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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!

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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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