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Matrox Millennium G450 32MB Dual Head
Date: Dec 15, 2001
Author: HH Editor
Matrox Millennium G450 32MB Dual Head - Page 1

The Matrox Millennium G450 - 32MB Dual Head
New Levels Of
Integration for the Multimedia Fanatic and Corporate User

By Dave "Davo" Altavilla

As technology moves on, new markets are exploding for Personal Computing.  The Business and Corporate Sector was the dawn of the information and computing age and it is still a very large portion of the over all market. Now, many of today's latest technologies in the PC space, are targeted towards the Personal User.  As of recently however, there has been a resurgence in products targeted towards the Business User and the Graphics Card Market is contributing its fair share.

This is a look at a new product that falls into this category almost exclusively.  The all new Matrox Millennium G450 is a 2D/3D Graphics Card dressed in  a Business Suit with the proverbial "Power Tie" strapped on, in the event you were not aware that it was going to run the meeting.  This may be a metaphor but it could not be more true in reality.  In the pages ahead, we'll show you what this card is made of, what its strengths are and what weaknesses lie within as well.

Specifications and Features Of The Millenium G450
Just a little pleasure mixed in with the business.


Architecture Features

  • 0.18-micron technology

  • 256-bit DualBus architecture

  • 64-bit Double Data Rate (DDR)/Single Data Rate (SDR) external bus to frame buffer memory

  • Full AGP 4X device with multi-threaded bus mastering

    • Support for AGP 1X,2X and 4X

  • Integrated second RAMDAC

  • Integrated Transmission-Minimized Differential Signaling (TMDS)transmitter

  • Integrated TV encoder

  • 3D Rendering Array Process Architecture

  • 8 to 32 MB frame buffer configurations supported

  • Matrox ?s DualHead Display technology allows a single AGP card to independently support any two of the following displays:

    • monitor

    • TV

    • analog flat panel

    • digital flat panel

  • Vibrant Color Quality 2 (VCQ 2 )rendering

  • 32-bit internal precision specially enhanced for multi-texturing using 32-bit source textures

  • 32-bit Z-buffer including 8-bit stencil buffer

  • Symmetric Rendering Architecture

  • High speed,integrated primary RAMDAC (up to 360 MHz) with "UltraSharp" RAMDAC technology

  • Flicker-free display up to 2048 x 1536 @32-bpp on the primary display

  • Industry-leading 3D feature set and performance

  • Hardware accelerated Microsoft DirectX® Environment-Mapped Bump Mapping

  • Bilinear,trilinear and anisotropic filtering

  • DirectX,PC 98/99,Broadcast PC,Microsoft DirectShow® and OpenGL® compatible


Video and Multimedia Features

  • Independent front and back-end scalars

  • Full hardware sub-picture support and blending for high quality DVD playback

  • Aspect ratio conversion supported for proper display of 4:3 and 16:9 content

  • Full-screen output to TV independent of primary VGA display

  • AGP 4X bus mastering of video data

  • Support for unlimited number of simultaneous video windows and sprites

  • HD0 format support for HDTV

  • 720 p or 1280 x 720 resolution as video input and output

  • Second CRTC supports RGB and YUV packed and planar data in interlaced and non-interlaced rasters for PC graphics and video display to a TV or monitor

  • TV output up to 1024 x 768 in 32-bit color

  • Video editing architecture enables real-time A/B roll capability

  • Enhanced alpha-blended overlay modes support DVD/video sub-picture information as well as WebTV ® user interfaces

  • Full DirectShow and Broadcast PC compliant

This mile long list of specifications gives you an indication of the multi-faceted capabilities of the G450.  With respect to current products on the market from ATI and nVidia, the G450 is a little bit of a cross between  an "All-In-Wonder" kind of product (less the TV Tuner section) and a GeForce2 MX.  Let's have a closer look at the hardware side of things.


click for full view




We'll break the parts list down for you on the Matrox Millennium G450.  Let's see, that's one Graphics Processor, 4 SDRAM chips, Voltage Regulators, Capacitors, Oscillators, Resistors and Connectors.  There, you just built yourself a G450.  What you'll notice from our quick B.O.M. (Bill of Materials) run down, is that we made NO mention of RAMDACs, TV Encoders or TMDS (Transmission Minimized Differential Signaling) Transmitters for Driving Flat Panels.


