Galaxy is one of the few companies that aren’t afraid to experiment with new designs and technologies. Most companies prefer to go with the reference design and call it a day. Galaxy, on the oher hand will take the reference design and think of ways to better it or cram in more features. The GTX 560 Ti, which we’ll be reviewing today may seem like any ordinary graphics card, that is before you turn your attention to the number of monitors it supports, which is five. This special edition GTX 560 Ti comes equipped with a video chip that splits the signal from a single Display Port to four monitors. There is a small catch here, though, which we’ll get into a little later. First, let’s have a look at the card itself.
Design and Build
The MDT X5 is longer than a usual GTX 560 Ti and features Galaxy's own custom heatsink design. The entire heatsink is covered by an aluminium enclosure to channel the hot air directly outside the case. There are ventilation holes placed at strategic points on the heatsink for the intake of cool air, as well. The translucent fan used is rather puny, let's hope it's enough to cool the card. Unlike Galaxy’s previous graphic card designs, the fan is not removable for cleaning. You can however, quite easily remove the aluminium cover by unscrewing a couple of screws.
Built and designed well
The MDT X5 comes with four mini-HDMI connectors that are linked to an IDT ViewXpand (VMM1400 ) chip, allowing you to hook up four monitors to a single Display Port connector. The IDT chip supports Display Port v1.1a and HDMI v1.3. Now, before you get too excited, remember this still won't give you 3DVision Surround as Windows will detect all the four monitors as one and not as individual monitors. I’ll get into more details in the next section.
You'll never complain about connectivity again
The other two ports include a standard Display Port and a DVI-I port. Galaxy bundles all the necessary cables required to get you started. Along with a DVI-VGA adapter and the driver disk, we have a mini-HDMI to HDMI cable and three adapters for the same. Also present are two PCI-E to Molex power cables and a utility for multi-view monitors.
Two power connectors are required
Like any GTX 560 Ti, the card requires two PCI-E power connectors to run properly. This means, you’ll need a 500W PSU as the bare minimum and a good one at that.
Before we get into the multi-view setup, let’s get the main specifications out of the way. Although this a special edition card, Galaxy have gone with the reference specs from Nvidia. The core speed is clocked at 820MHz and the memory runs at 4000MHz (effective speed). We have a total of 1GB GDDR5 memory running on a 256-bit memory bus. Finally, we have full CUDA and PhysX support along with Nvidia 3DVision, PureVideo HD and DX11.
Now for the good stuff, let’s find out how well MDT (Multi-Display Technology) actually works. Before we begin, I’d like to point out that ZOTAC had demonstrated something similar at Computex 2011, only they called it multi-view technology. However, unlike Galaxy, ZOTAC only added one more additional display port for a three monitor setup, not five. You can have different configurations with the Galaxy card like, 2,3,4,4+1 monitor setups. See the chart below for the possible configurations.
Different types of configurations
Here’s the catch, though, it’s not possible to have a three monitor setup with Full HD monitors because there simply isn’t enough bandwidth for a single DP to transmit that kind of data. Unlike AMD’s Eyefinity, Nvidia’s Fermi architecture prohibits a single graphics card from powering three Full HD monitors. It’s simply not possible without SLI. What Galaxy and ZOTAC, for that matter are doing here is a cheaper alternative to 3DVision Surround, but at a price. As you add more monitors for multi-view, the resolution has to keep dropping, since the IDT chip will access the native resolution and automatically combine it.
Now, all I had was three Full HD monitors, so after connecting them to the mini-HDMI connectors I was presented with a single 3840×720 resolution. The IDT chip automatically switches resolutions depending on the number of monitors connected. Remember, you can’t do multi-view with the DP or DVI port, as Windows will detect it as separate monitors and the resolution would be skewed.
The resolution is still low since the card can’t display the true 1920×1080 x3 resolution. When you start a game, though, it does not pan across all monitors, instead the game is cloned on each monitor. Going into the settings, the custom resolution does show up, but even after selecting it, it refuses to pan across three monitors. A two monitor setup worked fine, which is what I used in the performance tests. Unfortunately I didn’t have smaller monitors to try a three or four monitor setup, so I presume it should work fine with them.
To test how the X5 scales with multi-view, I connected it to two full HD monitors, which gave me a combined resolution of 3840×1080. With just two Full HD monitors connected, games are able to pan properly when I select this resolution in-game, well almost all games.
Good performance across the board
Just Cause 2 and FarCry 2 were the only two games that scaled properly in the menus, as well as in-game. Mafia 2 was fine in the menu section, but as soon as I started the benchmark, I got thick vertical black bars on the side with the game squished towards the centre. Dirt 2 had an even bigger issue; it just refused to pan in the menus and in-game, as well.
The MDT in action
This is a bit of a hit or miss situation, since games aren’t really coded with this sort of scaling in mind. Also, a dual monitor setup for gaming is far from ideal, so if you do plan on buying this card, you'll have to invest in three 16-17-inch monitors.
After running it for a while, the aluminium cover gets quite hot. However, the fan remains silent even when stressed in FurMark, which is good. The temperatures are not too bad, either. The card idles at 42 degrees celsius and on load; it shoots up all the way to 73 degrees celsius which is well below the 99 degree celsius TDP.
The Galaxy MDT X5 graphics card is by no means cheap, and I didn’t expect it to be. The street price for the card is Rs. 23,000, which is a lot for a GTX 560 Ti, and we are talking GTX 570 money here. If you’re looking for a multi-monitor setup for cheap and don’t want to bother with SLI or AMD’s offering, then this is currently your best bet. ATI’s HD 6950 would be a better choice for a multi-monitor setup as it costs the same as a standard GTX 560 Ti, but with more features.
If gaming is not your thing, and all you want to use are the four monitors, then Galaxy has another offering called the MDT X4. It’s based on a Geforce 210, so it’s practically useless for gaming, but it does support four monitors. I’d have no trouble recommending this card, but since Galaxy have priced it at Rs.10,500, I’d say they’ve completely lost it. Overall, the Galaxy MDT X5 is a very interesting card, but I’m not sure if it’s a very practical solution, since AMD's Eyefinity is a better solution at the moment for a multi-monitor setup on a single card.
cuda, dx11, Fermi, Galaxy, Galaxy GTX 560 Ti, Galaxy MDT X5 review, GeForce, Geforce 210, graphics card, Graphics cards, GTX 560 Ti, MDT X4, multi-display technology, multi-view technology, Nvidia, Physx, Review
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