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A couple of months ago we reviewed the Asus Striker II Extreme. Despite the high price we were very impressed by the 790i Ultra SLI chipset as it crams in just about every feature you could wish for and then some.
Good though it was, with the Striker II NSE, Asus has done the sensible thing and come up with a way for you to save a modest amount of money but not lose too much in the way of features. It's unclear what NSE stands for (unless it's ‘Not exStreme Edition') but we do know that the difference between the Extreme and the NSE comes down to the chipset. The Extreme uses the nForce 790i Ultra SLI chipset while the NSE uses the nForce 790i SLI. The missing Ultra part doesn't make a whole heap of difference to the key features as the NSE comes with three graphics slots that support the latest Core 2 Penryn processors with Tri-SLI.
What does set the two apart is the NSE strikes out on its own path when it comes to memory support. Both the Extreme and NSE have four DDR3 slots and officially support memory up to 1,333MHz but the 790i Ultra SLI adds speeds of 1,600MHz, 1,800MHz and 2,000MHz for when you're overclocking. By contrast the NSE ‘only' supports speeds up to 1,600MHz. That ‘only' is deliberately placed in inverted commas because the lack of support for 1,800MHz and 2,000MHz memory is of little consequence to all but the most extreme of overclockers and dropping it is well worth a saving of £25.
The layout of the NSE is identical to the Extreme which is to say that it is very good. The Fusion cooling system looks great, is securely fixed to the chipset and power regulation hardware and gives you plenty of options for hooking up the CPU and system coolers of your choice.
There are also three PCI Express graphics slots that support Tri-SLI, though it's not a perfect set-up as two of the slots have 16 lanes of PCI Express Gen 2.0 while the third slot is original PCI Express. Presumably you're considering an Nvidia chipset because you want to run SLI - if you plan on using a single graphics card then an Intel P35, P45 or X48 will get you the same performance and features for less cost in both power consumption and initial outlay.
Back to the board at hand, other neat features include the external LCD Poster, the Reset button on the I/O panel, the flick switch to clear the BIOS and a PCI Express x1 slot above the top graphics card that accommodates an audio riser card. You can read about those features - and more - on the original Striker II Extreme review.
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