For a board to support, Digital or Analog Flat Panel Output, TV Output and Simultaneous Independent Displays, you need all of these components.  So why are they not here?


Answer:  Because all of these components are on the G450 chip itself.



You get the picture... With the exception of a TV Tuner Section, the G450 has just about everything you could possibly want from an output standpoint.  All of this can be accomplished without the need for external components like the secondary RAMDAC and Matrox's "TVO" TV Encoder.  In fact, as you can see, with the advent of a die shrink, they brought these components on board at the chip level. 


On a side note, before you ask, that orange wire is attached to ground one of the other components.  Why it is needed, we have no idea.  (How's that for an answer?)  The rest is pretty much self explanatory.  The G450 only supports up to 32MB of Local Frame Buffer Memory via a 64 bit DDR or SDR interface.  This is totally different than the old G400's 128 bit SDR only interface.  What will this do to performance?  Well, theoretically not much.  On paper it is pretty much a wash.  However, we'll look at performance in more detail later.


Next, we'll give you a taste of what all these bells and whistles can do for you.


Software, Setup and Dual Head

Matrox Millennium G450 32MB Dual Head - Page 2

The Matrox Millennium G450 - 32MB Dual Head
New Levels Of
Integration for the Multimedia Fanatic and Corporate User

By Dave "Davo" Altavilla

Installation, Setup, Dual Head and The Visuals
Tools of the trade

One area that Matrox has down cold is drivers.  They continually impress us with a robust feature set and supreme stability.  This experience with a Matrox product was no different.  Here is a look at the environment that is the G450.

G450 Driver/Info Tab

Power Desk Feature Tab

Display Adjust Tab

Dual Head


Color Adjust

There is plenty to play with on the G450 and control freaks should enjoy all of the various tools for desktop and general display image quality.  The card installed with out a fuss and we were moving on to optimizing our display setting with just a few mouse clicks. 

The new Dual Head Features of the G450 also add a new dimension to the card.  The previous family of G400 product also had many of these feature but this time around, Matrox brought them all on to one chip in an effort to provide simplicity of design and more importantly, low cost. 

All that you need for Multi-Monitor and TV-Out  Productivity and Fun
Click for full view


The cable on the left allows you to convert the VGA connector to Composite or S-Video interfaces.  This simple solution will provide for simultaneous viewing of a Game, DVD or other applications running on the TV and a separate and fully functional desktop on a CRT.  There are lots of other combinations to choose from with Dual Head.  Here are a few...

Dual Head DVDMax

Dual Head Multi-Display

Dual Head TV-Out

Dual Head Zoom

As you can see from the above illustrations, you can have multiple desk top instances, TV and DVD Output, Zoom Views of a region on your main desk top or one large desk top area split across two screens, all on a separate analog or digital display.  The card we tested was an analog output only model but Matrox is also readying a G450 DVI which will have one VGA Connector and one DVI.

We decided to have a little fun and try out the DVDMax and Dual Head Zoom features.  Here are the incriminating photos.  Click for full viewing fun.


In the shot on the left on the Sony monitor, we have Jimmy Vaughn doing his "thang" with a beat up Fender Strat and soul-fulla-blues.  On the Toshiba monitor, we are running an instance of 3DMark's "Results Browser" in the background while playing the DVD, that is full screen on the Sony, in a window in the foreground.  On the bottom we also included a shot of Matrox's DVD Player that uses a "Cinemaster" playback decoder in a neat minimalistic design.  We'll have to get rid of the DVDs in the HotHardware Lab.  Having this much entertainment so readily available while working, could prove counter-productive.

