Introduction and Motherboard Platform
NVIDIA's two major launches last week marked a significant advancement in both 3D Graphics and PC Motherboard feature-set and performance. The launch of NVIDIA's G80 GPU with their GeForce 8800 series of graphics cards was the advent of the first truly DX10 capable GPU architecture on the market. Furthermore, upon its introduction, the nForce 680i SLI was widely acknowledge as the most feature-rich chipset for the Intel Core 2 dual-core and quad-core platforms to date; even more-so than Intel's own P965 and 975X Express chipsets. In industry speak, there's no question these two launches smacked of PC tech-geek nirvana, not to mention that 3D graphics and gaming performance has once again been taken to new levels by NVIDIA. Still, some of you might ask, who cares? Seriously, who cares about DX10, Shader Model 4.0, Stream Processors, and blah, blah, blah? Well, we do actually. We here at HH care so you don't have to. But that's not the point.
We know you're out there. Come out from behind the network switch panel now and fess up. Step away from the stack of Red Bull empties and pull off your head-set. You're thinking the same thing we were, frankly. What can all this new-found horsepower do for me when we put together the fastest, most capable components money can buy? Take a Core 2 Extreme QX6700, drop it into a bleeding edge nForce 680i motherboard, install 2Gigs of high performance memory, add not one - but two - GeForce 8800 GTXs in SLI mode, and overclock the stuffing out of everything -- shaken not stirred, thanks very much. If you've got the coin to belly up to the bar, we've got just the concoction the doctor ordered. Read on thirsty speed freaks. This article is for you.
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Dubbed "The Ultimate Gaming Motherboard" by Asus, the Asus Striker Extreme, built around NVIDIA's new 680i chipset is nothing short of impressive when you look at the build quality and feature integration Asus brought to the table. With a chipset heat-pipe cooling system that looks like something out of a distillery, this motherboard wanders about as far away from NVIDIA's reference design as we've seen to date.
For Starters - Asus Striker Extreme nForce 680i Motherboard
And Asus Silent Knight CPU Cooler
And you should see the BIOS menu options on this motherboard. We'll have a full analysis and showcase of the board in the coming weeks, but for now we're just going to have a little fun with it. Finally, we installed Asus' new Silent Knight all copper cooler on top of our quad-core Core 2 Extreme QX6700 processor. This cooler does about as good a job keeping thermals in check as does a Zalman CPNS9500, though it is tad larger and thus theoretically has better heat dissipation characteristics. Though we're not quite as fond of this sink's retention bracket mechanism, as we are of the Zalman cooler's version. It doesn't seem to apply as much downward force and the mounting bracket itself actually bolts over the CPU socket door. So once it's in place, there's no changing out CPUs easily unless you completely disassemble the bracket from the motherboard. Regardless, it cools quite well and, as you'll see shortly, it allowed us to overclock our Kentsfield chip like there's no tomorrow.