Asus Striker II Formula nForce 780i Motherboard

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When ASUS unveiled their Republic of Gamers (ROG) series of products, they stated their mission clearly: "deliver the most innovative and best performing PC solutions to enhance the usage experience for power users".  There's a lot in that statement to live up to, but ASUS was confident in their abilities.  Over the years that we have covered many of their products, and we've seen a fair share of hardware that performed at or exceeded our expectations.  Thus, when NVIDIA upped the core-logic ante last year with the introduction of the 780i chipset, one of the first boards we checked out was the ASUS P5N-T, which can be viewed here.  

Although the P5N-T didn't exactly wow us, with performance more or less on par with a board based on the previous 680i chipset, ASUS has had a couple of months to get intimate with the 780i chipset to fit it into their ROG model, ultimately creating the Striker II Formula.  It makes perfect sense; the 780i is a gamer's chipset, that offers support for 3-way SLI, PCI Express 2.0, and NVIDIA's ESA.  And as expected from an ROG board, there are additional bells and whistles integrated into the board as well.  But will the Striker II Formula rise to the mission statement and "enhance our experience"?  That's what we will be aiming to find out in this article.

ASUS Striker II Formula Motherboard
Specifications and Features

CPU
Intel Socket 775 Core™2 Quad/Core™2 Extreme/Core™2 Duo/Pentium® Extreme/Pentium® D/Pentium® 4 Processors
Compatible with Intel® 05B/05A/06 processors
Support Intel® next generation 45nm CPU
      
Chipset
NVIDIA nForce 780i SLI

Front Side Bus
1333/1066/800 MHz           

Main Memory  
  
4 x DIMM, Max. 8 GB, DDR2 1066/800/667 Non-ECC,Un-buffered Memory
Dual Channel memory architecture

Storage
1 x UltraDMA 133/100/66/33
6 x SATA 3 Gb/s ports
NVIDIA MediaShield™ RAID Support RAID 0,1,0+1,5,JBOD span cross Serial ATA drives

Expansion Slots
2 x PCIe 2.0 x16 , support NVIDIA® SLI™ technology, at full x16, x16 speed(blue)
1 x PCIe x16 , at x16 speed(middle)
2 x PCIe x1 ( the PCIEx1_1 (black) is compatible with audio slot)
2 x PCI 2.2

Scalable Link Interface (SLI)
Support three identical NVIDIA SLI-Ready graphics cards (triple at x16 mode)

Audio
SupremeFX II Audio Card
ADI 1988B 8 -Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
Coaxial / Optical S/PDIF out ports at back I/O
ASUS Noise Filter

LAN
Dual Gigabit LAN, both featuring AI NET2
Support Teaming Technology

USB
10 x USB 2.0 ports (4 ports at mid-board, 6 ports at back panel)
      
IEEE1394
2 x 1394a ports (1 port at back I/O, 1 port onboard)

 
On-Board Peripherals
3 x USB connectors support additional 6 USB 2.0 ports
1 x Floppy disk drive connector
1 x IDE connector
6 x SATA connectors
1 x IEEE 1394a connector
1 x CPU Fan connector
3 x Chassis Fan connector
1 x Power Fan connector
3 x Optional Fan connector
1 x S/PDIF Out connector
1 x8-pin ATX 12V Power connector
24 -pin ATX Power connector
1 x En/Dis-able Clr CMOS connector
3 x thermal sensor connectors
Chassis Intrusion connector
System Panel Connector   

Back Panel I/O Ports
1 x PS/2 Keyboard
1 x IEEE 1394a
2 x LAN(RJ45) port
6 x USB 2.0/1.1
1 x Clr CMOS switch
1 x Optical + 1 x Coaxial S/PDIF Output
   
BIOS
8 Mb Flash ROM, DMI 2.0, AMI BIOS
PnP, WfM 2.0, SM BIOS 2.4, ACPI 2.0a
Multi-language BIOS

