Galaxy MDT GeForce GTX 580 Video Card Review
Galaxy has developed a video card that is based on the GeForce GTX 580 GPU and will allow you to run triple-display gaming with a single video card. This unique video card allows gamers more display options than ever on a GeForce GTX 580 GPU. We will look at configuration options, gameplay experience on triple-display, as well as overclocking.
In the world of video cards, it is often left up to add-in-board partners to create unique and custom video cards around specific GPUs. While NVIDIA and AMD support a number of features natively, often times these GPUs can be expanded with even more features and support by add-in-board partners.
Galaxy is one of these add-in-board partners, building custom video cards based around NVIDIA GPUs. Galaxy has taken it upon itself to improve NVIDIA GPU based video cards in one area that is rather lacking with the current generation GeForce GTX 500 series and that is with multi-monitor gaming support. Galaxy is taking the lead in giving gamers multi-display gaming support on single-GPU GeForce video cards.
For a long while, AMD has had the leg up on NVIDIA by supporting multi-display gaming resolutions with a single video card. With AMD's Eyefinity, each AMD Radeon HD video card of this generation, and the last, can support three (or more) displays natively from one GPU. NVIDIA has a multi-display gaming technology as well, called NV Surround. However, NV Surround requires that you install two video cards (2 GPUs) in order to benefit from triple-display multi-monitor resolution displays. Galaxy is the first, and only, to overcome the limitations of NV Surround and provide a multi-monitor solution for gamers that directly addresses this issue and allows multi-display gaming with a single video card.
Galaxy is to NVIDIA GPUs, what Matrox was for multi-display productivity support. This is a relevant analogy, as Matrox was once known as the king of multi-display support, while not necessarily for gaming, Matrox had some of the most flexible multi-monitor display support out there. Galaxy takes this multi-monitor support approach and applies it to current generation NVIDIA GPUs for high-performance gaming, extending the capabilities of NVIDIA GeForce GTX 500 series GPUs.
Last September, we looked at Galaxy's entrance into this arena, with the Galaxy GeForce GTX560 Ti MDT X5 video card. This video card was based on a single GeForce GTX 560 Ti GPU which supports no less than five displays from this single video card. In gaming, the max supported display mode was four displays with a maximum spanned resolution of 5760x900. In a more popular setup, 3x1 is supported with a native resolution of 5040x1050, and could even be manually increased to 5760x1200 in NVIDIA control panel.
The amount of display support and flexibility allowed with this video card on a single NVIDIA GPU was welcomed. However, our feedback was that all this display support was built upon a relatively slow GPU in NVIDIA's GTX 500 series lineup. The GeForce GTX 560 Ti will have trouble running modern DX11 games at high wide-screen resolutions with decent framerates. We stated in that evaluation that what we really wanted to see was a high-end GeForce GTX 580 GPU as the base for this multi-display technology. This brings us to what we have to show you today, Galaxy has delivered and given us multi-display gaming on a single GeForce GTX 580 GPU based video card!
Galaxy MDT GeForce GTX 580
Say hello to the Galaxy MDT GeForce GTX 580. We recently used this video card in an actual launch evaluation. This video card allowed us to directly compare triple-display gaming with the competition. It is the only video card that allowed a direct single-GPU comparison. To get this level of display support, it will not come cheap compared to standard GeForce GTX 580 video cards, but it is also the only one that allows multi-display gaming with one video card. The estimated MSRP on this video card is stated to be between $569-$579. However, in the real-world, the price is turning out to be a bit higher at this time. The price has come down from what it was a couple of weeks ago, but right now at Amazon you can find the best price at $572.99. compared to the cheapest standard GeForce GTX 580, this is about a $100 premium. That $100 though will buy you the multi-display technology we are about to show you, as well as a factory overclocked specification and custom cooling on a custom printed circuit board.
Galaxy not only gave this video card multi-display technology, but also overclocked it from the factory for you, by a great deal in fact right out of the box. The default clock speeds on the Galaxy MDT GTX 580 are 860MHz core frequency and 1.720GHz shader frequency. This is in comparison to 772MHz/1.544GHz on a standard clocked GTX 580. The memory is clocked at the standard 4GHz, and is 1.5GB in capacity. The higher clock speeds should help give us better performance at widescreen resolutions.
