ASUS Striker II (NVIDIA nForce 780i SLI)
ASUS Striker II
||NVIDIA nForce 780i SLI
||LGA775 Pentium 4 FSB 1066/800/533 MHz
Celeron Conroe/Prescott FSB 800/533 MHz
Dual-Core Pentium4 Smithfield/Presler
Yorkfield, Wolfdale FSB 1333/1066/800 MHz
Quad-Core Kentsfield, Dual-Core Conroe/Allendale
6x SerialATA II (RAID)
||High Definition Audio
10 USB 2.0
2x Gigabit Ethernet LAN
Last year, the Striker model (nForce 680i SLI) was ASUS' top-end model based on the NVIDIA chipset. Using the same PCB, the company released a couple more motherboards with similar specifications. At their capabilities, the boards were among the leaders, but nevertheless they aroused certain complaints among a part of the users. But even with its issues, the Striker series motherboard has proved to be in demand. The thing is, engineers at ASUS have developed their own PCB design and taken Intel's requirements regarding the compatibility to 45-nm Yorkfield and Wolfdale processors. Indeed, these processors start up successfully and run on motherboards of the Striker, P5N32-E SLI, and P5N32-E SLI PLUS models, unlike all the motherboards made following NVIDIA's reference design.
In 2008, ASUS has presented new motherboards based on the NVIDIA nForce 780i SLI chipset, and the top-end model has been codenamed Striker II. A few weeks back, we talked at length about this chipset, and now we are stressing out only its major distinctions from nForce 680i SLI. The new chipset supports 62 (!) PCI Express bus lanes, 32 of which meets the version 2.0 specifications. But to implement these lanes, the engineers at NVIDIA have added the additional chip - nForce 200.
In the end, the nForce 780i SLI is the most powerful and technologically advanced chipset in NVIDIA's produce assortment. NVIDIA has also debugged graphic and system drivers, which allowed the users to install the third video card and launch 3D applications in the 3-way SLI mode. All what is needed for that is to link them with a special bridge:
At the top, there is a bridge for 3-way SLI, in the bottom - one for the regular SLI.
In fact, right after the start of the tests we came across with the incompatibility of ASUS Striker II to Corsair overclocker memory modules. Precisely the same issues were there in the first Striker, so we came out for a new firmware version (we found version 902, as of February). However, it didn't help and only version 1101 eliminated the flaw. There were no other issues found, except the very low overclocking results (technically, there was no overclocking at all).
Normally, we treat overclocking as a nondocumented functionality of a motherboard which is able adding some performance boost. At the same time, the motherboard manufacturer does not give any guarantees as to the operational stability at increased frequencies and at the feasibility of attaining these frequencies. Therefore, while determining the overclocking capability of a motherboard, we don't make any conclusions regarding the pros and cons at that but simply express our impressions and overclocking results in the "Product Feature-set" section. Nevertheless, we can ignore the fact that Gigabyte 780SLI-DS5 based on the same chipset NVIDIA nForce 780i SLI successfully overcame the starting FSB = 500 MHz! The same can be said about motherboards of NVIDIA's reference design which run stably at speeds higher than 500 MHz.
ASUS Striker II Specifications
|ASUS Striker II
||- Intel Pentium 4 (Prescott (2M)/Gallatin/CedarMill) with the bus speeds 1066/800/533 MHz
- Dual-core Intel Pentium D/EE (Smithfield/Presler) with the bus speeds 800/1066 MHz
- Intel Celeron-D (Conroe-L, Prescott) with the bus speeds 800/533 MHz
- Support for Intel Core 2 Duo/Quad (Kentsfield (4 cores), Conroe/Allendale (2 cores)) with the bus speeds 1333/1066/800 MHz
- Support for Intel Yorkfield, Wolfdale with the bus speeds 1333/1066/800 MHz
- Socket LGA775
- Support for HyperThreading
||- North bridge nForce 780i SLI SPP
- South bridge nForce 570i SLI MCP
- PCI Express v2.0 nForce 200 bridge
- Interbridge communication: HyperTransport bus (1 GHz)
||- Four 240-pin slots for DDR-II SDRAM DIMM
- Maximum memory capacity 8 GB
- Dual-channel memory access
- Supported memory - DDR2 400/533/667/800/1066 (EPP)
- Onboard power indicators
||- Three PCI Express x16 (2 õ 16 v2.0 + 1 õ 16 v1.0) slots
||- Two 32-bit PCI Bus Master slots
- Two PCI Express x1 slots
- Ten USB 2.0 ports (4 integrated + 6 additional)
- Two IEEE1394 ports (Firewire; 1 integrated + 1 additional)
- Two Gigabit Ethernet LAN controllers
