The Republic of Gamers (ROG) series from ASUS is synonymous with gaming enthusiasts. You can always expect something different, something innovative when you have a product from the ROG lineup. We have already seen the innovations with the ROG motherboards, but when it comes to graphics cards, ASUS already has their DirectCU II Top cards which are factory overclocked. So what more can you do on that front with an ROG branding? ASUS have come out with interesting ROG cards such as the ARES and the Matrix HD 7970 in the past. So with the ASUS ROG MARS 760 as well, we had high expectations. ASUS seems to have delivered again, by offering you a dual GTX 760 GPU in a single package.

Design and Build

ASUS MARS 760 looks superb in its red and black coloured design with the black portion having a rubberised feel to it

ASUS MARS 760 looks superb in its red and black coloured design with the black portion having a rubberised feel to it

Since the ASUS MARS 760 belongs to the ROG lineup, the red and black coloured shroud is a given. With the MARS 760, ASUS has gone for a more open design instead of using a plastic shroud which completely covers the vapour chamber beneath it. There’s provision for two 90mm fans located above two vapour chambers – each having four copper heat pipes each. These vapour chambers are placed above the two GTX 760 GPUs.

The ASUS MARS 760 has two fans atop the vapour chambers over the two GTX 760 GPUs

The ASUS MARS 760 has two fans atop the vapour chambers over the two GTX 760 GPUs

The metal shroud is textured and has a rubbery finish. On the left hand corner and down in the centre, you have a red coloured metallic accent. On the top you have the MARS branding which glows red when the card is powered on. On the rear side you have an aluminum backplate. The card employs two 8-pin power connectors present on the top right hand edge. Coming to the display ports, you have three DVI ports along with a mini-DisplayPort.

On the display front the MARS 760 has three DVI ports and a mini DisplayPort

On the display front, the MARS 760 has three DVI ports and a mini DisplayPort

On the whole, the card is quite sturdy and the presence of an aluminum back-plate adds a layer of protection for the circuitry and capacitors on the PCB on the rear side.

Features

The MARS 760 has two 8-pin PCIe power connectors and the MARS logo glows red when the card is running

The MARS 760 has two 8-pin PCIe power connectors and the MARS logo glows red when the card is running

The ASUS ROG MARS 760 comes with two GTX 760 GPUs which are based on the Kepler architecture. Each GTX 760 is based on the GK104 die, which was also seen in the GTX 670 and GTX 680. There are in all, 2304 CUDA cores with a base clock speed of 1006MHz and Boost clock speed of 1188MHz as opposed to 980 MHz base clock and 1033 boost clock speeds on a stock GTX 760. It has 4GB GDDR5 RAM clocked at 6GHz (effective speed) and it has a memory bus width of 2×256-bit ie.512-bit. It is rated for a maximum TDP of 300W so a PSU with at least 650 watts is recommended.

We liked the fact that the ASUS MARS 760 has a protective backplate on the card

We liked the fact that the ASUS MARS 760 has a protective backplate on the card

Considering the MARS 760 is based on the Kepler architecture, it supports features such as GPU Boost 2.0, Adaptive V-sync, FXAA, TXAA and so on.

Test Setup

Processor: Intel Core i7-4770K
Motherboard: ASRock Z87M Extreme4
RAM: 2 x 4GB GSkill RipjawsX
OS Drive: Plextor SSD, 256GB (boot drive)
Additional Drive: Western Digital Velociraptor, 150GB (secondary)
PSU: Cooler Master 800W Silent Pro Gold
OS: Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
Monitor: ASUS PB278Q
Catalyst Driver version: 13.11 Beta
Nvidia driver version: 331.82

Performance
3DMark 11
3DMark is a computer benchmarking tool created and developed by Futuremark Corporation to determine the performance of a computer’s 3D graphic rendering and CPU workload processing capabilities. The latest version makes extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11, including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. We used the “Performance” preset for this benchmark.

Unigine Heaven 4.0
Unigine Heaven 4.0 is a DirectX 11 benchmark based on the Unigine engine which can be used to test the stability of a GPU under stressful conditions. It involves a run-through of an imaginary land involving floating islands, cobblestoned streets, smokey atmosphere, going through caves lit with burning fires, dragon statues and so on. You can adjust the tessellation, anti-aliasing filters, anisotropic filters etc. We run this test keeping the settings at Medium, no Anti-asliasing filter and Tessellation at Normal.

Please Note: Since we are introducing new gaming benchmarks and higher resolutions (2560×1440), some of the older cards reviewed are missing from the charts. We will update the scores of the older cards with new games and resolutions in the near future.

