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Test System And Benchmarks, 3DMark Vantage

Asus ARES: Is This The One Graphics Card To Rule Them All?
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We wanted to test the Asus ARES against a host of different graphics card configurations in order to really see how it sits in the high-end hierarchy. We're pitting the card against a Radeon HD 5870, a GeForce GTX 480, a Radeon HD 5970, a Radeon HD 5870 CrossFire setup, and a GeForce GTX 480 SLI setup.

Without enough reference hardware on-hand, we ended up underclocking some non-reference models down to reference speeds for SLI and CrossFire benchmarking. While this works fine for performance testing, it doesn't work well for noise and temperature measurements because non-reference cards often have aftermarket coolers on them. For this reason, the noise and temperature measurements will only be done on the ARES, a GeForce GTX 480 reference card, and a Radeon HD 5870 reference card.

It is particularly important to note that we simulated reference Radeon HD 5970 performance by underclocking the ARES to reference Radeon HD 5970 specifications, 775 MHz core and 1000 MHz GDDR5 memory (4000 MT/s effective). While this change will emulate the clock speeds of the reference Radeon HD 5970, it will not emulate the 2 GB found on 5970 boards versus 4 GB on the ARES card. We do know from past investigations that it is very rare to see a larger frame buffer yield increased performance, but this is something to keep in mind when looking at the benchmarks.

We ran the tests at the highest settings at which we felt these cards could deliver playable performance. This means that some games were complemented with high levels of anti-aliasing if the graphics cards could handle it, but that anti-aliasing was turned down if the cards were struggling. With high-end cards like these, we only tested 1920x1080 and 2560x1600 resolutions, although we did add a 5760x1080 triple-monitor test, too.


Graphic Test System
CPU

Intel Core i7-920 (Nehalem), 2.67 GHz, QPI-4200, 8 MB L3 Cache
Overclocked to 3.06 GHz @ 153 MHz BCLK

Motherboard

ASRock X58 SuperComputer
Intel X58, BIOS P1.90

Networking
Onboard Realtek gigabit LAN controller
Memory

Kingston PC3-10700
3 x 1,024MB, DDR3-1225, CL 9-9-9-22-1T

Graphics

Asus ARES Radeon HD 5870 X2 4 GB GDDR5
(also representing Radeon HD 5970 when underclocked)

Nvidia GeForce GTX 480 1536 MB GDDR5

Zotac GeForce GTX 480 AMP! Edition 1536 MB GDDR5

Reference Radeon HD 5870 1 GB GDDR5

Gigabyte GV-R587SO-1GD Radeon HD 5870 1 GB GDDR5

*all clock rates have been set to reference specifications for the purpose of benchmarking

Hard Drive

Western Digital Caviar WD50 00AAJS-00YFA,
500 GB, 7200 RPM, 8 MB cache, SATA 3.0 Gb/s

Power

Thermaltake Toughpower 1200 W
1200 W, ATX 12V 2.2, EPS 12v 2.91

Software and Drivers
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
DirectX versionDirectX 11
Graphics Drivers

Catalyst 10.6, Asus ARES Custom Driver,
Nvidia GeForce Drivers 257.21 (normal use) and 258.69 (Triple-monitor)

Benchmark Configuration

3D Games

Crysis

Patch 1.2.1, DirectX 10, 32-bit executable, Benchmark Tool, High Settings, No AA, No AF

Far Cry 2

DirectX 10, in-game benchmark, Ultra-High Settings, 8x AA, No AF

Aliens vs Predator

DirectX 11 Default Benchmark, no AA, No AF

World In Conflict: Soviet AssaultDirectX 10, Timedemo, Very High Details, 4x AA/4x AF
DiRT 2

DirectX 11, Timedemo, Ultra Details, 8x AA/4x AF

Synthetic
3DMark Vantage
Version: 1.01, Total System score


3DMark suggests that the Asus ARES performs very closely to a pair of Radeon HD 5870 cards in CrossFire. That's not much of a surprise, since this is more or less what the ARES card is. This benchmark also suggests that the ARES is about 13% faster than a Radeon HD 5970 (not quite the 30%+ that Asus mentions in its marketing materials).

