The rear I/O panel is packed with a blend of standard ports and a couple unique additions – the most notable being the LCD display that can help with POST failure diagnosis. This is a welcome change to the typical POST LED displays that many motherboard manufacturers have included on boards in the past, as there is no need for a list to decode the hex output displayed. Instead, the LCD display on the Striker Extreme actually tells you what the problem is.
My only real issue with it is that it isn’t in the best position, because most PC users put their system on the floor with the rear I/O panel tucked up close to the wall in order to hide the cables. Obviously, with your PC up against the wall and the obvious sea of cables plugged in the back of it, you’re not going to be able to read the LCD display.
In addition to the LCD display, the rear I/O panel has two PS/2 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, co-axial and optical S/PDIF out ports, a Firewire port, two eSATA ports controlled by a Silicon Image disk controller and two Gigabit Ethernet sockets. Onboard audio has been moved to a separate card in order to try and remove some of the signal interference that one can sometimes experience with a truly onboard solution. The riser card uses an ADI high-definition audio codec with support for 7.1 channel surround sound.
Finally, you’ll also notice that there is a light switch – this controls the array of LEDs across the board. These are designed to help you see what you’re doing when it’s installed inside your chassis. The BIOS gives you the option to turn them on all of the time, including when the board is powered on, or to leave them at the default setting where they only come on when the switch on the rear I/O panel is activated.
In addition to what’s included on the rear I/O panel, Asus has included another two USB 2.0 ports and a single Firewire port on separate PCI brackets for plugging into the onboard pin headers. It’s a shame that these are on separate PCI brackets, as they would have easily fit on one bracket to save space.
Other notable inclusions in the bundle are the illuminated rear I/O shield, the SoundMAX array microphone, three temperature probes and a copy of Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter – a great game if you haven’t already played it.
The illuminated rear I/O shield and temperature probes are fairly self explanatory, but the array microphone deserves a bit more description. It works by only picking up sounds directly in front of the pair of small microphones (roughly 100mm apart), thus helping to remove background noise. While it’s a good idea, it’s definitely not a replacement for a decent microphone.