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Gigabyte GV-3D1 (Dual GeForce 6600GT)
By Vijay Anand
Category : Graphics
Published by Vijay Anand on Monday, 17th January, 2005
(Most Innovative Product Award)

More Details On The GV-3D1

The most prominent design of the Gigabyte GV-3D1 has got to be its massive copper cooler that guards the dual GeForce 6600 GT GPUs and shields much of the card itself.

The Gigabyte GV-3D1 graphics card viewed at another angle.

Cooling any dual GPU graphics card configuration is certainly not easy because almost all current graphics processors require a decent heatsink with active cooling. With a dual GPU configuration, the quantity of GPUs is not the only change because there are more power regulation components to ensure both graphics processors have a steady flow of current. In the case of the Gigabyte GV-3D1, the memory capacity has also been doubled from 128MB to 256MB and these extra memory parts require more power and output more heat as well. This is why Gigabyte designed a thick copper heatsink that spreads across most of the card and embedded dual 45mm fans to ensure this monster card is adequately cooled. Surprisingly, we found the card to be on the quiet side during testing and we got to hand it to Gigabyte for considering the noise level equation on an already complex graphics card.

In addition to the main cooler, even some of the VRM modules have got their own copper heatsink. Despite all this, the Gigabyte GV-3D1 is strictly a single slot graphics card and it does not protrude into any adjacent slots. It's a good thing too because the card runs quite hot and it definitely requires a certain amount of clearance around it and as well as excellent chassis ventilation to ensure the hot air is channeled out of the system as efficiently as possible. Here's what our thermal probes recorded while putting the card through some of our SLI friendly benchmarks:-

Looking at the recorded temperatures and comparing a single GeForce 6600 GT PCIe graphics card with the Gigabyte GV-3D1, we assure you that there's nothing to be alarmed since the Gigabyte card is actually the equivalent of two separate GeForce 6600 GT cards. Having said that, the figures we've noted are within our expectations. Still, we strongly emphasize the need for good system ventilation to ensure the reliability of the product in the long run.

Since the equivalent of two cards is packed onto just a single card, the GV-3D1 requires far more power than a PCIe x16 slot can deliver. At the rear end the card, you'll find a 6-pin Molex power connector to satisfy the needs of the GV-3D1. Very few power supplies at the moment have a matching 6-pin Molex connector, so Gigabyte supplies a power adapter that will accept standard 4-pin Molex power connections. With this adaptor, the GV-3D1 requires two 4-pin Molex connectors. A well-built power supply of 400W rating (such as the AcBel 400W we were using) is more than adequate to power both the system and this graphics card.

The GV-3D1 card requires extra power from your power supply unit via this 6-pin Molex connector. An adaptor is provided to accept normal 4-pin Molex power connections.

Though the card is powered by dual GPUs and can theoretically support quad monitors, unfortunately due to the single slot design, the GV-3D1 has only two monitor outputs. Perhaps this is one of the few drawbacks when contrasting with a normal SLI setup. Given this tradeoff, we would have preferred the Gigabyte card to feature dual DVI-I connectors, but we believe due to the difficulty in signal routing from the secondary GPU, this was not made possible. Instead, the monitor outputs are driven directly from the primary GPU. Another possible option is to use an external DVI TMDS transmitter chip since every GPU has two digital video output (DVO) ports, but Gigabyte has forgone this method and settled for a simpler card. After all, this is the first attempt from anyone to build a graphics card with two very modern GPUs.

The faceplate has a 9-pin mini-DIN for TV-output, a DVI-I and an analog VGA connector.

The GV-3D1's accessories include the 6-pin Molex to 4-pin Molex converter, DVI-I to VGA converter and a TV-output breakout box that has connections for S-Video and Component output (or also known as HDTV output these days in marketing). The breakout box acts like a switchbox, so only one type of TV-output connection remains active. For those of you unfortunately still using older televisions with Composite input only, you'll need to get an inexpensive converter and tap the S-Video output connector.

The hardware accessories are a 6-pin Molex to 4-pin Molex converter, DVI-I to VGA converter and a TV-output breakout box.

Not to leave you empty-handed, the Gigabyte GV-3D1 is bundled with Thief: Deadly Shadows game on a DVD and Joint Operations: Typhoon Rising game on a single CD.

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