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Top Comments
  • 33 Hide
    Tamz_msc , July 15, 2010 6:07 AM
    I want that briefcase!
  • 21 Hide
    thedreadfather , July 15, 2010 6:22 AM
    This card is so overkill for most of us, but so awesome. :D 
  • 20 Hide
    rohitbaran , July 15, 2010 6:22 AM
    BTW, it would be really cool to see a 5890, for that would give the GTX 480 a run for its money, something it is already not earning! :D 
Other Comments
  • 33 Hide
    Tamz_msc , July 15, 2010 6:07 AM
    I want that briefcase!
  • 14 Hide
    rohitbaran , July 15, 2010 6:21 AM
    On the second page, that should be Radeon 5970, not Radeon 5890. There isn't any card on the market as 5890.
  • 20 Hide
    rohitbaran , July 15, 2010 6:22 AM
    BTW, it would be really cool to see a 5890, for that would give the GTX 480 a run for its money, something it is already not earning! :D 
  • 21 Hide
    thedreadfather , July 15, 2010 6:22 AM
    This card is so overkill for most of us, but so awesome. :D 
  • 11 Hide
    Maziar , July 15, 2010 6:38 AM
    Great review,
    However i agree with Tom's about that there are better options in terms of price/performance ratio.This card looks good and packs lots of power but i wish that it had a lower price.
  • 12 Hide
    anamaniac , July 15, 2010 6:38 AM
    I was excited, but after reading the article, I'm dissapointed.
    Maybe they set the bar too high when they made the MARS, a $1200 GTX285x2.
    I wish the MARS/ARES came with waterblocks though.

    Sounds like the card needs some better drivers.
  • 8 Hide
    rohitbaran , July 15, 2010 6:43 AM
    Well, the card is heavy, power consuming and expensive, but its performance is truly great. BTW, they could have kept the Sapphire Toxic 5970 in the benchmark tests for the sake of immediate comparison. Anyway, this is a great review.
  • 3 Hide
    rohitbaran , July 15, 2010 6:44 AM
    Lets see if Southern Islands top offering can take on this monster.
  • 9 Hide
    JOSHSKORN , July 15, 2010 7:00 AM
    Where's the Radeon HD 5970 Crossfire?
  • 7 Hide
    Anonymous , July 15, 2010 7:02 AM
    With the I7 in the test bed OC'd to just a bit over 3 Ghz I have to wonder how close the CPU is to bottle necking the GPU.
  • 13 Hide
    Lmeow , July 15, 2010 7:15 AM
    Can it play Cr

    What an epic triple slot cooler... Awesome suitcase too.
  • 4 Hide
    desolationjones , July 15, 2010 7:39 AM
    Why do the sli 480 benches for Crysis look completely off? In Crysis at 1920x1080, a single 480 gets the exact same performance of 480s in sli And at 2560x1600, sli 480 gets better performance than at 1920x1080. That doesn't make any sense. Driver issues were mentioned for alien vs preditor, but not for Crysis.
  • 19 Hide
    rohitbaran , July 15, 2010 7:41 AM
    jasonz001it actually looks quite small

    Excuse me, we are talking about graphic cards here, not elephants.
  • 4 Hide
    baracubra , July 15, 2010 7:47 AM
    desolationjonesWhy do the sli 480 benches for Crysis look completely off? In Crysis at 1920x1080, a single 480 gets the exact same performance of 480s in sli And at 2560x1600, sli 480 gets better performance than at 1920x1080. That doesn't make any sense. Driver issues were mentioned for alien vs preditor, but not for Crysis.


    Crysis and SLI don't go well together all the time. When I built my 8800GT SLI rig bck in 07' I got worse performance with SLI enabled than without. After many many drivers and game updates, I finally managed to get 6 extra frames with SLI. FYI, I was running a Q6600 OC to 3.4ghz, and the cards worked fine in other games
  • 15 Hide
    Anonymous , July 15, 2010 7:50 AM
    Can it play Mafia II ? :) 
  • 1 Hide
    festerovic , July 15, 2010 8:01 AM
    waiting for the Kratos edition.
  • 3 Hide
    jsm6746 , July 15, 2010 8:34 AM
    you really have to water cool if you want to up the voltage of a 5870 or 5970... the noise from that 80mm fan running 100% is atrocious...
  • -2 Hide
    superdinmo , July 15, 2010 8:35 AM
    i think it will be April Fool before april
  • 4 Hide
    falchard , July 15, 2010 8:47 AM
    For $1200, I can get 4-HD5870 and stick it into my Quadfire capable board. Man that would look awesome.
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