In the main the testing went well although we hit a snag along the way. The Striker refused to POST until the DDR2 memory was installed in single channel mode instead of dual channel. The fault was spelled out by the LCD Poster which stuck at ‘Mem check' until we moved the memory around, despite trying a total of five models of memory in dual channel mode. There was a BIOS update to perform which went smoothly but it didn't fix the issue with the memory and that has to be cause for complaint.
Other than that the Asus performed well and the test results were surprisingly good considering the memory was performing below par. As there was clearly a problem we left the memory speed on default setting and didn't waste time bumping up the voltage to squeeze out some extra speed as there is clearly a more fundamental issue to address.
Starting with a Core 2 Extreme QX9650 we ran at the stock speed of 3.00GHz on a true 333MHz front side bus with an 8800 GT graphics card. The use of a quad core CPU threw up another unexpected result, in that the board initially refused to recognise two of the cores and it took a fair amount of rummaging around in the CPU settings of the BIOS to enable all four.
After that we cranked up the processor speed to 3.50GHz by raising the multiplier from 9x to 10x and also raising the front side bus to 350MHz. It was a mild overclock that worked flawlessly but the main point of interest was the motherboard cooling. We were using a quiet Zalman cooler on the CPU with no fans above the chipset coolers and the Northbridge end of things remained at a steady 45 degrees while the Southbridge was hotter at 60 degrees and it continued to behave with a second 8800 GT in SLI.
The Nvidia drivers suggested that we could use SLI without installing a hardware bridge between the two GT cards but there was a definite increase in performance when the bridge was installed.
Finally we ran a Core 2 Extreme QX9770 on a 400MHz front side bus and the Asus performed perfectly however it required a fan blowing on the chipset when we overclocked from 3.20GHz to 3.60GHz.
The Asus Striker II Formula is on sale at some outlets for a horribly steep £229 and that's far too expensive but shop around and you'll find it for £185 which is starting to look tempting. And yes, we are confident that Asus will fix the annoying problem with dual channel memory.