It's been a week or two since NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 570 launch, and Gainward's engineers are at full steam ahead with improving on NVIDIA's reference design, with something more familiar to its own label. Today we have an early look at Gainward's second non-reference design named the 'Phantom,' and see what in brings to the table with its distinctive cooling solution and tweaked frequencies against our usual array of games, benchmarks and overclocking results.
Gainward's GeForce GTX 570 Phantom measures in at 267 millimetres in length (10.5 inches) just like a reference GTX 570, and requires a minimum of 550W or greater system power supply. Cooling is provided by a custom Gainward design with a set of three PWM fans hanging off an aluminium fin array that spans the length of the card. All this is connected to no less than six nickel plated heat pipes to draw the heat away from the graphics processor.
As with all high-end graphics cards it features support for NVIDIA's SLI multi-GPU technology, 3D Vision, 3D Vision Surround (two cards required), CUDA technology, PhysX acceleration and Microsoft DirectX 11 game support, as well as a variety of video enhancement technologies under the NVIDIA PureVideo HD umbrella.
Inside the box we find a similar set of accessories included with other Gainward video cards; this includes a quick start manual, graphics card utility and driver DVD, a dual 6-pin to 8-pin PCI-Express power adapter, DVI to VGA converter and Super LoiLoScope 25% off discount voucher, which is a video encoding/editing application that makes the most of NVIDIA's CUDA acceleration.
Gainward's GeForce GTX 570 Phantom strays away from the reference design we've come to expect from a standard GTX 570. Gainward have removed the mini-HDMI connector in favour of a full sized HDMI connection, and included a full sized DisplayPort connection, reshuffling the two DVI connections to the right side. Unfortunately bitstreaming support for both Dolby True HD and DTS-HD Master Audio over HDMI is not present due to its architecture stemming from its big brother the GTX 580.
On the top of the card we find a dual SLI connectors, and unlike mainstream video cards like the GTX 460 and 450, the GTX 570 allows 3-way SLI and up to 4-way SLI with supporting motherboards, just like we find on NVIDIA's reference design.
At the end of the card there are a pair of PCI-Express power connectors, one 6-pin and 8-pin, which is a pretty standard offering for a GTX 570 video card.
The Phantom's most striking design feature is the six heat pipes stemming from the graphics processor, which is connected to the aluminium fin array. This design allows for the maximum heat from the graphics processor to be transferred and dissipated very quickly.
Where the Phantom get its name is the concealment of the set of three PWM controlled fans that keep the card quiet and cool. These fans pull air from the aluminium fin array removing heat, and well as keeping circuitry on the base of the card cool. Due to this design the Phantom does not conform to a standard dual slot design, but edges out into three slot territory.
Gainward include their own 'ExperTool' overclocking software with each card. The software allows a good range of adjustment for both 3D and 2D clocks with a few clicks of a button. No voltage adjustment controls are present, so people keen on increasing core voltages will need to look for alternative solutions.