Asus Striker II NSE Review (Page 2 of 12)

Page 2 - Bundle, Chipset, BIOS

Out of the box, you will receive the following:

- Asus Striker II NSE
- Asus LCD Poster
- Optional Chipset Fan
- SupremeFX II Audio Card
- Asus Q-Connectors (Case I/O, USB, Firewire; one each)
- UltraDMA 133/100/66 cable
- Floppy disk drive cable
- 3-way SLI bridge
- Standard SLI bridge
- 3x SATA cables
- 1x Molex to SATA power cable
- 2-port USB2.0 + IEEE 1394a module
- EL I/O Shield
- 3x Thermal sensor cables
- DIY Pedestal
- Fusion Block water cooling accessories
- Pack of cable ties
- User's manual
- Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts DVD
- Driver/software/utilities DVD

Above is the NVIDIA 790i SLI chipset block diagram. The NVIDIA 790i chipset supports all of the latest Intel LGA775 CPUs; but the NVIDIA design works quite differently than Intel's. While the 790i SPP contains the memory controller like native Intel chipset designs, it also provides the appropriate PCI Express lanes to the three PEG slots for 3-way SLI support -- each running with full 16 lanes each. Meanwhile, the 790i SLI MCP provides support for non-PEG PCIe slots, NVIDIA DualNet (Network teaming) via its network adapters, up to ten USB ports, and HD audio. Native support for six SATA2 devices as well as two PATA drives (Single IDE channel) is also provided. Additionally, the NVIDIA 790i SLI MCP also allows the motherboard manufacturer to implement up to five PCI slots.

RAID support is provided with standard RAID 0,1,5,0+1; as well as good ol' JBOD.

The NVIDIA 790i SLI is also ESA certified to work with compatible ESA hardware; a technology pioneered by NVIDIA to provide a unified platform for hardware monitoring.

Basically, the difference between the NSE and Extreme version of the Striker II comes down to the chipset, where the Striker II NSE uses the 790i SLI and the Extreme uses the 790i Ultra SLI. Both boards are basically the same, where the NSE is just a bit 'cheaper'.

The main BIOS page is the "Extreme Tweaker" overclocking configuration screen. In this screen, it allows you to configure the clocks of your RAM and CPU; the FSB of the CPU is shown in QDR units and not actual FSB like most Intel chipset based motherboards we've used. As we've seen previously in other NVIDIA chipset based motherboards, the memory can be set to run in Unlinked mode, where the motherboard automatically sets a divider to try to run it to as close as user defined settings as possible.

The memory configuration page. It's quite convenient that the current settings are shown on the side in addition to what you want to change the settings to.

The voltage configuration screen -- the voltages are to be selected from a list; and not by entering a value like newer motherboards. Generally, the increments are more precise than most motherboards I've used; and the range should be adequate for all users.

The selected voltage text is color coded to reflect the nature of using the selected settings. Green indicates that it's within a safe range, yellow indicates a warning, while red means that you're going nuts. The same set of color codes are reflected by physical LEDs on the motherboard itself.

The CPU configuration page.

The Spread Spectrum control page -- generally, setting all these to 'Disabled' is recommended when overclocking.

The onboard LEDs and LCD Poster can be configured in the BIOS, as shown above. The LCD Poster can be set to display up to eight characters after your computer has finished initializing. By default, it is to be used as a clock display.

The hardware monitoring section is split into several different categories; one page each for temperature, voltage, fan speed, and fan settings. I would have much preferred it to have something like voltage and temperature on the same page, but whatever that works. I don't go into the BIOS all that often to check voltages and temperatures, haha.

Generally speaking, the overclocking settings are not as easy to use as other Asus Intel chipset based motherboards we've used, they could definitely use some improvements in this section.

As usual with Asus motherboards, the Asus Striker II NSE features Asus' EZ Flash 2 BIOS update utility. There's issues with updating with BIOS up to 0305 in EZ Flash, so you'll have to use other methods to update at this point.

However, we must note that the BIOS chip on the Asus Striker II NSE as with all of Asus' current generation motherboards is actually soldered onto the motherboard, and not a socketed unit -- meaning the chip is not self-replaceable. This could lead to BIOS flash problems that would require the whole motherboard to be replaced.

Page Index
1. Introduction, Features, and Specifications
2. Bundle, Chipset, BIOS
3. A Closer Look, Board Layout
4. Test System; Benchmark: 3DMark06
5. Benchmark: PCMark05
6. Benchmark: Cinebench R10, SuperPI 1M
7. Benchmark: EVEREST CPU
8. Benchmark: EVEREST FPU
9. Benchmark: EVEREST Memory
10. Benchmark: EVEREST Memory Latency, HDTach
11. Onboard Sound (RMAA 6.06) Analyzation
12. Overclocking and Conclusion