Asus' ROG Ares II: Four Dual-GPU Graphics Cards, Compared

Earlier this year, Asus joined the extreme high-end graphics club with its own dual-Tahiti-based card, liquid-cooled and overclocked. You can't buy it anymore, but we got our hands on one and are adding it to our database of performance data.

As in the automotive world, the extreme high-end of computer hardware is almost always fun to look at, and rarely practical to own. With its Ares II, Asus set out to build the fastest graphics card in the world, matched by stunning presentation. The final product was mostly supposed to serve as demonstration that the company could build such a performance-oriented product, even if it was only available in limited quantities (the company claims only 1,000 were made, of which only a fraction made it to the U.S.).

So, why bother looking at it now? Because we had one in the lab, that's why. Oh, and it just so happens that only two samples of the other "fastest dual-GPU card in the world" ever left its manufacturer's lab. That was HIS' Radeon HD 7970 X2 (not X2), and we got both of them last year. Creates a nice little comparison, right? The Ares II offers an additional 50 MHz on the core clock, plus liquid cooling to deal with the incredible heat generated by two Tahiti GPUs.

We previously rounded up HIS' Radeon HD 7970 X2, PowerColor's AX7990 6GBD5-A2DHJ Devil13, and EVGA's GeForce GTX 690 in Radeon HD 7990 And GeForce GTX 690: Bring Out The Big Guns. Now that we have the Ares II, it only makes sense to add it to our round-up numbers. We're using the same benchmark system and drivers to keep the comparison fair. It would have been great to get those other dual-Tahiti boards into the lab to run them with the very latest drivers, but they're both such rare museum pieces that it simply wasn't possible. We settled on turning back the clock and adding Asus's effort. Incidentally, we didn't add Nvidia's GeForce GTX Titan for much the same reason (not that it would have mattered, since one Titan is slower than a GTX 690).

Nvidia GeForce GTX 690 Vs. The Dual-Tahiti Competition
 Asus Ares II
HIS Radeon HD 7970 X2
PowerColor AX7990 6GBD5-A2DHJ Devil13EVGA GeForce GTX 690
Shader Units2 x 20482 x 1536
GPU Clock Frequency
1100 MHz
1050 MHz925 / 1000 MHz (BIOS)
915 MHz + GPU Boost
ROPs2 x 32
2 x 32
GPU2 x Tahiti
2 x GK104
Transistors2 x 4.31 million
2 x 3.5 million
Memory Size
2 x 3 GB2 x 2 GB
Memory Bus
2 x 384-bit2 x 256-bit
Memory Clock Frequency
1650 MHz
1500 MHz
1375 MHz1502 MHz

On paper, Asus' Ares II looks good. HIS' Radeon HD 7970 X2 runs 50 MHz faster than PowerColor's Devil13 card at its overclocked BIOS setting, which is why it proved to be the faster board in our original round-up.

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  • acasel
    nice video card.

    hope it doesnt cost a kidney :)
  • Ceee9
    last picture on the last page seem..., i think it oversize
  • JJ1217
    ermagherd gerfics cerd yey i r so herpy
  • UltimateDeep
    I think you can get 2 690s or least 3 680s for the price of an ARES 2. The benchmarkers didn't evaluate Performance per watt, or Performance per dollar and the flipping size and length of each card which is the reason why I still stand by the GTX 690 in this article... For all these cards, all of that personally needs to be taken into consideration.

    I've nothing against the Dual 7970s but just want to let consumers be aware of the pros and cons especially the cards are not for the meek of wallet.
  • killerchickens
    So about that FCAT ........... sigh
  • slomo4sho
    Wonder if Asus will re-release this card into the US market as the 7990.
  • ASHISH65
  • dkcomputer
    Classic statement whenever you talk about AMD - "If only the software were better" or "When the software catches up" - how about "If only this component would be relevant when the software its made for exists"
  • PadaV4
    So is the fps for radeon dual cards already divided by 2 or must the reader do it by himself?
  • ShadyHamster
    You can't buy it anymore, but we got our hands on one and are adding it to our database of performance data.

    If you live in Australia and have a spare $1900 you can still get your hands on one.
  • damianrobertjones
    "the GeForce GTX 690 remains the most elegant high-end card we've ever used."

    I actually had a chance to own a 690 so I went for it and, upon the next reboot, I was greeted by a black screen. Yay. I looked on the web and, as expected, others were suffering with the same issue. An ebay auction later and I'm back to 2x 660s in sli. The moral of the story is: Just because it's expensive doesn't mean it'll work :(
  • Memnarchon
    Why not testing with FCAT? Or any frametime measurement? I think anyone who wants to spend so much money for a GPU would like to know this too.
  • eric4277
    Why did you include 7970 Crossfire and not 680 SLI?
  • utroz
    Would have been nice to see the ARES II with the newest drivers as well just to see how much performance has increased since launch...
  • Cataclysm_ZA
    No frame latency using FRAPS? Your readers consider it the industry standard now, Tom's, you should be implementing it on all your reviews in future. Even though FCAT is more work, timestamping using FRAPS is still an accurate and reliable measurement.
  • Marko Brekic
    A true NV fanboy review...disturbing...
  • hero1
    Nice review. Those cards are awesome. But the Ares II is a beast of them all. ASUS should have made more of them, find a way to cut down on power consumption and market it for $1200. I would have snagged one as it is more than enough for my 2560x1440 Dell. The question is, will the true 7990 made by AMD deliver what ASUS and HIS did but with lower power and heat?
  • Onus
    So sorry, but without FCAT measurements all of that work is for nought. I realize this article may have been researched and written before the significance of FCAT was realized, but that makes it an editorial task to not release it until it has been reworked, or even scrap it if it simply is no longer relevant.
  • the great randini
    What a cool test, it is surprising how little power the titan uses.
  • nforce4max
    Nice card and they should have made more as they would have sold well. The saving grace for this card isn't just the performance but the thermals and acoustics. The price however puts this card far out of reach for all but the 1% D: