NVIDIA introduced the 790i product line just a few short weeks ago and ASUS is one of the first on the scene with their product offering. ASUS is taking a distinct twist on things, this time with their brand new 790i Ultra board, the ASUS Striker II Extreme. Truth be told, we had this board in our possession before the 790i launch, but decided to give it the full guide treatment during testing. Interestingly enough, we were just getting comfortable with the idea of crowning Intel's X48 the winner for the next generation of desktop chipsets when NVIDIA managed to reappear out of nowhere with their 790i (Ultra) MCP in tow.

Our first impressions, stemming from our time with an EVGA NVIDIA nForce 790i Ultra SLI motherboard, left us feeling as if Intel had some serious competition on their hands. We think it safe to say that for the first time in a long time NVIDIA is back in the enthusiast game, and in one fell swoop the 790i Ultra has been able to gobble up nearly every performance lead the X48 held and then some. This gives us hope for competition at the high-end for motherboards based on something other than the Intel X38 and X48.

One could argue up until the 790i release that the ability to run SLI - the technology that allows multi-GPU 3D graphics acceleration using two or more NVIDIA video cards installed in a single system - was the one and only reason for purchasing an NVIDIA-based motherboard. Earlier offerings based on NVIDIA chipsets, like the 680i and the 780i that followed, were expensive, ran hotter, consumed more power, and were generally considered second-rate choices when it came to overclocking Intel CPUs, especially the quad-cores. The boards that did make it to retail certainly experienced their fair share of problems - users either loved them or hated them, there was no middle ground. Fierce brand loyalties often had more to do with purchasing decisions than anything else did.


The ASUS Striker II Extreme is certainly one of the more attractive boards we have seen in awhile, but how does it perform? You'll find out soon enough.

From what we have seen, 790i has the ability to change all of this in the high-end market. The decision to design around DDR3 technology breathes new life into NVIDIA's once-aging product line, and the move to incorporate a native, on-die PCI Express 2.0 bus controller within the 790i SPP has added an attraction that 780i simply could not provide. CPU overclocking is also much improved with 790i claiming full compatibility right out of the box with Intel's newest 45nm processors, including official FSB 1600 support for desktop processors like the Core 2 Extreme QX9770. Regarding just how overclockable the chipset proved to be - we will let our results speak for themselves.

It's getting expensive…
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  • Rodriguez - Friday, June 20, 2008 - link

    Can anyone here indicate how to reach FSB 500 (2000) with Striker II Extreme & QX9770 C1, most I can get is 1900FSB.

    I've seen Kris reach this speed in this article & was eager to get to this speed as soon as I received my new CPU, but it has been more difficult than I thought, I was sure that if with my previous Q6600 G0 y could easily get 1900/1950FSB, now with QX9770 would be peanuts. The main reason I bought this CPU was to run 2000FSB linked & synced with Ballistix 2000 SLI.

    Please give all detailed BIOS setup options for this CPU if possible

    Nobody in Asus forum using this setup has been able to reach 2000FSB, but I have seen a few reviews (like Anandtech's) & posts showing it's possible

    By the way, memory has been tested unlinked at 2000Mhz 9-8-8-24, 1.9v P1/P2 Enabled & works great

    System:

    QX9770 rev. C1 3.2Ghz (watercooled)
    Asus Striker II Extreme BIOS 801, ver 1.02G (watercooled)
    PC Power & Cooling Turbo Cool 1200W
    4 x 1GB Crucial Ballistix PC16000 SLI EPP2 , 2000Mhz 1800 8-7-7-24- 1T - 1.9v
    SLI Leadtek PX8800 Ultra Leviathan (factory watercooled)
    SLI Leadtek PX8800 Ultra
    Asus Physx card (removed)
    Dlink DWA556 PCIx Xtreme N Wireless card
    2x WD Raptor 150GB Raid 0 300GB
    1x Seagate 400GB Sata
    X-Fi Platinum Fatal1ty Champion
    24' Benq FP241VW Gamer
    Innovatek XXD Rev 2 + G-Flow water cooling
    CoolerMaster Cosmos 1000 case
    Saitek X52 Flight system
    TrackIR 4 + Trackclip Pro
    Windows Vista Home Premium 32bit
    Reply
  • parkerdw - Tuesday, June 03, 2008 - link

