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Asus Mars 760 Review: Two GPUs In SLI; One $650 Graphics Card

Asus Mars 760 Review: Two GPUs In SLI; One $650 Graphics Card
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We like the idea of two GK104 GPUs in SLI on one graphics card. Sounds like a GeForce GTX 690, right? Except that board costs $1000 and Asus' Mars 760 sells for $650. In a world with sub-$700 GeForce GTX 780 Tis, can this dual-GPU stunner still impress?

Every single day, your favorite vendors send in requests to have their products reviewed by Tom's Hardware. We typically try to maximize the number of components presented to you, our readers, by organizing round-ups. There's a lot more to be learned, we think, by comparing the strengths and weaknesses of many competing offerings. But occasionally, a unique specimen surfaces so unlike everything else that we devote an entire story to it. Today we're looking at Asus' Mars 760, a graphics card with no peer. To test it, we have to reach into our collection of cards for relevant data points.

This isn't the first board in Asus' Mars family, and if you're familiar with the brand, then you already know the ROG MARS760-4GD5 boasts two Nvidia GPUs (Asus reserves the Ares brand for its dual-Radeon creations). All semblance of suspense is relieved by the model number: 760 gives away the fact that we're looking at a couple of GK104 processors. And incidentally, they're overclocked, too.


2 x Radeon HD 7950 Boost
Radeon HD 7990Radeon R9 290X
Asus Mars 760GeForce GTX Titan
GeForce GTX 780 Ti
GeForce GTX 690
Shaders
3584
(2 x 1792)
4096
(2 x 2048)
2816
2304
(2 x 1152)
2688
2880
3072
(2 x 1536)
Texture Units
224
(2 x 112)
256
(2 x 128)
176
192
(2 x 96)
224
240
256
(2 x 128)
ROPs
64
(2 x 32)
64
(2 x 32)
64
64
(2 x 32)
48
48
64
(2 x 32)
Fab Process
28 nm
28 nm28 nm
28 nm28 nm28 nm28 nm
Core (Boost) Clock
850 (925) MHz
950 (1000) MHz(1000) MHz
1006 (1072) MHz837 (876) MHz875 (928) MHz915 MHz
Memory Clock
1250 MHz GDDR51500 MHz GDDR51250 MHz GDDR51501 MHz GDDR5
1502 MHz GDDR51750 MHz GDDR51502 MHz GDDR5
Memory Bus
384-bit
384-bit512-bit256-bit384-bit
384-bit256-bit
Memory Bandwidth
240 GB/s
288 GB/s320 GB/s192.2 GB/s 288.4 GB/s
336 GB/s192.2 GB/s
TDP
400 W
(2 x 200 W)
375 W250 W
300 W (per Asus)250 W
250 W300 W
Amazon Price Range
$840 to
$860
-$630 to $780$650$1000 to $1849
$680 to $770
$995 to $1350
Typical Price
$840
-
$650
$650
$1000
$680
$1000

Asus' packaging claims that the Mars 760 is about 7% faster than a GeForce GTX Titan, though at its $650 price point, it's really competing against the Radeon R9 290X and GeForce GTX 780 Ti. I didn't have a 780 Ti on-hand, so I'm tuning my Titan to approximate the more gaming-oriented card's performance.

Speaking of operating frequencies, the Mars 760 sports a 1006 MHz base and 1072 MHz typical GPU Boost clock rate, which is a little higher than the 980 MHz Nvidia guarantees its GeForce GTX 760 for. Asus uses 4 GB (2 GB per GPU on independent 256-bit buses) of GDDR5 memory at the same 1500 MHz as the reference 760.

The Mars, Ares, and Matrix graphics cards exist under Asus' Republic of Gamers (ROG) brand. Naturally, the first thing you'll notice about the Mars 760 is its distinct red metal-on-black shroud. It weighs 2.1 lbs (970 grams) and measures 11" x 5" x 1.5" (28 x 12 x 4 cm), making it large, but no bigger than single-GPU products like the Radeon HD 290X and GeForce GTX 780.

Plugged in and powered up, the word Mars slowly "breathes" thanks to red LEDs behind the name plate.

There is one SLI connector; Asus says it worked closely with Nvidia to enable four-way operation with a second card (since GeForce GTX 760s typically don't scale to four-way configurations).

Also, you'll need two eight-pin auxiliary power connectors. Nvidia cites a 170 W graphics card power figure for one GeForce GTX 760. Meanwhile, Asus says its card should fall closer to 300 W, with spikes higher if you run more taxing apps like FurMark. A PCIe slot is rated for up to 75 W; an eight-pin lead should be good for up to 150 W; a six-pin connector officially serves up 75 W as well. Although we've seen plenty of cards pull more power than their inputs were officially rated for, it's pretty clear why Asus felt two eight-pin connectors were necessary in this case.

A side view gives you a peek into Asus' DirectCU II cooler, which employs eight copper heat pipes (four per GPU). Two low-profile 85 mm fans blow through the sink's fins to keep the GPUs running efficiently. The company claims these are dust-proof, but we'll believe that after a year or two of real-world use.

Hidden under the cooler is a 12-phase VRM, which may play a role in overclocking. This will get tested later in today's story.

As part of its marketing message, Asus says the Mars 760 only uses Japanese Nichicon GT-series capacitors and other high-quality components like super alloy power chokes, MOFSETS, and POSCAPs.

The Mars 760 is equipped with two dual-link DVI-I, one dual-link DVI-D, and one mini-DisplayPort output. HDMI is also covered by a bundled adapter.

Display 55 Comments.
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  • 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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