Matrox G400 MAX

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Matrox has been in the Graphics Card business since the invention of electricity. OK, so maybe that's a little overstated but when it comes to PC Graphics, Matrox is the "Grand Daddy". They have always been known for high end accelerators built with the Computer Professional in mind. CAD and other Desktop Graphics Applications were always their strong suit.

As the 3D Accelerator Market came of age, Matrox was there with some of the first ever 3D Accelerated features in a 2D card. However, a new market of then "Start-Up" companies like 3dfx and NVIDIA entered the picture and soon leapfrogged Matrox with the nimble aggression that only a small focused group could bring.

Since then things surely have changed and many others have entered the picture. One company has remained a constant through these market trends. Matrox is still making leading edge accelerators and they are back in the 3D race with a strong entry. This is a look at the "Top Shelf" of their new G400 product line, Millennium G400MAX.



Card Design - Dual Heads?

Clean simplicity, that's what the G400MAX's design is all about. There are not a lot of chips on this board, as you can see in this shot, for a card that supports Dual Monitors. There are two VGA connectors on its header and the G400 line supports simultaneous independent output of different images on two monitors. This will allow you to display two different apps, one on each monitor, while they are being run in a multi-task environment. One can conceivably play a DVD title on one screen while word processing on another. Also, gamers can output to a TV while simultaneously driving their monitor. Of course their is also the option of expanding your desktop across two monitors. This is great for business folks who do a lot of spreadsheet work. Finally, graphics designers can rejoice in the ability to work on an object in one monitor and then have a "Zoom" view of any region of their work, on the other monitor simultaneously. Matrox calls these various modes "DualHead Zoom"," DVD Max" and "Clone Mode". Here is how they achieve this dual-drive capability.

The G400 line of Graphics Processors has a 256bit DualBus architecture.

Click to enlarge


Here are the rest of the key specifics on Matrox's Siamese-Twin Power House.



? Floating Point 3D Setup Engine with
dynamically re-allocatable resources:
? Ultra-pipelined floating point and culling
? Optimized support for Direct3D and
OpenGL triangles, strips, fans and vectors
? Flexible Vertex Format natively
? Vertex Buffers natively supported
? Environment Mapped Bump Mapping
? Single cycle multi-texturing
? Vertex and table fog
? Specular highlighting (any color)
? True color ARGB Flat and Gouraud
? Vibrant Color Quality2(VCQ2) Rendering:
? 32-bit precision internal pipelines
? up to 32-bit source textures
? 32-bit output
? 16bpp dithering down from 32bpp
palette for 16bpp output
? Full sub pixel and subtext correction
? 8-bit precision for filter coefficients
? Highly saturated & separated analogue
color output (Ultra Sharp DAC)
? Filtering support:
? 11 level mip-mapping support
? Bilinear Filtering
? True eight-sample per pixel trilinear
? Anisotropic filtering
? Alpha blending:
? All blend modes under DirectX 6 and
? Supports all permutations of passes
including light maps, environment maps,
maps, etc.
? Z-buffer support:
? 16-bit
? 32-bit
? 24-bit plus 8-bit stencil buffer used for
shadows, overlays, etc...
? Guard Band Clipping
? Single, Double or Triple buffering
? 3D-image effects combined with no
exclusion conditions
? Sort independent (full scene) anti-aliasing
? Vector/edge anti-aliasing
? Hardware dithering including dithering of LUT textures

That's a pretty complete set of features. Matrox didn't leave out any of today's current "hot-buttons" in the world of 3D Graphics. New technologies are coming on line shortly but this is the most comprehensive list 3D Graphics capabilities currently available on the market.


Here's what our card looked like.

Not quiet as pretty as that nice Marketing Shot above but check out the stock Aavid fan that Matrox sticks on this bad boy! The core clock for the G400MAX on our unit seemed to be set at 150MHz., although Matrox will not confirm this. That tied in the memory chips to a 200MHz. clock. At least that's what "Perftune" from Entech was telling us. However, we were able to overclock the G400MAX to 166 MHz. Core and 221MHz. Memory clocks.


"VCQ" and "EMBM" (so many acronyms, so little time...)

In addition, Matrox went the extra mile and one-upped the competition for this round of technology. The addition of Environment Mapped Bump Mapping, "EMBM" for short and VCQ2 Vibrant Color Quality2, should give Matrox the lead in overall image quality until the next generation of cards arrive.  

We'll take a look at these two features in some detail. Read on...

Page 2

---> "VCQ" and "EMBM" <----

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