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If Mars II rocks up in August at £1,250 will it be the first GTX490 to market?

If combining a pair of GTX470-class chips onto a single PCB gives you GTX490, then Asus appears to be on schedule to get to market first with the launch of the Asus Mars II in August 2010. Or is it?  It could be a simple toe in the water to gauge reaction or is someone in Taiwan playing with us? KitGuru does a little digging, combines intelligence from several sauces and makes some predictions.

First, the all important ‘told you so bit’ where we get to refer to a story KitGuru broke back on 23rd May about the way that GTX490 throws down to 5970. Eight weeks after our revelation and (possibly) six weeks before the Asus Mars II hits the streets looking for a punch-up, we scrutinise the latest pictures to surface from Taiwan and ponder the price/performance characteristics of the latest product in nVidia’s DX11 line-up.

Two GTX470 chips on a 375w board seems to give you GTX490. Will ROG be first to market?

The charts seen by KitGuru show the GTX490 drawing 375w, while the GTX470 pulls 215w.

Either the overall board design needs to be very much more efficient, or the GTX470 chips are going to be downclocked just a tad in order to get the GTX490 under the power envelope allowed.

Some parts of the card picture we received were damaged and had to undergo re-constructive surgery. Similarly, it had been shot by a rank-amateur with no concept of white-balance and the camera was so close to the GTX490 that the actual card had warped. Fortunately, Zardon has more Photoshop processing power than an entire division of Pixar and the image has been duly tidied to allow further investigation.

The power connectors on the top right of our processed picture are interesting, as they seem to offer 3x 8-pin power ports in a row. Looking at the GTX295 connectors and you can see how nVidia’s former double-barrelled champion looks positively anaemic in comparison.

Remember when graphic cards only had 2 power connectors? nVidia looks set to fix that!

Rumours on the grapevine seem to indicate that this particular version of the GTX490 will be aimed at just over the price of the Asus Ares card, so we can anticipate it burning a decent £1,250 sized hole in the lining of your nanosuit. That’s a pure guess, but given the amazing way these cards are presented, we would not be surprised if it was just over the Radeon price.

v1.0 is always going to cost less. More spins means more money at the FAB and in the store.

The A3 on the nVidia chip might be a clue as to why these products are so expensive – IF this number refers to what we thing it does. Normally manufacturers do trial production and call the chips A0. That would be the card that Jen Hsun was holding on stage back in last September. From there improvements would be made and, if they were very lucky, the A1 silicon would be something that they could sell. Going to an A2 spin of the product is really expensive. Not only the production time, but also the cost of ‘not selling’ in the street. Maybe we’re not reading this number correctly, but if the A3 chip shown here meant 4 complete spins in the plant, then that would have been a really expensive exercise. Fingers crossed that not all of the GTX490 cards will be quite as expensive as the Asus Mars II. It looks like it will be a beauty – and powerful with it.

KitGuru says: Given that these pictures of ‘final silicon’ seem to be hitting the streets now, we’d anticipate around 6 weeks for full production to turn into boxes of cards winging it from Taiwan and taking a cab to your local computing emporium. Just in time for Multiplay’s i40 at Newbury on the Bank Holiday Weekend?  We’ll have to ask Craig.

On the other hand, if the Asus engineers encounter power/heat/noise issues, then the launch could be much further away. We’ll let you know if we hear anything more. Performance wise, we’re expecting it to beat the 4GB 5970 cards in some benchmarks, but not all of them. …..MARS Vs ARES in the KitGuru Labs? …..Game on!

Tell us what you think over here in the KitGuru Forum


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  • dbdb

    3 power connectors.time for a PSU upgrade 😉

  • eric k

    hehe, nice photoshop work, asus release some wicked boards but I bet this thing is a monster

  • death dealer

    that is one hell of a beefy board. Wonder how much heat that will pump out

  • Ben B

    Ill have two for Quad SLI thanks 🙂 new 1250w PSU just ordered 😉

  • Stefan

    Rumor is they are using a new form of LN2 to cool it :p

  • Tech Head

    1,250 quid? is that right or just a guesstimate?

  • Harry

    wonder did someone in asus leak these pics? I heard one of the reps circulated the pics as its been linked everywhere on the net. GTX490 for sure then? interesting.

  • Thomas

    Ok, my question of the day is short and sweet

    How the hell are they going to cool this monster card? 5970 was a disaster too…. I really am not sold on dual core cards.

  • dbdb

    Never mind the cooling, what about the power requirements? GTX470 takes about 230 watts under peak load. thats around 460 watts with furmark. even if its underclocked, neuteured a little, its still aiming for 400 watts. more than the GTX480. which ran at 100c and needed a small car on top of it to cool right.

  • Gareth Cringle

    Well its a heavily populated PCB, had a good look at it, seems to be 4gb onboard, hard to ber 100% right.

  • Sireric

    Too little too late 😉

  • Trev Mang

    mega looking board that. but the price if its right, no thanks. the original mars was way over the odds too. it was surpassed performance in a few months.

  • Tim

    hahah. ill have four :p

  • Derek

    Power consumption is going to be an issue. rumours were that it is GTX480x2, but they could never cool that on a single PCB, unless they were so underclocked it was silly.

  • Bjorn

    GTX470x2, is pushing the power consumption figures alone. 3 power connectors, ouch.

    If its was GTX 480×2 it would need four, or 3 eight pins min. Those look definitely like 3×6 pins

  • dbdb

    Bjorn, thats 3 x 8 pin connectors, but thats not enough to power 2 x 480 GTX cores. a single card alone needs 1×8 pin and 1×6 pin = 14 total. two of them would need 28 total. That card has 3×8 pin so 24 pin. Unless they underclocked it like mad …. then it might work. I reckon its 2×470 gtx cores overclocked quite high.

  • Francois lebon

    makes sense. GTX470 is 2 x 6 pin – so 12 per card. this has 3×8 pins, so 24 in total, same as two GTX470s at full whack. Might even get a bit more out of them overclocked within the same power requirements.

  • Flo

    So no way its two 480s ? not possible?

  • dbdb

    flo, cant see how it would be possible on a number of fronts. 1. the cooler required for two GTX480 cores would be insane, they have a hard time even cooling one. unless they have a new vapor style cooler, and even then I doubt it. 2: the power connectors on the card, 3×8 pin sounds a lot, however, two 480gtxs need 14 each to operate at a stable level, if you multiple that by two, its 28 pins in total for PCI power. 4 more than this card is delivering. so unless the cores are underclocked significantly, it surely has to be two 470s in a highly overclocked state and perhaps even with more DDR5 memory to make the Mars II more appealing. Thats just my view on it however, its all guess work, I am sure they would want to promote it saying its two GTX480’s on a single board, but if they are running at current speeds I cant see how its possible.

  • Harry J

    so we are basically saying this is going to need not only power from the pci slot, but 3 8 pin connectors to run. and what around 400watts under load? madness.

  • tech head

    hey bear in mind also people that two GTX 480s on a single PCB will be pumping out around massive amounts of heat. power drain for a GTX480 under furmark was around 320 watts under full peak load. so whats that 650watt power drain from a single card? three 8 pin PCI connectors will NOT handle that. the 480’s would need to be castrated.

  • Bryan

    From looking at other sites it looks like you can drop wattage on these chips so it could be anything any highend chip. But 470 seems likely. How much memory?

  • faith

    We’re sticking with the 375w prediction. Add in 165 for a CPU, 35w for a mainboard and 10w each for a pair of drives and you are already at 595w. Allow 200w to ensure the system is not maxed out and you have a 795w requirement already. Might do it with a Tt 775w, but more likely to play it safe with an 850/875 or above.
    If you want to be sure that the PSU does not add to the noise of the system, then you need it to be operating around 45% of its capacity, which for this set up would mean 1.2kw.
    Putting a pair in with Quad SLi would probably require 2x 375w (750w) with the other 220w for the system. That’s 970w before you add in the 200w safety buffer. 1.2kw becomes a minimum and 1.5kw is more likely to be sensible.

  • Hakuren

    Idea behind dual GPU on one card is good. You don’t need to waste time on buying 2 separate cards, and if you require another PCI-Ex 8x or 16x slot for other stuff (like all new Gen. 2 RAID SAS/SATA controllers) it is huge bonus to buy 1 card instead of 2.

    But not new Fermi. It is far to power hungry, far to hot and far to loud (on air).

    I was always in nVidia camp, since first Riva chip – owned only one Radeon for a very brief time. But they messed up big time with Fermi. C’mon ATi release 5950 and show nVidia how dual chip cards should be done. I think that potential 5950 would be absolute killer one the market.

  • sam

    Yeah I agree, this isnt doing anything for me. ATI have the market in 2010, clearly.

  • derek

    I think companies will be selling quite a few 1250w PSUs for people who buy these. Well at least 100-200 anyway 🙂

  • bret

    Huge debate on whether this is 480 x 2 or 470 x2. I really cant see it being 480’s. the heat from two of them would make cooling for a mass market production card, all but impossible. even with a 3 slot solution. has to be 470

  • terrance

    Wish asus would put as much effort into their mass market cards, like sapphire do. T hese are very cool but also totally stupid

  • trigger finger

    Nah, doesnt interest me. Its a good engineering demonstration, but its pretty pointless. two 480s in quad sli is the way to go for ultra high end users with no sense 🙂

  • seth

    I will be interested when this hits review sites to see the power drain and temperatures. and the cooling solution !

  • Testy

    Two Gtx 480cores is possible if you take into account the 75w power available from the Pcie-x slot. Now cooling that is another problem. Water blocks anyone? 🙂