Matrox hasn't tended the 3D home fires for quite a while now, and instead concentrated on building their core business around the lucrative corporate sector. It was tough to lose Matrox as a member of the 3D club and old-timers in the crowd will remember the initial Matrox Mystique, and the later G200 and G400 board models. These products were not quite at the cutting edge of 3D performance, but they did provide a great combination of price, performance and image quality, not to mention the exceptional 2D performance Matrox is well known for. That was then and this is now, and right after announcing their return to high-end 3D desktop graphics, Matrox let loose a bombshell in the name of the Parhelia-512.
The response was swift, and many websites and publications heralded the Parhelia as a GeForce4-killer even before the ink was dry on the press release. Now that the Parhelia has been officially released, expectations are high and online flame wars have built to epic proportions. This sort of extreme interest can be good if the product backs up the hype, or at least makes good on the technology and feature set claims.
The Matrox Parhelia is a very intriguing card from a marketing point of view. Not only does the architecture provide for 3D gaming applications, but its exceptional feature set and performance also lend well to the 3D desktop professional. This is a key ingredient to the overall Matrox strategy, as the Parhelia card you buy for a home system will be capable of performing the same detailed tasks as a professional board, with absolutely no market differentiation based on price or usage. There is no magic switch that Matrox pulls to transform an enthusiast board into a higher priced versions meant for the high-end desktop crowd.
Of course, this creates as many problems as it solves. With the splintering of the desktop video market into enthusiast, home and corporate enclaves, it is increasingly difficult to match one product to all available buying groups. Price, features, performance, driver support and an armload of other concerns are usually raised by interested buyers, and the prospect of a magic bullet for the constantly-evolving desktop video market is a tough one to comprehend.
Here at Sharky Extreme, we keep a close eye on overall user needs, but our overriding concern has been, and will continue to be, high-end 3D gaming. This is our mandate, and along with ensuring the features and options are all included, the game benchmarking will be fast and furious, and should hopefully tell us exactly where Matrox is positioning the Parhelia.