buffered DDR2 800/667/533 x 4DIMMs with a maximum of 8GB.

- Main features

Overclocking, performance, unique features and a rich software bundle are our 4 basic commitments to R.O.G (Republic of Gamers) members. Striker Extreme provides a detailed BIOS option for enthusiast tweaking, 8-phase capless power to ensure SLI performance reliability, and the unique gaming features, such as LCD poster, EL I/O, Onboard LED, Onboard button,...etc. Once you use it, you would love it. And rich software bundled is a special characteristic, the hottest 3D game-Ghost Recon, 3dMark06 Advanced Edition, and a one-year license Kaspersky anti-virus software. It's a total gaming solution.

The Republic of Gamers consists only of the best of the best. We offer the best hardware engineering, the fastest performance, the most innovative ideas, and we welcome the best gamers to join in. In the Republic of Gamers, mercy rules are only for the weak, and bragging rights means everything. We believe in making statements and we excel in competitions. If your character matches our trait, then join the elite club, make your presence felt, in the Republic of Gamers.

The main features are:

- Intel® Quad-core CPU Ready
- Intel® Core™2 Extreme / Core™2 Duo Ready
- NVIDIA nForce® 680i SLI™
- Dual-channel DDR2 800/667/533
- Extreme Tweaker
- SupremeFX / DTS Connect / Array Mic / Noise Filter
- LCD Poster
- EL I/O
- Onboard LED
- Onboard Switches

LGA775 Intel® Quad-core Processor Ready
This motherboard supports the latest Intel® Quad-core processors in LGA775 package. It's excellent for multi-tasking, multi-media and enthusiastic gamers with 1066/800 MHz FSB. Intel® Quad-core is one of the most powerful CPU in the world.

LGA775 Intel® Core™2 Processor Ready
This motherboard supports the latest Intel® Core™2 processors in LGA775 package. With new Intel® Core™ microarchitecture technology and 1066 / 800 MHz FSB, Intel® Core™2 processor is one of the most powerful and energy efficient CPU in the world.

NVIDIA nForce® 680i SLI
The NVIDIA® nForce® 680i SLI™ chipset supports the NVIDIA® Scalable Link Interface (SLI™) technology that allows two graphics processing units (GPUs) in a single system. It's designed for enthusiast gamers, extreme overclocking capability, ultimate gaming performance with SLI technology support.It's definitely one of the fastest platform in the world.

NVIDIA SLI™ Technology
NVIDIA SLI™ (Scalable Link Interface) takes advantage of the increased bandwidth of the PCI Express bus architecture and features intelligent hardware and software that allows two GPUs to efficiently work together to deliver earth-shattering, scalable performance. For some applications nearly 2X performance!

Dual-Channel DDR2 800
DDR2 is the next generation memory technology to replace the current DDR. With the highest speed up to 800MHz,DDR2 memory provides great performance for 3D graphics and other memory demanding applications.

8 phase EL-Capless power design
ASUS 8-Phase Power Design keeps CPU and power module away from suffering risk of high power stress, which makes CPU lifetime much longer and system more stable. Furthermore, It provides high efficiency operation to generate less heat than conventional power solutions and consequently achieve cool system environment. With this strong power pump, this motherboard is made for overclocking.

Heat-Pipe
The Crosshair Series' sophisticated design of heat-pipe directs heat from the chipset to two VRM copper heatsinks where the temperature can be dissipated by system airflow. This design promises ultimate reliability and quietness.

Extreme Tweaker
Extreme Tweakers is the one stop shop to fine-tune your system to optimal performance. No matter if you're looking for frequency adjustment, over-voltage options, or memory timing settings, they're all here!


SupremeFX (ADI 1988b)
The SupremeFX audio card is designed to provide you the best game sound experience. With 24bit/192kHz full sampling in all surround channels, no matter if you're hearing your game through headphones or 7.1 surround speakers, we'll deliver the effects loud and clear!

When utilized with the bundled Array Microphone, there would be no more noise or buzz to bother your conversation with teammates during exciting game session. Just enjoy the extreme audio entertainment, and keep the communication clean.

DTS Connect™
This feature is consists of two elements: DTS interactive and DTS NEO:PC. DTS interactive re-encodes your stereo or multi-channel sound into a DTS audio signal and send it out from your PC to any DTS enabled system. While DTS NEO:PC turns your stereo audio such as MP3, WMA, CD, and other sound format into a convincing multi-channel audio experience.