Overclocking Features
Extreme Tweaker
Loadline Calibration
2-Phase DDR 2
Intelligent overclocking tools
- CPU Level Up
- AI Gear 3
- AI Overclocking (intelligent CPU frequency tuner)
- ASUS AI Booster Utility
- ASUS O.C. Profile: overclocking configuration-sharing tool
Overclocking Protection
- COP EX (Component Overheat Protection - EX)
- Voltiminder LED
- ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)

Dimension
12 inch (L) x 9.6 inch(W) ATX Form Factor
      
Mounting
9 mounting holes


     

As with previous Republic of Gamers packages, nothing seems to be spared from inclusion.  Clearly indicated on the front of the box is the full retail version of Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts - a standalone expansion to the well received real-time strategy (RTS) game that we have used in other graphic card reviews.  On a separate disc come the drivers and utilities, as well as full versions of Futuremark's 3DMark06 Advanced Edition and Kaspersky's Anti-Virus.  Here's a full list of what can be expected to be included in the package:

 
• 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
• I/O Shield
• Cable Ties
• User's manual
• Futuremark 3DMark 06 Advanced Edition
• Kaspersky Anti-Virus
• SupremeFX II HD sound card

     
     

A few of the more interesting pieces are the 3-way SLI connector (which comes in addition to the standard SLI cable), the LCD Poster, and the SupremeFX II Audio card.  Currently only used for 8800 GTX and 8800 Ultra cards, the 3-way SLI connector is the a means of communication, other than the PCI Express interface, when using three cards in tandem.  This, NVIDIA claims, will prevent any issues caused by having two cards in the PCI-E 2.0 slots (controlled by the nForce 200 chip which interfaces with the North bridge) and one card in a PCI-E 1.0 slot (that feeds into the South bridge.)

The LCD Poster we've seen before and noted that although not totally original in effect, the design is better and it's much easier to use than the cryptic codes or flashing LEDs found on other manufacturer's boards.  The mini LCD screen clearly states, in words, the POST activities and can even be edited by the user to display the time or another word strings after a successful boot.  The cable is long enough to allow the user to place the unit on a desk or velcro it to the side of a chassis.  

Finally, the SupremeFX II sound card is the same HD Audio output device that we have seen with other ROG motherboards.  It's small in stature, and connects to the first PCI Express slot on the motherboard, just above the first PCI-Express graphics card.  It's powered by an ADI 1988B 8-channel audio CODEC and lights up with blue LEDs when the board is powered.  Six jacks provide the means of connecting audio devices, although nothing digital is provided for.  The real benefit of the card is that it frees up space on the back of the board for the passive cooling radiators, which isn't to say that the audio output isn't sufficient enough for everyday use.  It's a good solution, but doesn't hold up against the likes of Creative's X-Fi or ASUS' own Xonar cards.

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WAAAAAY to much $$ for a motherboard....not to mention its pretty much the same board as the Striker I with 3-way SLI support is all. Another con is the passive heatsinks which is fine for a silent-based PC but we all know OCing and silent don't really go hand-in-hand. Actually this is probably a lot of the reason the OCing results weren't as expected -- its tough with the passive chipset cooling.

Good read though :) Nice analysis of its features, now if they would hit the ~$100 mark I would actually think about it

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Nice motherboard. Right now I have a Striker Extreme 680i and its doing great for me so far(over 6 months use). Don't really need to upgrade to this yet. Maybe later when the new Intel cpus come out. ^_^

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If you think that's a lot of money, wait till you see the 790I's...such a bs board for 300-350?...Nvidia is just laughing and pointing at the consumers while they run off to the bank. >_<....::shakes fist at nvidia:: Damn Greedy Buggers! 

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I have to agree with Kamrooz on this , the 790I is not worth 300-350 dollars for what you get and your still looking at having to buy the overpriced DDR3 with crappy timings. What's even worse is the 780I which is nothing but a beefed up 680I . Nvidia sure got one over on the consumers there with  this so called new chip set.But hey if thats what keeps some people happy then fine , but I think as consumers we should be able to expect more and better quality from these products we buy.

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