Has there been a time during a gaming session when you were wondering how your system is performing temperature-wise? How about how much of a load your system currently has on it? I as a gamer am always looking at additional data to see how the newly built gaming system is performing. Here I discuss the examination I have done to describe the GOverlay LCD display.
While I have seen many software-based widgets that can be used to view that information on your desktop, how about those times when you are in-game and don’t want to tab out of the session? Well, today I am going to be looking at a little device from ColdTears Electronics called LCDSysInfo for GOverlay.
What does this device do? Today I am going to put the GOverlay LCD to the test and show you what this convenient little desktop display can do. This has the ability to customize the data source you want to view, all at-a-glance on this 2.8″ LCD screen. Today I am going to put the software and hardware to the test today to see just how well this device can hold to its promise of total customization.
Take a Closer Look at the GOverlay LCD display
When it came to the software there was a lot to learn with the GOverlay LCD Display. First, I had to make sure I got the drivers installed correctly, which was a trick on its own; however, going to GOverlay’s site and using the download page here: http://www.goverlay.com/content/download/ I was able to find the information needed to get things going. Following the installation steps here will take you a long way.
One other note I would like to make before I continue here: while GOverlay has its own application for the LCD to function, there is another software (3rd party) that you will need to download and install as well for this LCD to fully function as intended. So before moving forward, let’s go over that just a little bit.
You will need to install the following software to take advantage of some of its features:
**software required is: Rivatuner Statistics Server, OpenHardwareMonitor and AIDA64
While most of these applications can be found for free, it’s now a matter of you wanting to constantly have these applications running in the background. This is something you the user will have to ponder.
Once I got the drivers installed correctly, I went into the device manager and saw that the GOverlay LCD display was recognized in our system. I ran Windows 7 and didn’t run into any problems at all.
From the GOverlay software standpoint, there is a lot of information to be learned here, so while you are in this software take a minute to get familiar with the tabs and settings. One of the more important packages here is the LCD SysInfo. Here you will find tabs that will allow you to create your own sensor reading layout on the LCD. In the SysInfo Tab for both Windows and gaming, you will find a customized layout. Here you can add and remove information you want to display on your LCD.
Remember, the software is designed to read sensor points from the 3rd party software I mentioned, so if there is no data readout from your hardware to the 3rd party software this can limit your data readouts and customization.
Here are the sections I encounter in the GOverlay Software.
Output – Here you can make adjustments to how you want your information to be sent to the display. You can also check the status of the required apps that are needed for the GOverlay to give proper readouts. Items that are highlighted in red mean it’s not running, while green means that it is running and obtaining data.
Sensors – CPU Gauge BOX: It lets you use up to four sensors, one being a Gauge BAR display: you can select a sensor and then provide the minimum and maximum values.
GPU Gauge BOX: It provides the same features as the CPU Box
HDD Activity BOX: It can use up to two sensors, one for when the hard disk is reading, and another for when the hard disk is writing. It will show an HDD icon when any of the activities pass the set threshold in the options and then show an R (Read) or a W (Write) when it passes their thresholds.
NET Box: It can use up to two sensors and show their information with up to three digits. You can use your network sensor from AIDA64 to display your network card activity, or if you want to go further you can even load this information from an INI file in case your connection is handled by another computer using ICS/NAT.
Latency BOX: This will show the latency of the selected server.
Time BOX: this will show the current time with seconds and a nice icon next to it.
Bar Graph BOX: You can select a sensor and create a bar graph providing the 100% maximum value. You can select the border color of the graph, the fill color, and the background color as well. The width and height can be set as desired and the bar graph can be horizontal or vertical. You can also enable showing the value inside the bar.
Plot Graph BOX: You can select a sensor and create a plot graph of the value of the sensor over time. You can select the border color, the background color, and the line color. The width and height can be set as desired. You can also enable the display of the current value of the sensor.
Notification BOX: This Box can be put anywhere on the screen. It will create a phone-style notification bar that will show the status of several activities on your computer.
