ASUS ROG MARS 2 Review
So, the Republic of Gamers MARS 2 then.
It's two GTX580s on the same board and the performance very much indicates this. Throughout our testing it was no quicker than a pair of stock GTX580s in SLI and, in those tests where we didn't have a GTX580 SLI setup available and so used a GTX590, it wasn't much better there either.
It looks fantastic, that can't be denied. ASUS have worked their magic with the cooler which is capable of coping with the heat generated from two GF110s working hard. The decision to have two DirectCU heatsinks, rather than one big one, definitely has results. The temperatures stayed under 80°C and at no point did it become annoyingly loud either. From a design point of view it's tough to fault it. The top is chunky and bolted to the bottom to make sure that even under the highest levels of stress the circuit board wont warp. We reckon you could run over it with a car and it wouldn't flex, although we wouldn't recommend it.
Testing this we were reminded very much of the previous ASUS high-end effort the ARES. It's prohibitively expensive and, in the end, the performance just doesn't justify it. It's impossible to talk about it without mentioning the price, so let's get that out the way straight away. £1100. One thousand, one hundred pounds.
That sounds like a lot of money and it is. For the same cash you could get three GTX580s or two GTX580s and water blocks, pumps, rads and all the gear to keep them frosty and quiet. Not only would they overclock better, and the lack of overclocking is one of our two big disappointments with the MARS 2, but they'd look nicer, be cooler and if one of your chips died you wouldn't be left without a display.
If it sounds like nothing but negativity it's because when you get a card that is clearly aimed at the enthusiast with a huge bank account you have certain expectations. Of all the things we expected, getting exactly what the specs would indicated, GTX580 SLI performance, wasn't really one of them. After all if we wanted that we'd buy a pair of GTX580 and spend the £400 we saved on something else. A huge SATA 6 SSD for example. The MARS 2 doesn't even have the saving grace of the ARES in that it comes with ludicrously high-end packaging and frippery.
So if you want a single card version of a GTX580 SLI setup and don't mind paying £400 to basically be able to put "ASUS MARS 2" in your forum signature, then this is the card for you. If you want performance, or value for money, or almost any other measurable then stick with the two card option.