In 2009 we saw ASUS bring us the first in what would become a line of limited edition graphics card beasts. The MARS sporting the power of two GTX 285 cores brought us excellent performance. 2010 saw ASUS jump on the AMD side of things and release the ARES which sported two HD 5870 cores. A new year and a new card sees ASUS jump back on to the NVIDIA side to release the sexiest looking card we've ever seen; the MARS II.
There's not a lot that has to be said about the MARS II to be honest. We saw ASUS show it off at Computex and show us the kind of performance the card was able to offer. It will be the first card to use our updated testbed along with our updated benchmark line-up.
Of course, before we get into all the fun stuff like the performance of the card, the first thing we need to do is check out the package to see what's going on inside and out. Once that's done, we'll of course be checking out the card itself and the specifications of the MARS II. Then we'll take a quick look at our testbed and what we'll be comparing the MARS II against before pitting it against the other cards we've got on hand.
The box of the MARS II is big, as you'd expect, and it follows that very Republic of Gamers look. The front doesn't tell us too much, but it does make mention that we're essentially dealing with GTX 580s in SLI here. Opening the box up, we can see a bit more about the card and some of the main features.
Across the bottom of the box we've got our first look at the card and just above it you can see our limited edition plaque that's individually numbered. As for the back of the box, you can see a run down on the specifications and some more information of the features that are on offer.
Moving inside the box, we've got a quick setup guide, driver CD, two dual 6-Pin to 8-Pin PCIe power connectors, longer SLI bridge, ROG sticker, DVI to VGA connector and two little black strips. These two strips actually mount to the bottom of the cooler and the idea is when the card goes in your case, these strips provide some padding and let the card rest safety on the other PCIe slots.
To be honest, it's all a little hard to explain, so let's just instead use the page from the media kit that covers exactly how it works. It's funny that something quite simple is missed by so many companies, but ASUS manage to find an easy way to prevent any damage to the card or PCIe slot once it's installed.
The only other thing left in the package is the limited edition plaque itself. It's only the one plaque; the above image is just the front and back of it in a single image. It's funny to hear why ASUS opted for the plaque instead of having it on the card itself like the original MARS. If the card went in for warranty and the cooler was replaced, the person would lose their limited edition numbering. Considering the large cost of the card, it's a little disappointing, so instead this time ASUS have opted for this aluminum plaque which looks great.
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