ASUS Blitz Extreme

The Blitz Extreme represents a culmination of design and raw processing power for ASUS. The motherboard is a feature rich solution, with many cutting edge technologies including a hybrid water-capable heat-pipe cooling system.

Introduction

ASUS is among an elite group of computer component manufacturers favored and loved by enthusiast and mainstream users alike. The companyآ’s reputation for high quality and high performance parts has taken years of hard work to establish. ASUS strives to push the technological envelope through its integration of cutting edge technologies in to product design. Most recently, they have further differentiated their product lines in to several branches, including the آ“Republic of Gamersآ” product line, catering to the most hardcore enthusiasts.

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The Blitz Extreme is ASUSآ’ premier offering in their Republic of Gamers product line using the next generation of Intel chipsets. The board is designed around the Intel P35 chipset, featuring in-built support for LGA 775 type processors up to 1333MHz FSB, DDR3 DRAM modules operating in Dual Channel mode up to 1333MHz, and support for PCI Express based x16 graphics cards. The Blitz Extreme supports AMD CrossFire across 2 AMD graphics cards, with both cards operating in 8x mode. The Blitz Extreme board is feature-complete, requiring the addition of an Intel LGA 775 style processor, DDR3 memory, drives, and a PSU for a fully operational system. The following components have been integrated in to the Blitz Extremeآ’s design: 6 SATA II ports (RAID 0, 1, 0+1 and 5 capable) on the Intel ICH9R controller; 1 ATA-133 IDE port, and 2 e-SATA port (RAID 0 and 1 capable) on the JMicron controller; 12 USB 2.0 capable ports (6 in rear panel, and 3 onboard headers supporting 2 ports each); 2 IEEE 1394 capable ports (1 in rear panel, and 1 onboard header); dual Marvell Yukon GigE Ethernet ports in the rear panel; ADI 8-channel HD audio codec featuring an S/PDIF RCA component output port; integrated power, reset and CMOS reset push buttons; and PS/2 keyboard port support in the rear panel.

Main Specifications Overview:

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Detailed Specification List:

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Packaging

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As has been common with their boards recently, ASUS chose a simple black design for the box front of the Blitz Extreme board adorned with their Republic of Gamers logo. The box itself clearly shows the supported technologies and board name. ASUS included the following accessories in with the motherboard: ATA-133 and floppy ribbon cables; SATA drive and dual ended power cables; the rear panel shield; a rear bracket with both USB 2.0 and IEEE 1394 ports; audio riser card; 2 clip-on cooling fans for use with the integrated heat pipe cooler; the Q-Connector modules; cable ties; under board mounts; the LCD BIOS poster; and the normal complement of manuals and drivers discs. Note that the included driver disk is a DVD-ROM disk, not a CD-ROM disk. The Q-Connector modules allow for an easy interface for connecting in to the motherboard headers. You simply plug in your front panel jumpers in to the white connector and the USB 2.0 jumpers in to the blue connector block, and then plug both blocks in to the motherboard headers. It makes for a much easier install for those typically hard to reach header areas. The LCD BIOS poster connects to an onboard header and displays BIOS post related messages and errors, making it much easier to trouble shoot in inoperable system.

Board Layout

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The Blitz Extremeآ’s layout is superb, with no overly dense areas on the board. The board revision is silk-screened to the left of the secondary PCI-Express x16 slot, with the board serial number is listed on a green sticker just above the DIMM slots. The board used for testing was a revision 1.00G model. In another sign of the boardآ’s excellent design, ASUS used all high quality metal based solid-state capacitors.

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The area directly surrounding the CPU is fully clear of obstructions, allowing for use of even the larger heat sink and water block cooling apparatuses. (Editorآ’s note: Morry referring to it as آ“fully clearآ” is certainly subjective. Dan, our other motherboard reviewer has found instances where the heatpipes, even though mostly out of the way, can cause mounting issues with some of the bigger heatsink and fan units we have seen. So you might keep this in mind if you are going with a آ“hugeآ” HSF.) The board uses the standard 4-hole base LGA775 hold down mechanism to fix the cooler to the CPU surface. Notice that the CPU power circuitry above and to the right of the CPU socket are covered by good sized copper heat sinks, with the one above the socket acting as one of heat pipe cooling circuit. The Northbridge chipset is located to the lower left of the CPU socket, covered by a copper block. The copper cooling mechanism is a dual function unit, acting as the middle of the boardآ’s heat pipe cooling circuit, as well as its ability to act as a waterblock. You read correctly آ– you have the option of attaching inlet and outlet hoses directly to the Northbridge cooler, in order to cooling not only the Northbridge, but the entire heat pipe loop. Directly about the Northbridge are the CMOS battery, and the CHA_FAN1 and CHA_FAN4 headers. The S/PDIF output header, as well as the ATX12V power connector, PWR_FAN and LCD panel headers are located just above the CPU socket. The LCD panel header is used to connect to the external LCD BIOS poster unit, for viewing BIOS post codes and messages during system initialization. The 4-pin CPU_FAN header is located to the lower right of the socket area. The board also contains a series of LEDs for both the CPU and Northbridge chipsets, each set located to the upper left of monitored item. The LEDs roughly display the amount of voltage being supplied to the area in question, with certain illumination sequences corresponding to specific voltage levels.

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The 4 onboard DDR3 style DIMM slots are located directly below the CPU socket and Northbridge chipset, arranged in a bi-colored 2-by-2 configuration. Dual Channel memory mode is enabled with modules inserted in to like colored slots between the sets. The CHA_FAN3, header, 24-pin power connecter, and floppy port are located directly below the DIMM slots. The current DIMM voltage is displayed via a series of LEDs to the lower left of the lower set of DIMM slots.

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The boardآ’s included ICH9R Southbridge chipset is located directly below the secondary PCI-Express x16 slot. The chipset is covered by a copper heat sink in line with the boardآ’s heat pipe cooling mechanism. The CMOS reset jumper is located directly above the chipset, while the chipsetآ’s 6 SATA2 ports are located directly below it. The JMicron controlled ATA-133 IDE port is located to the right of the ICH9Rآ’s SATA 2 ports, while the CHA_FAN2, OPT_FAN2, and OPT_TEMP2 headers are to their upper left. Note that a temperature lead can be attached to the OPT_TEMP2 header for system temperature monitoring purposes. To the lower left of the chipset, a series of LEDs display the Southbridge chipset voltage. The front panel header is located in to the lower left corner of the board. A series of LEDs just above this header shows the current board frequency via a pre-defined illumination sequence. The 3 USB 2.0 headers, as well as the onboard power and reset buttons, are above the front panel header as well.

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The Blitz Extreme board comes standard with 2 PCI-Express x16 slots, 2 PCI-Express x1 slots, 2 PCI slots, and an audio riser slot. The IEEE 1394 header is along the outside edge of the secondary PCI slot, with the OPT_FAN1 and OPT_TEMP1 headers located to its upper left. Note that a temperature lead can be attached to the OPT_TEMP1 header for system temperature monitoring purposes. In between the primary and secondary PCI-Express x16 slots is the onboard ATI graphics controller, used for managing CrossFire video mode when 2 ATI type cards are inserted in to the board. The chipset is covered by a copper heat sink which is the end point for the onboard heat pipe cooling mechanism. Note that in CrossFire mode, the video cards in use only operate in x8 mode.

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The Blitz Extreme contains the following ports/devices in its rear panel: PS/2 keyboard port; 1 IEEE 1394 port; 6 USB 2.0 ports; 2 e-SATA ports; 2 Marvell Yukon GigE Ethernet ports; S/PDIF RCA component and optical output audio ports; CMOS reset button; and the LCD BIOS poster header used to connect to the external BIOS post display.

AiSuite

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ASUS chose to include their newly redesigned AiSuite Windows based monitoring utility in with the board drivers. The version of AiSuite shown is 1.02.04. The AiSuite utility supports a variety of monitoring and configuration settings including real time display of system voltages, fan speeds, temperatures, CPU FSB and speed, as well as multiple supported overclocking methods. The NOS button allows you to activate the dynamic overclocking technology, which will manipulate system voltages and FSB speeds in order to push the system to the desired overclocking level when needed.

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The AiBooster button gives access to the AiBooster interface, allowing for automated or full manual control of CPU FSB and multiplier, and system voltages.

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The Performance screen allows for selection of a preconfigured overclocking level, where the system controls the voltages and various FSB settings, while the Advanced screen allows for full manual control. Note that for all voltage, CPU FSB and multiplier manipulation, supported options can be selected from a pull down master list.

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Note that the AiBooster interface allows for selection and saving of pre-configured user profiles as well.

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The Q-Fan button within the main AiSuite window allows for operational configuration of all fan headers through preset options.