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Matrox C420 Could Be The Next King of Entry-Level GPUs

Matrox C420
Matrox C420 (Image credit: B&H Photo Video)

Matrox, one of the old-school graphics card markers, no longer makes gaming products. Instead, the company has diverted its attention to the enterprise and professional markets, such as digital signage and video walls. However, the YouTube channel Budget-Builds Official (opens in new tab) takes us for a stroll down memory lane with the Matrox C420 in various games.

Matrox introduced the C420 graphics card in 2014. The graphics card sports AMD's Cape Verde silicon, which utilizes the Graphics Core Next (GCN) 1.0 architecture. Cape Verde debuted in 2012 and featured TSMC's 28nm process node. AMD used Cape Verde in various Radeon graphics cards at the time, the more notable models being the Radeon HD 7750 and Radeon R7 250X.

The Matrox C420 has 512 shaders out of the 640 that Cape Verde offers. The C420 has the same amount of shaders as the Radeon HD 7750, Radeon R7 250, Radeon R7 350, and Radeon R7 450. Unfortunately, the performance won't equal AMD's Radeon offerings since the Matrox C420 is a 15W graphics card, limiting the clock speed substantially. The Matrox C420 checks in with a 300 MHz base clock and lacks boost technology. You cannot overclock it, either—the graphics card defaults to the factory settings, according to the YouTuber.

On the memory side, the graphics card (C420-E2GBLAF) has 2GB of 1.2 Gbps GDDR5 memory across a 128-bit memory interface. As a result, the Matrox C420 offers a maximum memory bandwidth of up to 19.2 GBps. In addition, Matrox also sells a 4GB variant (C420-E4GBLAF) of the C420. Display outputs on the graphics card include four mini DisplayPort 1.1 ports. As a result, the Matrox C420 can drive up to four displays at 2560 x 1600 at 60 Hz or two displays at 3840 x 2160 at 30 Hz.

Based on Cape Verde, the Matrox C420 supports DirectX 12, OpenGL 4.4, and OpenCL1.2, allowing you to use the graphics card for gaming. The drivers for the C420 borrow code from AMD's Radeon Crimson code with some modifications from Matrox. That's why GPU-Z detected that the driver used in the tests is from the Crimson 17.7 package. The YouTuber's testbed includes the Ryzen 7 3700X, 32GB of DDR4 memory, and Windows 10.

Matrox C420 Benchmarks

Average1% LowsQualityResolutionScaling
Grand Theft Auto V37 FPS29 FPSNormal1280 x 720N/A
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim40 FPS33 FPSMedium1280 x 720N/A
Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord36 FPS28 FPSLow1280 x 72075%
Red Dead Redemption 216 FPS14 FPSLowest1366 x 76850%
The Sims 455 FPS48 FPSMedium/High1280 x 720N/A
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive72 FPS47 FPSCompetitive720 x 480N/A
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order15 FPS14 FPSNormal1366 x 768N/A
Crysis34 FPS25 FPSMedium1280 x 720N/A
Half-Life 2 71 FPS49 FPSHigh1280 x 720N/A

The Matrox C420 flaunted its best performance in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Half-Life 2, delivering an average framerates above 70 FPS and 1% lows above 40 FPS. The Cape Verde-powered graphics card offered playable framerates above 30 FPS at 720p (1280 x 720) in other titles, including Grand Theft Auto V, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord, The Sims 4, and even Crysis. Red Dead Redemption 2 and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order were the only two titles that punished the Matrox C420 where the graphics card was unable to hit the 30 FPS mark.

Even though it doesn't cater to the gaming market, the Matrox C420 is a capable entry-level graphics card that offers an acceptable level of performance. Its value resides in the fact that it's a single-slot 15W graphics card that'll happily slot into even the oldest of systems as long as there's a PCIe x16 expansion slot to house it.

It's a shame that scalpers are even flipping the eight-year-old Matrox C420. The graphics card starts at $120 on eBay. B&H Photo Video sells the 4GB model for a whopping $639. The YouTuber got lucky as he bought his sample for just $30.

It would be interesting to see how Matrox's other C-series graphics cards perform. The vendor also offers the 50W C680 and 75W C900 models that should provide higher performance than the C420, given they have more thermal headroom to stretch their legs.

Zhiye Liu
RAM Reviewer and News Editor

Zhiye Liu is a Freelance News Writer at Tom’s Hardware US. Although he loves everything that’s hardware, he has a soft spot for CPUs, GPUs, and RAM.

  • sycoreaper
    Gotta say I disagree, this isn't even entry level. 15-30fps at 720 on low-medium? Integrated graphics do better than this. This is more like a work station card.
    Reply
  • JWNoctis
    sycoreaper said:
    Gotta say I disagree, this isn't even entry level. 15-30fps at 720 on low-medium? Integrated graphics do better than this. This is more like a work station card.
    Even a Nintendo Switch is quite a bit more powerful than this, and that's a 5-yo handheld. Might make for a reasonable replacement for a dead 9600 GSO, in a late 2000s build that's somehow still otherwise alive and useful.

    Good thing integrated graphics is about omnipresent in the upcoming generation.
    Reply
  • King_V
    Um, considering that the RX 6400 seems to trade blows with the GTX 1650 GDDR6, at least according to this video, then why the heck are people paying so much for this Matrox card?

    Now, it's only 6 games tested, AMD leads in 3, Nvidia in the other 3. The narrator is exaggerating a bit when he states that this is GT 1030 levels of power draw, but I'll say that the performance for how little power is drawn is worth noting.
    Also, it doesn't start actually getting the comparisons going until about 8 minutes in.

    EoP9SLHkFY0
    Finally, offhand, anyone know what software is used to have that performance overlay that's being used in the video here?
    Reply