Asus Striker Extreme Nvidia nForce 680i Motherboard
Our Summary and Conclusion
Asus has gone above and beyond the call of duty, and has set a new bar for high-end gaming / enthusiast class motherboards. The Striker Extreme is an excellent product overall, and dare we say is a masterpiece due to how well thought out this design is. Once you work with this board for an extended period of time, you can begin to appreciate the work put in by Asus' R&D team -- these guys know what they're doing and have made a motherboard that proves it.
If money was no object, the Striker Extreme would possibly be our choice for the best overall Socket-775 platform on the market today. However, money does play a large role in a purchase like this - and the Striker Extreme's $400+ price tag is quite exorbitant. Luckily, Asus has also provided a nice second-tier option with their P5N32-E SLI motherboard, which uses the same core design and same nForce 680i chipset, but lacks some of the over-the-top features like the LCD post screen, backlit LED I/O panel, quad copper heatpipes, and a few other minor features. This board is sold for quite a bit less, and should be considered for those who want the same core features as the Striker but without all of the (somewhat excessive) "bling" features.
Our benchmarks did not show the Striker to be far and away the best platform in terms of raw performance. With only a single graphics card, this board will perform on par with other 680i or 975X platforms. However, the Striker can handle dual PCIe x16 graphics cards in SLI, which the 975X cannot, so if you're looking to run a pair of high-end GeForce 8800-series cards, the 680i should be the only chipset to look at. Of course, the Striker Extreme showed itself to be an excellent overclocker as well when equipped with the latest BIOS, so this should be brought into consideration as well (early BIOS revisions didn't fare as well in this area). This board was able to overclock our Core 2 Duo processor further than we've seen on 975X and P965 boards in the past. Asus provides near limitless control of the BIOS, so we're bound to see some amazing overclocks happen with this platform.
If Asus can get these boards out in volume and bring street prices down a bit, we're certain that they'll sell well. These boards are hard to come by on the retail market, hopefully this will improve over the next few weeks. With more stock, it's likely that prices will drop to more sane levels and more high-end users will be able to enjoy this board.