    I used the same motherboard and cpu, but I liquid cooled it using the gigantic Kandalf Liquid Cooled case. My memory is different as well since I use 4 GB of Patriot Viper memory (2 x 2GB). Other than the memory settings in the BIOS, I set everything to match this guide. My system runs at 4.0Ghz and the cpu runs at no more than 88 degrees fahrenheit even while playing something like Crysis with everything set to Very High. Crysis runs between 35 and 60 fps on Very High on my system using a single 9800 GX2 at 1280 x 720. It's a HTPC connected to my older 56 inch DLP set via DVI, so I can't go any higher than that, but I fully expect to run great at 1080p when I get my new large screen set later this year. I don't have my bios settings in front of me, but setting everything to Auto for the memory works PERECTLY at 4.0 ghz. Pretty cool. I think it's running at 8,8,18 or so and 1.9v.

    Also, Asus just released a patch to the bios that fixes the data corruption issue mentioned in this artcle. Released on 5/29/08 I think.
    Reply
  • hardist - Monday, April 21, 2008 - link

    The water block seems to have leaking issues , I am wondering why it was not covered in this review since it is a major feature of this board ...... Reply
  • Heatlesssun - Sunday, April 20, 2008 - link

    This is a sweet motherbaord! Now I've not overclocked the FSB, just bumped up the multiplier of my QX9650 from the default of 9.5 to 10, and I'm not running RAID. We shall see but I feel good. To get this up and running with Vista x64 in a day so smoothly was pretty good I thought. Reply
  • electricx - Tuesday, April 15, 2008 - link

    So this board is going for the aforementioned amount on newegg... The EVGA and the XFX 790i boards are going for $350... The ROG name carries that much of a premium? I mean, come on?! I'm sure ASUS will fix this data corruption issue and you typically do pay more for the privilege(?) of being a beta tester for high end hardware but $1000 over competing products seems a bit much... The EVGA board is looking to be a clear winner here to me. Time will tell I suppose. Reply
  • FightingEagle - Friday, April 18, 2008 - link

    After the second EVGA 790i and full of bugs I just sent it back. I was interested in the ASUS X48 and the 790i, but the 790i over $400 is hard to grasp. EVGA has good looking heat sink but not very good at cooling. I may wait for all the bugs to leave but as now im sitting on $320 dollars worth of DDR3 and a E8400. Reply
  • electricx - Tuesday, April 15, 2008 - link

    Edit: That should have been $100 not $1000 Reply
  • UK1Man - Sunday, April 13, 2008 - link

    Help please!!
    I'm currently in the process of building a computer but can only afford to buy a couple of parts a month, I have already purchased some DDR2 (1066) memory for an FXF 780 motherboard (not yet purchased) but am now considering the Asus striker II extreme.
    Will my DDR 2 memory work with this?
    Reply
  • seamusmc - Monday, April 14, 2008 - link

    This board/chipset, 790i, only supports DDR3. Reply
  • ianken - Saturday, April 12, 2008 - link

    Can it go into S3 suspend and come back out and have the NICs still work? The Striker 2 Formula cannot.

    Can the SATA controller handle hot swap? The Stiker 2 Formula and the previous 680i boards could not. The 680i bios even had an esata setting that did NOTHING.

    The latest crop of Asus boards, particularly the NV chipset rigs, have been pretty buggy and basic functionality has been borked.

    But hey, who cares of the basics don't work right? it's got a water block for X-TREME OVERCLOXORS! YO! VTEC!
    Reply

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