If the EVGA nForce 790i board is a Shelby Cobra—a bristling big-block V8 with drum brakes and leaf springs—Asus’s Striker II Extreme is a high-tech, twin-turbo, all-wheel-steering Nissan Skyline GT-R R35. In other words, the Striker II Extreme is a spectacle of bells, whistles, and doohickeys. So much so that you actually won’t mind shelling out $450 for it. Heck, it’s plumbed for optional chipset water cooling, a riser board for the audio codecs, an externally mounted BIOS POST display that explains what the board is doing in plain English, and even a smattering of LED arrays—one, for example, lets you know if your overclocking efforts are “Normal,” “High,” or “Crazy.”
Overclocking was clearly a factor in the Striker II Extreme’s design. Of the four boards here, it produced the most impressive results, taking a 2.5GHz Q9300 up to 3.7GHz under stress with a 2GHz FSB. We were also able to push the EVGA’s front-side bus to 2GHz, but we had to lower the multiplier a notch to get it to run reliably. We think we could have teased out similar performance from both boards given time, but with the Striker II, overclocking was nearly effortless.
What else does $450 buy you? A backlit I/O shield, a toggle switch to reset the CMOS, and a full copy of Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts. In benchmark performance, the Striker traded top spots with the EVGA board in most tests, but oddly, it had the poorest scores of all the boards here in Quake 4 and FEAR. Still, given its higher overclocking scores and its plethora of value adds, the Striker II is worth the crazy money Asus wants for it, especially for hardcore PC tweakers.
Asus Striker II Extreme
Packed to the gills with bling; overclocker-friendly.
Inexplicably poor scores in Quake 4 and FEAR. Expensive.