EL I/O
Today's users demand more than good performance-they demand more heart touching services like user-friendly features. The motherboard comes with the EL I/O, an impressive design that increases convenience in connecting devices on the back I/O. The cool EL lights up your I/O panel under your desk, in the dark, or in a LAN Party. No more jamming devices into the wrong connectors! when you're in the dark!

Onboard LED

The upshot is that many users now rely on their intuition to promptly set up devices in the dark. This patented feature, on-board LED, could solve this problem. With the LED lights which designed at motherboard close to the indication words that provides a compelling way to efficiently identify the right way to set up without "flash lights".

LCD Poster

When system malfunction occurs, LCD Notice Board automatically detects for device failure and posts physical system errors on the LCD during POST. No more reading "gibberish to find out what's wrong.

 

 

Onboard Switch

With an easy press during overclock, this exclusive onboard switch allows gamer to effortlessly fine-tune the performance without having to short the pins or moving jumpers!

 

Q-Fan Plus

The Q-Fan function automatically detects temperature and adjusts fan speed accordingly to achieve quiet and efficient cooling. With Q-Fan Plus, special temperature sensor cable is provided to detect temperature on any device. When used with a optional fans, you may activate Q-Fan function on up to 3 additional devices of your choice!

ASUS Q-Connector

The Q-Connector allows you to connect or disconnect chassis front panel cables in one easy step with one complete module. This unique adapter eliminates the trouble of plugging in one cable at a time, making connection quick and accurate.

3D Game: Ghost Recon
One of the most heavily nominated games, appearing in 8 categories, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter picked up awards in the following categories: Best Game and Technical Achievement. It's also the first few games that support physics effect. Now enjoy your realistic game with this motherboard.

The Gamers' Benchmark
3DMark is the most popular and authoritative 3D benchmark application used by professionals around the world. The 3DMark06 is the latest version in the popular 3DMark series, including advanced SM2.0 and HDR/SM3.0 Shader graphics tests and now including single, multiple core and multiple processor CPU tests as part of the 3DMark score! The accurate performance and image quality diagnostic tool, designed for DirectX®9.0c, provides you with all the information you need to make all other competitors look bad.

Kaspersky® Anti-Virus
Kaspersky® Anti-Virus Personal offers premium antivirus protection for individual users and home offices. It is based on advanced antivirus technologies. The product incorporates the Kaspersky® Anti-Virus engine, which is renowned for malicious program detection rates that are among the industry's highest.

InterVideo® Media Launcher (OEM version)
ASUS motherboards, intensifying leadership in the IT industry, now bundle the versatile InterVideo Media Launcher. This multifaceted software set includes the latest multimedia software, bringing forth the multimedia features of ASUS motherboards to the best! (OEM version)

AI NOS™
Applications such as 3D games and video editing demand a huge chunk of system resource. Inject "nitrous oxide" into your CPU! The patented AI NOS™ (Non-delay Overclocking System) technology intelligently detects system load and automatically boosts performance for the most demanding tasks. Unlike other dynamic overclocking techniques, AI NOS™ reacts much faster to satisfy your unending need for speeds.

ASUS O.C. Profile
The motherboard features the ASUS O.C. Profile that allows users to conveniently store or load multiple BIOS settings. The BIOS settings can be stored in the CMOS or a separate file, giving users freedom to share and distribute their favorite overclocking settings.

C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)
When the system hangs due to overclocking failure, there is no need to open the case to clear CMOS data. Just simply restart the system, the BIOS would show the previous setting and then users can amend the CPU setting again.

Array Mic
The bundled Superbeam Array Microphone receives only the sound coming from the reception cone and ignores the sound coming from other directions. This mechanism eliminates a large number of interferences including neighboring speakers and reverberations. It also uses advanced de-reverberation techniques to reduce echo and minimize its effect on the speech engine. This feature can enhance speech-centric application like Skype, online game, video conference and recording.

Noise Filter
This feature detects repetitive and stationary noises like computer fans, air conditioners, and other background noises then eliminates it in the incoming audio stream while recording.

ASUS EZ Flash 2
EZ Flash 2 is a user-friendly BIOS update utility. Simply launch this tool and update BIOS from a USB flash disk before entering the OS. You can update your BIOS only in a few clicks without preparing an additional floppy diskette or using an OS-based flash utility.

MyLogo3
The ASUS MyLogo 3 is the new feature present in the motherboard that allows you to personalize and add style to your system with customizable and animated boot logos.

