What's new
  • Please do not post any links until you have 3 posts as they will automatically be rejected to prevent SPAM. Many words are also blocked due to being used in SPAM Messages. Thanks!

ASUS RoG ARES 4GB Review

Status
Not open for further replies.

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,861
Location
Montreal
Not that long ago, ASUS released a card which was named after the Roman God of War: Mars. It took the idea of the high performance GTX 295 to the next level by decking it out with a pair of GTX 285 cores in order to make what was simply the fastest graphics card on the planet. Unfortunately, at the time NVIDIA’s SLI drivers left much to be desired and considering its limited run of only 1000 units, the Mars never ended up being a talked-about card. Well, times have changed and multi card scaling has drastically improved so ASUS is once again trying their hand at a limited edition, extreme performance graphics card but this time using ATI cores as their inspiration.

Continuing in the god of war tradition, ASUS is now releasing a graphics card within their Republic of Gamers series they are calling the ARES; a true beast which holds a pair of HD 5870 reference-clocked cores and 4GB of GDDR5 memory. This is actually quite a step up from a standard HD 5970 that uses highly underclocked Cypress cores and “only” 2GB worth of memory. Unlike when the MARS was released, the ARES actually has some competition in the form of XFX’s HD 5970 Eyefinity Black Edition and Sapphire’s HD 5970 4GB Toxic. All three cards will likely only appeal to the elite few who can afford the unbelievably high price of admission.

Considering the ARES will supposedly only have a production run of about 1000 cards, ASUS spared no expense when designing and outfitting it. The heatsink is designed with 99.9% pure copper but at the same time it is completely removable in only a few steps. ASUS has also gone to great lengths to talk about this über card’s overclocking potential and has even given users the ability to adjust its voltages to their heart’s content. There are also additional features backed into the ARES’ frame but we will get to those throughout the course of this review.

We can talk all we want about the potential of ASUS’ new flagship but when push comes to shove, consumers will likely ask one single question: how much does this all cost? Well folks, hold onto your hats because it’s time for a bit of sticker shock. When the butcher’s bill is tallied, you’ll be out $1,200 USD for a single ARES. That’s about $200 more than a pair of GTX 480 cards or equal to the price of three…yes THREE regular HD 5870 cards. Nonetheless, most of the larger retailers should have limited supplies of the ARES next week. As they say: exclusivity usually has a high price. But is this card indeed worth 1200 bones? Let’s find out.

 
Last edited by a moderator:

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,861
Location
Montreal
The Story Behind the ARES

The Story Behind the ARES


We don’t normally go into the back stories surrounding the various high-end cards on the market but the one told by ASUS about the ARES is actually quite interesting. Naturally, it all started with the need to bring one of the fastest graphics cards on the planet to market even though most people chalked the preliminary designs up to nothing but flights of fancy.


Believe it or not, the inspiration behind the RoG ARES stems from a card that was released several generations ago: a custom dual 7800GT board which packed 512MB of GDDR3. Dubbed the Extreme N7800GT Dual, this card was introduced back when SLI was still in its infancy but it represented a stepping stone for most of ASUS’ custom dual GPU cards. Shortly thereafter the industry saw a renaissance of dual GPU products ranging from NVIDIA’s 7950GX2, 9800GX2 and GTX 295 to ATI’s own 3870X2, 3850X2, 4870X2 and finally the current HD 5970. However, the next stop on ASUS’ tour was back into the NVIDIA realm.


The ASUS GTX 295 MARS wasn’t released all that long ago and despite its eye-wateringly high price, its run of 1000 units sold out in a matter of days. Its two GTX 285 cores allowed it to retain the title of the fastest graphics card in the world for some time even though initial reviews were less than positive. It’s attention towards cutting edge design won it many fans and it also laid the foundation for the ARES.


Looking carefully at their previous custom designs, ASUS decided to go with something roughly akin to that original dual 7800GT card since its axial fan design was found to have several redeeming airflow qualities. However, since a pair of HD 5870 cores sported a TDP far above and beyond that of the older 7800GT, changes naturally had to be made. The first step was to add a central 100mm high flow fan followed by a pair of massive copper heatsinks. This not only allows for adequate cooling at stock speeds but also keeps temperatures in check if the card is overclocked.


