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Matrox Millennium P750 Review

Highs

  • Excellent 2D Image quality
  • Flexible
  • Multiple display capabilities
  • Excellent driver support.

Rating

Our Score 8
User Score 7

Lows

  • No consumer software bundle. Mediocre performance in newer games.
With 64MB DDR memory and DualHead features, the P750 is a good low-end workstation card with a ton of advanced features.

Summary

All in all this is a very awesome card. Anyone who needs a multi-monitor or editing solution would do well to pick this one up. Designed for speed and streamlined for the intermediate workstation, the Matrox Millenium P750 has so much flexibility in it, that it will be our card of choice for the office here for some time to come.

Hardcore gamers need not apply!

We would have liked to have seen a more inclusive software bundle. Probably not a game title, but something along the lines of what the card is designed for. Photo or video editing software would have been nice as well as some of the other software that is downloadable to be included on the disk and automatically installed if needed. As it is you have to register on the Matrox site to download these specialty items.

Business matters

Aside from our gaming addictions and youthful exuberance, there is a serious business side to us here at Designtechnica which involves writing and keeping up with the business end of things. For example, this review is being written while there are 2 databases open as well as Microsoft’s Outlook and Word, which is being used for the sake of writing this review now. In the past we have often relied upon the awesome game rigs to provide us with the power to fullfill our multitasking demand, but at the expense of performance because of all the other installed and otherwise needless programs that consume the massive quantities of CPU time running in the background. Long have we contemplated the need for a separate workstation that has the power and flexibility that you can get out of a gaming rig with out killing the bean counters at corporate with the price tag, or doing without the serious power and flexibility that we need in order to get the written word out the door and onto your screen. Not to mention a spare rig for the occasional all night LAN game.

Enter the Matrox!

The Matrox P750 card itself has an MSRP of $235. Not exactly pocket change compared to some lower-end “Gaming cards”, it is certainly a little pricey. But anyone who has priced a Matrox card in the Parhelia line recently will tell you that it is less than half the price of the Parhelia and a fraction of some high-end video editing solutions. From a business stand point, productivity is the name of the game and switching from database to Outlook to database to Word was getting a little old. Not to mention the efficiency lag of managing all those windows on one monitor. This baby does two DVI Monitors or three analog monitors in every conceivable configuration. Other graphic card makers have built-in multi display support and similar features too. The difference is the quality at which the graphics are displayed. On a graphics workstation it is most important of all. 2D graphics are crisp and clear and the 10-bit gamma correctable DACs are comparable to the same unit in your HDTV. Quality man! The dual 400 Mhz RAMDAC keep things chugging along beautifully.

Yes that is the Parhelia insignia on the graphics processor fan.

Most high end 3D gaming graphics are designed to be fast; not so much quality as quantity. Super bandwidth and frame rate is the order of the day. So what do you do if you need the quality to exceed the quantity? I have often wondered about whether the frag to image ratio might be improved a bit. Soon perhaps, but not today.

Performance

DXdiag:

—————
Display Devices
—————
Card name: Matrox Millennium P750 – English
Manufacturer: Matrox Graphics Inc.
Chip type: Matrox Parhelia LX
DAC type: Integrated, 400 MHz
Device Key: Enum\PCI\VEN_102B&DEV_2537&SUBSYS_1820102B&REV_02

Display Memory: 64.0 MB
Current Mode: 1280 x 1024 (32 bit) (60Hz)
Monitor: Plug and Play Monitor
Monitor Max Res: 1600,1200
Driver Name: MTXPARHD.dll
Driver Version: 6.13.0001.1262 (English)

DDI Version: 8
Driver Attributes: Final Retail
Driver Date/Size:
4/29/2003
13:51:36, 1719936 bytes
WHQL Logo’d: No
WHQL Date Stamp: None
VDD: n/a
Mini VDD: MTXPARHM.sys
Mini VDD Date:
4/29/2003
13:53:12, 447360 bytes
Device Identifier: {D7B71ECB-6677-11CF-7577-2138A0C2CB35}
Vendor ID: 0x102B
Device ID: 0x2537
SubSys ID: 0x1820102B
Revision ID: 0x0002

Revision ID: 0x0002

Video Accel:
Deinterlace Caps: n/a
Registry: OK
DDraw Status: Enabled
D3D Status: Enabled
AGP Status: Not Available
DDraw Test Result: All tests were successful.
D3D7 Test Result: All tests were successful.
D3D8 Test Result: All tests were successful.
D3D9 Test Result: All tests were successful

System Specs as tested:

AMD Athlon(tm) XP 2400+ @ 2.0 GHz

1024 MBs DDR 2700 Crucial @ 333

DX ver. 9.0a

Matrox Millennium P750

SB Audigy

Soyo KT-400 Dragon Plat. KT400-8235

HDD WD 80 GB w/8MB cache ATA 133

Vantec Stealth 420 W PSU

ViewSonic 21″ G810 Monitor and Dual ViewSonic 19″ E790Bs

Microsoft Windows XP SP 1

System Specs as tested for Parhelia:

