Okay seriously, we had a blast with the ASUS GeForce GTX 295 MARS. It's one of these extravagant products that no-one with some common logic and sense would buy, but definitely would like to read up about.
Let me again clarify this a little, as we use the phrase Dual GTX 285 a lot in our review; is the designated name for this card a GeForce GTX 295 ? Or is it better to call this product a dual-GPU GeForce GTX 285 ? ASUS calls it a GeForce GXT 295 MARS edition, we really like to call it a Dual GTX 285. A GeForce GTX 295 with it's 448-bit memory bus and lesser memory doesn't seem like right fit naming wise. Anyway that aside, onwards with the conclusion. The MARS is designed for marketing purposes, it's like a Ferrari on display on an exhibition and in exactly that sentiment you should look at this entire product launch as honestly, as an investment it makes absolutely no sense.
You could spend a thousand EUR on this product and will have a lot of fun. But really .. anno September 2009 while sniffing at Windows 7 with DX11 class graphics cards just around the corner, to invest in a card like this is just not the sensible thing to do.
So we established that for an end-consumer a product like this is over-priced over-marketed and and over-hyped. But that doesn't mean that ASUS didn't do something very special. I mean seriously .. pure respect from my side is what they will see from me. They had to design a product from ground up knowing that they'll never sell a lot of them. Fact is that the design does work rather well, cooling could be better in both performance and noise levels but the MARS anno 2009 really is the fastest graphics card on the planet that is working well. It's designed well, it's offering brute force performance and sure, you'll giggle nervously when using it.
The reality is that you need to look at a product like this as a posh car on display, everybody wants it yet nobody can really spend the money on it. Common sense is to purchase a GeForce GTX 295 and overclock it a little higher, you'll end up with nearly similar performance for maybe half or a third of the price. NVIDIA recently started allowing pre-overclocked GTX 295 cards, as such you have been able to witness the BFG GTX 295 H2OC included throughout the tests in this article to make exactly that point. Of course you could also opt two GTX 285 cards setup in SLI, or for the same money even three cards (which is definitely is faster than one MARS).
But the ASUS MARS has to be the most sturdy, balsy and aggressive move from ASUS that I have seen in a long time, and face it .. we do not see a lot of manufacturers do something special these days anymore. The product works, it's there and performing beautifully. I have a lot, seriously a lot of respect for that.
So guys that has to be our conclusion, it's good to see companies do stuff that it out of the box, away from regular and normal stuff, it tickles the senses and brings some positive energy to an otherwise dull (right now) market. For the first batch ASUS only made a 1000 of these cards, and you'll likely never find them in the stores. Perhaps there will be a second batch who knows, I doubt it really. The ASUS MARS doesn't make any sense as valid purchase, then again .. it was never designed to be just that. Once you understand that concept, you'll learn to respect what ASUS demonstrates here very much.
Thanks go out to ASUS for supplying a MARS for review.
ASUS Mars II review We've seen the original brutal Mars, the exemplary ARES but ASUS is at it again with the all new Mars II, yep that's right. The x-factor products makes it prodigal return to manage a little bump and grinding.
Money aside, the dual-GPU product tested today is uber cool though. It's the stuff that make my digitized ticker go tick a little faster -- and once you have it in your hands, you'll make a nervous giggle. Ah well, talk is cheap, have a look and then we'll head onwards into the review of the Lucifer of graphics cards.
ASUS MARS review If you have been living under a rock and don't know what the ASUS Mars is .. let me give you an easy breakdown. You take two GeForce GTX 285 graphics cards, stick 4 GB of memory on there (2GB per GPU), sandwich them, SLI them up, market it as MARS, slap a limited edition label on there and make only a 1000 units. That in a nutshell is the product we'll be testing today. So without making a long and boring introduction, let's pop one of these little frackers into our finest test system and see where it ends up performance wise .. will this really be the fastest graphics card in the world anno September 2009 ?