Power Consumption, Sound Levels and Closing Thoughts
One thing to be said about the ASUS ROG MARS 760 is that it is power hungry! Using 70 watts more power than the single GTX 780 Ti card and 65 more watts than the R9 290X, the dual GPUs on the MARS 760 require a bit more juice than I thought they would. In four of the six games we tested the MARS 760 was the highest performing card and for gaming enthusiasts the power draw of this design won't be a big hurdle.
Even though the MARS 760 is drawing a lot of power, the engineering that ASUS put into the DirectCU II cooler pays off by keeping noise levels lower than the R9 290X (in quiet mode) and lower than the GTX 780 Ti as well.
The MARS 760 uses a lot of power but clearly the custom design helps ASUS quite a bit. Not only does it run quieter than the other cards in our test suite it also runs cooler.
The ROG MARS 760 from ASUS was definitely impressive from a performance perspective. In four of our six game tests the ASUS card was not only faster than the $500 GTX 780 but also faster than the $700 GTX 780 Ti. And we are not talking about tiny differences here. In Battlefield 3 the MARS 760 was the best card by more than 11% and in Crysis 3 the advantage is more than 12%. At a 2560×1440 resolution those performance advantages resulted in a noticeably improved gaming experience for the MARS 760 over the other cards in those games.
One potential pitfall of dual-GPU cards is the very fact that they depend on multi-GPU technology to get as close to the maximum performance of the hardware. For NVIDIA one of the feathers in its cap over the last year has been SLI when compared to AMD's CrossFire and as a result the ASUS MARS 760 sees very few problems with the on-board SLI configuration. Only in one instance did we see frame time variance (frame to frame performance that could affect smoothness) that was noteworthy. In all other cases the MARS 760 produced smooth and consistent frame rates.
There are still some potential pitfalls for the MARS 760 in particular if you want to go above the 2560×1440 or 2560×1600 resolutions. In my quick testing with 4K gaming the MARS 760 had a harder time than expected because of the 2GB frame buffer; the GTX 780 and GTX 780 Ti have 3GB while the R9 290X has 4GB. While the entire card has 4GB of memory keep in mind that each GPU only has access to half of that.
Pricing and Availability
ASUS claims that the the ROG MARS 760 card will retail for $630 which places it in a very interesting position in the market. In the NVIDIA stack, that puts it between the GeForce GTX 780 and the GeForce GTX 780 Ti though it is priced much closer to the 780 Ti. The highest priced AMD card on the market now is the R9 290X at $550 (when its in stock) which is $80 less than the expected price of the ROG MARS 760.
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti 3GB – $699 (Newegg.com)
- ASUS ROG MARS 760 4GB – $630 (available soon!)
- AMD Radeon R9 290X 4GB – $549 (Newegg.com)
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 3GB – $499 (Newegg.com)
**Note: These prices listed on the AMD Radeon R9 series of cards are MSRP. As of this writing it is pretty much impossible to find any of them AT THAT PRICE and instead they are either out of stock or $50-200 over the expected level. We had a discussion as to the potential source of the problem being Litecoin mining if you want to check that out.
In comparison to the GTX 780 Ti, the MARS 760 is a great option for single panel gaming at 2560×1440. It performs better in our testing and costs less. The other two cards present a more difficult decision though as they fall on the other side of the price scale. For $130 less you can get the GTX 780, a card that no doubt performs lower than MARS 760 but does so as a single GPU, leaving room for great SLI scaling in the future. The 3GB frame buffer will help with 4K gaming in the future as well if you think you'll go that route.
AMD's R9 290X is certainly hard to find right now but for $80 less you are are getting a card that is much closer in performance to the MARS 760 than the GTX 780 base is though there are other concerns over the Hawaii-based products. Performance and clock variance, noise, temperature, etc.
In the past I was able to write conclusions about the ASUS MARS graphics cards that were simply in awe of the performance and engineering, leaving a purchase recommendation out of the equation. The MARS II card had a retail price starting at $1200 so there weren't many readers who were going to be influenced with that buying decision; you either knew you wanted that kind of card or you knew you didn't. With the ROG MARS 760 though we get a custom design option from ASUS that is more reasonably priced and also won't be as limited in production.
In my view the ASUS ROG MARS 760 is a fantastic choice for gamers that are going to be gaming on a 2560×1600 or 2560×1440 panel and are looking for an enthusiast-class graphics card to get the job done. The MARS 760 is unique but also can claim to be the fastest graphics card available on the market with its pair of GTX 760 / GK104 GPUs under the hood.