Galaxy GT 520 MDT Review
Reviewed by: ccokeman
Reviewed on: January 25, 2012
Once you run a multiple monitor configuration with either Eyefinity or Surround technologies it's tough to go back to a single display configuration. Unfortunately, the graphics card needed to drive more than two monitors on the NVIDIA side of the fence has been limited to either the extreme high end (Think GTX 590) or a pair of cards that drive up costs and, in the end, power consumption. Galaxy has put together a series of video cards in their MDT line up (Multi Display Technology) that allows the end user to connect more than two monitors and includes the GT 520 MDT I am currently looking at, as well as cards that range up to the GTX 580 MDT. The GT 520 was released last year in April and is an entry-level GPU that is designed as an upgrade from an integrated graphics processor (IGP). What Galaxy has delivered is a low-cost solution to the problem of running a multiple monitor configuration. No longer is a pair of cards or even a high-end card needed to drive multiple monitors. The Galaxy GT 520 MDT supports connectivity of up to four 1080p DVI monitors in either slit or merged mode for the content creation professional, day trader, or end user looking for more screen real estate. Gaming is not its strong suite, but the GT 520 is suitable for plenty of casual gaming and has all of the features of the Fermi lineup such as PhysX support, DX 11 support, CUDA and more allowing this card to be used in applications that support GPU acceleration. Let's see what this card has to offer for the person looking for an upgrade to that IGP.
The packaging for the Galaxy GT 520 MDT highlights the most prominent feature of this card on the front panel: the ability to drive a quartet of monitors. Galaxy also points out that the GT 520 MDT is equipped with 1GB of GDDR3 memory and that the card comes with a three year warranty. The back panel extols the virtues of having multiple monitors for gaming and maximizing screen real estate.
Inside the packaging, the Galaxy GT 520 MDT sits in a cardboard enclosure sealed in a static resistant bag. Under the inner shell is the accessory bundle that includes the driver disk, software disk, documentation, and a pair of dual DVI dongles. A quick installation guide is also included.
The Galaxy GT 520 MDT comes with everything that is needed to enjoy the benefits of a multiple monitor configuration without breaking the bank for the GPU.
The Galaxy GT 520 is a single-slot card based on NVIDIA's Fermi architecture and GF119 core. The card is small in size and measures only 6.25 inches in length. The front of the card has a heat sink that covers a large portion of the PCB. The back side of the card has some small surface mount components and the heat sink mounting screws.
Connectivity for the Galaxy GT 520 MDT includes a pair of DVI outputs that are used with the Dual DVI dongles to output the signal to a total of four 1080p DVI monitors. The back end of the card does not have any connections for additional board power meaning this discrete GPU should run on 75 watts or less. The GT 520 is not SLI capable and does not have any means to connect a second card in SLI mode.
The cooling solution for the Galaxy GT 520 MDT is an extruded aluminum part that has been cut to fit the card. In the center of the heat sink is a blue fan with the Galaxy logo on top. The back side of the fan does not shed any light on its manufacturer of origin.
The GT 520 has 48 CUDA cores, 48 Shader cores, 4 ROP's and 1GB of GDDR3 memory running on a 64 bit bus. Elpida memory part number EXJ11080P8C is used on this card. Eight modules are on board for a total of 1024MB.
The Galaxy GT 520 MDT is a low-end discrete card with a unique feature set. Let's see if it can capitalize on its abilities.
To utilize the multi-screen capabilities, Galaxy has included their EZY software application to set the monitor configuration into either split mode or merged mode. I used the latest version of this software downloaded directly from Galaxy for the testing. After using the EZY software to set the display configuration, the resolution is set in the NVIDIA control panel for each display. The simple interface is easy to use, and the users guide is thorough enough to explain the process. Galaxy also includes their Extreme Tuner overclocking tool that can be used in lieu of the commonly used Afterburner utility to overclock and monitor the card.
500MHz (1000MHz effective)
Memory Bandwidth (GB/s)
Texture fill rate (billion/sec)
- Microsoft® DirectX® 11 Support: DirectX 11 GPU with Shader Model 5.0 support designed for ultra high performance in the new API’s key graphics feature, GPU-accelerated tessellation.
- Blu-ray 3D Support: Enable a theater quality 3D in your home with seamless support for 1080p Blu-ray 3D discs across any compatible 3D viewing system over HDMI 1.4, including active-shutter glasses and passive polarized displays.
- Hardware Video Decode Acceleration: The combination of high-definition video decode acceleration and post-processing that delivers unprecedented picture clarity, smooth video, accurate color, and precise image scaling for movies and video.
- TrueHD and DTS-HD Audio Bitstreaming Support: Full support for TrueHD and DTS-HD advanced lossless multi-channel HD audio codecs brings the rich sound of the master recording to your living room.
- NVIDIA CUDA™ Technology: CUDA technology unlocks the power of the GPU’s processor cores to accelerate the most demanding tasks such as video transcoding, physics simulation, ray tracing, and more, delivering incredible performance improvements over traditional CPUs.
- NVIDIA PhysX® Technology: Full support for PhysX technology, enabling a totally new class of physical gaming interaction for a more dynamic and realistic experience with GeForce.
