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ASUS ARES Dual HD 5870 Review - The Ultimate Graphics Card

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Manufacturer: Asus
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Design and Specifications

Ares (Ancient Greek: Ἄρης  [árɛːs], Μodern Greek: Άρης [ˈaris]) is a major deity and a member of the Twelve Olympians, a son of Zeus and Hera, in Greek mythology. Though often referred to as the Olympian god of warfare, he is more accurately the god of bloodlust, or slaughter personified: "Ares is apparently an ancient abstract noun meaning throng of battle, war."[1]  He also presides over the weapons of war, the defense and sacking of cities, rebellion and civil order, banditry, manliness and courage.

Also, a sweet-ass graphics card.

So maybe on paper one comes off a little better than the other, but really, who are we to debate the virtues of things like "bloodlust" and "slaughter personified"?  Really, it all comes down to PC hardware for us and the new ASUS ARES graphics card is about as god-like and god-damn-expensive as they come. 

Design and Specifications

We first got our glimpse of the ARES card back in April when we attended the ASUS ROG Summit, an overclocking event in the San Jose area.  At the time it wasn't much more than a technology demonstration but even then the idea of pairing up a couple of true Radeon HD 5870 GPUs on a single PCB was mouth-wateringly enticing. 

For reference, the Radeon HD 5970 dual-GPU graphics card uses the same GPUs but clocked at 725 MHz each; the new ASUS ARES card takes the combined 3200 stream processors and runs them at full speed: 850 MHz out of the box.

The design might also look familiar:

 

This is the ASUS N7800GT DUAL graphics card released way back in October of 2005 and offered a pair of NVIDIA GeForce 7800 GPUs on a single PCB for the first time.  ASUS continues it drive as not only a card reseller but as an engineering powerhouse by taking the visual cues from this card and applying them to modern-day GPUs.  

There are several design features that ASUS has built into the ARES graphics card besides the obvious benefits of dual Radeon HD 5870 GPUs.  The heatsinks are now built out of oxygen-free 8mm heatpipes, the fan is both quiet at low speeds and capable of high airflow, the enclosure is easy to disassemble, the card is software voltage and frequency mod-able, etc. 

ASUS even claims that the new ARES card produces less noise than the reference design HD 5970 using lower power and lower frequency GPUs at a basic load and under idle conditions.  In my testing this was very much the case though the fan on the ARES can definitely pump out some volume if you crank it up!

Here is the full specification breakdown and the numbers look even better in table form.  Each Radeon HD 5870 GPU has access to 2GB of frame buffer for a total of 4GB of GDDR5 memory running at 4.8 GHz.  The clock speed on the GPUs is 850 MHz though ASUS leaves plenty of room for overclocking with this car and we'll look at that on our conclusion page.  

Let's take a closer look at what you get with the ARES and how impressive a $1200 video card can be.

Next Page -
Packaging and Card Layout

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