The final step (other than actually designing a tailored PCB just for this card) was to finalize the design of the heatsink shroud in order to direct airflow while at the same time being true to the RoG series the ARES finds itself in. At first glance this may seem a bit extreme to any outsider looking in but we’ll say right now that this design really does work.

<object width="640" height="385"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/3rsIxL75_Lg&hl=en_US&fs=1?rel=0&color1=0x3a3a3a&color2=0x999999"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/3rsIxL75_Lg&hl=en_US&fs=1?rel=0&color1=0x3a3a3a&color2=0x999999" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="640" height="385"></embed></object>​
 
Last edited:

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,861
Location
Montreal
Specifications / Packaging & Accessories

Specifications




Packaging & Accessories



Usually it’s said that a picture is worth a thousand words but unfortunately no image of the ARES’ box could possibly convey its enormous size. The largest GPU box we had lying around was the one used for the Sapphire HD 5970 and the RoG ARES’ one simply dwarfs it. Expect some serious shipping charges when you order this card.


Within the gargantuan box lies a James Bond-style full sized briefcase that makes liberal use of metal on all of its edges for an extra touch of protection. There is also a small pamphlet attached to the briefcase’s handle which tells the design story behind the ARES. Seriously, ASUS spared no expense here.


Once you stop marveling at the briefcase, you’ll eventually get around to opening the thing. Within it you will find an upper panel extolling the benefits of your new card along with a massive foam insert which protects the card and all of the included accessories.


From left to right, ASUS gives you a gaming mouse, an aluminum case badge, a single HDMI to DVI adaptor, two 6-pin to 8-pin power adaptors and a lone Crossfire bridge. Each part is nestled within its own section of the foam packaging in order to provide the best possible protection.


The mouse included is ASUS’ excellent GX800 gaming mouse that features a 3200dpi sensor and a Republic of Gamers branding. When bought alone, the GX800 goes for around $60 USD but we have to wonder how many who buy this card will actually use the mouse. If you can afford a $1200 ARES, you’ll probably already be packing one hell of a gaming mouse that will put the included one to shame.

One thing we would have liked to have seen is an Active DisplayPort Adaptor instead of a gaming mouse. Not only would this allow more people to realize their Eyefinity-fueled dreams but they could also do so without resorting to DisplayPort-equipped monitors.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,861
Location
Montreal
A Closer Look at the ASUS ARES

A Closer Look at the ASUS ARES



If it’s at all possible, the ARES has done what very few other high-end cards have accomplished: it actually has the LOOK of an expensive product. Not only that but this thing weighs in at a massive 4.12 pounds which would make any PCB flex in protest. Luckily, ASUS has designed the card in such a way that the front and rear heatsinks act not only to lower temperatures but also to reinforce the PCB.


The top of the card features an absolutely massive shroud that hearkens back to the aforementioned Extreme N7800GT Dual and takes the original design of the next level. It looks simply stunning and unlike other plastic shrouds we have seen all too often in the past, this one is milled out of a single piece of aluminum and can actually act as a secondary heatsink if needed. By removing four screws on either side it can also be taken off if you want to clean out the copper fins within each individual heatsink.


The back of the card features a full-length aluminum heatsink that covers the rear memory modules and disperses their heat. ASUS has also provided spring-loaded retention screws for the main heatsink assembly which should lead to easy removal if you choose to go the water cooling route. Speaking of which, we should also mention the screw offset around each of the cores is identical to that of a standard HD 5870 card.


Aside from taking note of the massive chunks of copper and anodized aluminum poking out of every corner, there are a number of other interesting features around the periphery of the ARES. To begin with, it seems ASUS went a bit overboard when it came to choosing power connectors for their flagship product: two 8-pin connectors and a single 6-pin along with the PCI-E 2.0 slot mean the ARES could theoretically pull 525W.

Believe it or not, by way of a single Crossfire connector it is also possible to run a pair of these cards together which should be great news for those of you with an extra $2600 lying around collecting dust.
 
Last edited:

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,861
Location
Montreal
A Closer Look at the ASUS ARES pg.2

A Closer Look at the ASUS ARES pg.2



While the PCB of ASUS’ new monster card is shorter than the one found on a reference HD 5970, the ARES’ heatsink shroud means it’s actually about the same length. In addition, the ARES is a whopping 5” wide making it one of the
“fattest” cards ever created.


