Asus Striker Extreme Nvidia nForce 680i Motherboard

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Extras and Overclocking

Striker Goodies and Extras

The Striker Extreme has some downright nifty features which we can't overlook. While some may consider these features overkill and/or un-necessary, they're not all for show. These types of features are what we like to call "functional bling". They certainly add the "wow" factor and actually can improve the overall computing experience, but for the most part, it's all for show. 

Striker Extreme back panel ports

Above you can see the I/O panel. Sandwiched between the digital audio outputs, dual PCIe Gigabit LAN ports, and above the dual eSATA ports, we see an interesting addition here. This is actually a diagnostic LCD panel which Asus has equipped this board with, which can supply the user with POST codes in order to see what the motherboard is working on. In particular, this screen is useful when overclocking, as you can see which part of the POST process the system is failing on (CPU, memory, PCI, etc). When the system is done booting, you can have it either display the current time (not that useful - who looks at the back of their system for the time?) or you can have it display an eight character custom message. The screen is not extremely well mounted, and we found the screen to be somewhat flimsy, we think it could easily break off if the board was mis-handled. 

POST Codes

Custom Message

The I/O panel cover itself is connected to a power lead and you can press the light bulb icon to "light up" descriptions of the ports. This is useful if you're digging around your system in the dark and need to know what ports are which, but again, this is more of a "bling" feature compared to one which will be used by a lot of people. Nevertheless, we have to give Asus some credit for innovation here.

Looking at the bottom of the board, there are three big silver buttons, which are hard power, reset, and clear CMOS buttons. Instead of fiddling around with jumpers or making metal-to-metal connections to manually start / stop the motherboard, Asus lets enthusiasts have a little more control when using the board outside of a chassis. While the buttons themselves are quite cool to begin with, they also light up in the dark, as seen below. No more hunting for that flashlight in order to clear your CMOS. 

Hard Switches - In Light

Hard Switches - In Darkness

BIOS, Software and Overclocking

The Striker Extreme is obviously designed with overclocking in mind. It's likely that the vast majority of people who buy this motherboard will be looking to overclock as much as possible. Thus, Asus has provided users of this board with (more or less) unlimited control over timings and voltages. All of the necessary overclocking settings have been combined into the "Extreme Tweaker" section of the Striker's BIOS.

One of the great things about the nForce 680i chipset is that front side bus speeds can be adjusted independently of the memory bus, which typically are tied together in some sort of divider scenario based off the front side bus speed. The 680i allows for complete independence, so you can set your memory speed at one specific level (for example, 800 MHz) and push your FSB speed as far as you can without affecting memory stability. This makes processor-level overclocking much, much easier. Of course, if you have an Extreme Edition processor with an unlocked multiplier, Asus lets you control this option as well. You can manually adjust chipset, CPU, memory voltages with ease, and you can manually time every aspect of your DDR2 memory modules as well. The fan speed controls on this board are quite amazing as well, as you can manually control voltage levels for each of the seven fan connectors on-board. 

Main Extreme Tweaker Menu

CPU Features

Voltage Alteration

Fan Speed Controls

Memory Timings

With our stock Intel retail box cooler and a Core 2 Duo E6600 (2.4 GHz dual-core) processor running at 1066 MHz front side bus speed, we were able to push our system up to 1466 MHz front side bus speed, upping the processor clock to 3.3 GHz - all without touching voltages.  3.3 GHz / 1466 MHz seemed to provide the best mix of performance and stability without really doing any work.   When we started pushing voltage levels higher and lowering the CPU's multiplier, we were able to get a maximum of 1866 MHz front side bus speed at mostly stable speeds, and up to 1900 MHz with a lot of work (and little stability).  However, at 1466 MHz levels and under, we found the board to be an extremely stable.

All in all, the Strike Extreme is an incredibly easy board to use for, especially with the latest 0701 BIOS in place (some of the earlier BIOS revs didn't play as nice). So yeah, 1333 MHz FSB was a piece of cake with today's Core 2 processors - I'd imagine that some hardcore overclockers will push past 2000 MHz front side bus speed with dedication, time, and perhaps enhanced cooling methods.

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