When it's all said and done, the Asus ARES remains an impressive piece of hardware, drool-worthy and deserving of admiration for the engineering that went into it. But the blind glee we had upon opening the card's spectacular package is fleeting, replaced with a respect for what the card can do, combined with a sinking realization of what the price tag puts it up against.
That price tag is $1200, folks, and aside from any other complaints we might have about the ARES, this is the elephant in the room. ASUS let us know they originally targeted the $1000 price range but the cost of binning the cards to ensure that they could perform above par raised the MSRP substantially. At $1200 the ARES is $280 more than a couple of GeForce GTX 480s in SLI at the time of writing this article, and as we've seen in the benchmarks, a dual-GeForce GTX 480 configuration can put a real hurt on the Asus card, especially at 2560x1600 with AA enabled. Even if you're not a fan of the GeForce GTX 480, a pair of Radeon HD 5870 Eyefinity 6 Edition cards a combined 4 GB of memory will set you back $1000, $200 less than the ARES.
But perhaps the most appropriate price comparison is the Sapphire Radeon HD 5970 TOXIC, equipped with the same 4 GB of GDDR5 as the Asus card, but factory overclocked with a 50 MHz core clock advantage, available for under $1100. The Radeon HD 5970 TOXIC doesn't come with a gaming mouse, mind you, but it does include Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, DiRT 2, and an active DisplayPort-to-DVI adapter to make Eyefinity a lot easier--things that may be more or less attractive than Asus' GX800 gaming mouse. But Sapphire delivers all of this for $100 less than the ARES, and that doesn't make Asus' card look like a good value in comparison (we should note that the ARES is not yet available for purchase at the time of writing).
Certainly there's a case to be made for the ARES as the overclocker's choice, with adjustable voltage ready from the factory and a beefy cooling system. But while the overclocking results are undeniably impressive, the cooler's impressive ability to move air was muted by the noise it makes under load.
On a final note, we have to consider the target audience of this card. Let's be honest, nobody buys a $1200 graphics card because they're overly concerned with performance per dollar. They buy it for high performance, exclusivity, style, and maybe even bragging rights. On these fronts, the Asus ARES can not be denied.
- ARES, The Greek God Of War
- It's Not A Radeon HD 5970. It's A Radeon HD 5870 X2
- Installation And Overclocking the ARES
- Test System And Benchmarks, 3DMark Vantage
- Benchmark Results: Crysis
- Benchmark Results: Aliens Vs. Predator
- Benchmark Results: Far Cry 2
- Benchmark Results: World In Conflict
- Benchmark Results: DiRT 2
- Anti-Aliasing Comparison
- Triple-Monitor Performance
- Overclocked Performance
- Power Usage And Temperature Benchmarks