|ASUS Striker II NSE nForce 790i SLI Motherboard|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Wednesday, 28 May 2008|
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nForce 790i Detailed Features
Once you've had time to allow the initial awe to wear off, the Striker II NSE motherboard looks a lot more than just a tool for gamers. ASUS also offers the Striker II Extreme, which uses hand-selected MCE chips to enable stable DDR3 up to 2000 MHz. The only real difference betwen the two ASUS Striker II motherboards is that the Extreme receives the NF790i Ultra SLI and the NSE receives a standard NF790i SLI chipset. The product specifications on the NSE state that the Striker II Extreme supports 2000 MHz DDR3, while the NSE supports up to 1600 MHz (both by overclocking). But I have some news: the NSE will do 2000 MHz too, given the right SDRAM modules.
While the ASUS Striker II series does not take advantage of NVIDIA's Hybrid SLI Technology, there are still three PCI-Express 2.0 slots for running triple- or quad-SLI. But overwhelming graphics power is just one of the features ASUS set out to support in the Striker II NSE.
NVIDIA designed the nForce 790i Ultra SLI chipset to take advantage of future 1600 MHz FSB processor technologies, so that you system can scale along with Intel processor offerings. While it might not be a consumer favorite right now, DDR3 SDRAM is a certified standard, and NVIDIA backs it with their EPP 2 configuration settings.
One value-added feature provided by ASUS is the two-phase DDR3 functionality. With the embedded two-phase DDR3, this motherboard allows users to reach higher memory frequencies and enjoy better performance. Compared with single-phase solutions, the ASUS Striker II NSE motherboard is meant to ensure longer power component lifespan and higher overclockability due to cooler temperatures and better efficiency.
By now you've no doubt realized that the Striker II is loaded with copper cooling components. Think of these items as preventative medicine more than required equipment, because the NF790i doesn't really run all that hot. Personally, I am all for the idea of over-cooling the mainboard electronics... it all leads to improved product longevity and more stable overclocks.
Speaking of overclock, the ASUS Striker II NSE utilizes a digitally monitored EPU (Energy Processing Unit) and tunes the CPU power supply with improved VR responses during heavy or light loading. This works out to two separate yet important benefits: more stable overclocks and better energy efficiency.
At the heart of the ASUS Striker II is the Fusion Block System. Fusion Block is a more than just complicated looks, like we see on other motherboards, it's actually quite functional. The 'Fusion' is a hybrid thermal design that combines the ROG´s renowned heat-pipe design with the additional ability to connect to a liquid-cooling system. Since ASUS took the entire integrated cooling solution into consideration of their layout and design, hardware enthusiasts can enjoy exceptional thermal-cooling improvement to the north bridge, south bridge, Crosslinx, and even VRM using only one connection.
NVIDIA nForce 790i motherboards feature the Enthusiast System Architecture (ESA) we first saw touted at the 2008 International CES. The ASUS Striker II NSE nForce 790i SLI motherboard provides true triple-PCIe 2.0/16x lanes with support for 3‐Way SLI and Quad SLI. The NSE (and all other NF790i products) include 60 PCI Express lanes and 10 links in addition to two PCI 1x slots. Near the header panel connections there are six SATA-II ports (two of which are JMicron JMB363 SATA-II ports), and a single ATA‐133 IDE interface.
ASUS took a new approach to the I/O panel on the Striker II NSE motherboard. Two USB ports are housed beside a single PS/2 keyboard port, with digital coaxial and optical connections directly below. There's a clear CMOS button, for those of use with giant man-hands who don't want to fuss with the cramped interior. A Firewire IEEE-1324 port and two additional eSATA ports rest directly above 4 USB and two Gigabit Ethernet ports.
In our next section, Benchmark Reviews discusses the BIOS and overclocking strategy for the ASUS Striker II NSE nForce 790i (NF790i) 1600MHz FSB motherboard.