Sunday, December 24, 2006

Tech Link (Motherboard): Quad Core Bliss? : Nvidia’s nForce 680i SLI and Asus’s Striker

GamePC posted a comprehensive review of the new board from Asus. It does overclock really well, but they are not impressed with the pricing. I personally don't really like 3rd part chipset, but coming from Asus, I may have a change of heart on this one.

The Final Word
The Asus Striker Extreme is, and will remain for the foreseeable future, the premiere Socket-775 motherboard on the market. The nForce 680i chipset which is the core of this platform supports all of the high-end features which enthusiasts demand now, along with being the most future proof platform on the market, supporting technologies like 1333 MHz FSB and DDR2-1200 speeds. In addition, the board supports 16 x 16 SLI, a dedicated third PCI Express x8 slot, 6 x SATA-II/300 RAID ports, just about every high-end feature an enthusiast can ask for. This board would certainly be our favorite Core 2 platform to date if it wasn’t for some lingering BIOS issues which are hampering stability at this point.

As one would expect for a platform of this nature, the Striker Extreme is incredibly expensive – more so than any other Core 2 platform to date. Asus does, however, provide a slightly less exorbitant option in their P5N32-E SLI platform, which uses the same chipset and PCB design, but lacks features such as the diagnostic LCD screen, backit LED’s, dedicated power/reset/CMOS buttons and dual eSATA, in addition to having less chipset cooling and a more limiting BIOS. However, for the removal of these items, you can expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $100 less for this board compared to the Striker Extreme. While those who want absolutely everything, the Striker is there, but for those who have a bit more common sense, the P5N32-E SLI is an excellent 2nd choice.

We will say, no other Core 2 platform we’ve tested to date matches the high-end overclocking features of this board. We certainly appreciate Asus providing high-end overclockers the necessary tools to achieve the highest speeds without any arbitrary limitations thrown in for their protection. Also worth noting, Asus recently launched a board called the “Commando” with a similar concept and overclocking features like the Striker, but is based on the Intel P965 chipset. For those who don’t want SLI and want to use a little less power, while keeping tremendous overclockability, this might be a board worth considering.

Our benchmarks showed that if you’re only using a single graphics card (even a high-end model like the 8800 GTX), you will see virtually no performance difference between these high-end platforms. The only area we saw real performance differences were where applications required disk access, and in these cases, the Intel 975X chipset tended to perform a smidge better. We’re confident that Nvidia will ramp up their SATA performance in time, but for now, Intel’s got the edge here. We would still recommend an Intel based chipset if you’re looking for stability rather than performance.

The Striker Extreme is a dynamo of a motherboard, there’s no doubt about that. Personally, I feel that the feature-set doesn’t justify the cost, and if I was purchasing a high-end platform for a new quad-core system, I would likely opt for the less-expensive P5N32-E SLI. Once Asus gets their BIOS issues worked out and we see the price drop a tad, we feel that the Striker will rightfully take its place as the most lusted-after Core 2 platform on the market.

Source:Quad Core Bliss? : Nvidia’s nForce 680i SLI and Asus’s Striker

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