AMD Athlon(tm) XP 2200+ @ 1.8 GHz

1024 MBs DDR 2700 Crucial @ 333

DX ver. 8.1

Matrox Parhelia

SB Audigy

HDD 2 WD 100 GB w/8MB cache ATA 133 Raid 1

Vantec Stealth 420 W PSU

17-inch Trinitron monitor

Microsoft Windows XP SP 1

Parhelia is comparable in scoring (above) to P750 (shown below)

3Dmark 2001SE

2661 3dmarks

Matrox Millennium P750 – English

Driver Version 6.13.01.1262

Video Memory 64 MB

Program Version 3DMark2001 SE

Resolution 1024×768 32bit

Texture Format Compressed

FSAA Disabled

Z-Buffer Depth 24bit

Frame Buffer Double

Rendering Pipeline D3D Pure Hardware T&L

Fill Rate (Single-Texturing) 239.0 MTexels/s

Fill Rate (Multi-Texturing) 898.1 MTexels/s

High Polygon Count (1 light) 14.7 MTriangels/s

High Polygon Count (8 lights) 6.0 MTriangels/s

Environment Bump Mapping 69.6 FPS

DOT3 Bump Mapping 42.7 FPS

Vertex Shader 51.3 FPS

Pixel Shader 36.5 FPS

Advanced Pixel Shader 39.7 FPS

Point Sprite 8.6 MSprites/s

Multimedia and content creation winstone.

3 monitors shows very little performance hit in Winstone.

RAMDACs are clocked at 400/400/165 respectively.

OpenGL Geometry Benchmark
In single monitor mode (above) and Triple monitor mode (below)

And now, a word from our sponsor:

“The Millennium P750 is the latest edition to the Matrox family of professional graphics accelerators. With 64MB of fast DDR memory and advanced DualHead features, it augments technologies found in the Millennium G450 and G550, while incorporating similar features introduced with the Parhelia. It also capitalizes on the growing move towards digital flat panel displays, expected to outpace CRT sales growth for the first time this year.”~Seb

What does it all mean?

Since the release of the G450 some years back, Matrox seems to have found their niche in the world and are considered by many to be the leaders in the video card world of graphics design, desktop publishing and video editing solutions. 3D Studio Max and Cad being pretty much what this card is designed to run. The cost is negligible for a professional grade graphics card, especially compared to the Parhelia line with the same technology behind it. In all the testing we did, there are very few complaints as far as compatibility and rendering exercises. We are currently using TurboCAD ver.8 and are quite pleased with the way things went. One of the major gripes that engineers have is the way that certain graphics cards will leave (artifacts), or certain parts of the drawing, left behind when you move an item from one place to another in a CAD drawing. Usually this is the selection outline that is produced by selecting an item and dragging it to another place within the drawing itself. While this particular artifacting did occur, (especially in 2D drawings) it was minimal at best and not the usual bother it has been in the past with other cards. It can become quite troublesome when moving multiple items at once and usually disappears when you hit F5, or refreshing the screen. In very detailed work where you might have many items close together it can be a bear.

To bench or not to bench?

Since the P750 is supporting 8x AGP 3.0 we did run it in 3Dmark03. It did complete all of the tests available to it, but to no one’s surprise it tanked and the DX 9  specific tests were not available at all. That is probably because the pixel shaders supported are coded using ver 1.3 and Vertex shaders are version 1.1. DX 9 extensions.   For the nature tests, version 2.0 are used. Also, the P750 has been in development for a while and was released as a DX 8.1 compliant card. Again it did very well in CAD 3D graphics and content creation as well as Photoshop and Ulead Photo Express. Video editing was a breeze as well. DVD play back in WinDVD combined with Sigma Studio’s Real Hollywood MPEG2 decoder was smooth and without incident. Compatibility was no problem and DX 9.0a worked without a snag, it just did not support all of the features in it.

The P750 being designed for the business of doing business, is all work and not a lot of play. Doing exactly what it was designed to do and doing it well. In CAD it out performed the Ti-4600 in drawing tasks consistently in regards to quality and kept all of the three monitors running through most all of the testing except where the applications could not support it. You would be quite impressed with the TripleHead support and once you go to multiple monitors, you might never go back. It is difficult to comment on all that this card is capable of in the space that we have here. We are focusing on the most viable and newest of the technologies; surround gaming being one of the coolest. This is a software device that was written for the Parhelia line of cards that runs in the background (sort of how the GL drivers run for current games on older VooDoo cards). Performance on the P750 in surround gaming was mediocre at best, but then again, it only supports it because the P750 utilizes the Parhelia ICS. It was not intended for that sort of 3D graphics. However, if you are still playing Diablo on a Pentium Pro machine and Windows 95, You will not notice the difference. Testing in Splinter Cell went well and any lag in the graphics rendering was not noticeable at all though the resolution was lower than we would seriously care to use.

