The G400 MAX's Differences
Price aside, there are a few main differences between the Millennium G400 and the Millennium G400 MAX, which are what give the G400 MAX its "MAX" title. These features are strictly performance oriented, since both cards are both based on the new G400 chipset.
As we recently derived through some math and deduction, we placed the G400 MAX's core clock speed at somewhere in the 166MHz range. The same calculations that we had done for the G400 vanilla version put its core clock speed around 125MHz. Thus, we get a pretty good margin on the clock speed of the MAX version as opposed to the vanilla version. Matrox themselves have hyped the G400 MAX as being "30% faster" than the G400 regular. If you look at the numbers we derived, 166MHz and 125MHz, you'll see that 166MHz is indeed 32.8% greater than 125MHz. Maybe there is truth behind our numbers?
Accompanying the increase in speed for the core clock is an increase in the speed for the memory clock. This is a necessary move, otherwise the increase in the core's speed is negated if there is not enough memory throughput. The G400 vanilla that we originally looked at was the 32MB version (there is also a 16MB version), and the RAM was rated at 6ns. The G400 MAX also has 32MB of RAM, but it's rated at 5ns. Our original calculations and estimates put the 6ns RAM in the 166MHz range. At 5ns, our calculations are putting the RAM around 200MHz, where we have a nice, round, speedy number. The kind of number we like. Remember, this is based on speculation and may or may not be accurate.
The final differentiation between the G400 and its MAX brother is the internal RAMDAC. The RAMDAC converts digital signals into analog ones, which are then used by the monitor (analog monitors at least) If you have a digital flat panel, this does not apply to you! The G400 vanilla has a 300MHz RAMDAC. The G400 MAX has a faster RAMDAC, at 360MHz. One of the prime advantages of this faster RAMDAC is having very sharp and very fast 2D, with high resolutions and color depths.
I'm your biggest fan
An easily noticed difference was the incorporation of a fan on the Millennium G400 MAX as opposed to the heatsink on the regular G400. We've found that the G400 chipset doesn't get excessively hot. Regardless, adding a high quality Aavid fan was most likely a "better safe than sorry" move, considering the higher core speed of the G400 MAX. Incidentally, the Aavid fan that was used looks identical to the fan that graces the TNT2 Ultra chipset on the Hercules Dynamite TNT2 Ultra card.