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December 2014
Issue: July 1, 2006

REVIEW: NVIDIA QUADRO FX4500

By: Tim Kolb

PRODUCT: Nvidia Quadro FX4500 by PNY
WEB SITE: www.nvidia.com, www.pny.com
PRICING: $2,600, purchase prices vary
- Dual-head, dual-link DVI display
- Open GL acceleration for various apps
- Greater than HD resolution for 2K apps

DVI connections are based on a standard established in 1999, capable of handling 165 million pixels per second. When we get beyond feeding 1920x1080, 60fps, 24-bit material, we hit the limitations of the pipe. 2K resolution fits under the data rate ceiling when running at 24 fps, 24 bit…but if the lowest refresh rate of our panel is 60Hz, then even when we’re working with 24fps media, we still need a display pipeline that will refresh at 60.

The Digital Display Working Group (www.ddwg.com) took this into account when they developed the DVI standard, as there is a provision for two data streams of 165 Mpels/s within one cable. Dual-link DVI, which has been in use for scientific and analysis purposes for some time, is fast becoming a necessity for those of us working with monitoring beyond 1920x1080.

The two most popular LCD displays that would require dual-link DVI for full resolution use — available today — are the 30-inch Apple Digital Cinema Display and the 30-inch Dell UltraSharp widescreen LCD panel. With a maximum screen resolution of 2560x1600, these panels are capable of not only giving you some insane desktop acreage, they also are capable of displaying full raster (2048x1556) 2K resolution images pixel-for-pixel. I happen to be using the Dell monitor, but I have no intention of comparing these two panels or starting an argument over which, if either, is better. This review is about one of the data hydrants you can use when you need fire hose-sized pixel delivery.

The Nvidia Quadro FX4500 by PNY Technologies (PNY is the exclusive distributor of Nvidia Quadro FX cards in North America and Europe) is a graphic board that will drive up to two displays, with dual DVI (or one dual/one single DVI, or two singles). If you check out the differences in the cables, a dual-link DVI cable has more pins because it’s feeding more data.
under the hood.

When the FX4500 board arrived, I opened the box and found a fan and cooling system…with a board attached to the bottom. The FX4500 is a PCIe card, but with all the cooling apparatus, it’s a double-wide card. In my system (a custom-built Dual Opteron 252 with 4GB RAM), I run four display heads and at this point, both the FX4500 and an FX540 card are installed and driving two 17-inch panels and a 24-inch for UI with the 30-inch for video overlay.

The Quadro FX4500 now shares the top of the PNY professional graphic board line with the Nvidia Quadro FX5500, introduced at NAB 2006. There are three versions of the FX4500. All three variants have 512MB of GDDR3 (Graphics Double Data Rate, version 3) memory and share a rather staggering 33.6GB/sec bandwidth. (The FX5500 includes a Gig of memory.) The Quadro FX4500G adds genlock/framelock and the FX4500 SDI adds…yes, you guessed it…HD-SDI output. These additional features can make a strong desktop graphics workstation into a self-contained, facility-integrated video graphics creation seat. In my case, this workstation’s I/O is taken care of, so I’m using the FX4500.

Installing the card was straightforward. I uninstalled my old drivers and once the 4500 was in place, restarted and put in the newest PNY Nvidia drivers, which also drive any other PNY professional graphic boards on the system. The Nvidia drivers have their own aesthetic and while I had to try a couple of different settings to get everything laid out properly between the two cards, it was fairly painless. The 24-inch and the 30-inch are running off the FX4500 with video on the 30-inch panel.

One particular feature that I liked immediately was the ability to apply adjustments to manage the LCD monitor gammas. What is basically a 3D LUT-style adjustment is available in the advanced color correction mode with curves available for the full screen video, the overlay and the desktop separately, each with the capability to work with one overall curve or to create specific adjustments for red, green and blue channels. It doesn’t make an LCD into a CRT, but it definitely helps get closer.

Display acceleration through Open GL is important as even many base video editing applications have GPU-accelerated effects available, not to mention motion graphics apps like Adobe After Effects and 3D modeling and animation software packages that use Open GL for preview renders. Not being a 3D modeler by trade, it can be a little difficult for a mere mortal user like myself to quantify primitive performance like 181 million triangles per second and a fill rate of 10.8 billion texels (texture pixels) per second. However, seeing complex 3D AE comps with lighting Open GL preview render in seconds instead of minutes, or Red Giant’s Magic Bullet for Editors effects play back unrendered in realtime on the Adobe Premiere Pro timeline is definitely worth the price of admission.

TO SUM UP

The price of the Nvidia Quadro FX4500 by PNY can seem steep when you consider simply filling the role of lighting up a display, but at a time when editors are expected to pick up more effects and compositing work everyday, the Quadro FX4500 really pays its way when the client comes back because “…the graphics and effects work seems so much faster with your system…”

When you figure in the benefits from very clear settings for where dialogue boxes open on a multiple monitor system, and increased performance when multiple applications are open, the Nvidia Quadro FX4500 by PNY Technologies and its new big brother, the FX5500, are definitely worth a look for display duty in any new video editing or graphics workstation.