ASUS ROG Ares III Review
Published: 29th September 2014 | Source: ASUS | Price: |
There are two distinct types of people who will be interested in the ASUS Ares III, so let's get the easier audience out of the way first. If you're absolutely loaded, money is no object at all, and you crave exclusivity above all things then you should depart immediately and place an order for one of the limited ASUS Ares III's. With only 500 worldwide you're guaranteed to be the toast of the town and the talking point of débutante ball.
So what about the rest of us? Those to whom the desire for the Ares III is only tempered by our lack of funds. Do we need to be making an appointment with the bank manager? Deciding which of our children we'd miss the least? Wondering if we really need all of our internal organs?
Whisper it, but the answer is no..
We're not for a moment suggesting that the ASUS Ares III isn't blisteringly fast. It unquestionably is. We're not saying the EK waterblock isn't wonderful, because it is. It's just not suitably brilliant for that monster price tag. Perhaps the biggest sin of all though is how off-the-shelf the whole thing feels. The original Ares was a custom PCB with two full HD5870 GPUs powering it, as well as a custom cooler and included mouse. It was prohibitively expensive but the exclusivity was only matched by the mad genius of the ASUS R&D department to even produce it. When it came time for the Ares 2 they created a PCB with two full-fat HD7970 GHz edition GPUs, and provided an insane AIO watercooling solution for it. This was still insane but less impressive because the various HD7990s that hit the market, the Devil13 being probably the best.
This slow creep from insanely expensive and exclusive has, thanks to the quality of graphics cards produced by the manufacturers, left the Ares III feeling a little watered down. It's a R9 295X2 with an EK waterblock installed. Now with the improved power phases that will unleash the full capabilities of the twin 290X GPUs it has required EK to produce a waterblock specifically for this card, so there is no question that you're not getting something unique. Just extremely tough to justify in any terms other than the kudos of owning it.
Given that a 295X2 currently retails at £700 and the EK full-cover waterblock is around £150, it's difficult to understand where ASUS feel they can get away with charging the thick end of £1400 for this. Even with the finest cherry-picked GPUs and perhaps, if we're being really generous, a ton for the metal case and another for the fitting of the waterblock you're still paying around £400 just to say that you've got one. And those are retail prices. You can be certain ASUS don't pay anywhere near that.
Now we accept that there is exclusivity at play here. This isn't the card for people who want the same as everyone else. It's ROG branded. We can hear comparisons with the Bugatti Veyron or a Gieves and Hawkes suit. Fine. But if you can buy two standard R9 295X2s, which don't also require owning a water loop and plumbing it in, and you're only going be 7 degrees hotter than the ASUS Ares III, who wouldn't choose that option? Or buy one and a i7-5960X? Yes exclusivity is nice, but it's not as if the R9 295X2 is so popular it's akin to owning an XBOX. They're already rare thanks to the whopping price tag but, and this is the crucial bit, they're near as dammit as fast as the Ares III. This isn't ASUS' fault, rather an indication of the way the market has moved in recent times that mean something that is otherwise so special has lost some of its lustre.
Regular graphics cards have caught up and we feel that ASUS should have quietly withdrawn the Ares rather than produce something so similar to products already on the market. Combine the fabulous EK waterblock with a 240mm AIO solution and they just might have had something different enough to be worthy of the theatre of that metal case. It is still monumentally fast, being the best dual 290X card you could hope to attain, and for that reason gets our OC3D Performance Award.
There is only 500 going to be made so it doesn't get much more exclusive than this
Quick out of the box
2 extra inches of epeen
Much more expensive than 295X2 + an aftermarket water block
Requires a water cooling full loop with well chosen hardware
295X2 was full 290X GPU's so its difficult to understand why they bothered
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