Music Alarm
Wake up to the music of your choice instead of the irritating sound of an alarm clock. The ASUS Music Alarm gives you a personal wake-up call with your favorite CD music when system is off.

Stack Cool2
Stack Cool 2 is a fan-less and zero-noise cooling solution offered exclusively by ASUS. It effectively transfers heat generated by the critical components to the other side of the specially designed PCB (printed circuit board) for effective heat dissipation.

SATA on the Go
This motherboard supports the next-generation hard drives based on the Serial ATA (SATA) 3Gb/s storage specification, delivering enhanced scalability and doubling the bus bandwidth for high-speed data retrieval and saves. The external SATA port located at the back I/O provides smart setup and hot-plug functions. Easily backup photos, videos and other entertainment contents on external devices.

Dual RAID
The south bridge incorporate six Serial ATA connectors with high performance RAID functions in RAID 0, 1, 5, 0+1, and JBOD. The Silicon Image 3132 controller provides another two external Serial ATA connectors for RAID 0, 1, and JBOD functions. This motherboard is the ideal solution to enhance hard disk performance and data back up protection without the cost of add-on cards.

Dual Gigabit LAN
The integrated dual Gigabit LAN design allows a PC to serve as a network gateway for managing traffic between two separate networks. This capability ensures rapid transfer of data from WAN to LAN without any added arbitration or latency.

IEEE 1394a interface
IEEE 1394a interface provides high speed digital interface for audio/video appliances such as digital television, digital video camcorders, storage peripherals & other PC portable devices.

High Definition Audio
Enjoy high-end sound system on your PC! The onboard 8-channel HD audio (High Definition Audio, previously codenamed Azalia) CODEC enables high-quality 192KHz/24-bit audio output, jack-sensing feature, retasking functions and multi-streaming technology that simultaneously sends different audio streams to different destinations. You can now talk to your partners on the headphone while playing a multi-channel network games. All of these are done on one computer.

- Full specifications

CPU
LGA775 socket for Intel® Core™2 Extreme / Core™2 Duo / Pentium® Extreme / Pentium® D / Pentium® 4 / Celeron® D Processors
Intel® Quad-core CPU Ready
Compatible with Intel® 06/05B/05A processors
* Refer to www.asus.com for Intel CPU support list
Chipset
NVIDIA nForce® 680i SLI™
 - Support SLI-Ready Memory Technology
Front Side Bus
1333** / 1066 / 800 / 533 MHz
** available for CPU's supporting 1333MHz FSB
Memory
Dual channel memory architecture
4 x DIMM, max. 8GB, DDR2-800/667/533, non-ECC and un-buffered memory
* Refer to www.asus.com or user manual for Memory QVL (Qualify Vendor List)
SLI-Ready Memory
1200MHz
Expansion Slots
2 x PCI Express x16 slot, support NVIDIA® SLI™ technology, at full x16, x16 speed(blue)
1 x PCI Express x16, at x8 speed(middle)
1 x PCI Express x1
2 x PCI 2.2
Scalable Link Interface (SLI™)
Support two identical NVIDIA SLI-Ready graphics cards (both at x16 mode)
ASUS PEG Link
Storage
South bridge supports:
 - 1 x Ultra DMA 133 / 100 / 66 / 33
 - 6 x Serial ATA 3.0Gb/s
 - NVIDIA MediaShield™ RAID supports RAID 0, 1, 0+1, 5 and JBOD span cross Serial ATA drives
Silicon Image® 3132 SATA controller supports
 - 2 x External Serial ATA 3.0Gb/s port on back I/O (SATA On-the-Go)
LAN
NVIDIA nForce® 680i SLI™ built-in dual Gigabit MAC with external Marvell PHY
Support NVIDIA DualNet® technology
High Definition Audio

SupremeFX Audio Card
 - ADI 1988B 8-channel High Definition Audio CODEC
 - Support Jack-Sensing, Enumeration, Multi-streaming and Jack-Retasking
 - Noise Filter
Coaxial, Optical S/PDIF out
DTS® Connect
ASUS Array Mic