Similar to the Galaxy MDT X5 GTX 560 Ti video card, Galaxy employs a custom chipset on this video card which combines the three HDMI ports into one large resolution. Windows sees only one large resolution, and not three separate displays. This does not use NV Surround technology, it is literally three output ports combined into one large resolution. This does have the disadvantage that games coded to take advantage, or detect NV Surround, won't find it available. This could mean that some games may not correctly recognize the resolution available. We did encounter this issue on some games, and with some games we can customize the resolution, but with some, we cannot. Most new games should work well, but there are exceptions.
With this video card you can run in 2x1 span mode, which means two displays in a dual-display gaming configuration. You simply do this by plugging into two HDMI ports. Or, you can run in 3x1 span mode, which means three displays for triple-display gaming, using all three HDMI ports. The extra Display Port on board is used to add +1 display to your setup. However, the displays cannot be combined with the display on the Display Port for 4 display gaming. The display on Display Port can be used to read web pages, or instant messaging programs, emails, or whatever you need at the same time that 3x1 gaming is running via the three HDMI ports. It is simply an extra, external display. In productivity, this means you'll have 4 displays total. We will show you some of the combinations on the next page.
Galaxy MDT GeForce GTX 580 Pictures
The front of the box clearly displays that this video card allows triple-display gaming, with an additional desktop monitor. The front of the box displays the fact this is a factory overclocked video card, and that it has custom cooling and a 3 year extended warranty. On the back of the box you will find the 2x1 and 3x1 information provided so you know what resolutions are supported. The side of the box displays what is included, and the output connections on the video card itself that are available. Inside the box the video card is securely wrapped, and the box itself is a cushioned padding.
The Galaxy MDT GeForce GTX 580 is a completely custom video card, from the printed circuit board, to the extra output features, to the custom cooling. The entire design is as far from reference as you can get, in a good way. The entire length of the video card has to be measured by the heatsink and shroud. The PCB itself is 10.5" long, but the heatsink extends beyond the PCB. The entire video card, to the edge of the heatsink fins is just slightly over 11.25" long. This makes it longer than a GeForce GTX 580 and a Radeon HD 6970.
Galaxy has designed three 80mm fans with thin blades to cool the heatsink, which itself has no less than five copper heatpipes, with a copper base, to spread out heat along the aluminum fins. Galaxy has adorned a back heatplate spreader on the video card which makes physical contact with a chipset on the back as well as power circuitry on the backside. You can see where those two things are by the indentions in the backplate. None of the memory modules have any heatsink physically touching them. There is one 8-pin power connector and one 6-pin power connector. SLI is fully supported on this video card.
As you can see, the special abilities with this video card are in its flexibility with multi-display gaming. There are only three mini-HDMI connectors and one normal sized Display Port connector. The three mini-HDMI connectors are what are used for your gaming displays, while the Display Port is used for the extra desktop display. There are no DVI connectors on this video card, so if your display only supports DVI you will have to use adapters.
Galaxy includes several adapters that should satisfy most users needs, but not all. First, there are three mini-HDMI to regular sized HDMI cables included. Use these to connect the mini-HDMI to the video card and the regular sized HDMI to your displays, considering your displays support HDMI. This solution is going to be the easiest to setup.
If you wish to run a single display with this video card, and you only have DVI, Galaxy includes a DVI to Display Port adapter. However, this adapter only supports up to 1080p resolutions (1920x1080 or 1920x1200) because it is a passive adapter. In order to achieve a resolution o 2560x1600 resolution with a 30" display, you will have to purchase an active DVI to Display Port adapter, which will be an extra cost. If you are purchasing this video card for single-display use however, you are missing the point of this video card, and for that there are better options.
Galaxy also includes DVI to mini-HDMI adapters as well. This will cover most people's setups, in the event it does not, there are various kinds of adapters you can find online. The key to remember is whatever your monitors support needs to be adapted to plug into mini-HDMI on this video card for the multi-display gaming to work. Galaxy also includes a link to download the new MDT EZY Display Software tool to setup these displays. This software is easy to use, and simply lets you switch between modes. We honestly did not find it to be very useful for our needs, there was no real reason to install it since the Galaxy MDT GTX 580 automatically runs at 2x1 or 3x1 depending on what displays you have connected, there is no setup necessary, it just works when you plug the displays in, similar to the MDT X5 GTX 560 Ti.
To spice things up even more, Galaxy has given this video card some blue LED action at the top of the video card, which when in a case with a window will be visible right side up.