- Dual-link DVI Support: Able to drive industry’s largest and highest resolution flat-panel displays up to 2560x1600 and with support for High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP).
- PCI Express 2.0 Support: Designed for the new PCI Express 2.0 bus architecture offering the highest data transfer speeds for the most bandwidth-hungry games and 3D applications, while maintaining backwards compatibility with existing PCI Express motherboards for the broadest support.
- Support for up to 4 1080p DVI Monitors
- Bundled with 2 Dual DVI adaptors
All information courtesy of Galaxytech @ http://www.galaxytech.com/__en_gb__/Product242.aspx
Testing of the Galaxy GT 520 with Multi Display Technology will be somewhat different than our usual video card testing, as this card is not really going to appeal to the gamer but more toward the content creator or user that needs more than one or two screens.
The system specifications will remain the same throughout the testing. No adjustment will be made to the respective control panels during the testing with the exception of the 3DMark Vantage testing where PhysX will be disabled in the NVIDIA control panel if applicable. I will test the card at stock speeds and then overclocked in order to see the effects of any increases in clock speed. The drivers used are the 290.53 for NVIDIA-based cards.
- Processor: Core i7 2600K @ 4.4 GHz 100 x 44
- CPU Cooling: Corsair Hydro Series H100
- Motherboard: Gigabyte Z68AP-D3
- Memory: Mushkin 991996 Redline PC3-17000 9-11-10-28 8 GB
- Video Card: Galaxy GT 520 MDT
- Power Supply: Corsair AX1200
- Hard Drive: 1 x Seagate 1TB SATA
- Optical Drive: Lite-On Blu-ray
- Case: Corsair Graphite Series 600T
- OS: Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
- Galaxy GT 520 1000MHz Core/ 618MHz Memory
For gaming, this little card needs every advantage it can get with current titles. Increasing the clock speeds is the only way to increase the performance. The standard clock speeds of 810MHz on the core and 500MHz on the 1GB of GDDR3 memory left a lot to be desired with gaming performance. The final clock speeds I could reach with this card were a cool 1000MHz on the core and 618MHz on the memory. Both showed a more than modest 20+% increase over the factory baseline. These increases resulted in much improved FPS in the games that I tested. All through the testing the card remained a cool 49 to 53C under load.
- Gaming Tests:
- Batman Arkham City
- HAWX 2
- Dirt 3
- 3DMark 11
- Power Consumption
As a lower-end card, the gaming usage for the GT 520 MDT will most likely be limited to casual gaming. Even so, I will run it through a few of the tests with some current titles at a resolution of 1280x1024. Any higher and the FPS delivered do not provide playable results. HAWX 2, Dirt 3, Batman Arkham City, Battlefield 3 and 3Dmark 11 Entry will be used as the gaming tests. Power consumption and thermal testing will follow OCC's standard testing formats using Unigine's Heaven 2.5 benchmark as the GPU load.
- Lowest possible
Higher = Better
Higher = Better
Lower = Better
Lower = Better
The Galaxy GT 520 MDT can play current games depending on the resolution and settings used. It would also prove adequate for casual gaming and even World of Warcraft. Power consumption under load is comparable to the idle power consumption of much higher powered cards. The temperatures on the Galaxy GT 520 MDT were consistent between the stock and overclocked test results with the 4C increase in load temperature due to strictly overclocking rather than an increase in voltage. The Galaxy GT 520 MDT, although a lower end card, has the unique ability to output a display signal to up to four monitors. With this ability, the end user can take advantage of a larger display surface for increased office productivity, improved real estate for content creation, or even view the latest trends in the stock market.
The Galaxy GT 520 MDT was released in April of 2011 as the lowest-cost DX11 GPU in the Fermi-based product stack from NVIDIA. As such, it comes with all of the characteristics and capabilities of the Fermi family of GPUs. This includes support for Stereoscopic 3D, low overhead video playback and GPU acceleration of a slew of applications. Gaming performance is decidedly low-end and is more for the casual game, although high FPS DX11 games can be played at low settings at up to 1280x1024. Most games will need to be played at even lower resolutions. Overclocking does improve gaming performance, however, as I was able to push the clock speeds on this card to 1000MHz on the core and up to a mere 618MHz on the GDDR3 memory. Both are 20% or better improvements and did offer measurable gains in performance. The real benefit of this card from Galaxy is the ability to use up to four 1080p DVI monitors. This feat was not possible with run-of-the-mill Fermi based video cards since they are limited to two monitors from one card. Using Galaxy's MDT EZY software allows the end user to configure the displays in either split mode where each display has a desktop interface or merged mode where the display is spanned across multiple screens. The software is used in combination with the resolution settings in the operating system to get the optimal resolution for each display. The software is easy to use with little resource overhead. A gaming card it is not, but as a unique addition to the GT 520 line up, the GT 520 MDT from Galaxy offers a low-cost way to create a lot of desktop real estate. Currently you can find the card for sale at Bestbuy for $116.99
- Support for four 1080p DVI monitors
- MDT EZY Software
- Ease of use
- 3D Support
- Blu-ray support