IEEE 1394a
VIA6308P controller supports 2 x 1394a ports
USB
max. 10 USB2.0/1.1 ports(6 ports at mid-board, 4 ports at back panel)
Overclocking Features
Extreme Tweaker
Intelligent overclocking tools:
 - AI NOS™ (Non-delay Overclocking System)
 - AI Overclocking (intelligent CPU frequency tuner)
 - ASUS AI Booster Utility
 - O.C Profile
Overclocking Protection:
 - ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)
Special Features
LCD Poster
EL I/O
Onboard LED
Onboard Switches: Power / Reset / Clr CMOS
Q-Connector
Q-Fan Plus
ASUS EZ Flash2
ASUS Music Alarm
ASUS MyLogo3
Back Panel I/O Ports
1 x LCD Poster
1 x PS/2 Keyboard port(purple)
1 x PS/2 Mouse port(green)
1 x Optical + 1 x Coaxial S/PDIF Output
2 x External SATA
2 x LAN (RJ45) port
4 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
1 x IEEE1394a port
1 x onboard LED switch
Internal I/O Connectors
3 x USB 2.0 connectors supports additional 6 USB 2.0 ports
1 x Floppy disk drive connector
1 x IDE connector for two devices
6 x SATA connectors
8 x Fan connector: 1 x CPU / 1 x SPS / 3 x Chassis / 3 x Optional
3 x thermal sensor connector
1 x IEEE1394a connector
1 x S/PDIF output connector
1 x Chassis Intrusion connector
24-pin ATX Power connector
8-pin ATX 12V Power connector
1 x EL I/O Shield Connector
System panel connector
BIOS
8Mb Award BIOS, PnP, DMI2.0, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.3, Multi-Language BIOS
Manageability
WOL by PME, WOR by PME, Chasis Intrusion, PXE
Accessories
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
User's manual
Software
The hottest 3D Game: Ghost Recon
InterVideo® Media Launcher (OEM version only)
Striker Extreme Support DVD:
Drivers
ASUS PC Probe II
ASUS Update
ASUS AI Booster
Futuremark ® 3DMark® 06 Advanced Edition
NVIDIA MediaShield™ RAID
Kaspersky®  Anti-Virus
Form Factor
ATX Form Factor, 12"x 9.6" (30.5cm x 24.5cm)

2. Retail package

The Asus Striker Extreme retail package costs around US$409.00 for US and around €330 for the European region. This is probably the highest priced motherboard you can buy today. This board is aimed at enthusiast users who want the absolute best for their system.

The package includes all information about the board's design and special features. Below is a list of what's included in the retail package:

The sound card is based on the Soundmax chipset and is installed as an ad don card.

There are 8 connections allowing for up 8 channels of output as well as microphone and line in.

The cad is installed in the slot next to the first PCI-E slot. Just push the card in and you're ready o go.

The board is uncluttered and most parts can be easily identified:

Close up of the CPU area.

You can't but notice the passive cooling solution for the northbridge and nearby capacitors. As Asus states "...The Heat Pipe design effectively directs the heat generated by the chipsets to the heatsink near the back IO ports, where it can be carried away by existing airflow from CPU fan or bundled optional fan...". The nearby capacitors are low profile so there shouldn't be any problem with alternative larger cooling solutions. After installing Intel's stock fan, the gap between the CPU heatsink and passive cooler heatsink is quite narrow. This is most likely intentional in that air blown out through the CPU heatsink ins by the fan also blows through the passive cooler's fins but this may present problems if larger, third party coolers are installed. Before purchasing an alternative cooler, check the compatibility list:

The passive heatsinks do their job and keep the northbridge cool. It is advisable not to touch them since the temperatures are rather high.

The motherboard supports four banks for memory modules

Click to Enlarge!

Moving to the southbridge area of the board, we can see the passive heatsink used there, and the 6 SATA 2 connections. Well organized and not too crowded.

The motherboard supports Nvidia's SLI. There are 3x PCI-E x16 slots, two for SLI and one for the physics card. Both blue PCI-E slots work at the full 16x speed, while the white at 8x. There is enough space between the three PCI-E slots, so no problem here for those extra large VGA cards:

There are also extra connections for USB, Front Panel Audio, COM2 and Firewire on the back. Asus has include just about all possible all ports in the retail package. The back I/O panel has the usual connections:

The LCD panel is backlit and offers POST messages during bootup.

