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Why are modern video cards getting longer?

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PingSpike

Lifer
Feb 25, 2004
21,587
445
126
I'm not seeing the trend you're talking about. AFAIK there have always been longer high end cards. And at any rate, if you open up an old XT PC or something which could take "long cards" you won't even complain anymore! :p

Seriously though, excessive size is probably the last thing I worry about when selecting a card for my applications. And I think most people building a desktop gaming rig don't either.
 

cusideabelincoln

Diamond Member
Aug 3, 2008
3,268
7
81
Originally posted by: VirtualLarry
Originally posted by: BFG10K
I don?t understand why you expect a uATX case to fit high or even mid-range video cards. Do you also expect a uATX motherboard to handle tri-SLI/CF? I purchased a uATX motherboard with the full intention of never going multi-GPU.
What about the MSI X58M? It's a full-featured 1366 board in a mATX form-factor. It also supports SLI and CF.
And you'd have to find a mATX case to specifically fit two big video cards. Most mATX cases will not do that, but a few "special" gaming mATX cases will.
 

CP5670

Diamond Member
Jun 24, 2004
4,897
248
106
As far as gaming cards go, this was a very long one by the standards of its time.

I never paid much attention to the card lengths though. My (original) Stacker case has wide drive bays and could probably fit a 20" card if needed. :p
 

schenley101

Member
Aug 10, 2009
115
0
0
I guess you guys don't remember the wonderful vesa local bus videocards with the 486's. the slot itself was like the full length of the motherboard! i still have one some where if you want it.... that wil make you appreciate these tiny little new cards are!!!
 

cbn

Lifer
Mar 27, 2009
12,968
221
106
Originally posted by: cusideabelincoln
Originally posted by: VirtualLarry
Originally posted by: BFG10K
I don?t understand why you expect a uATX case to fit high or even mid-range video cards. Do you also expect a uATX motherboard to handle tri-SLI/CF? I purchased a uATX motherboard with the full intention of never going multi-GPU.
What about the MSI X58M? It's a full-featured 1366 board in a mATX form-factor. It also supports SLI and CF.
And you'd have to find a mATX case to specifically fit two big video cards. Most mATX cases will not do that, but a few "special" gaming mATX cases will.
Will Antec P-180 mini (a micro ATX case) hold two HD5870s?
 

JimmiG

Platinum Member
Feb 24, 2005
2,024
112
106
I think to some extent that it comes down to sloppy, quick designs.

For example, if you remove the heatsink of a standard 4850 card, you can see that there's a lot of empty space on the PCB. Also, I think it was Sapphire that made a modified 4850 that was much shorter than the reference design, proving that it's possible.

I can understand that a high-end, power hungry card like the GTX285 or 5870 might have to be longer, but why mid-range and low-end cards? The 4770 is a bit shorter, but even the 4830 is as long as most high-end cards.

Maybe all the machinery etc. is standardized for the high-end cards and then they re-use the bare circuit boards for the lesser cards?

My 4850 sits right up against the hard drives, leaving one 3.5" bay unusable. With a dual-slot card, two bays would probably be blocked... maybe it would work if I turned the hard drives around so the connectors pointed to the front of the case but I'm not sure. Also with my previous mobo, the card blocked two SATA ports - a dual slot card would have blocked all four.

I can't see myself ever buying a full tower case..so ugly and big... but the way video cards are evolving, I might have to take the plunge eventually. At least CPU manufacturers had the sense to stop at 140W TDP's - video cards just keep using more and more power, running hotter and hotter...It's only a matter of time before the first triple or quad-slot card appears with a 400W TDP. Too bad. My previous system was a Shuttle mini-PC and it fit the most high-end components at the time, 3500+ CPU and the X800XT video card. Loved the portability and stylish design.
 

cusideabelincoln

Diamond Member
Aug 3, 2008
3,268
7
81
Originally posted by: Just learning
Originally posted by: cusideabelincoln
Originally posted by: VirtualLarry
Originally posted by: BFG10K
I don?t understand why you expect a uATX case to fit high or even mid-range video cards. Do you also expect a uATX motherboard to handle tri-SLI/CF? I purchased a uATX motherboard with the full intention of never going multi-GPU.
What about the MSI X58M? It's a full-featured 1366 board in a mATX form-factor. It also supports SLI and CF.
And you'd have to find a mATX case to specifically fit two big video cards. Most mATX cases will not do that, but a few "special" gaming mATX cases will.
Will Antec P-180 mini (a micro ATX case) hold two HD5870s?
Looks like it would. It doesn't have any hard drive bays where the video cards would be.

A review

A mATX board is 9.6" long, so as you can see there's probably about 4-5" more room where the video cards would sit. The P180 mini should accommodate two HD5870X2s.
 

