EVGA UV Plus+ External USB VGA Adapter Review
The UV Plus+ Device
The EVGA UV Plus+ is a USB-based video adapter that allows both desktops and laptops with Windows operating systems to extend or mirror their virtual desk space for improved productivity. Yeah, that sound like a good tag line for a marketing manual but that really is a perfect description of the device.
The box that the EVGA UV Plus+ comes in is a far cry from the EVGA graphics card and motherboard boxes in an effort to appeal the more professional crowd.
Here is the device - not much too it, right? The UV Plus+ has a metal outer plate with the EVGA logo on its top. The unit I am testing is actually one of the first engineering samples to be shipped out and so the appearance of the UV Plus+ could change in its final retail format - though probably only towards higher quality.
Another angle of the top of the UV Plus+ shows the DVI port and some EVGA-shaped air holes for air ventilation on the side. The small red crystal-looking piece is actually attached to an LED inside on the PCB board that shows activity over the USB connection.
The bottom of the unit has an orange rubber pad to keep it from moving around on your desk when in use. The screws to get inside the device are located on the corners under the rubber padding.
Along one side of the rectangular shaped device has a mini-USB connection that will be used to connect the UV Plus+ to the computer or notebook computer.
On the opposite side is the DVI port on the UV Plus+ that connects to the extra monitor you would like to extend your desktop on to. The holes to either side of the DVI port allow you to screw in the DVI cable in securely.
Included in the package with our sample was a DVI-to-VGA, retractable USB cable (mini-USB to standard USB), a mini-CD with the drivers and a simple two page instruction manual to walk you through the simple process of getting the UV Plus+ up and running.
Ripping the unit apart and looking at what is inside (surely you knew we were going to do this??) we see the design of the logic involved in producing a video display over USB. The main display chip is the DisplayLink DL-120 chip that is custom built for creating displays over USB connections or other standard network protocols.
On the reverse side you see a single chip of memory for the local frame buffer and a DAC converter from Chrontel for output to the DVI/VGA connection.
Table courtesy of DisplayLink
This table, pulled from the DisplayLink website
product information, shows where the differentiation between the two EVGA UV Plus+ models. You can see the major difference between the two chips (and thus the two models) is support for the larger resolutions in the DL-160 and native support for digital-only DVI output.
Diagram courtesy DisplayLink
The DisplayLink technology is actually pretty impressive from a technical standpoint. The software installed on your system works with both the CPU and primary GPU to interpret graphics commands and the compresses a video signal to send over the slight 480 Mbps bandwidth of USB 2.0. The compression rate depends on several factors including the content being shown, CPU power available and USB bandwidth available. The chip on the UV Plus+ then takes those packets and decompresses them and sends them out to the monitor.
This means that image quality MAY be affected depending on what you are doing. There is modest support for 3D over the UV Plus+ monitor - for example Vista Aero is completely supported and you can display 3D graphics as well though the process may be slow.