How much of a badass mother is Asus’s new motherboard? It’s so bad that it doesn’t even use numbers in its name. Yeah, there’s no R2-D2-like naming convention here. Just call it Striker Extreme, or El Extremerino if you’re not into the whole brevity thing.
The Extreme isn’t just about marketing shtick though. Asus has integrated some pretty compelling features into this nForce 680i–based Intel Core 2 motherboard that we hadn’t seen before. The best example of this is the LCD poster. Instead of providing a cryptic POST message, the Extreme features a small LCD display that gives you info in plain English.
The I/O shield features electroluminescent lighting, so you can see where your USB or PS/2 ports are. And there are even LEDs that can be safely activated when you work around your PC with it turned off. It’s scary to muck with parts while the LEDs are lit, but if you push a switch on the back of the board, it cuts power to USB, RAM, and the add-in slots, so you can remove or add components without damaging anything.
More important though, the Extreme gives you more usable slots. With two double-width GPUs installed, there are still enough slots to add a PCI soundcard and a PCI-E card. The onboard sound, which features SoundMax codecs, is even passable. There’s no EAX support, but SoundMax still sounds better than the Realtek parts.
On the performance front, the Extreme edges the two Intel-based boards by a small margin and comes up short only in FEAR, which tells us something is screwy with the nForce 680i chipset and FEAR. All three nForce-based boards we’ve looked at recently trailed their Intel counterparts in FEAR when run at low resolutions. Everywhere else, this mobo came up smelling of roses.
So what’s wrong? The price. The board lists at about $330 and was going for $100 more than list as we went to press. That’s not Asus’s fault though. You can’t blame the company for what others are willing to charge for such a damned sexy beast.
Plain-English POST display and useful LED lighting.
Price, are you serious?
Asus Striker Extreme
nVidia 680i SLI
SiSoft XI (MB/s)
Quake 4 1280x1024 (fps)
FEAR 1.07 Min/Max (fps)
PC Mark 2005 Overall
PC Mark 2005 RAM
PC Mark 2005 GPU
PC Mark 2005 HDD
Valve Particle Test
Best scores are bolded. We used a 2.93GHz Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800, 2GB of Corsair DDR2/800 Dominator RAM, a Western Digital 400GB SATA drive, a GeForce 7900GTX card, and a 1KW PC Power and Cooling PSU for all three motherboards.