Battlefield 3
Battlefield 3 is a first-person shooter video game developed by EA Digital Illusions CE and is based on the new Frostbite 2 game engine. The game only supports DX10 and DX11, which enables enhanced in-game destruction with Destruction 3.0, creating more refined physics than its predecessor and quasi-realtime radiosity using Geometrics’ Enlighten technology. The game is a visual treat and a nightmare for graphics cards, which makes it perfect for our test. We used the “Ultra High” preset, Post AA – High, Blur – Full, Field of View – 90, Level – “Fear no Evil”.

Crysis 2
Crysis 2 is a first-person shooter video game developed by Crytek and is based on the new CryEngine 3. Just like the first iteration of the game, Crysis 2 continues to be one of the best-looking shooters to date. The settings used for this benchmark were “Ultra and High” preset in Adrenalin, DX11 and High-resolution texture patch.

Dirt 3  
Dirt 3 is a rallying video game and the third in the Dirt series of the Colin McRae Rally series, developed and published by Codemasters. The game is extremely scalable and features DX11 tessellation effects. We used the built-in benchmark tool, along with “Ultra” quality preset.

Metro: Last Light
Metro: Last Light is a first-person shooter video game that continues Metro’s legacy of being one of the most demanding games for the best of GPUs. The game has a lot of DX11 eye-candy, which really puts a strain on any GPU. All DX11 features were enabled for the benchmark and we used the built-in benchmark for this test.

Bioshock Infinite
Bioshock Infinite developed by Irrational Games uses a modified version of the Unreal Engine. It’s a first-person shooter which takes place in a fictional floating city called Columbia. We ran the benchmark using the Adrenaline Benchmark tool and used the Ultra and Medium settings. In the Ultra settings you have FXAA On, Ultra texture detail, 16x AF, Ultra dynamic shadows and with the Medium settings you have FXAA On, High texture detail, 8x AF and High dynamic shadows.

Bioshock Infinite

Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider is a third-person shooter which is a reboot of the famous series with Lara Croft as the protagonist. In this reboot, she is ship-wrecked on a mysterious island which presents its own set of challenges which Lara has to overcome. The game is based on a customised CrystalEngine. It also features the AMD TressFX technology which adds more realism to hair rendering and physics. We ran the benchmark using the in-built benchmark tool at the Ultimate and Ultra settings. On the Ultimate preset, you have TressFX activated, 16x AF, FXAA whereas the Ultra preset has Normal hair quality, 16x AF, FXAA.

Tomb Raider

Sleeping Dogs
Sleeping Dogs is an open-world third-person action-adventure game developed by United Front games and Square Enix London Studios. Set in modern-day Hong Kong the game involves you playing as Wei Shan, an undercover cop, who infiltrates a local Triad gang. We ran the benchmark using the Adrenaline Benchmark tool and used the Ultra and Medium settings.

Temperatures
We noted the temperature of all the participating cards at idle and load states. The fan speeds were kept on auto. We noted maximum load temperatures after running benchmarks such as FurMark at 1080p preset, 3D Mark 11, Battlefield 3 and Metro: Last Light and taking an average.

Power Consumption
We used an energy monitoring device to measure the power consumed by the total rig with the graphics cards on them. The Cooler Master 800W PSU was plugged into the power meter which gave out the power consumed in Watts on the display. After powering on the system we let it stay unused for a good five minutes to get the idle power reading and then ran three instances of FurMark 1080p preset to get the maximum load power.

Verdict and Price in India
ASUS MARS 760 is a blazing fast card and apart from the GTX 780 Ti, it manages to beat just about everything else. In our real world gaming benchmarks and synthetic benchmarks, it was faster than both the ZOTAC GTX TITAN and the XFX R9 290 in most of the games at completely maxed out settings.

Overall, it was 7 percent faster than the R9 290 and GTX TITAN in Battlefield 3, 9 percent faster than R9 290 and 5 percent faster than GTX TITAN in Crysis 2 and so on. In Tomb Raider it was close to 30 percent faster than the R9 290 and around 13 percent faster than the GTX TITAN. Of course, it was a bit slower than them in some benchmarks, but the difference isn’t much. But these performance numbers come at a price as the MARS 760 was the hottest card and one which consumed the most power.

The ASUS MARS 760 comes at a price of Rs 49,500 which is around the same price point as the NVIDIA GTX 780 (which is yet to get a price drop in Indian markets) and makes for a much better buy than the GTX 780. It provides a better value than the GTX TITAN as well if you are looking purely at good gaming performance.

Considering it’s a part of the ROG family and the fact that it puts two GTX 760s in SLI on a single PCB, the MARS comes at a premium. When compared with the XFX R9 290 which offers a performance which is quite close to the MARS 760 at a price which is almost Rs 14,000 cheaper, it’s difficult to recommend the MARS 760 at the 50k price point. Just like the MARS 760, the R9 290 can handle gaming at 2560×1440 resolution quite well. So from a purely value perspective, the R9 290 still offers a better deal. ASUS certianly has a very innovative offering here but the high price will be a put off for many.

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