Galaxy Continues the MDT Push

Galaxy is continuing with the Multi-Display Technology this time in a more powerful GTX 570 form factor.

One of the key selling points for the AMD Radeon series of graphics cards the last few generations has been Eyefinity – the ability to run more than two displays off of a single card while also allowing for 3+ display gaming configurations.  NVIDIA-based solutions required a pair of GPUs running in SLI for this functionality, either standard SLI or the "SLI-on-a-card" solutions like the GTX 590. 

However, another solution has appeared from Galaxy, an NVIDIA partner that has created a series of boards with the MDT moniker – Multi-Display Technology.  Using a separate on-board chip the company has created GTX 560 Ti, GTX 570 and GTX 580 cards that can output to 4 or 5 monitors using only a single NVIDIA GPU, cutting down on costs while offering a feature that no other single-GPU solution could.

Today we are going to be reviewing the Galaxy GeForce GTX 570 MDT X4 card that promises 4 display outputs and a triple-panel seamless gaming surface option for users that want to explore gaming on more than a single monitor inside the NVIDIA ecosystem.  

Galaxy MDT: Multi-Display Technology

Galaxy is the first NVIDIA board partner to offer a unique solution to provide more than two display outputs on graphics cards with a single GPU on them.  The technology revolves around a separate chip from IDT, in our case the ViewXpand VMM1403. 

The IDT ViewXpand family of devices includes the new VMM1400 multi-monitor controller, which is the world’s first DisplayPort™-based device to allow the user to connect up to four monitors to a single DisplayPort connection and support vertical image expansion. The IDT VMM1400 multi-monitor controller is compliant with the VESA DisplayPort™ v1.1a and HDMI™ v1.3, and uses one DisplayPort input port and four HDMI or DVI output ports.

This chip basically allows Galaxy to split off the second dual-link DVI connection from the GTX 570 GPU into multiple single-link displays.  While the capability is there for four additional displays, the GTX 570 MDT X4 only employs three more from this connection.  This allows the DVI ports to run at slightly higher resolutions using the available bandwidth from the VMM1403.  

The second output from the NVIDIA GPU (actually the primary output) remains as a standard dual-link DVI connection to support an alternate monitor that won’t integrate into the "span" created by the IDT controller.

Previous MDT cards from Galaxy, like the GTX 560 Ti MDT X5, were limited to resolutions of 1680×1050 when spanning three monitors – something that in my opinion really limits the use for high-end enthusiast gamers.  The GTX 570 MDT X4 has modified the chip implementation slightly and can now offer triple-panel 1080p gaming, with a minor caveat.

Because of the bandwidth restrictions of the dual-link DVI connection going into the IDT VMM1403, the maximum resolution that can be spanned over three monitors is 5760×1080 @ 50 Hz.  5760×1080 is a combination of three 1080p panels in landscape mode – the most common multi-display configuration for Surround or Eyefinity.  However, that 50 Hz note is important to take into account.  While most monitors and games SHOULD be able to run at those settings, there are definitely some games that aren’t happy with the 50 Hz setting and just won’t run at 5760×1080 because of it.  

For example, Valve Source games wouldn’t recognize the custom resolution we set in Windows and maxed out at a 3840×720 60 Hz resolution mode.  The same is true with Skyrim.  Apparently, for both games, doing some modifications to the files will allow you to run them at 5760×1080 but in all honesty that is beyond the attention span of most PC gamers.  Even Dirt 3 required us to modify the XML settings file to the 5760×1080 resolution but it ran perfectly after that.  

Other resolutions supported by the Galaxy GTX 570 MDT X4 include:

  • 3840×720 @ 60 Hz
  • 4098×768 @ 60 Hz
  • 4320×900 @ 60 Hz
  • 5040×1080 @ 60 Hz

Because this MDT solution Galaxy and IDT have created is solely based on hardware, there are some differences between it and software-based solutions like Eyefinity and Surround.  For example, you cannot change the order of the displays in software should you connect your DVI cables in the wrong order – you’ll have to move them around so that they are placed on the right connectors to properly match up with what you are seeing on your desk.  However, that process is incredibly easy and moving the cables around doesn’t cause Windows or the NVIDIA driver to explode or crash as we have seen in the past.  

On the next page we will show you the setup process for the Galaxy GTX 570 MDT X4 before rolling into the card specifics (it’s overclocked of course!) and onto the benchmarking!

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