||- FSB adjustable within 133 to 800 MHz; multiplier adjustable
- Adjustable voltages on the CPU, memory, HT, FSB, PLL, nForce 200, and the chipset (nb + sb)
- ASUS AI Overclocking
- ASUS AI Booster
||- 1 link for UltraDMA133/100/66/33 Bus Master IDE (with support for up to 2 ATAPI devices & RAID 0, 1);
- Support for SerialATA II (6 links - nForce 570i SLI, with support for RAID 0,1,5, 0+1, and JBOD);
- Support for LS-120 / ZIP / ATAPI CD-ROM
||- 8 Mbit Flash ROM;
- Award Phoenix BIOS with support for Enhanced ACPI, DMI, Green, PnP Features and Trend Chip Away Virus
- Asus EZ Flash 2
- Asus CrashFree BIOS 2
- Asus MyLogo3
- ASUS OC Profile
- Multi-languages BIOS
||- One port for FDD, ports for PS/2 mouse and keyboard
- Power-on, reset, and clear BIOS settings buttons
- STR (Suspend to RAM)
- SPDIF Out
||- Wake-up on modem, mouse, keyboard, LAN, timer, and USB
- 24-pin ATX (ATX-PW) power connector
- Additional 8-pin power connector
||- Monitoring the temperature of the CPU, system, three additional thermo sensors, monitoring of voltages, determination of the rotational speed of the eight fans
- ASUS Q-Fan 2
||- ATX form factor, 244 mm x 305 mm (9.63" x 12")
The board is packaged in a rather impressive box of stylish design:
There is a handle to carry it around, and one page of the cover opens up like that of a book:
Inside the box, the user finds the motherboard in a plastic transparent box, as well as another box with accessories:
- 1x software & drivers DVD;
- DVD with the Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts game;
- User's Manual in English;
- one ATA133 cable, FDD cable;
- 6x SerialATA cables + a power supply adapter (2 connectors);
- a cap for the rear panel of the housing;
- bracket for two USB 2.0 and one Firewire ports;
- SLI connector, 3-way SLI connector;
- kit of clamps;
- two additional fans;
- sound card SupremeFX II;
- Q-Connectors kit.
As compared to the previous Striker model, the package bundle has not been improved - just on the contrary. In particular, there is no SoundMAX microphone, no extra thermo-sensors (although the board does support them), the number of power supply adapters for SATA devices has gone down, and there is no disk with third-party software. Even no leather chain with the Republic of Gamers logo is missing! The only thing the Striker II board is more abundant in is that it comes bundled with two fans instead of one. In general, we make a conclusion that the package bundle of motherboards of this series is losing its exclusive traits and attraction, turning to look like that for ASUS' regular motherboards.
Now let's list the items inside the box. These are six SerialATA cables and one power supply adapter (two connectors), a bracket with a Firewire and two USB ports. Besides, the package bundle includes P-ATA and FDD cables, and a cap to the rear panel of the board (with noise-vibration-proof coating).
Besides, there are two mentioned fans, a kit of clamps, and the LCD Poster.
The latter appears to be a small screen meant to input diagnostic messages. Precisely the same screen was there in the first Striker. It was rigidly fixed on the rear panel, and the LCD Poster can be brought over to any convenient place (as long as the cable length allows that).
The user's guide stands out with deep coverage and quality of composition.
Apart from Windows and Linux drivers, the DVD contains a set of Asus' proprietary utilities (PC Probe 2, AIBooster, Update, MyLogo3 + a pack of screensavers). Besides, there is also Norton Internet Security 2005, and Kaspersky Anti-Virus, and - look out! - a licensed version of 3DMark 06 Advanced Edition! Another DVD contains the game Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts.
Here is our view regarding bundling a motherboard with games. Needless to say, it is nice to get a fresh and licensed game. However, that does not add to the attraction of the motherboard. Tastes of users are highly different, and it is not certain that the game will please to the buyer. In particular, we completely ignored the game Ghost Recon which was shipped with the previous "Republic of Gamers" motherboards. But the game Company of Heroes has increased the time of testing the Striker II model by two times at least!
Now let's look at the flexible SLI connector aimed at joining two video cards.
Besides that, there is a rigid SLI connector to merge three video cards into a 3-way SLI array.
Finally, the board has an audio subsystem which is made as a separate board SupremeFX II:
||CPU & Memory: