ASUS Striker II NSE (NVIDIA nForce 790i SLI)
ASUS Striker II NSE
||NVIDIA nForce 790i SLI
||LGA775 Pentium 4 FSB 1066/800/533 MHz
Celeron Conroe/Prescott FSB 800/533 MHz
Dual-Core Pentium4 Smithfield/Presler
Yorkfield, Wolfdale FSB 1600/1333/1066/800 MHz
Quad-Core Kentsfield, Dual-Core Conroe/Allendale
8x SerialATA II (2x RAID)
||High Definition Audio
10 USB 2.0
2x Gigabit Ethernet LAN
NVIDIA nForce 790i SLI was announced quite a long time ago, but first products on its base are appearing only just now. However, we won't be sad about that - one of the key traits of this product is support for the DDR3 memory, which became relatively affordable merely a few weeks ago. By the way, NVIDIA has released one more version of the chip, named nForce 790i Ultra SLI. Its only difference from the "non Ultra" is in support for the much faster DDR3 memory modules and the EPP 2.0 technology. All the other specifications of the chipset are absolutely the same.
The second important feature of these chipsets is the native support for the PCI Express v2.0. While the nForce 780i SLI was the renamed nForce 680i SLI in which support for the PCI-E v2.0 was implemented with the additional nForce 200 bridge, the north bridge nForce 790i supports the same number of lanes, without additional chips. This chipset supports 62 (!) PCI Express bus lanes altogether, 32 of which meet the v2.0 specifications. Such number allows the motherboard developers install three PCI Express x16 slots on their products and provide support for the 3-way SLI (i.e., consolidation of the computational resources of three NVIDIA video cards).
As regards the south bridge, it has not undergone any changes. That is the nForce 570i MCP chip whose expansion options fully meet modern requirements.
The subject of today's tests will be the motherboard ASUS Striker II NSE (nForce 790i SLI). This product belongs to the quite expensive and exclusive "Republic of Gamers" series and is aimed at overclockers and PC enthusiasts. That the motherboard is aimed at this group of users can be seen from the water-block installed on the north bridge of the chipset, as well as the rich package bundle, and powerful overclocking tools (which, as these tests have shown, do work, unlike the Striker II Formula (nForce 780i SLI)).
ASUS Striker II NSE Specifications
|ASUS Striker II NSE
||- 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 1333/1066/800 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 1600/1333/1066/800 MHz
- Socket LGA775
- Support for HyperThreading
||- North bridge nForce 790i SLI SPP
- South bridge nForce 570i SLI MCP
- Interbridge communications: HyperTransport bus (1 GHz)
||- Four 240-pin slots for DDR-3 SDRAM DIMM
- Maximum memory capacity 8 GB
- Dual-channel memory access
- Supported memory DDR3- 800/1066/1333
- Onboard power indicator
||- Three PCI Express x16 (2С… 16 v2.0 + 1С… 16 v1.0) slots
||- Two 32-bit PCI Bus Master slots
- Two PCI Express x1 slots
- Ten USB 2.0 ports (6 integrated + 4 additional)
- Two IEEE1394 ports (Firewire; 1 integrated + 1 additional)
- Two Gigabit Ethernet LAN controllers
||- FSB adjustable within 100 to 750 MHz; adjustable multiplier;
- Adjustable voltage on the CPU, memory, FSB, PLL, 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);
- Additional SerialATA II/Raid controller (JMB363 chip, 2 SerialATA II links, RAID)
- 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, a port for PS/2 keyboard
- Buttons to power-on, reboot, and CMOS reset
- 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 temperatures of the CPU, system, chipset (nb+sb), three additional thermal sensors, monitoring of voltages, rotational speeds of the eight fans;
- ASUS Q-Fan 2
- ASUS AI Gear, AI Nap
||- 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 ATA-133 cable, one 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;
- a kit of clamps + a pack of rubber props;
- additional fan;
- sound card SupremeFX II;
- Q-Connectors kit;
- ASUS corporate logo sticker;
- kit of clamps, adapters, and nipples for the water-powered cooling system;
- three external thermal sensors;
- LCD Poster.
The package bundle of Striker II NSE fully meets the level of a high-end product. In particular, the user will not have to look for external thermal sensors or a kit for plugging in a water-powered cooling system in the retail: all these are in the package bundle. The only what has to be bought is the power supply adapters for SerialATA devices (if the user has an "old" PSU) and/or a plate for a couple of USB 2.0 ports (if the "old" housing is used).
Let's start with the documentation. The manual is written in a superb way; it covers all the aspects of system assembly and setup (including an illustrated manual for plugging in a water-powered cooling system).
Besides that, the board is bundled with two DVD disks. The first one contains a pack of ASUS proprietary utilities (PC Probe 2, AIBooster, Update, MyLogo 3 + a pack of boot-up images), as well as all the required drivers for Windows and Linux. Besides, there is also Norton Internet Security 2007, and Kaspersky Anti-Virus. Moreover, the disk contains the licensed version of 3DMark 06 Advanced Edition (however, we were unable to find the serial key for this benchmark). The second disk contains the super-popular strategy game "Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts.
Then, the board comes bundled with six SerialATA cables, a power supply adapter with two connectors, PATA- and FDD- cables, a cap to the rear panel (which is capable of protecting the system against the static discharge), as well as a kit of Q-Connectors.
The next items are the additional fan and a plate for two USB 2.0 ports and a Firewire port.
There are two connectors to set up an SLI array: one flexible to connect two video cards, the other one rigid - for three video cards, respectively.
Besides, there is a kit of clamps, three external thermal sensors, and an 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).
If the system is assembled in a "homebrew" way, the PC enthusiast will need rubber supports for the board (9 pcs).
Finally, the board has an audio subsystem which is made as a separate SupremeFX II board:
||CPU & Memory: