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Back in November, nVidia launched its latest enthusiast orientated chipset under the guise of nForce 680i SLI. It was hailed as the perfect match for a pair of GeForce 8800 GTX cards and one of Intel’s stunning Core 2 Duo processors.
Just like when the graphics and chipset manufacturer from Santa Clara, California launched nForce 590 SLI for AMD’s socket AM2 processors, some of nVidia’s partners have been selling an nForce 680i SLI reference board ‘built by nVidia’. We have had our fair share of problems with that board, but we have seen one working example in http://www.trustedreviews.com/pcs/review/2006/12/14/Alienware-Area-51-7500-featuring-Quad-Core-and-8800-SLI/p1 Alienware’s Area-51 7500 machine. Unlike a lot of nVidia partners, Asus went with several of its own designs to satisfy a number of price points.
Today, we have the Striker Extreme on the test bench – it sits right at the top of Asus’ product portfolio in the enthusiast orientated ‘Republic of Gamers’ series and it’s no surprise that this is the most expensive motherboard we’ve ever looked at. It has many unique features that you’re unlikely to find on any other line of motherboards and Asus claims that the Striker Extreme is the ultimate gaming motherboard. Before we put that claim to the test, let’s have a look at what nForce 680i SLI is all about.
In the past, nVidia’s ‘Intel Edition’ chipsets have been renowned for their poor overclocking capabilities and many enthusiasts have been crying out for a Core 2 chipset with decent overclocking features and support for the company’s esteemed SLI technology. Enthusiasts had waited for the anticipated arrival of nForce 590 SLI for Intel processors, but that suffered heavy delays with some partners deciding to cancel their plans for nForce 590 SLI Intel Edition motherboards. Instead, the company’s partners decided to focus their resources on nVidia’s next chipset – nForce 680i SLI.
Don’t be fooled in thinking that nForce 680i SLI is a completely new product though, because it inherits the nForce 590 SLI MCP and all of its features. That means you’ll get six SATA 3Gbps ports, a single IDE port, ten USB 2.0 ports, dual Gigabit Ethernet and support for HD audio. Spode did a good job of covering all of these bases in his initial http://www.trustedreviews.com/motherboards/review/2006/05/23/nForce-5-and-AM2-Revealed/p1 nForce 500-series coverage, so there’s no need for me to cover them again.
The northbridge, or SPP as nVidia likes to call it, is new though. nVidia claims that it was engineered with extreme overclocking in mind and it even has support for future Intel Core 2 processors that will use a 1,333MHz front side bus speed. The SPP features an independent memory clock adjustment, meaning you can tweak both the memory and front side bus clocks separately. It also natively supports DDR2-800 memory and up to DDR2-1200 using nVidia’s SLI memory technology.