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Asus Mars 760: We Dig The Innovation, But There Are Smarter High-End Buys

Asus Mars 760 Review: Two GPUs In SLI; One $650 Graphics Card
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Before we start drawing conclusions, let's look at the combined average performance across all of our benchmarks. The results are relative to Nvidia's GeForce GTX Titan at 100%. That black bar represents frame rates at 2560x1440, while the red bar is indicative of 5760x1080 using three monitors.

The chart's most glaring red flag is that AMD's frame pacing feature is not yet working in dual-GPU setups across multiple monitors. That's a long-standing issue, and it should be cleared up soon. AMD says its Catalyst 14.1 driver includes this functionality, though it'll be a beta release when it does finally emerge (Ed.: Not that proper frame pacing is going to change my opinion of the Radeon HD 7990...).

How about the Mars 760 against Nvidia's GeForce GTX Titan? Asus says the Mars board should be 7% faster, and the average at 2560x1440 across the games we tested lands right at 7%. It's easy to see why Asus' marketing team would want to draw its comparison to Nvidia's premium flagship. The Mars certainly looks like a stellar value next to that $1000 beast. No doubt this comparison helped spawn the creation of the Mars 760.

Times have changed since this thing was conceptualized, though. First, there's the Radeon R9 290X, which started at $550 and forced Nvidia to cut the price of its GeForce GTX 780. The Radeon might be closer to $630 now, but the impressive GeForce GTX 780 Ti is down from its $750 launch price, closer to $680. The overclocked GeForce GTX Titan benchmarks give us an approximate idea of the 780 Ti's performance, which is right on par with Asus' Mars 760.

Selling for $650 and able to keep up with a GeForce GTX 780 Ti, Asus' Mars 760 seems like a reasonable value next to some of Nvidia's heavy hitters. But there are other factors that tug us away from a dual-GPU solution, such as higher frame time latencies and a practical limit of 2 GB per GPU. Although Nvidia's SLI-based configurations perform notably better than CrossFire, single-GPU cards like the GeForce GTX 780 Ti retain an advantage (not to mention an extra gigabyte of GDDR5). But an even bigger value challenge comes simply from two GeForce GTX 760 cards in SLI, which sell for $500. So long as you have enough space on your motherboard and headroom from your power supply, that's probably a smarter choice.

Who might disregard those caveats and go with the Mars 760 anyway? Enthusiasts without room on their motherboards for two dual-slot boards, to start. Chassis dimensions come into play as well. Additionally, tuners will appreciate the Mars' willingness to exceed Asus' factory-set frequencies on the road to GeForce GTX 690-like performance (though we can't guarantee retail samples will scale as well as our press card). Finally, fans of Asus' one-off creations may find the style and exclusivity of this limited-production Mars 760 appealing.

No doubt, a $650 Mars 760 would have been a hotter-ticket item before Nvidia cut the price tag on its GeForce GTX 780 to make room for the 780 Ti. But with Nvidia's fastest single-GPU offering under $700 now, that card steals some of Asus' thunder. Today, it'd be easier to make a value case for the Mars somewhere under $600. This is clearly a special piece of equipment though, and it's fast enough that we doubt it'll last very long on Newegg. Even if it isn't the most attractively-priced graphics card, enthusiasts appreciate unique, and the Mars 760 does effectively integrate two very quick GK104 GPUs on a single PCB. Up until now, only Nvidia's reference-class $1000 GeForce GTX 690s did this.

