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 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.