With so many GPUs available these days, it can be hard to know what's what. This week we're explaining what to look for in a graphics card and assessing five of the best models on the market.
Two GPUs are better than one, but can anyone actually justify the expense and excess of this killer graphics card?
File this one under the "more money than sense" category. The ARES arrives in a luxurious aluminium case that looks like it should be housing launch codes rather than an expensive gadget, which undoubtedly contributes to the record-breaking price tag. An ASUS gaming mouse is also thrown in the case, but it's nothing spectacular... unlike the size of this card.
At 30cm in length and weighing in at just over two kilograms, this is a behemoth. It's got good reason to be though, as it's packing not one but two of the speedy ATI Radeon HD 5870 GPUs under its massive heatsink. Supplying memory to these GPUs is a whopping 2GB of GDDR5 memory - per GPU.
That's right, this video card has 4GB of onboard memory, more than many PCs. It's no wonder it's so big, but the large heatsink does a wonderful job of keeping everything running cool without being excessively loud. Still, we recommend a full tower PC to ensure adequate airflow.
You'll need a healthy PSU to power this graphics reactor, with ASUS recommending at least an 800W model, connected via two 8-pin and one 6-pin PCI power connectors.
Given the ludicrously high specifications and price, it was no surprise to see this video card win nearly every game benchmark in our testing. However, because all testing was done at 1,920 x 1,080, the difference between this card and the GTX 580 wasn't massive; if we'd have cranked things up to the WQXGA resolution of 2,560 x 1,600 that this card is really designed for, the difference would have been greater.
If you've got one of these large 30in WQXGA monitors, the ASUS ARES will provide plenty of horsepower to run any game with all the bells and whistles engaged. But for those of us running lowly 1080p displays (note the trace of sarcasm), the ARES is a severe case of overpriced overkill.Available from ASUS, retailing for $1,680
.APC rating: 8/10 (Highly Recommended)