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Top Comments
  • 20 Hide
    vertexx , January 31, 2014 2:08 AM
    I'm not sure why you would even publish this review without a 780ti in the comparison.
  • 19 Hide
    Shneiky , January 31, 2014 2:37 AM
    It was actually disappointing that there was no regular 760 SLI in there. It would have helped to see if the Asus's solution gives better results then regular 2 760s.
Other Comments
  • 4 Hide
    AMD Radeon , January 31, 2014 12:40 AM
    i would like to see dual GTX 780 Ti in one card
  • 4 Hide
    vinhn , January 31, 2014 1:27 AM
    @AMD Radeon, everyone would like to see it, not everyone would buy it, the market knows that, there's a reason why they would rather release the dual 760 rather than a 1600$ dual 780 Ti.
  • 6 Hide
    Immaculate , January 31, 2014 1:30 AM
    Why an i5-2550K?
  • -6 Hide
    blackmagnum , January 31, 2014 1:37 AM
    Bring on the Kepler cards already.
  • 20 Hide
    vertexx , January 31, 2014 2:08 AM
    I'm not sure why you would even publish this review without a 780ti in the comparison.
  • 19 Hide
    Shneiky , January 31, 2014 2:37 AM
    It was actually disappointing that there was no regular 760 SLI in there. It would have helped to see if the Asus's solution gives better results then regular 2 760s.
  • 3 Hide
    bemused_fred , January 31, 2014 2:52 AM
    Looking at the way that various card configurations bounce around in the charts, with the ranking of cards varying from page to page, the only thing I'm taking away from this article is not to bother with dual-GPU set-ups. It seems their performance is entirely decided by how well-optimised the games are for Nvidia or AMD, and not their actual specs.
  • 2 Hide
    Raheel Hasan , January 31, 2014 4:25 AM
    Too high price only $30 below 780ti, it should be around $550.
  • 2 Hide
    Adroid , January 31, 2014 5:25 AM
    I'm confused why the 780 and 770 aren't shown here - especially since the 780 is at the same price point.
  • 4 Hide
    Au_equus , January 31, 2014 5:40 AM
    without the gtx 780 ti, you are missing half the article, as ASUS, according to the price, was presenting this card as an alternative to the 780 ti at its price/performance. I stopped reading after the first BM.
  • 2 Hide
    cleeve , January 31, 2014 6:06 AM
    Quote:
    I'm not sure why you would even publish this review without a 780ti in the comparison.


    That's why we included an OC'd titan to represent 780 Ti performance.

    Read the article. The memory was clocked identical to 780 Ti, and the core overclock was even calculated to simulate it as closely as possible.

    It's a valid representation. I see some of you don't agree and you certainly reserve the right to do that, but I'm quite satisfied with the results.



  • 2 Hide
    bloodroses75 , January 31, 2014 6:08 AM
    At least it's under $1000... these video card companies lately seem to think that people are made out of gold.
  • 2 Hide
    cleeve , January 31, 2014 6:09 AM
    Quote:
    I'm confused why the 780 and 770 aren't shown here - especially since the 780 is at the same price point.


    780 is not the same price point. The 780 Ti is, and we overclocked a Titan to simulate as per above.

  • 3 Hide
    Mousemonkey , January 31, 2014 6:14 AM
    Quote:
    Bring on the Kepler cards already.


    Really? :lol: 
  • 1 Hide
    Adroid , January 31, 2014 6:31 AM
    Quote:
    Quote:
    I'm confused why the 780 and 770 aren't shown here - especially since the 780 is at the same price point.


    780 is not the same price point. The 780 Ti is, and we overclocked a Titan to simulate as per above.



    Thanks, I stand corrected, and the 770, 780, and 780ti is what I would like to see compared to the Mars.

    My qualm with using a Titan for comparison is 1) The titan costs $300 more than the 780ti, and 2) The titan is slower.

    I usually read these type of articles from a perspective of "if I was going to purchase this Mars 760 or a comparitive other card at the $700 price point, what would I buy?"

    So I wouldn't buy a Titan for 300$ more and overclock it to try to get 780ti performance out of it. I would want to see how a 780ti overclocked compares to an overclocked Mars 760 - then make a choice from that.

    But, from strictly a performance consideration, I understand where you are coming from.

    Those of us who don't get the Nvidia sample cards to play with have to consider the price/performance factor ;) 
  • 0 Hide
    cleeve , January 31, 2014 6:46 AM
    Quote:

    My qualm with using a Titan for comparison is 1) The titan costs $300 more than the 780ti, and 2) The titan is slower.


    The point is, is overclocked to *match* the 780 Ti.

    We tested it at stock, ***and then again overclocked to represent the 780 Ti***.

    It goes over this in detail in the article. Check the test system page :) 

  • -3 Hide
    tristangl , January 31, 2014 6:51 AM
    I dont understand how can 1 card with 2 GPU can cost more than 2 760It needs half the material... this shoul dbe selling for 450-500$
  • 2 Hide
    toddybody , January 31, 2014 6:56 AM
    Yawn...not a great value when SC GTX 780's are at USD 499.99. Now, the GTX 790 will be something drool worthy :D 
  • 3 Hide
    Mousemonkey , January 31, 2014 6:57 AM
    Quote:
    I dont understand how can 1 card with 2 GPU can cost more than 2 760It needs half the material... this shoul dbe selling for 450-500$


    You are paying for the complexities of sticking two GPU's and the SLi bridge on one card together with the larger HSF this requires, it shouldn't be that difficult to work that out surely?
  • 0 Hide
    tristangl , January 31, 2014 7:02 AM
    You are still using less material, and buying 2 core on 1 card... this should be lower than 2 cards IMO
    Plus stability is always worst on dual GPU card

    Not my thing
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