Companies like ASUS have a their own design engineers and every so often the management will unlock their collar and let them run free. When that happens you end up with a ridiculous product that pushes the boundaries for what can be done with current technology. ASUS took the Republic of Gamers (ROG) product engineers and challenged them to design the fastest NVIDIA graphics card possible. One that could easily beat the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 590 or as some would dare say, design the card properly. By this we mean one that looks good, has two NVIDIA GF110 GPUs, has good cooling, amazing VRM and some room left for overclocking fun.
The end result is inside this box. It is the ASUS ROG MARS II, which is basically a pair of GeForce GTX 580 cores running in SLI on a single PCB. You might say that this has already been done before as NVIDIA has the GeForce GTX 590, but ASUS didn’t lower the core clock speeds on this card – they actually increased the speeds!
|NVIDIA GeForce GTX590||ASUS ROG MARS II|
|GPU Cores||2 x GF110 (GTX580)||2 x GF110 (GTX580)|
|GPU Clock||607 MHz||782 MHz|
|Shader Clock||1215 MHz||1564 MHz|
|Memory Clock||3414 MHz||4008 MHz|
|Memory||3072MB GDDR5||3072MB GDDR5|
|CUDA Cores||512 x 2||512 x 2|
|Power Phases||11 Phases||21 Phases|
As you can see from the chart above the ASUS ROG MARS II has the same cores as the NVIDIA GeForce GTX590 graphics card, but they are clocked higher and with more power phases. The price of the ASUS ROG MARS II is $1499, which is exactly double the cost of a regular ASUS GeForce GTX590! This card is for those that want the ultimate in single card performance and a conversation piece to brag about. When you buy the ASUS MARS II you enter an elite club as this card is a limited edition piece with just 999 being made worldwide.
The back of the box isn’t too exciting, but it does clearly list all the features of the ASUS ROG MARS II.
The box also has a front lid that opens up that gives you a peak at the card and a more in-depth look at some of the features of the card. You can all see the aluminum number plate that shows you the number of the MARS II that is inside the box.
Sliding the card out of the box we see that it is packed in laser cut foam and shipped without a static bag.
The ASUS ROG MARS II comes with a business card sized aluminum plate that has the production number of this limited edition video card laser engraved on it. Our card that we received to review is number 511 of 999 being made.
The back of the card has the following saying on it:
This document certifies that the limited edition MARS II is an unique work of art designed by the ASUS ROG team. This Aluminum plate is individually laser carved and sequentially numbered to certify limited edition status, making it a collector’s item.
With the first layer of foam removed from the box we get our first look at the full MARS II video card and a look at some of the bundle that comes with the card.
For a card that costs $1499 the bundle isn’t really that impressive. You’ll find a single SLI bridge, DVI-to-VGA adapter, ASUS ROG case badge, two 2×6-pin PCIe to 8-pin PCIe power adapters, two rubber spacers for the PCI slots on the case and the driver CD and quick start guide. The thought of running two of these cards in Quad-SLI is scary, but I’m sure someone will do it as some people don’t have a budget to worry about. It would have been nice to see some games or other items included with this card, but if you have $1500 to spend on a video card you likely don’t need some old game title to sweeten the deal.
Pulling the ASUS MARS II out of the box for the first time was magical. It’s almost the same feeling you get when you are seeing a blind date for the first time and finding out that you think she’s cute. You know the card is going to be a beast, but you didn’t expect how much it was going to hit you.
This is hard to do in pictures, but here is a shot of the ASUS MARS II sitting next to the MSI GeForce GTX 520. There is just a small different in size between the two video cards.
If the picture next to the GeForce GT 520 doesn’t do it for you, how about this one on a scale? The ASUS MARS II video card weighs in at 5 pounds 3.75 ounces or 2.37 kilograms for our friends in Europe.This is hands down the heaviest video card that we have ever held or seen!
Let’s take a look at all of the sides on the card.