Of course, form within the BIOS you can alter the message that is displayed by default (board time), but the display characters are rather limited (8). We would like to have the option to put more "scrolling" messages there:

When you press the onboard LED switch, the motherboard switches off and a number of blue LEDs light up around the board, providing a great visual effect. From the BIOS, you can even have the LEDs turn on all the time if you want:

Lastly, there are three buttons on board, that are used to perform the most basic functions - shutdown, reset and clear CMOS - no need to feel around in the dark, the buttons are lit:


3. Bios settings

The BIOS is the usual ASUS. The first tab option includes the system time, date and storage devices:

The second tab includes all major functions to control our board. There are several sub-menus:

Let's start with the system clocks. Nothing fancy here, leave it at default settings:

Passing to the FSB and Memory configuration, we can set the mode between FSB and memory. With the Nvidia 680i SLI, FSB and Memory can be "linked" or "unlinked", giving us more flexibility with overclocking. Note, that the FSB is displayed in QDR, which means, to get the real FSB you have to divide by four:

If the FSB and Memory are linked, there are 4 FSB:DRAM ratios available:

CPU, Memory, NB, SB voltages can be set according to the following table.

BIOS Setting Feature:
CPU bus frequency
133 to 750MHz in 1MHz steps
CPU voltage
0.83125V to 1.9000V in 0.0625V steps
DRAM voltage
1.85V to 3.425V in 0.25V steps
1.2V HT Voltage
1.20V to 1.95V in 0.05V steps
NB voltage
1.20V to 2.75V in 0.05V steps
SB voltage
1.50V to 1.85V in 0.05V steps

The ability to overclock the memory at a voltage up to 3.425V is impressive, and at the same time useless since memory modules will be fried! Looking at the overclocking tab, we find the CPU multiplier:

memory timings:

and spread spectrums (disable all):


4. Installation

Using Everest Ultimate Edition 2006, we can get more information about the North/South Bridge chipsets:

For our review, we used the latest available BIOS (0505 release). However, after completing all our tests, Asus announced a newer build (0701) that fixes several problems.

Striker Extreme Release BIOS 0701
1. Fixed NB Core voltage setting error when CMOS fails
2. Enable support for Conroe 1333MHz processor
3. Fixed VID incorrect after OC to 1201Mhz(FSB)
4. Added New Micro Code to support new CPU
5. Finetune CPU temperature calculation algorithm
6. Displays "Press TAB to display BIOS POST Message" string even when full screen logo is enabled.
7. Correct incorrect info under Summary screen.
8. Correct "SLI-Ready Memory Detected" display problem at POST
9. Fixed CPU not restore back to original frequency after CPR
10. Add help string for HPET item.

The memory settings with this board are incredible. You can have FSB and memory unlinked and choose whatever you desire. The board didn't have any problems climbing to 533MHz with 2x1GB Crucial PC2-8000 memory modules.

Let's now see how our CPU was identified with CPU-Z:

The board's main information is extracted from the 3rd tab of CPU-Z:

For comparison, we post test results from:


5. Benchmarks page 1

Click for official website!EVEREST Ultimate Edition is an industry leading system diagnostics and benchmarking solution for enthusiasts PC users, based on the award-winning EVEREST Technology. During system optimizations and tweaking it provides essential system and overclock information, advanced hardware monitoring and diagnostics capabilities to check the effects of the applied settings. CPU, FPU and memory benchmarks are available to measure the actual system performance and compare it to previous states or other systems. Furthermore, complete software, operating system and security information makes EVEREST Ultimate Edition a comprehensive system diagnostics tool that offers a total of 100 pages of information about your PC. The software has build-in several tests for memory and CPU/FPU.

Both the Asus P5B Deluxe and Striker Extreme work with the same memory divider (FSB:DRAM 1:2). The Asus Striker Extreme was only fastest in the Memory read test.

In the CPU tests, the Asus Striker Extreme was slower than the P5W64 WS Pro. With the CPU Photoworxx benchmark, the performance difference was quite substantial.

SiSoftware Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is an information & diagnostic utility. It should provide most of the information (including undocumented) you need to know about your hardware, software and other devices whether hardware or software. It works along the lines of other Windows utilities, however it tries to go beyond them and show you more of what's really going on. Giving the user the ability to draw comparisons at both a high and low-level. You can get information about the CPU, chipset, video adapter, ports, printers, sound card, memory, network, Windows internals, AGP, PCI, PCIe, ODBC Connections, USB2, 1394/Firewire, etc. Sisoft Sandra offers a variety of tests for Memory and CPU.

In Sisoft Sandra 2007 SP1, the Asus P5W64WS Pro, due to its Intel 975X chipset, was faster in all tests. The Asus Striker Extreme was slower than the P5B Deluxe and was left in third place.

Again, we see a major difference in performance between the three motherboards in the "Cache And Memory Index" subtest.


