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    Thumbs up ASUS ARES 4 GB Game Graphic Card


    ASUS ARES 4 GB






    Introduction

    Graphics card product designers at ASUS have the good life. When not placing ASUS stickers on reference design graphics cards, the engineers have all the time and resources to develop some of the most audacious and exorbitant graphics cards in the market, asserting the company's position as a market leader. With the ASUS ARES, it's the same. Pairing two AMD Cypress GPUs that carry the same specifications as the Cypress in its single-chip graphic card (Radeon HD 5870), the ASUS ARES aims to eliminate all the constraints GPU vendors come across when designing dual-GPU graphics cards, such as limited thermal and electrical budgets, which often are met by lowering clock-speeds or components inside the GPU.

    ARES, is "Radeon HD 5870 X2" in its truest sense. The name "Ares" comes from Greek mythology, the God of Warfare. The older über-product from ASUS was named after Mars, the Roman God of war. By giving this a product name that precedes any company reference name (such as Radeon HD 5970 or dual-HD 5870), ASUS is giving its ARES a distinct identity that will help seat it in the upper-most quadrant of the market.

    Today we will put the ASUS ARES through its paces, and watch it battle it out of a host of GPU-intensive tests. We also have an ASUS ARES CrossFire review where we test two of these beasts in a 4-GPU CrossFire configuration.



    Radeon
    HD 5850
    GeForce
    GTX 470
    Radeon
    HD 5870
    GeForce
    GTX 480
    Radeon
    HD 5970
    ASUS ARES
    Shader units 144044816004802x 16002x 1600
    ROPs324032482x 322x 32
    GPUCypressGF100CypressGF1002x Cypress2x Cypress
    Transistors2154M3200M2154M3200M2x 2154M2x 2154M
    Memory Size1024 MB1280 MB1024 MB1536 MB2x 1024 MB2x 2048 MB
    Memory Bus Width 256 bit 320 bit 256 bit 384 bit 2x 256 bit 2x 256 bit
    Core Clock725 MHz 607 MHz 850 MHz 700 MHz 725 MHz 850 MHz
    Memory Clock1000 MHz 837 MHz 1200 MHz 924 MHz 1000 MHz 1200 MHz
    Price$310$349$400$499$630$1000


    Packaging


    The ARES comes in a huge package that weighs about 8 kilos. On the first picture you do not get an impression for the shear size of the package, so in the second picture I put a normal sized HD 4890 box next to it.


    Inside the big box you will find an aluminum suitcase that looks great and adds to the christmas feeling excitement.


    Using high-precision foam cut outs, the ARES sits in the suitcase, like your secret weapon for the GPU war.

    Contents



    You will receive:

    • Graphics card
    • CrossFire Bridge
    • ASUS ROG Badge
    • ASUS ROG Mouse
    • HDMI to DVI Adapter
    • Driver CDs + Documentation
    • 2x PCI-Express power cable


    The Card


    So you heard that the ASUS ARES is heavy - you have no idea how heavy it is. With the cooler being made from full copper the card clocks in at 2.3 kilos. To illustrate how much that is I put the ARES on the left and the equivalent weight of graphics card on the right.


    The ARES comes with an exclusive cooling solution designed by ASUS. I have to admit that is one of the sexiest cards I have seen in a long time. The build quality also feels very solid and you don't have to be afraid of breaking anything by accident.


    Two high-clocked GPUs, voltage tweaking support, built for overclockers means that a three slot cooling solution is not surprise.


    It seems that due to the packing method of the suitcase, there is some sticky foam near the back of the card. I also received a second card for CrossFire testing and it does not have this problem.


    The card has one DVI port, one HDMI port and one DisplayPort. This is a small deviation from the HD 5970 configuration which had 2x DVI + 1x DP. ASUS has included an HDMI to DVI adapter, so no problem if you need to connect two DVI monitors.
    The HDMI interface includes a 7.1 channel audio signal that is generated by an HD audio device integrated in the GPU. Unlike nVidia cards which limit you to two active outputs at the same time, you may use all three outputs at the same time on ATI's latest cards.


    For voltmodders, ASUS has included easy to access voltage measurement spots. The selection of voltages is fairly limited though, you can only measure the voltage of each of the GPUs - no VDDCI or memory measurements.


    If you need more performance and have the cash you can get a second ASUS ARES to run the cards in CrossFire.


    Here are the front and the back of the card, high-res versions are also available (front, back). If you choose to use these images for voltmods etc, please include a link back to this site or let us post your article.


    A Closer Look


    The first part that comes off is the cooling plate on the back of the card. It cools only the memory chips on that side and adds additional protection to components of the card. Another aspect is that heat migrates from the GPUs to through the PCB, so cooling on this side helps a bit too.


    Next we removed the fan shroud. Unlike all the other fan shrouds I have seen so far, this one is made from metal and covered with a robust powdercoating paint job.


    Now you can take a closer look at how the ARES thermal solution works. A central fan creates airflow through the fins of two copper heatsinks that sit on each GPU.


    Each of these blocks is made from 100% copper and uses four heatpipes to move heat away from the GPU cores to the fins in its upper portion, where heat is dissipated in the fan's airflow.


