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Surround Vision Examined with ASUS MARS II 3GB Dual GTX 580

We install the ASUS MARS II 3GB on our new Surround Vision setup and see the kind of performance we can get at 3600 x 1920.
@ShawnBakerTW
Published Wed, Aug 24 2011 1:19 AM CDT   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction

Surround Vision Examined with ASUS MARS II 3GB Dual GTX 580 02 | TweakTown.com
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Recent changes to my testbeds and just the office in general means that I've had the opportunity to expand my testing setup. One of the main things that comes with the office reshuffle is a full time triple monitor setup via three Dell U2410s that run at 1920 x 1200 each. So the setup doesn't take up even more room than it needs to, I've opted to use the monitors in a portrait configuration instead of landscape, which you can see in the above picture.

This setup results in a final resolution of 3600 x 1920. To be honest, in portrait the gaming experience is a lot stronger thanks to the fact that the added height helps give you better immersion. People will continue to complain about the bezels, but to be honest with you, as someone who's been using Eyefinity for 20 months now, when you're in game the bezels don't become an issue and the side screens just help with your peripheral vision.

There's not too much more that needs to be said. The setup will open up two new series of articles, though; Surround Vision Examined and Eyefinity Examined. Both will feature a certain card or setup and we'll see how that said setup runs through a number of our games. Today the focus is all on the MARS II; the new dual GTX 580 card from ASUS that offers us some serious performance. Moving away from just single monitor 2560 x 1600 gaming, we'll instead be looking at how the setup performs on our new Surround Vision rig at 3600 x 1920.

Test System Setup

Surround Vision Examined with ASUS MARS II 3GB Dual GTX 580 99 | TweakTown.com

We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASUS, MSI, Western Digital and Corsair.

Why do you use a Z68 platform with x8 / x8 instead of an X58 one with x16 / x16? Z68 vs X58 - Which is The Better Gaming Platform?

The testbed side of things doesn't bring with it anything out of the ordinary. For connectivity, we opted to use two DVI cables and a single HDMI port and of course fired up the Surround Vision configuration in the NVIDIA driver suite.

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Before we get into the testing side of things, though, let's just quickly look at the resolution we're dealing with today. 3600 x 1200 is of course 3x the resolution of just a single 1920 x 1200 display, or slightly more than 3x when compared to a 1920 x 1080 display. Compared to the highest single resolution monitor, the 30" 2560 x 1600 beasts, the difference is also very large.

A single 2560 x 1600 display offers 4,096,000 pixels. 3600 x 1200, while not sounding that much higher than 2560 x 1600, the setup actually offers 6,912,000 pixels. This equates to almost 70% more pixels, or 70% more stress on the video card(s).

On the benchmark side of things we've cut out a few like 3DMark Vantage and Unigine Heaven. Any games, though, continue to be included with the only other testing removed today being AA / AF testing.

On the comparison front, we've just got the MARS II in our graphs today. Next to our 3600 x 1200 testing we have included our 2560 x 1600 results to help give you an idea of just how much more intensive the Surround Vision setup is that we're using today. The main thing we want to know is; can we still get playable FPS out of this single card solution at the massive 3600 x 1920 resolution?

Let's get started!

The FPS Numbers Explained

When we benchmark our video cards and look at the graphs, we aim to get to a certain level of FPS which we consider playable. While many may argue that the human eye can't see over 24 FPS or 30 FPS, any true gamer will tell you that as we climb higher in Frames Per Seconds (FPS), the overall gameplay feels smoother. There are three numbers we're looking out for when it comes to our benchmarks.

30 FPS - It's the minimum number we aim for when it comes to games. If you're not dropping below 30 FPS during games, you're going to have a nice and smooth gaming experience. The ideal situation is that even in a heavy fire fight, the minimum stays above 30 FPS making sure that you can continue to aim easily or turn the corner with no dramas.

60 FPS - It's the average we look for when we don't have a minimum coming at us. If we're getting an average of 60 FPS, we should have a minimum of 30 FPS or better and as mentioned above, it means we've got some smooth game play happening.

120 FPS - The new number that we've been hunting down over recent months. If you're the owner of a 120 Hz monitor, to get the most out of it you want to get around the 120 FPS mark. Moving from 60 FPS / 60 Hz to 120 FPS / 120 Hz brings with it a certain fluidity that can't really be explained, but instead has to be experienced. Of course, if you're buying a 120 Hz monitor to take advantage of 3D, an average of 120 FPS in our benchmark means that in 3D you will have an average of 60 FPS, which again means you should expect some smooth gameplay.

Benchmarks - Mafia II

Mafia II

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.2kczech.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.mafia2game.com/

Buy It Here

Mafia II is a third-person action-adventure video game, the sequel to Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven. It is developed by 2K Czech, previously known as Illusion Softworks, and is published by 2K Games. The game is set from 1943 to 1951 in Empire Bay (the name is a reference to New York's state nickname "The Empire State"), a fictional city based on San Francisco and New York City, with influences from Chicago and Detroit. The game features a completely open-ended game map of 10 square miles. No restrictions are included from the start of the game. There are around 50 vehicles in the game, as well as licensed music from the era.