6. Benchmarks page 2

Click for homepage!PCMark®05 is everything you need to reliably and easily measure the performance of your PC and determine its strengths and weaknesses. With PCMark05, you will be able to select the optimal upgrades for your existing PC, or choose the right new PC that fits your specific needs. This easy-to-use product gives you the same tools and knowledge that virtually every professional tester in the industry uses. Below you can see two available scores, memory & CPU.

Looking at the CPU score, which interests us more, the Asus P5W64WS Pro and P5B Deluxe are both faster than the Striker Extreme.

Click for homepage!3DMark®06 is the worldwide standard in advanced 3D game performance benchmarking. A fundamental tool for every company in the PC industry as well as PC users and gamers, 3DMark06 uses advanced real-time 3D game workloads to measure PC performance using a suite of DirectX 9 3D graphics tests, CPU tests, and 3D feature tests. 3DMark06 tests include all new HDR/SM3.0 graphics tests, SM2.0 graphics tests, AI and physics driven single and multiple cores or processor CPU tests and a collection of comprehensive feature tests to reliably measure next generation gaming performance today.

3D Mark06 tests both the CPU/RAM and of course VGA card. The Asus P5W64WS Pro had the highest CPU score followed by the P5B Deluxe and then the Striker Extreme.


7. Benchmarks page 3

Science Mark 2.0 is an attempt to put the truth behind benchmarking. In an attempt to model real world demands and performance, SM2 is a suite of high-performance benchmarks that realistically stress system performance without architectural bias.  Science Mark 2.0 is comprised of 7 benchmarks, each of which measures a different aspect of real world system performance.

Pov-Ray s a high-quality, totally free tool for creating stunning three-dimensional graphics. It is available in official versions for Windows, Mac OS/Mac OS X and i86 Linux. The source code is available for those wanting to do their own ports. We used Pov-Ray 3.7beta15 for all tests, since it supports Dual Core CPUs. We used the built-in benchmark as suggested from developers.

In ScienceMark, the Asus P5B Deluxe produced the best performance while the Striker Extreme SLI had the highest overall score in the Pov-Ray benchmark.

- Nero Digital

Nero Digital is one of the best known Digital formats, offering both ASP and AVC encoder profiles.

For our tests, we used the latest version of Nero Recode v2.3.1.8 as packaged with Nero Reloaded v7.5.0.1. As a source, we used a VOB file of 5 mins duration. We encoded for each processor, in two modes (ASP, AVC), with exactly the same preferences (Same bitrate and Dual pass). The encoding time displayed below is what Nero Recode reported. The lower the time taken, the better. All results are displayed in seconds.

All three tested motherboards had similar performance with Nero Recode. The Asus P5W64 WS Pro had the lowest encoding times in both AVC and ASP profiles.


8. Benchmarks page 4

CINEBENCH is the free benchmarking tool for Windows and Mac OS based on the powerful 3D software CINEMA 4D. Consequently, the results of tests conducted using CINEBENCH 9.5 carry significant weight when analyzing a computer’s performance in everyday use.

Especially a system’s CPU and the OpenGL capabilities of its graphics card are put through their paces (even multiprocessor systems with up to 16 dedicated CPUs or processor cores). During the testing procedure, all relevant data is ascertained with which the performance of different computers can subsequently be compared, regardless of operating system. All tests were done with the latest available build (R9.5), and the sum of each subtest is displayed at the following chart, except OpenGL Software & Hardware Lighting tests, since both depend on the installed VGA card.

With CineBench, all three motherboards had very similar overall performance. The Asus Striker Extreme was in first place with 1623 points.

SuperPI has become an utility to benchmark modern systems. In August 1995, the calculation of pi up to 4,294,960,000 decimal digits was succeeded by using a supercomputer at the University of Tokyo. The program was written by D.Takahashi and he collaborated with Dr. Y.Kanada at the computer center, the University of Tokyo. This record-breaking program was ported to personal computer environment such as Windows NT and Windows 95 and called Super PI.

The software offers up to 32M calculations of PI numbers. For all three motherboards, we tested up to 8M calculations and summed them for a total score.

The motherboard with the lowest SuperPI overall score remains the P5B Deluxe.


9. Benchmarks page 5

The story begins as an unidentified paramilitary force infiltrates a multi-billion dollar aerospace compound. The government responds by sending in Special Forces, but loses contact as an eerie signal interrupts radio communications. When the interference subsides moments later, the team has been literally torn apart. As part of a classified strike team created to deal with threats no one else can handle, your mission is simple: Eliminate the intruders at any cost. Determine the origin of the signal. And contain this crisis before it spirals out of control.