    The last piece to come off is this black cooling plate that covers all secondary heat sources like memory chips and voltage regulation circuitry. This multiple component approach is extremely useful to extreme overclockers who use watercooling or LN2. They can focus on cooling the GPUs and use pieces of the stock HEATsink to cool the other components, which is usually good enough.


    Here you can see all the components that make up the ASUS ARES.


    Wow! ASUS has equipped their card with two 8-pin and one 6-pin power connector, and you need them all to run the card. This configuration provides at least 450W power (150W (8 pin) + 150W (8 pin) + 75W (6 pin) + 75 W (slot)).


    The GDDR5 memory chips are made by Hynix, and carry the model number H5GQ1H24AFR-T2C. They are specified to run at 1250 MHz (5000 MHz GDDR5 effective).


    The voltage regulation circuitry is quite extensive and seems to be an upscaled version of the HD 5970 reference design. You have two Volterra VT1165 voltage regulators for the GPU voltage and a third VT1165 for VDDCI. Whereas the HD 5970 uses a 3+1+1 phase configuration per GPU, the ARES uses 4+1+1.


    The PCI-Express bridge chip which connects the two GPUs and Interfaces with the system via PCI-Express 2.0 is made by PLX. Apparently PLX lets ATI rebrand their product. According to AMD the bridge chip supports PCI-Express 2.1 x16 which supplies enough bandwidth to both GPUs for any situation.


    AMD's Cypress GPU comes with 2154 million transistors and is produced on a 40 nm process at TSMC Taiwan. The ARES uses two of these beasts running in an internal CrossFire configuration.



    Test System

    Test System
    CPU:Intel Core i7 920 @ 3.8 GHz
    (Bloomfield, 8192 KB Cache)
    Motherboard:Gigabyte X58 Extreme
    Intel X58 & ICH10R
    Memory:3x 2048 MB Mushkin Redline XP3-12800 DDR3
    @ 1520 MHz 8-7-7-16
    Harddisk:WD Raptor 740ADFD 74 GB
    Power Supply:akasa Power Xtreme AK-P120FG-BK 1200W
    Software:Windows 7 64-bit
    Drivers:NVIDIA: 195.62
    GTX 470 & 480: 257.15
    ATI: Catalyst 10.3
    Display: LG Flatron W3000H 30" 2560x1600


    • All video card results were obtained on this exact system with the exact same configuration.
    • All games were set to their highest quality setting

    Each benchmark was tested at the following settings and resolution:

    • 1024 x 768, No Anti-aliasing. This is a standard resolution without demanding display settings.
    • 1280 x 1024, 2x Anti-aliasing. Common resolution for most smaller flatscreens today (17" - 19"). A bit of eye candy turned on in the drivers.
    • 1680 x 1050, 4x Anti-aliasing. Most common widescreen resolution on larger displays (19" - 22"). Very good looking driver graphics settings.
    • 1920 x 1200, 4x Anti-aliasing. Typical widescreen resolution for large displays (22" - 26"). Very good looking driver graphics settings.
    • 2560 x 1600, 4x Anti-aliasing. Highest possible resolution for commonly available displays (30"). Very good looking driver graphics settings.




    BattleForge



    Battleforge , a card based RTS, is developed by the German EA Phenomic Studio. A few months after launch the game was transformed into a Play 4 Free branded game. That move and the fact that it was included as game bundle with a large number of ATI cards made it one of the more well known RTS games of 2009. You as a player assemble your deck before game to select the units that will be available. Your choice can be from forces of Fire, Frost, Nature and Shadow to complement each other.
    The BattleForge engine has full support for DX 9, DX 10 and DX 10.1, we used the internal benchmark tool to acquire our results.




    Call of Duty 4


    Call of Duty 4 is a first-person shooter that is built on the award winning Call of Duty Series. It is the first version to play in modern times. In a near-future conflict between the United States, Europe and Russia you get to play as a United States Marine and a British SAS operative. The engine is Infinity Ward's own creation and has true dynamic lighting, depth of field, dynamic shadows and HDR. Even though the game plot is scripted you will find yourself in intense battles, often working together with computer controlled team mates.




    Call of Juarez 2


    Call of Juarez 2: Bound in Blood is a prequel to the first Call of Juarez game which was one of the first DX10 titles available on the market. This time the plot evolves around two brothers, before each mission you may pick one to play. Your choices affect the game play since both characters have different ways of handling situations and doing combat.
    Call of Juarez 2 uses Techland's Chrome Engine 4 which adds Edge Anti Aliasing as one of the first engines on the market. Edge Anti Aliasing looks similar to normal AA but comes with a considerably reduced performance drop. However, due to the deferred shading design of Edge AA, normal AA can't be used on top of it.




    Company Of Heroes


    The real-time strategy game Company of Heroes is set during World War II where you take two American companies through several fights all over France to liberate the country from German occupation. Company of Heroes is the first game to use Relic's next-generation engine "Essence Engine" which includes support for HDR lighting, Shader Model 3.0, normal mapping, dynamic lighting and shadows. You are able to zoom in from the tactical view of the battle field to see the individual units fighting. Often you catch yourself admiring the detailed animations of the soldiers while the fight around you is raging.

    Last edited by Mohamed Fouad; 15-08-2010 at 01:53 AM.


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