The connectors and the backplate in general is basic with a standard grille for heat exhaust as well as DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort connectors. In the picture above you can also see how far the PCB extends past the usual borders of the backplate.


ASUS has chosen an interesting design for the two 99.9% pure copper heatsinks which grace the RV870XT cores. Instead of using open-topped fin arrays, these are actually closed so the airflow from the 100mm fan is directed outwards from a central point towards either the front or the back of the ARES. The heatpipes meanwhile are simply huge 8mm affairs.


Everywhere you look on this card, there are heatsinks. Some of them are copper like the ones directly below the fan while others (some of which run the entire length of the PCB) are made of thick aluminum. It really is an impressive sight to see.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,861
Location
Montreal
Test System & Setup

Test System & Setup

Processor: Intel Core i7 920(ES) @ 4.0Ghz (Turbo Mode Enabled)
Memory: Corsair 3x2GB Dominator DDR3 1600Mhz
Motherboard: Gigabyte EX58-UD5
Cooling: CoolIT Boreas mTEC + Scythe Fan Controller (Off for Power Consuption tests)
Disk Drive: Pioneer DVD Writer
Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar Black 640GB
Power Supply: Corsair HX1000W
Monitor: Samsung 305T 30” widescreen LCD
OS: Windows 7 Ultimate N x64 SP1


Graphics Cards:

ASUS ARES 4GB
Sapphire HD 5970
2x Sapphire HD 5870
2x XFX HD 5850
2x GTX 480 (reference)
2x GTX 470 (reference)


Drivers:

ATI 10.6 WHQL
NVIDIA 257.21 WHQL


Applications Used:

Aliens Versus Predator
Battlefield: Bad Company 2
DiRT 2
Far Cry 2
Just Cause 2
Metro 2033
Unigine: Heaven


*Notes:

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT OUR BENCHMARKING PROCESS PLEASE SEE THIS ARTICLE

- All games tested have been patched to their latest version

- The OS has had all the latest hotfixes and updates installed

- All scores you see are the averages after 3 benchmark runs

All game-specific methodologies are explained above the graphs for each game

All IQ settings were adjusted in-game
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,861
Location
Montreal
Aliens Versus Predator (DX11)

Aliens Versus Predator (DX11)


When benchmarking Aliens Versus Predator, we played through the whole game in order to find a section which represents a “worst case” scenario. We finally decided to include “The Refinery” level which includes a large open space and several visual features that really tax a GPU. For this run-through, we start from within the first tunnel, make our way over the bridge on the right (blowing up several propane tanks in the process), head back over the bridge and finally climb the tower until the first run-in with an Alien. In total, the time spent is about four minutes per run. Framerates are recorded with FRAPS.


1920 x 1200





2560 x 1600



 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,861
Location
Montreal
BattleField: Bad Company 2 (DX11)

BattleField: Bad Company 2 (DX11)


To benchmark BF: BC2 we used a five minute stretch of gameplay starting from the second checkpoint (after the helicopter takes off) of the second single player mission up until your battle with the tank commences. Framerates are recorded with FRAPS.


1920 x 1200





2560 x 1600



 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,861
Location
Montreal
DiRT 2 (DX11)

DiRT 2 (DX11)


Being one of the newest games on the market, DiRT 2 cuts an imposing figure in terms of image quality and effects fidelity. We find that to benchmark this game the in-game tool is by far the best option. However, due to small variances from one race to another, three benchmark runs are done instead of the normal two. It should also be mentioned that the demo version of the game was NOT used since after careful testing, the performance of the demo is not representative of the final product. DX11 was forced through the game’s config file. In addition, you will see that these scores do not line up with our older benchmarks at all. This is due to the fact that a patch was recently rolled out for the game which included performance optimizations in addition to new graphics options.


1920 x 1200





2560 x 1600



 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,861
Location
Montreal
Far Cry 2 (DX10)

Far Cry 2 (DX10)



Even though Far Cry 2 has its own built-in benchmarking tool with some flythroughs and “action scenes”, we decided to record our own timedemo consisting of about 5 minutes of game time. It involves everything from run-and-gun fights to fire effects. The built-in benchmarking too was then set up to replay the timedemo and record framerates


1920 x 1200





2560 x 1600



 
Last edited:
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top