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:
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.