The game offers up to 1280x960 resolution, which was used for all our tests. We maxed all details for CPU and VGA card, except for AA/AF and Soft Shadows, which were enabled as indicated in each graph. Below, are the results after using the built-in benchmark test:

The fastest motherboard was the Asus P5W64WS Pro.

- Prey

Prey tells the story of Tommy, a Cherokee garage mechanic stuck on a reservation going nowhere. His life changes when an otherworldly crisis forces him to awaken spiritual powers from his long-forgotten birthright. Abducted along with his people to a menacing mothership orbiting Earth, he sets out to save himself and his girlfriend and eventually his planet.

Prey is serious, dark story, based on authentic Cherokee mythology. Themes of sacrifice, love and responsibility are explored and the story dives into emotional territory not yet explored by similar games. Prey is based on Quake 3 engine and for sure will keep you awake many nights...

For all tests, we used hocbench which offers all benchmarking options through a GUI. We used the built-in Guru3D timedemo and all results are posted below:

Prey is based on the Quake3 engine, making it CPU dependant. Again, the Asus P5W64WS Pro was faster than both the P5B Deluxe and Striker Extreme.


10. Benchmarks page 6

- Splinter Cell Chaos Theory

A Japanese Information Defense Force is formed to help face modern threats. Deemed a violation of international law and of the Japanese Post-War Constitution, Korea and China become outraged. Secretly, the head of the IDF begins launching information-warfare attacks against Japan and blaming the attacks on North Korea. When the U.S. intervenes, as they are obligated to under Article 9 of the Japanese Post-War Constitution, the U.S. is attacked as well, forcing North Korea to escalate the situation with a pre-emptive invasion of South Korea.

As war erupts on the Korean Peninsula, Sam Fisher must thwart the alliance between the Japanese Admiral, a neurotic computer hacker, and the head of an international paramilitary company in order to prevent the rekindling of a massive world war in the Pacific.

The graphics engine supports Pixel Shader 3 and HDR along with other new effects. We used hocbench which offers all benchmarking options through a GUI. We used the built-in "Guru3D 2" timedemo and all results are posted below:

- Half Life 2 Episode 1

The world of Half-Life 2 has amazed everyone with its great story, graphics and Valve's great support. Half-Life 2: Episode One is the first in a series of new adventures created by Valve that extend the Half-Life 2 single player experience. It details the aftermath of Half Life 2 and launches a journey beyond City 17.

Stepping into the hazard suit of Dr. Gordon Freeman, you face the immediate repercussions of your actions in City 17 and the Citadel. Rejoin Alyx Vance and her robot, Dog, to once again aid the human resistance in their desperate battle against the totalitarian alien menace of the Combine.

Episode One exposes Alyx's combat skills and knowledge of City 17. Battle side-by-side with her through Valve's first episodic game, a four-to-six hour adventure of greater density and detail than non-episodic releases.

We recorded a timedemo and used the console to run each card with different visual quality settings. For all tests, we used 1280x1024 resolution with HDR shadows fully enabled.


11. Overclocking

The Asus Striker Extreme is based on the Nvidia 680i SLI, which offers many options within the BIOS to optimize voltage, CPU multiplier and of course, FSB. This motherboard is advertised as an overclocking champion, so we had to find out if Asus' claim was true.

The most impressive feature of this board is the ability to raise the memory voltage up to 3.45V! Of course, such a high voltage will "fry" your memory modules, but in any case, it's a good option for serious overclockers. The memory settings from within the BIOS offer the chance to have both FSB and memory linked or unlinked, and don't forget that you can run 1T with this board. Great help for overclockers too. If something goes wrong (such as settings the memory/cpu cannot handle), the board resumes in about 90% of cases. So no need for CMOS reset and he like.

Let's now pass on to our results. The board could POST at a maximum of 470FSB, lowering of course the CPU multiplier to 6x. We didn't touch vcore voltages and only DRAM was set to 2.20V. It's possible that you need to adjust NBB and set Vcore voltages higher, to get a totally perfect, stable system.

Having read other users reports, this board can definitely go up to 500+FSB (with the proper voltage tweaks and the selected CPU/RAM combination). Overall, we are very satisfied with the overclocking capabilities of this board, and with a bit of work, you can have a fully stable system.

