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ASUS Striker Extreme & P5N32-E SLi

Striker Extreme – Packaging & Accessories

First off, a closer look at the Striker Extreme. Being pretty much one of the
the most expensive motherboards you can buy now, it comes in a large box with
not one, but two clear plastic windows and even a flip open cover!

Adornments aside however, the motherboard itself comes in hard plastic
packaging instead of the usual anti-static bag, which should provide added
protection should a mishap somehow occur during transportation. The accessories
come in no less than a decorated "Accessory Box".

ASUS seems to have thrown in everything except the kitchen sink – they even
included a Republic of Gamers keyring.

Complete accessory list:

SLI bridge
Array microphone
Optional fan
Q-Connector kit
1x IDE cable
1x FDD cable
6x SATA cables
3x Molex > SATA power cables
2-port USB 2.0 rear bracket
Firewire rear bracket
EL rear I/O shield
3x Thermal probes
7x Cable Ties
Republic of Gamers keyring
User Guide
Driver & Software DVD
ASUS Update
ASUS AI Booster
Futuremark 3DMark06 Advanced Edition
Kaspersky Anti-Virus
Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter (full version)

A pretty much complete package on the software front as well – 3DMark06
Advanced, GRAW and even anti-virus software.

Striker Extreme – Special Features

With a board as expensive as this one comes many goodies (we hope). Here we will
take a look at the special features of the Striker Extreme:


8-Phase EL-Capless Power Design & 100% Solid Capacitors

ASUS has used a 8-phase capacitor-less power design on the Striker, which
should keep the CPU voltage stable especially when overclocking at higher
voltages. Analog PWMs are still to be found here, unlike some other
manufacturers who have switched to digital PWMs.

In the middle of the CPU socket we also found all the capacitor pads fill in
– a sure sign of quality that should also improve the overclockability of the
board. There are no other empty component locations around the CPU area either,
and hardly any empty capacitor pads around the whole motherboard.

Only solid capacitors are used on the Striker Extreme, and seeing that they
are manufactured by Fujitsu, there should be no quality concerns whatsoever.

Heatpipe Cooling

ASUS seems to have gone one up on the other manufacturers by including an extra
complex heatpipe cooling solution on the Striker. The high temperatures at which
nForce chipsets are known to run at may explain such a setup, which has a grand
total of four heatpipes literally making roundabouts.

During testing we noticed that the heatsinks (all of them) became sizzling
hot to the touch within minutes of starting up. The fact that the heatpipe setup
is already more complex than usual just proves how hot the 680i chipset runs,
and you may therefore want to add a couple of fans when overclocking.

One peculiarity here is the strangely-shaped northbridge heatsink – It is
puzzling why ASUS covered half of the northbridge with the usual array of thin
fins and the remaining portion with a upward-sloping design that seems to serve
no practical purpose.

The Southbridge is adorned with a Republic of Gamers sticker, but otherwise
it is just a chunk of copper with a heatpipe leading out.

SupremeFX Audio Card

ASUS has been abandoning the crab (Realtek) lately on its higher end boards
in favour of Analog Devices’ AD1988B. The chip and associated components have
all been moved onto the SupremeFX card, which plugs into a special expansion
slot. An array microphone, which is evidently just a stereo microphone, is also
bundled with the motherboard, and claims to provide better audio recording


LCD Poster

The LCD Poster is a small LCD located on the rear I/O panel which displays
messages during POST. In the event of an error during POST it will display the
process at which the POST could not continue (e.g. CPU INIT, CHIP INIT), thus
helping to diagnose the problem. It displays the time when in standby or after
successful bootup, and is also backlighted blue. An option in BIOS allows the
backlight to be switched off when the LCD Poster is not in use (i.e. when not

Being located at the rear, the LCD Poster is rather difficult to look at
however; Perhaps placing it on the motherboard itself or even providing a front
drive bay panel (with other functions) would be a better idea, and something I
would expect from a board of this price.

EL Rear I/O Panel

Ever had trouble plugging in connectors into the back of your computer in the
dark? ASUS has come up with a solution to this in the way of a lighted rear I/O
panel. Unlike normal I/O panels which are essentially just pieces of metal, this
one looks different right from the start.

Setup is very simple, just plug the connector coming out of the panel into a
small 2-pin connector at the top-left hand corner of the motherboard, and voila!

While it looks very nice, bright, shiny and all, chances are it’s not going to
be coming into use very often, especially with front USB and Firewire ports
available on most casings. Still, a nice innovation from ASUS here.


Onboard LEDs

The Striker Extreme is outfitted with yet more lights, this time in the way
of LEDs mounted on the board next to connectors (fan connectors, USB headers,
SATA & IDE ports etcetera). Apparently these should help you should you decide
to modify your rig in darkness. The lights can be turned on by a switch located
at the rear I/O panel when the system is not powered on. As with the LCD Poster,
the switch could have been better positioned on the motherboard itself.

Unfortunately the LEDs don’t do a very good job of this for the larger
connectors, such as the SATA and IDE ports. The 2 LEDs placed at both side of
the group of SATA ports hardly provide sufficient illumination for the ports at
the side, and leave the ports in the middle in darkness.

That said, we’d rather just turn on the room lights, and we believe most other
users would do so as well. The saving grace of this otherwise pretty but useless
feature is that it can be forced in the BIOS to remain on after boot up, which
can add to the bling-bling in your setup if blue happens to be your colour.


Q-Connector Kit

The Q-Connector kit is intended to save users’ the trouble of fumbling with
the tiny front panel connectors while attempting to plug them into the front
panel header found at the bottom right corner of the motherboard. Instead, users
plug the connectors into a little block that then plugs into the motherboard.

This is an innovative idea from ASUS, and definitely saves the user much
trouble. Good job by ASUS here.


Onboard Switches

Power and Reset switches mounted on the motherboard for convenient use in a
caseless testing setup are nothing new by now, but ASUS has gone one step
further by adding a Reset CMOS button and making the switches look nicer than
the usual plain ones, if you care about looks. The switches are even lighted up
so long as power is supplied to the motherboard, even in standby mode.

Note the removable BIOS chip in the picture.

The Reset CMOS button has to be pressed twice, to close the circuit and then
open it again (preferably with a couple of seconds interval to ensure the BIOS
clears properly, though the manual doesn’t seem to mention this?). This is
without a question much more convenient than playing around with (and then
losing) jumpers. Overclockers should find this very useful, though ASUS’ CPU
Parameter Recall that powers on with failsafe settings in the event of a boot
failure meant that we didn’t have to touch this as often as we thought we might.

The additional features of the Striker Extreme seem to be something of a mixed
bag – while most are genuine innovations from ASUS, some are nice-looking but
relatively pointless. Overall the current set of extras seem good enough
however, and hopefully we will see even better and more innovative ideas the
next time round.

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