MrK6

Diamond Member
Aug 9, 2004
4,458
3
81
Originally posted by: JimmiG
I think to some extent that it comes down to sloppy, quick designs.

For example, if you remove the heatsink of a standard 4850 card, you can see that there's a lot of empty space on the PCB. Also, I think it was Sapphire that made a modified 4850 that was much shorter than the reference design, proving that it's possible.

I can understand that a high-end, power hungry card like the GTX285 or 5870 might have to be longer, but why mid-range and low-end cards? The 4770 is a bit shorter, but even the 4830 is as long as most high-end cards.

Maybe all the machinery etc. is standardized for the high-end cards and then they re-use the bare circuit boards for the lesser cards?

My 4850 sits right up against the hard drives, leaving one 3.5" bay unusable. With a dual-slot card, two bays would probably be blocked... maybe it would work if I turned the hard drives around so the connectors pointed to the front of the case but I'm not sure. Also with my previous mobo, the card blocked two SATA ports - a dual slot card would have blocked all four.

I can't see myself ever buying a full tower case..so ugly and big... but the way video cards are evolving, I might have to take the plunge eventually. At least CPU manufacturers had the sense to stop at 140W TDP's - video cards just keep using more and more power, running hotter and hotter...It's only a matter of time before the first triple or quad-slot card appears with a 400W TDP. Too bad. My previous system was a Shuttle mini-PC and it fit the most high-end components at the time, 3500+ CPU and the X800XT video card. Loved the portability and stylish design.
As a card is out for longer, manufacturers will have time to play with the designs and tweak them for size, power consumption, and performance. As technology moves ahead at an insane pace, companies have to cut corners to meet performance expectations and manufacturing costs. There are still some incredibly fast video cards out there that are quite small - they're just not the latest and greatest technology. Each new generation of graphics cards is going to have more power and performance packed (hopefully) into a similar TDP. If you want to meet this requirement, something like board size has to give.

For what it's worth, the only standout now is the 5870X2. The 5870 has the same board size as the GTX285 and GTX280, both of which have been easily accommodated for over a year. I'm using a 5870 in my little Lian-Li V351 right now. Also, if you think about it, the GTX295 dual-PCB design probably would have been the length of the 5870X2 had it been an original single-PCB design. It wasn't until four months of engineering later that they were able to release a single-PCB design in a similar footprint. That said, I will gladly take performance and lower power consumption in exchange for larger PCB size every time.

EDIT: FWIW - the 5770 and 5750 might be up your alley, they're looking to be great little performers with a very small foot print. Also, you can't blame poor motherboard design on video card manufacturers - everyone should have universal guides to go by.
 

djnsmith7

Platinum Member
Apr 13, 2004
2,612
1
0
This is precisely why I went with the Stacker cases. I didn't want to run into this problem, as I knew I'd upgrade both in the future. I've been done with smaller sized cases for almost 3 years now.
 

EarthwormJim

Diamond Member
Oct 15, 2003
3,239
0
76
Originally posted by: JimmiG
I think to some extent that it comes down to sloppy, quick designs.

For example, if you remove the heatsink of a standard 4850 card, you can see that there's a lot of empty space on the PCB. Also, I think it was Sapphire that made a modified 4850 that was much shorter than the reference design, proving that it's possible.

I can understand that a high-end, power hungry card like the GTX285 or 5870 might have to be longer, but why mid-range and low-end cards? The 4770 is a bit shorter, but even the 4830 is as long as most high-end cards.

Maybe all the machinery etc. is standardized for the high-end cards and then they re-use the bare circuit boards for the lesser cards?

My 4850 sits right up against the hard drives, leaving one 3.5" bay unusable. With a dual-slot card, two bays would probably be blocked... maybe it would work if I turned the hard drives around so the connectors pointed to the front of the case but I'm not sure. Also with my previous mobo, the card blocked two SATA ports - a dual slot card would have blocked all four.

I can't see myself ever buying a full tower case..so ugly and big... but the way video cards are evolving, I might have to take the plunge eventually. At least CPU manufacturers had the sense to stop at 140W TDP's - video cards just keep using more and more power, running hotter and hotter...It's only a matter of time before the first triple or quad-slot card appears with a 400W TDP. Too bad. My previous system was a Shuttle mini-PC and it fit the most high-end components at the time, 3500+ CPU and the X800XT video card. Loved the portability and stylish design.
I doubt it's sloppy designs.

You can't always cram components on 100% of the surface area, there needs to be space for trace routes. So while it may seem like there's nothing in certain areas, I guarantee you have necessary trace routes running underneath.

There's also heat concerns too, you can't have too many really hot components right next to each other. And for timing purposes you need certain groups of trace routes to be equal in length. The large combs coming from memory chips, each trace has to be the same length as the others.

The shortest possible path isn't always achievable.
 

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