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Matrox's New $600 Graphics Card

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 26 comments

Montreal (Canada) - Let’s be realistic, the glory days of Matrox and blockbuster graphics cards such as the legendary Millennium are over. But despite the rise of Nvidia and ATI, Matrox is still around and is catering to an industry running workstations and mission critical applications. The manufacturer recently introduced a handful of new cards that can run up to four LCDs, but come with prices that got us thinking.

Matrox M9140

Matrox has been left out of most graphics decisions in recent years, with the exception of its Dual Head 2 Go and Triple Head 2 Go products that are really the only devices left that may appeal to an enthusiast graphics crowd which the company once helped to create. But if you are running workstation software such as financial or industrial monitoring applications, there is a good chance that you are still familiar with this brand, even if Nvidia and AMD (ATI) are dominating these market segments and there are very few niches left for Matrox to compete in.

The company recently introduced five new graphics cards, all powered by the companies M-series chip, which Matrox says is the industry’s first "QuadHead GPU." QuadHead refers to the claim that the chip integrates native support up to four displays on one card and a maximum resolution of 4 x 1920 x 1200 pixels - or about 9.2 megapixels. The M9140 LP PCIe x16 model is the only model to support this feature out of the box and sells for $599 MSRP. The M9120 Plus LP PCIe x16 ($329) and the M9120 Plus LP PCIe x1 ($329) can also support up to four LCDs, but require a $99 after-market cable.

There are two cards that are limited to two outputs, the M9120 PCIe x16 ($259) and the M9125 PCIe x16 ($399). The M9120 supports digital output of up to 1920x1200 pixels and analog output of up to 2048x1536 pixels, while the M9125 ups the digital output to 2560x1600 pixels. All cards are passively cooled.

Let’s recap. Matrox is offering a low-profile graphics card will set you back about $600. Seeing that price tag, we had to remind ourselves that, for the same money, you can get two ATI Radeon 4870 512 MB graphics cards, and drive four 2560x1600 monitors. Or you can buy three 4850 512 MB, and drive six 2560x1600 monitors.

Performance-wise, Matrox’ graphics chip can hardly be called a GPU. Instead, it is clear that the company focused on delivering (analog) native quad-monitor support, so we are not surprised to see that DirectX compliancy was not mentioned. We managed to find out that M-Series supports DirectX 9.0 in a way to run Windows Vista’s Aero interface and OpenGL 2.0. There are no technical specifications available on the GPU.

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  • -3 Hide
    razor512 , June 30, 2008 10:19 PM
    Any info thats not released is NOT released because the specs are sub par and if they release them, it will only hurt their sales

    so they keep that info hidden so when they bur the card, it is already to late to do anything.

    it is like buying a PC game, only to find out that it is crap then you and your basically screwed (even though many pc games suck, they will never disclose that info on the box )

    same with almost any PC hardware. info thats not included is about specs that are lacking or are far below their competitors
  • 0 Hide
    truehighroller , June 30, 2008 10:33 PM
    I feel bad for them it makes me sad.
  • 5 Hide
    khaydin , July 1, 2008 12:00 AM
    Why waste $600 when you can buy a single ColorGraphic Xentera GT 8 that will drive 8 monitors at once? We had those in our 911 dispatch center PCs where I used to work. They cost a lot less than $600 too. I'm not sure why this article puts so much emphasis on the max resolution they can display. Anyone that's gonna be using 4 or more monitors to display information isn't gonna care about using the highest resolution. They're gonna wanna use something around the 1280x1024 range so they can easily read text and not strain their eyes too much.
  • Display all 26 comments.
  • 2 Hide
    razor512 , July 1, 2008 12:31 AM
    companies like to have higher specs than their competitors

    too bad one of the specs Matrox chose, was price
  • -1 Hide
    weixinyuan , July 1, 2008 1:56 AM
    Wow, is this even a joke?
  • -1 Hide
    klarkmdb , July 1, 2008 3:21 AM
    Then what's their point? Why are they still producing it?
  • -1 Hide
    razor512 , July 1, 2008 5:21 AM
    klarkmdbThen what's their point? Why are they still producing it?

    money /profits

    a company does not get paid by how many people buy their products, they get paid by how many units the stores order to have in stock

    if newegg buys 10,000 of those cards thinking it is the next best thing, and only 5 people buy it, then the videocard company made a profit and newegg lost money and will be forced to sell them dirt cheap to clear out the inventory
  • 2 Hide
    slope987 , July 1, 2008 6:45 AM
    Why are people always talking only about 3D performance? Except for games, it's not that useful. If you have a PC at your job, do you think your boss really care about 3d performance of the graphic card you have in your work PC (unless if you are working in a video game company)? Even if your company needs to do some 3d, chances are good that those cards will be fast enough. Good Multi-monitor support, display correctness, driver realiabiliy (no crash!) and card realiability should come higher on the priority list. Having a fanless card is a big advantage for the graphic card reliability (plus it makes no noise).

