While most people who are staying up late tonight (as this article is being written), stay up because they want to watch the World Cup, we're staying up because we enjoying something a little more different. Although it can be argued about whether or not I'm having a good time, once in a while there are some things worth staying up for.
Case in point is Matrox's Parhelia-512, which officially launches today after a few weeks since our initial preview. The anticipation for numbers were very high and most people were eagerly waiting for board samples to ship to reviewers so they can make judgment calls on whether their next upgrade would be a Parhelia. Fortunately, we do have benchmarks to satisfy your lust for hardware knowledge.
Standing back on two feet
It's been about 2 years since we've seen any major release from Matrox and the Parhelia marks Matrox's re-entry into the high-end graphics market. When we say "high-end", we're referring to not one, but many user segments. Matrox has designed the Parhelia to suit high-end gamers, high-end workstation users and of course the everyday enthusiast who must have multiple displays. The Parhelia however, is much more versatile and isn't limited to just three distinct categories. You can take a feature designed to be used in one area like graphics, and bring it over to gaming. Then there are the many uses for multi-head that Matrox has designed and nurtured.
By now, you probably have read a few things about the Parhelia, and if you havenít we strongly suggest you go to our Parhelia-512 Preview for a primer on the product before reading on with this review. There are a lot of things that we talked about in the Preview that wonít be necessary to reiterate in this review.
What we will talk about though, is where the Parhelia is today and how it is positioned Ė which is somewhat complicated. Currently, NVIDIA and ATI have offerings which have been out for a couple of months now and contain similar technology on the 3D rendering side of things. Both the GeForce4 from NVIDIA and the Radeon 8500 from ATI have been around long enough to mature their drivers as well as OS support. Itís also important to note that while Matrox does have superb technology in the Parhelia, NVIDIA and ATI both have been dumping massive amounts of resources into researching and designing everything 3D. All that in mind, itís fair to say that Matrox may have overlooked a few things in its long two year journey back into 3D. Itís also fair to say that Matrox has been spending all this time researching and developing only one main product and not spreading its focus on other areas.
Whatever the case, weíll be examining the Parhelia as thoroughly as we can over the next few pages.