Plugins: As of GOverlay 1.3.7 it will support plugins that can interact with GOverlay as new elements to be added to the screen, meaning that you can create new elements to retrieve the information you want from other applications or create a totally custom draw on the screen.
The plugins allow you to draw on the screen the following:
– You can draw regular text with the available colors
– You can draw square fonts
– You can draw numeric-fonts
– You can draw images uploaded on the device
– You can draw rectangles and filled rectangles
– You can draw lines
SysInfo – Here you can customize your screen settings and layout. There are pre-designed boxes to make for easy selection. Here you can choose from all the sensor reading layouts and make adjustments to which sensors you want to read. It took us a few minutes to get used to the sensors and figure out exactly what I wanted; I recommend that you do the same since your system’s motherboard and graphics card may react differently.
Help Section – This section will go over some FAQs and also troubleshooting if you run into any. There is a great support section here to answer most questions.
To test the unit I first loaded all the drivers that are needed; this was the easy part. When I plugged the USB cable into the device I got a message that I have to run GOverlay.
Once I loaded the software, I got the default displays. Since I had not installed the other needed software, the sensors didn’t pick up their data just yet. After a quick setup with all the 3rd party software that is required, I was up and running in no time.
Before I completed our set-up, I had to do a simple update to make sure I had the most current software to get correct readings.
Soon after, I loaded AIDA64, OpenHardwareMonitor, and RivaTuner which allowed us to customize the settings I wanted to be viewed. Here I had selected first to read out GPU temps, load, and fan speed readings. I was still settings up the CPU side. I also set the display to read HD read and write as well as Latency and Internet protocols for up and down traffic.
Here is what our final results show. I was quite impressed with how easy it was to completely customize the settings. While it was easy to set up, I did take a few moments to go over all the sensor settings and what data is available at our fingertips before I started to play around with it. One item to note here is that since I used water cooling on our test bench, the fan speeds were set at default and didn’t move much.
I loaded up a game and changed the display to show FPS on one side and GPU temps and load on the other. As you can see, the LCD only tops out at 99 FPS, but I was getting 120+ frames. So while this is great for those playing games that don’t exceed 99 frames, for those that do you will only see 99 as the max.
To give you an example of the LCD in action, I did a short clip that is uploaded to YouTube for viewing. This will give you an idea of how the readouts are done. Now, remember, the data is only as accurate as the software that is used to read the data output. So while the margin of error is minimal, you may encounter more than is typical if you do not keep your software up to date.
For the video, I was running 3DMark’s Fire Strike benchmark to show the diversity of the load in both CPU and GPU settings.
Now that I have seen the ColdTears Electronics GOverlay. in action, let’s move forward and sum things up.
To sum things up, let’s first talk about the aesthetics of the device. While this device is rather simplistic and doesn’t have any fancy bells and whistles for housing, the black acrylic frame is rather nice. The 2.8″ LCD display is crisp and sharp; it’s not HD quality but it does the job. A minor gripe I have for the aesthetics is that the device is open to the air and not enclosed.
While I didn’t have an issue, I can see this device being much more attractive if there was completely enclosed housing. Of course, that would bring the cost of the unit up, and I am rather happy with its pricing as it is.
When it came to the software, I feel that ColdTears GOverlay did a great job on an intuitive GUI. While it does take a little while to get used to the menus and layout, it wasn’t hard to navigate through the software. They required additional applications to be running in the background for the LCD unit to fully function though, so if you’re the type that doesn’t like all these apps running this may cause some concern.
I found that while the required software didn’t take up many resources, it will put some additional stress on your CPU when you are running a bunch of other software already.
Overall, I had a great experience with the unit and I managed to set up the display to show the information that was important to us. While you are not limited to what I showed, I would encourage the user to play around with it and customize your display settings exactly how you like them. That’s the whole idea behind it and I think ColdTears Electronics hit the nail on the head with the GOverlay LCD display.