    Do you think hospitals will put cards in their PCs that come need fans... I don't think so... Also, many buisnesses require 4 monitors or more. I am pretty sure that Matrox will come up with a multi-board solution with cards based on this GPU. Imagine running aero glass with 8 monitors..

    By the way, I do have a ATI gaming card in my home system and that's ok for my need (except for display error on my second monitor when I run it in a different resolution than my main monitor). But for a job PC, that's not the card I would buy. nVidia and ATI may have similar solutions to the one offered my Matrox, but they will be costly too..
  • -1 Hide
    Lozil , July 1, 2008 8:19 AM
    Matrox's New $600 Graphics Card....???

    Who is going to buy that after ATI and nVIDIA are Competing with high end stuff at 500$......???
  • 5 Hide
    coverfire , July 1, 2008 2:12 PM
    Just a side note. I work at a hospital and the only cards capable of producing the gray scale for our XRAY and MRI reading monitors are matrox cards. Or I should say the only SUPPORTED cards for those gray scale monitors are matrox cards.
  • 4 Hide
    wiseadam , July 1, 2008 2:29 PM
    What happened to proof by benchmark? This is a hardware site right? Where we come to get reviews on hardware, not obvious points of opinion on nothing but resolutions and price? Where is the setup of two seperate computers one with a matrox running 4 monitors and one with ATi running 4, then benchmark them running 2d cad operations and general office use. Then and only then, bash them for having a passively cooled single $600 card. Am I wrong for wanting more proof?
  • 0 Hide
    razor512 , July 1, 2008 3:05 PM

    3d performance is the most important thing for any kind of 3d modeling

    try then,

    install MAYA 8.5

    create a prim cube

    using the fur tool, create a fur and increase the sampling and density to it looks real, then pan around in the edit view and see how well it runs with your videocard

    if you thought crysis was hard to run, try maya 3d in the edit view, it is very demanding when editing a complex scene

    when doing the final render, (most movie companies use over 300 computers linked together running the render slave application and very high end networking equipment and a minute of video will still take a few days to a few weeks to finish rendering )

    when it comes to professional 3d cards, the main focus is raw power, and the drivers for those cards are specifically designed for the select few professional apps, and not targeted at any games (thats why quadro drivers are so slow when it comes to gaming but fast when it comes to programs like MAYA and 3DS max
  • 4 Hide
    ir_efrem , July 1, 2008 5:01 PM
    Somehow Matrox has stayed in business all this time without selling a single card to the performance crowd.

    Imagine that, it's almost like they have a worthwhile product or something. Perhaps gamers aren't the only computer users?

    Good lord people.........
  • -1 Hide
    tipmen , July 1, 2008 5:24 PM
    Whats the point I mean honestly you can by 2 cheap ATI/Nvida cards put them in cross or SLI and you got better cards for a cheaper price. Also you can have 6/8 LCDs running with Tri SLI or with ATI's quad crossfire. Unless theses new Matrox cards use a lot less power there is no point in buying.
  • 2 Hide
    LoboBrancoTimido , July 1, 2008 5:25 PM
    Those are not cards for the gamer crowd.
  • 0 Hide
    tipmen , July 1, 2008 6:37 PM
    For the price they are asking might as well buy the nicer cards... Even the lower end 6600 gts can give you this plus some have fanless heatsinks (if your the one to worry about sound) and still can do SLI and get 4 monitors going for less then $200 or better yet buy a 3870 x2 that has 4 DVI ports for about $350 if your MB can't do SLI/crossfire hey then you could do some gaming if you wanted to have a more rounded computer! Just saying they are going for a small market that has other options.
  • 4 Hide
    ir_efrem , July 1, 2008 6:37 PM
    Don't suppose many people remember what got Matrox a good name. Their Millennium and earlier Mystique certainly captured some attention from the mainstream. Regardless they always has a very solid product with super stable drivers (and probably the best driver update team), forget 3D games.

