Preview: ASUS ROG ARES II Radeon HD 7990

Launch SRP: S$2499

ASUS ROG ARES II Radeon HD 7990 - First Looks

Meet the ASUS ROG ARES II Radeon HD 7990

When it comes to graphics cards, you have entry-level, mid-level and enthusiast-level options. Then you have ROG-level. Having built a reputation for extreme high-end performance with the original MARS, MARS II and ARES cards, ASUS' ROG series returns with the ROG ARES II Radeon HD 7990 which, at a whopping S$2499, is definitely in a class of its own. The dual-GPU card utilizes two Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition GPUs overclocked from 1050MHz to 1100MHz, with memory speeds bumped up from 6000MHz to 6600MHz DDR, and costs twice as much as its nearest competitor, Powercolor's Devil 13 Radeon HD 7990, which also uses dual Radeon HD 7970 GPUs - albeit non-GHz edition ones - but can be had for S$1358.

So what do you get if you're prepared to spend as much money on a graphics card as most people spend on an entire gaming rig? Let's find out:

The ARES II is quite slim, measuring 300 x 145 x 45mm and taking up just two PCIe slots - don't be fooled by its slim size though, it weighs a hefty 2.2kg!

The card itself houses just a single 80mm fan, primarily to keep the cooling block and power delivery components at sane operating temperatures. The majority of the ARES II's cooling comes from its closed-cycle liquid cooling system which comprises of the huge cooling block that is connected to the radiator via two tubes running to the card; the radiator has twin 120mm fans to help expel the heat. One fan comes pre-installed, while the other needs to be attached and screwed down together with your chassis (screws are provided). Be warned that the tubing is a little bit on the short side, measuring just 300mm in length, so you'll need to mount the liquid cooling system somewhere close to the card.

Combined with the liquid cooling system, the total weight of the ARES II comes in at a massive 2.84kg. That's as heavy as two Ultrabooks!

 

 

 

Finally, let's take a look at how the ARES II compares against its competition:

ASUS ROG ARES II Radeon HD 7990 and competitive SKUs compared
  ASUS ROG ARES II Radeon HD 7990 PowerColor Devil 13 Radeon HD 7990 NVIDIA GeForce GTX 690 (reference card) AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition 3GB DDR5 NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 (Reference Card)
Core Code
  • Tahiti XT
  • Tahiti XT
  • GK104
  • Tahiti XT
  • GK104
GPU Transistor Count
  • 8.6 billion
  • 8.6 billion
  • 7080 million
  • 4300 million
  • 3.54 billion
Manufacturing Process
  • 28nm
  • 28nm
  • 28nm
  • 28nm
  • 28nm
Core Clock
  • 1050MHz (Standard BIOS)
  • 1100MHz (Boost BIOS)
  • 925MHz (Standard BIOS)
  • 1000MHz (OC BIOS)
  • 915MHz
  • 1050MHz
  • 1006MHz
Stream Processors
  • 4096
  • 4096
  • 3072
  • 2048 Stream processing units
  • 1536 CUDA cores
Stream Processor Clock
  • 1050MHz (Standard BIOS)
  • 1100MHz (Boost BIOS)
  • 925MHz (Standard BIOS)
  • 1000MHz (OC BIOS)
  • 915MHz
  • 1050MHz
  • 1006MHz
Texture Mapping Units (TMUs)
  • 256
  • 256
  • 256
  • 128
  • 128
Raster Operator units (ROP)
  • 64
  • 64
  • 256
  • 32
  • 32
Memory Clock (DDR)
  • 6600MHz DDR (GDDR5)
  • 5500MHz DDR (GDDR5)
  • 6008MHz DDR
  • 6000MHz DDR (GDDR5)
  • 6008MHz
Memory Bus width
  • 768-bit (2 x 384-bit)
  • 384-bit
  • 256-bit
  • 384-bit
  • 256-bit
Memory Bandwidth
  • 264 GB/s
  • 264 GB/s
  • 384.4 GB/s (192.2 GB/s per GPU)
  • 288GB/s
  • 192.3GB/s
PCI Express Interface
  • PCIe ver 3.0 x16
  • PCIe ver 3.0 x16
  • PCIe v3.0 x16
  • PCIe ver 3.0 x16
  • PCIe ver 3.0 x16
Power Connectors
  • 3 x 8-pin
  • 3 x 8-pin
  • 2 x 8-pin
  • 1 x 6-pin, 1 x 8-pin
  • 2 x 6-pin
Multi GPU Technology
  • CrossFireX
  • CrossFireX
  • SLI
  • CrossFireX
  • SLI
DVI Outputs
  • 1 x DVI-D
  • 1 x DVI-I
  • 1 x DVI-D
  • 1 x DVI-I
  • 3 x Dual-Link
  • 1 x Dual-Link
  • 2
HDMI Outputs
  • 0 (1 via included adapter)
  • 1
  • 1
  • 1
DisplayPort Outputs
  • 4
  • 2
  • 1 x Mini-DisplayPort
  • 2 (version 1.2 HBR2)
  • 1
HDCP Output Support
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes

Without question, ASUS' ROG ARES II Radeon HD 7990 is a very impressive card but is it S$2499 impressive? For now we're not convinced - as always, the bottom line with high-end graphics cards is performance, performance, performance. Is this where the ARES II will justify its enormous price tag? Find out in our full review coming on 29th January 2013! Until then, an NDA has been enforced to keep performance matters under wraps; perhaps ASUS could be brewing a newer BIOS? We'll find out soon enough.

8.0
Performance
9.5
Features
9
Value
4
The Good
Most powerful graphics card available right now
Unique hybrid liquid/air cooling system with low running temperatures
2-slot card should fit in most cases
The Bad
Astronomically expensive
Questionable timing - next generation GPUs should be unveiled soon
Plain aesthetics
High power consumption
Awards:
Best Gaming Rig