ASUS ARES Dual HD 5870 Review - The Ultimate Graphics Card
Packaging and Card Layout
When you spend this kind of cash on a PC component, you deserve more than a cardboard box and anti-static bag.
The box for this card is unbelievably huge; note the SSD sitting in front of it for scale.
A fancy briefcase is inside the box and holds the graphics card and other goodies.
Popping it open reveals the well-packed and tightly held in place ARES card along with the extras ASUS includes with it.
The documentation includes an ARES "story book" as well as drivers, quick start guide and instructions on how to change the combination on your new luggage.
Inside the case you'll also find a pair of 2x6-pin to 1x8-pin power adapters, an HDMI-to-DVI adapter, case badge, CrossFire cable and a very nice ASUS ROG USB mouse.
The ARES card is very nicely built and has a solid feel to it. The card is HEAVY though and easily weighs more than the previous fatty, the GTX 480 from NVIDIA. The red/black design is pretty attractive and the paint finish is pretty glossy as well.
The back of the card has a heatsink covering half of the memory and reveals the screws to remove for entry to the PCB.
The fan on the ARES is large and thus can operate at low speeds and still maintain lower than reference temperatures. A typical idle temp reading was about 42 degrees C and the fan was barely audible over the power supply, etc. However, this fan CAN push as much as 119 CFM (!!) and when it does so this sucker is loud!! The ASUS SmartDoctor software though is smart enough to keep fan speeds low as possible or you can manage them manually.
Here you can see the copper heatsinks that rest over each GPU - they are independent of each other but are more dense than any coolers we have used before.
The ARES card requires a pair of 8-pin power connections as well as a 6-pin connection for best operation. ASUS did tell us that using the third 6-pin connector wasn't required though.
The external connections include a single dual-link DVI port, HDMI port and DisplayPort connection. That means the ARES card can only support a pair of 30-in 2560x1600 panels rather than three of them; this is important as it means Eyefinity will only be able to run at either 3x1080p or 3x1920x1200 resolutions.
Finally, the ARES card does support CrossFire so you could add in another HD 5870, HD 5970 or even another ARES card if you are crazy enough!