Surround Vision Examined with ASUS MARS II 3GB Dual GTX 580 20 | TweakTown.com

We start with Mafia II and while you can see we take a massive hit in performance, even at this ultra-high resolution we're able to remain above that 60 FPS average that we aim for with our in-game settings maxed out.

Benchmarks - Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.2

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo

Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test

Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/UK/default.aspx

Product Homepage: http://www.hawxgame.com/

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2 is an arcade-style flight action game developed by Ubisoft Romania and published by Ubisoft. The game is the sequel to Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X., released in 2009.

The game begins with Colonel David Crenshaw participating in a routine patrol mission in the Middle East. After halting an insurgent attack, a volley of missiles is fired at the Air Force base that Crenshaw was stationed at, with one of the missiles disabling Crenshaw's aircraft, resulting Crenshaw being in enemy captivity. A joint strike force composed of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and a Ghost Recon squad executes an operation to rescue Crenshaw. In Scotland, Royal Navy Pilot Colin Munro encounters an unidentified passenger aircraft that explodes from an on-board bomb when undergoing training exercise. In Russia, an air force squadron led by Colonel Denisov and Captain Dmitri Sokov engages separatist aircraft but is ordered to retreat from the region after numerous Russian military installations have been attacked.

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H.A.W.X. 2 at 2560 x 1600 is seeing such strong FPS already that while we again take a massive hit when moving to 3600 x 1920, we continue to still see an extremely strong average come out of the setup.

Benchmarks - Lost Planet 2

Lost Planet 2

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark - Test A Scene 1

Developer Homepage: http://www.capcom.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.lostplanet2game.com/

Lost Planet 2 is a third-person shooter video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the sequel to Lost Planet: Extreme Condition which is also made by Capcom, taking place ten years after the events of the first game, on the same fictional planet. The story takes place back on E.D.N. III 10 years after the events of the first game. The snow has melted to reveal jungles and more tropical areas that have taken the place of more frozen regions. The plot begins with Mercenaries fighting against Jungle Pirates. After destroying a mine, the Mercenaries continue on to evacuate the area, in which a Category-G Akrid appears and attacks them. After being rescued, they find out their evacuation point (Where the Category-G appeared) was a set-up and no pick up team awaited them. The last words imply possible DLC additions to the game, "There's nothing to be gained by wiping out snow pirates... unless you had some kind of grudge."

Surround Vision Examined with ASUS MARS II 3GB Dual GTX 580 22 | TweakTown.com

Lost Plant 2 was the first game that I thought would fall over when it came to the average FPS, but you can see under this super intensive game, we still manage to get a good 10 FPS on that 60 FPS average that we aim for.

Benchmarks - Aliens vs. Predator

Aliens vs. Predator

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.rebellion.co.uk/

Product Homepage: http://www.sega.com/games/aliens-vs-predator/

Aliens vs. Predator is a science fiction first-person shooter video game, developed by Rebellion Developments, the team behind the 1999 original PC game, and published by Sega for Microsoft Windows, the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. The game is based on the Alien vs. Predator franchise, a combination of the characters and creatures of the Alien franchise and the Predator franchise. There are three campaigns in the game, one for each race/faction (the Predators, the Aliens and the Colonial Marines), that, while separate in terms of individual plot and gameplay, form one overarching storyline.

Following the storyline of the campaign modes comes the multiplayer aspect of the game. In this Multiplayer section of the game, players face off in various different gametypes in various different ways.

Surround Vision Examined with ASUS MARS II 3GB Dual GTX 580 23 | TweakTown.com

Looking at Aliens vs. Predator, we can see that we unfortunately drop below that 60 FPS average for the first time. We're not far below it and just a small change in detail would get us up to that number we like to see. It's worth noting, though, that the Aliens vs. Predator benchmark is considered to be more intensive than the game itself, so again that's something worth taking into consideration.

Benchmarks - Just Cause 2

Just Cause 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.2

Timedemo or Level Used: Dark Tower

Developer Homepage: http://www.eidos.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.justcause.com/

Just Cause 2 employs the Avalanche Engine 2.0, an updated version of the engine used in Just Cause. The game is set on the other side of the world from the original Just Cause, on the fictional island of Panau in Southeast Asia. Panau has varied terrain, from desert to alpine to rainforest. Rico Rodriguez returns as the protagonist, aiming to overthrow the evil dictator Pandak "Baby" Panay and confront his former mentor, Tom Sheldon.

Surround Vision Examined with ASUS MARS II 3GB Dual GTX 580 24 | TweakTown.com

Just Cause 2 is again another extremely intensive game and you can see while we do again see that massive dip in performance when compared to the single 2560 x 1600 result, the most important factor is that we're still above that 60 FPS average we try so hard to achieve.