Below are our settings that reached 470MHZ FSB

AI Tuning: Manual
Nvidia GPU Ex: Disabled
LinkBoost: Disabled

FSB - Memory Clock Mode: Unlinked
x FSB - Memory Ratio: N/A
FSB (QDR), Mhz: 1880 (means 470FSB)
Actual FSB (QDR), Mhz: 1700
MEM (DDR), Mhz: 800 (means 400mhz speeds)
Actual MEM (DDR), Mhz: 880.2

Vcore Voltage: AUTO
Memory Voltage: 2AUTO
1.2v HT Voltage: AUTO
NB Core Voltage: AUTO
SB Core Voltage: AUTO
CPU VTT Voltage: AUTO
DDRII Controller Ref Voltage: AUTO
DDRII Channel A Ref Voltage: AUTO
DDRII Channel B Ref Voltage: AUTO

tCL (CAS Latency): 4
tRCD: 4
tRP: 4
tRAS: 8
Command Per Clock (CMD): 2 clock (2T)

Advance Memory Settings
tRRD: AUTO
tRC: AUTO
tWR: AUTO
tWTR: AUTO
tREF: AUTO
Async Latency: AUTO

CPU Spread Spectrum: Disabled
PCIE Spread Spectrum: Disabled
MCP PCIE Spread Spectrum: Disabled
SATA Spread Spectrum: Disabled
LDT Spread Spectrum: Disabled

CPU Internal Thermal Control: Disabled
Limit CPUID MaxVal: Disabled
Enhanced C1 (C1E): Disabled
Execute Disable Bit: Disabled
Virtualization Technology: Disabled
Enhanced Intel Speedstep Tech: Disabled
LDT Frequency: 5x

PCIEX16_1 Frequency (Mhz): 100
PCIEX16_2 Frequency (Mhz): 100
PCIEX16_3 Frequency (Mhz): 100
SPP<->MCP Ref Clock, Mhz: 200


12. Final words

The Asus Striker Extreme and P5N32-E SLI are based on Nvidia's 680i SLI chipset. Both share many components and features. Compared with the P5N32-E SLI, the Asus Striker Extreme was somewhat faster, in specific tests. Both the P5B Deluxe and P5W64 WS Pro, based on the 965Express and 975X Intel chipsets, are faster in many tests and especially under games. The board supports all currently sold Intel processors for 775 socket, Intel® Core™ 2 Duo/ Intel® Pentium® D/Intel® Pentium® 4/ Intel® Celeron® D processor.

The board's overall design is good. The passive cooling system is better than that found on the P5N32-E SLI since it includes more heat pipes and bigger copper coolers. The NB chipset was very hot on the P5N32-E SLI, but this is not the case on the Asus Striker Extreme. Of course, adding extra fans on the NB will allow for even higher overclocking speeds. There are six SATA II connections for HDD and optical storage devices, along with ATA133 and floppy connections.

There are several onboard switches and buttons that are very useful for users. At night, the Asus Striker Extreme is very impressive with all the blue lights scattered around the motherboard. The retail package is impressive and complete, as you would expect from a top Asus motherboard. All cables and connectors are there, along with an 8 channel Audio card (extra module) along with microphone and line in.

When overclocking, the board proved to be easy to overclock. There are many settings to play with. We liked the fact that the FSB and memory can work (linked) or independently (unlinked). The DRAM voltages can reach up to 3.425V (!) while Vcore voltage proved to be a bit unstable (1.6 max from BIOS gets you 1.47 volts tops). The board can reach very high FSB frequencies (500MHz+) as we confirmed. If something fails during overclocking, the system will POST most of the time with an "overclocking failed" message, so there's no need to go through the whole clear CMOS song and dance. We also didn't come across any weird problems while testing the board.

Ending our presentation, while a good motherboard, we are a little skeptical about the Asus Striker Extreme. The board offers more or less the same performance and features as the P5N32-E SLI. It is improved in some cases - better passive cooling system, impressive backlight LEDs/design and of course LCD poster. The retail package is more complete with Ghost Recon Advanced WarFighter retail game included.

All that means an increase of US$140 on the retail price of the board. The Asus Striker Extreme costs around US$409 (or €330) and is not so readily available on the retail market. This is probably the highest priced motherboard you can buy for Core2Duo and in terms of performance/stability/usability we were quite satisfied, even if Intel 975X chipset based boards offer higher CPU RAW performance. If money is not the question here, then the Asus Striker Extreme is a perfect choice for you, gamer or not.



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