Once I’d replaced the power supply the Asus started up but the BIOS was corrupted and the machine wouldn’t POST which led me to investigate BIOS recovery. This is the sort of detail you only find out when the muck truly hits the fan and in the case of the Extreme it was surprisingly simple. You don’t need a bootable DOS floppy but instead you simply copy a BIOS file and the Award flashing utility on to a USB key and then start the system. The motherboard found the key and software and loaded the BIOS without any trouble and a few moments later the system was up and running. I re-ran a few tests and concluded that BIOS 0507 didn’t offer any significant improvement over 0504.
I reckon there are three things you might take away from that little tale.
First and most obviously, it’s always a good idea to plug expensive DDR3 memory in properly. Second, I might have suffered an appalling piece of bad luck but it seems to me that the Extreme killed my 850W Enermax Galaxy. Third, someone at Asus has worked on BIOS recovery and they have done a damn fine job.
Now ask yourself this. Did they work on BIOS recovery because Asus is a thorough company that crosses the I’s and dots the T’s or did someone at Asus have a hunch that fools like me would need to have their coals hauled out of the fire.
No, I don’t know either.
The performance is good and matches Intel’s X38 but the BIOS is both complex and detailed and you need to pump a surprising amount of juice into the components to overclock the hardware.
Overclocking the QX9770 was easy enough, however the Asus required a couple of fans blowing across the memory and chipset to prevent the temperature climbing above 60 degrees. At 70 degrees the system restarts. The reference design for 790i includes an active cooler and it seems that Asus has been ambitious to opt for passive cooling.
Naturally the Extreme will appeal to anyone who is considering SLI or Tri-SLI but I find myself torn on this point as a single GeForce 8800 GTX delivers all the performance that I need. If you have a 30 inch Dell TFT and want to play Crysis on High Quality then you will doubtless disagree.
The Striker II Extreme is a magnificent motherboard that delivers features and performance in equal measure. On the downside the price is absurdly high and with nVidia’s unfortunate history with chipset reliability you’d be wise to wait a while to see whether 790i Ultra SLI suffers any problems.