Righteous performance; cool and quiet; two slots.
Too expensive; only a tiny bit faster than single-GPU cards.
We’ve often wondered why dual-GPU video cards always use two flagship GPUs instead of something a bit more midrange. Sure, we get the whole “most powerful card in the world” marketing tagline that inevitably follows the creation of cards with two high-end GPUs, but those suckers are expensive, run really hot, and oftentimes require exotic cooling. Well, this month Asus has answered our question by packing two midrange GeForce GTX 760 GPUs into one PCB, creating a $650 dual-GPU card designed to take on the $1,000 GTX Titan and the $700 GTX 780 Ti. We figured it would be potent before we even put it on a test bench, since in our “Tested!” feature back in October 2013 we found dual GTX 660 Ti cards to be faster than a GTX 780. Therefore, it’s not a stretch to imagine that two GTX 760s could be faster than a Titan, but since people aren’t that into the dual-GPU thing these days, this will have to be one stupid-fast card to make us believers.
There is a Mars logo on the side that lights up and “breathes” during operation.
To recap, the GTX 760 uses a GPU named GK104 that is considered midrange nowadays, but in 2012 was found in the flagship GTX 680 card. The two GPUs aren’t exactly the same though, as the GTX 760 chip is in a slightly milder state of tune, with just 1,152 CUDA cores (the original GTX 680 had 1,536 cores). The GTX 680 was also clocked a bit higher than the GTX 760, but Asus has made up for that by clocking the Mars 760 at the same clock speed as the original GTX 680, which is extremely high by today’s standards, at 1,006MHz with a 1,072MHz boost clock. Each GPU in the Mars has 2GB of RAM clocked at 6GHz, and it operates over a 256-bit interface. The board uses a custom PCB that is 11 inches long and has 12-phase power, but takes up only two PCIe slots. Asus has qualified this board for external SLI, so you could theoretically hook up two of these bad muthas for quad-SLI if you have the bankroll.
In testing, the Mars 760 was indeed one of the fastest GPUs we’ve ever benchmarked, besting the more-expensive GTX Titan and GTX 780 Ti as well, but failing to dethrone the almighty GTX 690. In every test, it was basically neck-and-neck with the GTX 780 Ti, putting the Mars 760 right up there with the fastest of Nvidia’s arsenal, so kudos to Asus on that. In addition to its top-shelf performance, it was exceptionally quiet and cool, never rising above 80 C under load, even when overclocked to 1,215MHz. According to our records, this also makes it one of the coolest-running high-end GPUs we’ve tested recently, as the GTX 780 Ti runs at about 82 C, and the R9 290X runs at 94 C.
There’s clearly a lot to like here, but there are also two big problems. First, the GTX 760 SLI can be purchased for $500 or less, making this card too expensive. Second, since it’s on par with the GTX 780 Ti, we imagine most people will just want that card since you don’t have to hassle with SLI. Overall, the Mars 760 is excellent, but nobody was asking for a card like this for Nvidia users, and its price is a bit tough to swallow, so maybe there’s a reason few have taken this route.
Note: This review was originally featured in the February 2014 issue of the magazine .
|Asus Mars 760||GTX 780 Ti (Reference)||GTX Titan||AMD Radeon R9 290X (Quiet)||GTX 690|
|3DMark Fire Strike ||9,488||9,953||9,159||9,638||10,478|
|Unigine Heaven 4.0 (fps)||37||39||36||33||42|
|Batman: Arkham Origins (fps) ||54||51||46||53||72|
|Crysis 3 (fps)||33||28||26||30||37|
|Far Cry 3 (fps)||47||41||39||33||56|
|Tomb Raider (fps)||30||27||25||29||29|
|Metro: Last Light (fps)||25||25||21||17||27|
|Battlefield 4 (fps)||49||47||42||44||61|
|CoD: Ghosts (fps)||57||60||60||45||80|
Our current desktop test bed consists of a hexa-core 3.2GHz Core i7-3930K 3.8GHz, 8GB of Corsair DDR3/1600, on an Asus Sabertooth X79 motherboard. We are running a GeForce GTX 690, an OCZ Vertex 3 SSD, and 64-bit Windows 7 Professional.