|ASUS Striker II NSE nForce 790i SLI Motherboard|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Wednesday, 28 May 2008|
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Closer Look: ASUS Striker II NSE
Over my short-lived experience of ten years in the computer industry, ASUS has never really surprised me with any of their products. I mean this in a good way of course, in the same sense that the Ferrari auto manufacturer has never seemed to surprise me. I can still remember my first motherboard from the former-Acer engineers: the Asus (they weren't ASUS yet) P2B-DS, which was a rock-solid Intel 440BX motherboard. Through the years I was touch and go with ASUS motherboards, testing their A7V with the original AMD Athlon Thunderbird processor (those were the days), and worked my way up to the ASUS P5K3. But these days aren't anything like they were ten years ago, and Moore's Law has certainly picked up the pace. Chipsets are evolving monthly now, with offerings from AMD, Intel, and NVIDIA making headlines all the time.
Unlike it was back in the golden years of computing, which for me translates into the cluster of dot-com years surrounding the pandemic fear of Y2K, these days are much less concerned with producing a solid motherboard and much more concerned with a motherboard that allows you to abuse it while remaining solid. Intel tried many years back to curtail overclocking when they locked the CPU frequency multiplier on their processors, but that hasn't done much to keep enthusiasts from tweaking their hardware to the breaking point. Benchmark Reviews has the opportunity to test one of the most capable tools for such a task: the ASUS Striker II NSE nForce 790i (NF790i) 1600MHz FSB DDR3 motherboard.
The Republic of Gamers slogan isn't just a motto, it's a promise. While I will save the performance speculation for the testing section, ASUS has made certain that RoG product lines are packed with accessories that set their product apart. The Striker II NSE motherboard is no different. It is more like a motherboard kit, since it comes with so many extras that it could be considered incomplete without them. One example is the SupremeFX II component. You may not have noticed, but without a digital coaxial or optical audio connection to your sound system, there aren't any other audio connections available to you from the motherboard. This explains why ASUS has bundled a 7.1-channel PCI-Express sound card that uses the ADI 1988B audio processor with the Striker II motherboard.
As an add-in partner for NVIDIA, ASUS has adorned the Striker II series of nForce 790i motherboard with several value-add features. They begin with a standard ribbon cable for SLI and a small PCB bridge for Triple-SLI (although it works fine for standard SLI as well). Chipset cooling is made possible by both heat-pipe evaporating techniques and an integrated 'Fusion Block' liquid cooling chamber, which is why ASUS includes the necessary barbed connection joints and hose clamps. Additional component cooling is available through custom blower fan modules, and an LCD module helps you keep on top of temperatures and voltage. Aside from support drivers on the DVD-ROM, there is also a complimentary copy of 3DMark 06 Advanced Edition and Kaspersky Anti-Virus. As an added bonus, the popular game Company of Heroes - Opposing Fronts is also enclosed.
The new LCD Poster now reveals critical POST (Power-On Self-Test) information to the externally-mountable LCD display. If a system malfunction occurs, the LCD Poster automatically detects where the device failure happened and translates the error code onto the LCD during POST. Unlike the motherboard-mounted two-digit displays I've seen on abit products, you won't need to look up a code off of an unlisted web site to find out what's wrong.
From the top view of the Striker II NSE nForce 790i DDR3 motherboard you can see that ASUS has used all high-quality conductive polymer capacitors for extended durability, improved lifespan, and enhanced thermal capacity. While I personally like the industry move towards surface mounted components such as solid capacitors, there have been times when a component has caused one to be brushed off the face of the PCB with very little effort. Perhaps ASUS should one-up the industry with heavy-duty surface soldered joints, and rid themselves of expensive and unnecessary RMA requests.
The ASUS Striker II NSE motherboard is build upon the NVIDIA nForce 790i (NF790i) chipset, and offers a 1600MHz FSB to the compatible LGA775 Intel processor. Designed for Quad- and Dual-core processors, the NSE is excellent for multi-tasking, multi-media and enthusiastic gamers who have hardware ready to utilize the 1600/1333 MHz FSB. As you might expect from a company that forges the progress of graphics, NVIDIA has made certain that this motherboard supports the latest PCIe 2.0 devices for double speed and bandwidth; a feature that enhances system performance for all items on the PCI-Express bus.
Stack Cool 2 is a fanless zero-noise cooling solution offered exclusively by ASUS. It effectively transfers heat generated by the critical components to the other side of the specially designed PCB (printed circuit board) for effective passive heat dissipation. Thankfully, motherboards haven't become so hot that active cooling (fans) are needed behind the motherboard, but I think that it won't be long before we see cool air circulated under the installed motherboard.
In the next section, Benchmark Reviews goes hands-on for an up-close look at the ASUS Striker II NSE motherboard.