Gimme the video

If video editing is your thing, then you will not be disappointed in the quality of the images or the ease of use that multiple monitors can give you. The P750 was designed with just that sort of use in mind. Included are all the cables and adapters to configure you choice of mix and match display and television hardware. A DVI to analog, DVI to s-video or RCA, DVI to twin analogs for that three monitor hook up or almost any combination from one to three output devices. Photoshop and Ulead ran with the same ease and no issues with drivers or patches were necessary. A tribute indeed to an industry that is getting used to patching right out of the box.

Second and third monitor hook ups. Cables for any situation are included.

The fact that this card will run multiple monitors is not such a big deal. Lot’s of video cards will run more than one monitor at a time. It is quickly becoming an industry standard on almost all graphics cards from mid-range and up. Some lower-end gaming cards are showing up on the scene with DVI and analog support as well. So it is becoming quite common on the face of the technological revolution. The inclusion of DVI heads on gaming cards was a gimme to the fact that High end users were gaming on DVI LCDs and it was cheaper to include a connector on a typical card than it was to setup a new PCB and reconfigure a given card for mass production. Dual desktop software was a by product of that situation. The software was written to introduce Dual monitor support as an added bonus secondly, though the P750 appears to be made for it primarily.

So what is so great about the P750?

First off, the hardware was designed to have certain capabilities that the ordinary, (if there is such a thing) dual monitor graphics card either did not have or did not implement very well. Spanning monitors has been around for a while, but usually there is a primary monitor and a secondary one. Most of your typical applications be they benchmarks or photo editing software will need to use the primary monitor to run the main body of the program; the software that runs will require it. The palettes and tool bars are easy to set in the next desktop, but little flexibility is supported for the main application window. Adobe After Effects and Microsoft PowerPoint are two such applications. Either program can get quite cluttered on a single monitor if you are building a major presentation. The P750 has the ability to create two desktops and supports full features and functionality in both of them at the same time. The software was designed to do that from the start and the hardware was built to support it. A major step in the right direction on the part of Matrox. Also designed around photo and video editing, you can add a TV to the mix and check out you presentation when it is finished and see how it will look when you show it to the board of directors later.

Included Software

Matrox eDualHead. Matrox eDualHead is a set of Web browser utilities to help you get the most out of multiple displays. Matrox eDualHead software supports Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5 or later. It includes the following:

PageJump. Use Matrox PageJump to view Web page jumps in another browser window. When you start PageJump, it opens 2 browser windows. To use the PageJump feature, hold down the [Ctrl] key while clicking a hypertext link. The page pointed to by that link will appear in the other browser window. With this feature you can click a link and then still see the page that contained the link. For example, with a product catalog, you could view a list of products in one browser window and, with PageJump, view the product information in the other browser window.

PageWrap. Use Matrox PageWrap to view the continuation of a long Web page in at least one other browser window. As you scroll up or down in one browser window, PageWrap updates the other browser windows so that they show previous and/or subsequent parts of the page. In this way, PageWrap simulates a multiple column view of a single Web page.

Among other things, you can configure how many browser windows PageWrap uses and how much overlap there is between windows.Matrox

PageLog. Use Matrox PageLog to maintain a list of links or locations (URLs) you’ve visited with any instance of Internet Explorer or Windows Explorer. Among other things, with PageLog you can:

  • Keep a history of the locations you’ve visited.
  • Go to a location recorded in the list.
  • By dragging-and-dropping, rearrange the list.
  • By right-clicking a list item, perform various actions on that item.
  • Save your list.

While by no means necessary, e DualHead software was designed to maximize the performance of the card and provide an efficient way to interact with the internet in new ways. Productivity is what this card is all about.

Another great feature on the disk is the bios back up and update utility. Some higher end graphics card manufacturers could take a hint here. Some times the difference between compatibility and  BSOD is a simple low level BIOS upgrade.

Conclusion

All in all this is a very awesome card. Anyone who needs a multi-monitor or editing solution would do well to pick this one up. Designed for speed and streamlined for the intermediate workstation, the Matrox Millenium P750 has so much flexibility in it, that it will be our card of choice for the office here for some time to come.

Hardcore gamers need not apply!

We would have liked to have seen a more inclusive software bundle. Probably not a game title, but something along the lines of what the card is designed for. Photo or video editing software would have been nice as well as some of the other software that is downloadable to be included on the disk and automatically installed if needed. As it is you have to register on the Matrox site to download these specialty items.

Forum Discussion
http://forums.digitaltrends.com/showthread.php?threadid=2477

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