Benchmarks - Metro 2033

Metro 2033

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.4a-games.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.thqnordic.com/

Metro 2033 is an action-oriented video game with a combination of survival horror and first-person shooter elements. The game is based on the novel Metro 2033 by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. It was developed by 4A Games in Ukraine and released in March 2010 for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360.[3] In March 2006, 4A Games announced a partnership with Glukhovsky to collaborate on the game.[4] The game was announced at the 2009 Games Convention in Leipzig;[5] a first trailer came along with the announcement.[6] A sequel was announced, currently titled Metro: Last Light.

Surround Vision Examined with ASUS MARS II 3GB Dual GTX 580 25 | TweakTown.com

One of our most intensive games and you can see we do dip a good 12 FPS below that 60 FPS average we aim for. It's not much of a surprise considering we achieved only 70 FPS at 2560 x 1600. It's still very good performance, but for this resolution you're going to want to drop the detail down a little.

Fortunately, as intensive as Metro 2033 is, it's not that great a game, so you may not find yourself playing it anyway. It's fantastic to see what your setup is cable of, though.

Benchmarks - Dirt 3

Dirt 3

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.codemasters.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.dirt3game.com/

DiRT 3 boasts more cars, more locations, more routes and more events than any other game in the series, including over 50 rally cars representing the very best from five decades of the sport. With more than double the track content of 2009's hit, DiRT 3 will see players start at the top as a professional driver, with a top-flight career in competitive off-road racing complimented by the opportunity to express themselves in Gymkhana-style showpiece driving events.

Surround Vision Examined with ASUS MARS II 3GB Dual GTX 580 26 | TweakTown.com

We can see that at 3600 x 1920 we manage to again just sneak past that 60 FPS average we want with a 62 FPS average. While it's not much over the average we want, the bottom line is that it's above that average, even if it is only by a few FPS.

Benchmarks - Total War: Shogun 2

Total War: Shogun 2

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.creative-assembly.co.uk/

Product Homepage: http://www.totalwar.com/shogun2

Shogun 2 is set in 16th-century feudal Japan, in the aftermath of the Onin War. The country is fractured into rival clans led by local warlords, each fighting for control. The player takes on the role of one of these warlords, with the goal of dominating other factions and claiming his rule over Japan. The standard edition of the game will feature a total of eight factions (plus a ninth faction for the tutorial), each with a unique starting position and different political and military strengths.

Surround Vision Examined with ASUS MARS II 3GB Dual GTX 580 27 | TweakTown.com

Firing up Shogun 2, we can see that like Metro 2033 the performance at 3600 x 1920 is below that 60 FPS average again. While Shogun 2 doesn't look like the most intensive game, its large open world and high unit detail does indeed make it very intensive and amongst large battles a lot of load is placed on the video card setup.

Benchmarks - Far Cry 2

Far Cry 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01

Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch Long

Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.farcry2.com/

Buy It Here

The Dunia Engine was built specifically for Far Cry 2 by the award-winning Ubisoft Montreal development team. It delivers the most realistic destructible environments, amazing special effects such as dynamic fire propagation and storm effects, real-time night-and-day cycle, dynamic music system, non-scripted enemy A.I. and so much more.

Surround Vision Examined with ASUS MARS II 3GB Dual GTX 580 28 | TweakTown.com

Looking at Far Cry 2, we can see some strong performance at 3600 x 1920 with a minimum of 62 FPS resulting in a really nice 144 FPS average. A massive dip in performance when compared to the same setup running at 2560 x 1600 and we continue to get a really good idea of just how intensive the Surround Vision setup is.

Final Thoughts

One of the big features about MARS II is the fact that you're able to run Surround Vision off just a single card, a feature that is lacking on all the single GPU solutions from NVIDIA at the moment. The problem is, while it's a feature that's available, does the MARS II offer enough performance to make it a viable single card solution for someone who's interested in Surround Vision?

Well, the answer to that question for the most part is; Yes! Don't get us wrong, we can see at times the MARS II just falls shy of that 60 FPS average we want at 3600 x 1920, but it's very rare and it's only in the most intensive games running at the most intensive settings. For the most part we see that the 60 FPS average is achieved in games like Mafia II, Dirt 3 and Just Cause 2 along with significantly higher FPS in games like Far Cry 2 and H.A.W.X. 2.

Today we see just what the card is really capable of and you can see it's capable of a lot. If you're looking at the MARS II and you really want to go down that Surround Vision path. It's a viable option that not only supports three monitors off a single card, but also puts out very strong performance off that single card.

So if we've got some strong FPS, at what point would we want to add a second MARS II into the mix? If you wanted to go down the path using Surround Vision on monitors that had a default res of 2560 x 1600 or 2560 x 1440 would be a perfect example. A second card is also a viable option if you wanted to turn on AA and AF on at the resolution we tested at today; it would also be a good option as you can see in some scenarios our average is only a few FPS over that 60 FPS we aim for.

The other thing is, if you're interested in going down the path of 120Hz monitors in Surround Vision and want to almost double your FPS, adding in an extra two GPUs would be really helpful.

I hope you enjoyed a look at some Surround Vision testing and as I said in the introduction, we now have a full time Surround Vision / Eyefinity setup so keep an eye out on more and more testing at 3600 x 1920.

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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