If you're one of my Youtube subscribers, you'll know what's coming. If not, why not? And anyway, sometimes pictures you can spend an age lusting over beat out a live video.
Today we have a World First again here at OC3D. This time it's the first ever hands on of the ASUS Ares. A card we've all been eagerly anticipating.
So desperately have we been clamouring to get our sweaty mits on this that when it arrived in the office everything stopped.
Of course you're all wondering why, if we have it in our hands, we aren't doing the normal Overclock3D brilliance and getting a review out to you faster than all the rest? Well unfortunately we have ASUS lawyer standing over us wielding a big stick and we're not allowed to let you know any of the juicier details yet. However we know that you all want to see the ins and outs of this as much as we want to show them to you, so let's crack on.
What is the Ares then? Even if you've been living under a rock or similar you'll be aware that one of the most popular ways to introduce maximum performance on a single card is to implement a dual-GPU solution. Some of the best cards ever made have been dual GPU, from the 9800GTX2 through the absolutely mighty HD4870X2.
So popular is this method of doing it, and so big is our love for these cards, that ASUS introduced the truly insane MARS a while back. The MARS was a twin GTX285 with huge bells and whistles retailing around a thousand pounds. Understandably with that kind of price-tag it was very much a limited edition. Despite that it sold out amazingly quickly and here at Overclock3D we became the only place in the world to give one away when we had our New Year competition.
The problem is that the GTX285 was a monster card, but for the last generation. What if you wanted to get similar performance and exclusivity, but on the best cards around today? This is a question ASUS asked, and answered in the form of what we have here today, the Ares.
This absolute beast has twin 5870s!!!
Enough flannel. Enough waffle. Let's go and have a look shall we? Kleenex at the ready.
Words cannot describe how difficult it was to resist the urge to be like a kid at Christmas and just rip it all open to get to the goodies. The lengths we go for our loyal readers here at OC3D.
Yes, this is indeed number 001. The box looks fairly normal sized in this photograph. It most certainly isn't.
As befits a graphics card costing more than a big HDTV, this isn't just a standard cardboard box. Not even the otherwise excellent ASUS ROG box. Here we have a proper aluminium combination lock case. No-one is going to pilfer your hard-brought card with this.
The packaging has really had every possible piece of gorgeousness and little touches thrown in its direction. In fact if we opened it and found a Accuracy International AWC we wouldn't be shocked.
Once the case is open, my god. Let's just stand back and admire. Mmm lovely isn't it.
This is the type of professionalism that you'd expect from a product costing a thousand pounds, and yet somehow we're still amazed by how great it all looks. All those times we go on about packaging really giving you a great initial impression of the product are brought to bear here. It looks like a extreme product. And that's a good sign.
Extremely high accuracy is used on the foam cut-outs, everything slipping into place exactly right. Even though you'd have had to purchase this to reach this point we still have a "congratulations on purchasing..." type bit of blurb in the top of the case. Slightly strange given that not many people (in fact nobody) would buy this by accident.
One surprising thing is the inclusion of a ROG mouse. Every little helps. As you can see this is nice looking mouse. It reminds us of a cross between the old OCZ mouse and a Logitech one.
Finally let's get the main event out the box. Make sure you've got a good grip, because all that copper doesn't mean it's light.
Cooler than Samuel L Jackson
Definitely a serious chunk of copper here. Last time we saw this much shiny copper we had the plumbers in.
As befits a twin-GPU card we have a serious amount of power input. 2 8-pins and a 6-pin. It does seem a lot but as many single GPU ATI cards use an 8 and a 6, it's actually less than we'd expect. Should you love probing things then there are some points on the back to push your multimeter up against.
The rear of the card is sturdy to say the least. Although the 5870 chips run cool and so shouldn't warp the board just because we have two of them, it's more to support those lumps of copper we'll get to in a moment.
Regular viewers will remember us reviewing the EAH5870 V2 the other day which is a perfect reference design HD5870. Just to emphasise how BIG this Ares is we thought it would be cool to put the two up against each other for size comparisons.
The fan on the Ares is a 100mm one, and it comes as no surprise that the Ares is a beefy boy indeed. Never mind the quality, feel the width.
Oldsters in the audience might be stroking their beards at this point and thinking they've seen this before somewhere. Sure enough this is an alternative take on the old ASUS 7800.
It's especially visible in this shot. Not only how close they are in design, but also how far and fast technology has moved on. The once gorgeous 7800 cooler now looks positively amateur.
Of course just because it's a grands worth of card doesn't stop us from being interested in what that shield covers...
Under the Hood (aka taking our brave pills...)
Anyone who doubts where some of your money has gone, doubt no longer. Two mahoosive lumps of solid copper ensure that the chips are cool at all times. Yes you read that right, solid copper.
As you can see here this is no "copper base and aluminium head". No siree. Quad-heatpipe loveliness with a shine we haven't seen since Matt Lucas' head.
With the blocks off we find that everything that could have its head spread or sinked has been. No expense spared indeed.
The backplate and main power cooling/RAM assemblies are one-piece jobs which not only make our lives easier, but without any gaps it's much easier to ensure even heat build-up and dispersal. Surface area is king with heat.
Finally the naked board in all its cover-your-eyes-gorgeousness.
It seems strange to be talking about value-for-money with a card at this price-point, but the whole thing just oozes quality.
Finally a bit of a 'Haynes Manual' shot with the card nicely laid out.
So as you can see, there is nothing on the planet that comes close to the build-quality, thought and sheer gorgeousness of a ASUS Ares card. We can't wait until we're allowed to tell you how it goes too.
What's that? There is another page to go? Really?
I wonder what could be on that one.
Shall we find out boys and girls (and heads of jealous websites)?
Did we forget to mention?
Ahhh yes. That's the only thing that is better than an ASUS Ares.
Two ASUS Ares.
So who is up for some Crossfire twin-5870 Ares goodness?
You are? Good so are we. We couldnt end this without a video now could we, click the HD button and make a brew while it buffers as you need to be seeing this in all its HD goodness.
Come back in a weeks time on the 8th of July and we'll have all the results you could ever wish for. Bring spare trousers.
You can as ever go and talk about this with the boys and gals in our forums.