In the shot on the right, we have Paint Shop Pro running on the Toshiba screen and a zoomed view of the region, of the screen shot with the flaming trash cans, in the Sony tube.  Talk about "pixel perfect" touch up...  We could get spoiled by this.  There is but one draw back here, that being sheer physics.  Put two CRTs on your desk and there is not much room left for anything else.  Two analog flat panels would be the way to go with dual digital displays being nirvana.  However, neither the G450 or any incarnation of a GeForce2 MX that we have seen to date, have the ability to connect dual DVI Flat Panels.

This brings us to a comparison we are compelled to draw, that being between the Millenium G450 and the GeForce2 MX.  Both cards are targeted at value/business markets.  Both cards also have dual simultaneous and  independent output capabilities.  As it stands today and having experiences with both of these cards, we would have to tip our hat to Matrox for their "Dual Head" features versus nVidia's "Twin View".  The Matrox solution from both a hardware and software standpoint is more elegant, full featured and functional.  

We've seen the features and quality side of things here.  Now, let's look at performance.

DVD and Game Benchmarks With The G450

Matrox Millennium G450 32MB Dual Head - Page 3

The Matrox Millennium G450 - 32MB Dual Head
New Levels Of
Integration for the Multimedia Fanatic and Corporate User

By Dave "Davo" Altavilla

H.H. Test System
Same as it ever was...

LiteOn Mid Tower ATX Case w/ 300W PS, Pentium III 866EB, Abit SE6 i815 Motherboard and Matrox Millennium G450 Dual Head 32MB AGP, 128MB of PC133 True CAS2 SDRAM from Corsair (thanks Outside Loop), IBM 15Gig 7200 RPM ATA100 Hard Drive (thanks again Outside Loop), Kenwood 72X CDROM,
Win 98SE, DirectX 7.0a, Matrox PowerDesk Drivers for Windows 98 Revision 6.10.004

Benchmarks With The G450
All work and no play

We don't know what else to do here except just plunk this chart down.

Quake 3 Time Demo Benchmarks With The Millennium G450


Sorry folks in OpenGL we got much of the same results as we got in a Direct 3D driven game.  The gaming side of the Matrox Millennium G450 takes a back seat far behind its Dual Head, Multimedia and DVD features.  Again, if you are a "glass is half full" type, your perspective here could be that the G450 does have the capability for gaming in 32 bit color at 800X600 or less.

What really puzzled us the most was the fact that the G450 didn't even come close to the aging G400MAX, as far as gaming performance goes.  With a new .18 micron core, the G450 should have a much higher clock speed, correct?

We decided to look into this further and started up the utility that is widely known amongst hard core Matrox fans, MGA Tweak.  This utility should give us a look inside the G450 and its clock speeds.

Here we are looking at a 162MHz. reference clock that is supplied to the SDRAM for roughly 333 MHz. DDR.  The Core Graphics clock however is rated at roughly 65MHz.  This seems strange but we got the same results from Entech's PowerStrip as well.  Our only conclusion is that the core speed of the G450 is markedly slower than that of its predecessor, the G400. 

This could in fact be the case and it would stand to reason.  If you are familiar with highly integrated processor cores, often as higher levels of integration in peripheral functions are introduced into a processor core architecture, timing characteristics are increasingly more difficult to control and optimize.  We will be contacting the folks at Matrox for comment here as well.


Well, there you have it.  This is the Matrox Millennium G450 from start to finish.  Let's recap... First this card has fantastic Multi-Display capabilities and an excellent offering of Multimedia Business and Entertainment features that will be sure to please the Wall Street types and Gadget Freaks alike.  The Dual Head output, drivers and performance are far more mature than the GeForce2 MX approach and the G450's level of integration should allow for lower cost in the long run.  The current MSRP on the G450 is $145.

On the other hand, we were really hoping to see more from the G450 in terms of 3D performance.  We don't need to go into detail again on this but suffice it to say that the Matrox Millennium G450 is a "Business/Productivity/Casual Gaming Card".  If your concern is for frame rate, the G450 is not the ticket.  The forthcoming Matrox G800 may be more your style.

We're giving the Matrox Millennium G450 a HotHardware Heat Meter Rating of....

Matrox Millennium G450 32MB Dual Head Page 4

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