    If your system needs to run with the fewest amount of problems because it is critical..... Notice the article states, "catering to an industry running workstations and mission critical applications." Really think about that for a minute. How much is "hassle free" worth in a company that can loose a couple thousand dollars in less time than you realize. $600 seems like a small price to pay for close to absolute reliability.
  • 1 Hide
    ZootyGray , July 1, 2008 7:28 PM
    A few years ago I heard the M-Milleniums were sought after by audiophiles - stable/silent/cheap.

    Clearly there is a whole other world here that us gamer freaks don't pursue.

    But I really wonder about this tek and an article outlining it would be nice.

    I remember creating a "hatch" in autocad once - and then ended up waiting forever while it was rendered and saved - that was just a 2D drawing - no motion at all. So yes there is complexity without 3-D.

    But I think a 3D card, passive cooled, could fit the bill - because I think a lot of these areas are CPU intensive - but I don't know much, so I defer to what Razor said above about Maya 3D rendering.

    There must be a niche otherwise it's gonna bomb - so, again, a tek article on this other world would be interesting. And why can't a 38xx or an 88xx do the job??? What's missing? Are these unreliable for mission crirical? I thought everything pc was mission critical - or did that get thrown out when win 95 crashed on national tv - oops! o wait that was software, not hardware. Hmmm. (?)

    What's with Quatro and FireGL. Are they in this ballpark too? For that matter, what's a "workstation" really :) 
  • 2 Hide
    slope987 , July 1, 2008 11:04 PM
    For those who wonder why some mission critical clients buy Matrox card, you should read this:

    Yes, nVidia cards are incredibly fast, but it comes at a price. If they can find an optimization that will make the latest cool game run 20% faster, they will put it in their next driver release as soon as possible, without really testing if it will cause problems with other applications. All they care about is having the best benchmark results on Tom's hardware, so people will say that the produce the best graphic cards. That may be true, that depends of your definition of a good graphic card.

    Some clients prefer reliability. For example, some compagnies sell not only the software they develop but also the PC that ships with it. They sell complete products. They may want their software to behave exactly the same way in 4 years or more. For that to be possible, they want assurance that the graphic card they put in the system will still be produced in 4 years. Also, they want stable drivers that don't change too much between each release. nVidia and ATI cannot give them this assurance. That's why there is still some room for compagnies like Matrox. Why do you think Matrox is still selling all those old cards models. Why do you think they can sell those old cards and people buy them? Clients will be very happy to buy these old cards if it allows them to continue selling their product without going though a QA process and waiting for fixes from ATI or nVidia who just won't care about them. Matrox want to keep their current clients happy. nVidia and ATI don't care about those clients. They are too busy developping their new products. I do not think that these new Matrox cards are so expensive for clients that have those requirement. Before this chip, Matrox had not made a new graphic chip for years and they are still alive. It means something.
  • 2 Hide
    kamel5547 , July 2, 2008 5:06 AM
    Penny wise, pound foolish. There are a few good posters on this article IMO who have a good idea of what businesses are weighing when making decision (slope987,razor512 to name two)

    It seems a lot of posters have a hard time seperating the realities of business from personal computing. Business don't really care that a video card costs $600 to display 4 monitors (a fact many posters are missing also is that 4 monitors is probably not the end goal, 8+ probably is, no matter how you hash it Nvidia and ATI can only do two monitors per card so this card is superior in that sense). Yes, they could probably find a cheaper video card or other solution that would work.

    In the end reliability and certification is FAR more important. If you have a glitch on a personal PC that takes 4 hours to fix and happens to be related to the particular hardware youa re using, it isn't a big deal. If you have the same glitch in a datacenter, trading desk, or other similar situation the loss can potentially run into the millions. In a case like this you want to be able to get on the phone and get the issue resolved quickly, and you definitely don't want a root cause investigation to point to the fact the hardware is not certified.

    Are there high odds of this occurring? No, but then again the issue we had yesterday at work had probably less than .01% chance of occurring (network connectivity loss at the exact point a remote management process was setting permissions), but affected roughly 2000 people worldwide due to the process not getting its final instruction. Reliability is the number one priority when you run a business, as downtime will almost always cost you as much or more than you saved.

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