ASUS GeForce GTX 760 MARS Review
UK price (as reviewed): MSRP £520
US price (as reviewed) Currently unavailable
It’s been a busy time in the high end graphics card market recently. It was little over a month ago that the AMD R9 290X launched, challenging the GTX Titan and GTX 780 for the single GPU crown. Nvidia quickly fired back with its GTX 780 Ti, and we’ve also seen its board partners begin to release their versions of it too. Asus is also throwing its weight into the arena, but with a card of its own design rather than a tweaked and branded version of an existing model. Its GTX 760 MARS card is set to launch here for around £520 inc VAT, and is designed to take on both GTX Titan and the GTX 780 Ti with its pair of GTX 760 GPUs.
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The GTX 760 MARS is a departure from what’s gone before it in the range. Previous MARS cards have taken two of the most powerful GPUs available at the time and merged them into a single super expensive and supersized card. The new one, however, uses distinctly mid-range GPUs, and as a dual-slot card that’s 280mm long, it’s barely bigger than the GTX 780 Ti. It’s also priced competitively, relative to the GTX 780 Ti, at least, with its price undercutting Nvidia’s flagship card by about £30 and obviously being much less than GTX Titan too. Asus has said that there are no current plans to ship any free games with it, however.
The card sports ROG branding and a red and black colour scheme to match. The red slash is aluminium while the black enclosure is formed from soft touch plastic. Meanwhile, the aluminium backplate stabilises the PCB. Finally, the MARS logo on the side pulsates with red LEDs when in use and should be a nice piece of eye candy through a case window.
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On the rear I/O panel you’ll find three DVI ports, all dual link, alongside a single mini-DisplayPort, and a DVI to HDMI adaptor is bundled with the card as well. Up top there are two 8-pin PCI-E power sockets, for which Asus supplies a dual 6-pin to single 8-pin cable should you need one.
The GTX 760 GPU has 1,152 stream processors, so Asus will market the MARS as having 2,304. This is a high count, but still somewhat less than the 2,880 found in the GTX 780 Ti. Nevertheless, the MARS has its GPUs clocked higher, as Asus has clocked them at 1,006MHz compared to the GTX 780 Ti’s 876MHz base clock (although this card has heaps of overclocking potential). The MARS also has the higher amount of total available memory at 4GB (2 x 2GB), but this is clocked at 6GHz, not 7GHz as on the GTX 780 Ti. Comparisons like these between single and dual GPU cards aren’t entirely reliable, but even so the MARS clearly has plenty of resources at its disposal.
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Prying off the cooling apparatus reveals the custom made PCB. On either side of it sits a GK104 GPU, with each flanked by eight 256MB SK Hynix memory chips – it’s an impressive looking setup. The GPUs communicate via the PLX PEX8747 bridge that sits between them. Elsewhere, the single fan header controls both fans, while a single SLI connection means two of these cards can be used together for the world’s first GTX 760 Quad-SLI.
The new MARS has a total of 12 power phases – five per GPU and one per memory set. The GPU ones are located in the middle, with each set of five controlled by a Digi+VRM controller that allows for precise voltage control via software like GPU Tweak. The memory phases are found at the top left and bottom right of the PCB. Asus also boasts that the power phases are of the highest quality, with Japanese capacitors and Super Alloy Power components (built with Asus’s own specially engineered metal alloy) used throughout. This is designed to result in less power whine, more reliable and longer lasting components and improved overclocking.
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Lastly, there’s the cooler, which is based on Asus’s DirectCU II design. The card actually has two separate coolers, as their heat pipes do not merge. For each GPU there are four direct contact copper heat pipes which feed the aluminium heatsinks above. In turn, these are cooled by airflow from the large fans. These fans also provide some indirect cooling to the memory chips and power phases, most (not all) of which are covered by a metal contact plate. Note that heat from the card will be dumped into your chassis, so proper airflow is a must.
- Graphics processor 2 x Nvidia GeForce GTX 760, 1,006MHz (boost 1,072MHz)
- Pipeline 2 x 1,152 stream processors, 2 x 96 texture units, 2 x 32 ROPs
- Memory 2 x 2GB GDDR5, 6GHz effective
- Bandwidth 2 x 192GB/sec, 2 x 256-bit interface
- Compatibility DirectX 11, OpenGL 4.3
- Outputs/Inputs 2 x Dual Link DVI-I, Dual Link DVI-D, mini-DisplayPort
- Power connections 2 x 8-pin PCI-E, top-mounted
- Size 280mm, dual slot
- Warranty Three years
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