Articles: Mainboards

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Now that we have finished our theoretical discussion of the ASUS Striker Extreme features, it is high time we moved on to the practical experiments. For our tests we assembled a system using our board and the Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800 processor. The test platform also included 2GB of Corsair TWIN2X2048-8500C5D DDR2 SDRAM, PowerColor X1900 XTX 512MB graphics card and Western Digital Raptor WD1500AHFD HDD. Since Nvidia nForce 680i SLI chipset allows clocking the memory pseudo-synchronously, the DDR2 SDRAM in our test session worked at 800MHz or slightly lower frequency with 4-4-4-12-1T timings. The CPU was cooled down with Zalman CNPS-9500LED cooler, and the chipset North Bridge heatsink was topped with the centrifugal fan included with the mainboard. We tested the system operational stability during overclocking with the ORTHOS utility based on Prime95 code.

The mainboard BIOS Setup looks pretty promising from the overclocking standpoint and at the same time it is not too complicated. Broad range of adjustable voltage settings should theoretically allow achieving pretty high results. In reality, the mainboard allows easily raising the bus frequency up to 400MHz without any special increase of the 1.2 HT Voltage, NB Core Voltage, SB Core Voltage and CPU VTT Voltage settings. Further overclocking requires a more sophisticated approach. According to our observations, most influence on the stable mainboard functioning at higher FSB frequencies is imposed by NB Core Voltage and CPU VTT Voltage parameters. However, you should be careful not to raise them too high: the overclocking potential improves significantly even when these parameters get slightly modified. For example, our maximum result was achieved with the following settings:

This is a photo of the System Monitoring BIOS Setup page,
because the actual voltages set by the board are
significantly different from the user selected values.

But before we announce the actual result I would like to confess that it was obtained not quite honestly. Therefore it would be unfair to make any promising claims about the superb overclocking potential of ASUS Striker Extreme mainboard. The thing is that we hit the maximum FSB frequency of 449MHz pretty soon on our ASUS Striker Extreme mainboard sample. This result looked pretty modest especially against the background of some users’ proud statements concerning their samples. However, having studied the threads in numerous forums and reviews on other websites we arrived at the conclusion that different ASUS Striker Extreme units may show dramatically different results during overclocking. Some Striker Extreme owners cannot push the FSB frequency even beyond 430MHz, while other lucky fellows manage to cross the 500MHz bar without any difficulty. Having collected convincing evidence that our failure has nothing to do with lack of experience or skill, we decided to turn to ASUS for explanations.

The response cam in promptly: we got a replacement sample. The second board unit appeared better than the first one and allowed raising the FSB frequency a little higher. However, this seems to be a sad rather than happy ending. It appears that we cannot make any definite conclusions about the overclocking potential of this mainboard. And overclockers should definitely pin no hopes on the possibility of a replacement, like us.

So, the situation with overclocking on ASUS Striker Extreme is somewhat similar to that with SATA controller on the reference Nvidia nForce 680i SLI based mainboards. Some users experience no issues with these mainboards and they work just fine, and the others grieve for the loss of valuable data. So, the purchase of a mainboard on the new Nvidia chipset turns into some kind of a lottery, with system stability and overclockability at stake. I sincerely hope that this will no longer be the case in the nearest future.

As for the results obtained on the second mainboard we received, they were somewhat weird. At first Striker Extreme pleased us with its stable work at 498MHz FSB speed. However after a few days it started to fail the stability tests, so we had to drop the FSB frequency down a little bit. So, the final result of our overclocking experiment is 490MHz FSB, and the mainboard keeps working just fine at this speed.

However, there is not that much practical value behind this number. We can have an eternal argument whether this is high speed or not, but we shouldn’t disregard another issue with overclocking on ASUS Striker Extreme. In case the FSB frequency exceeds 420MHz, it raises significantly the internal latencies of the integrated memory controller, which leads to big performance drop.

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