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    Matrox Parhelia Review
    By Vince Freeman :  June 25, 2002

    The Matrox Parhelia 128-MB Card

    The Matrox Parhelia retail board is almost a dead ringer for the GeForce4 Ti 4200, at least from a PCB size and chip placement point of view. This makes the Parhelia an easy install and by going with a smaller form factor, Matrox escapes the motherboard and case issues NVIDIA experienced with their full-length GeForce4 Ti 4600 and 4400 cards. Aesthetically, the Parhelia looks quite streamlined and basic, with no wild heatsink-fans, strangely colored PCBs or any other feature that doesn't scream corporate buyer. The only real design choice of note is the fact that all of the 128-MB of DDR memory (3.3 ns) is present on the top of the PCB, and the back is almost completely free of components.

    The initial forecasts for the Parhelia-512 card had it running a bit faster than the 220 MHz core and 275 MHz DDR memory speeds of the retail product, but Matrox has been conservative in their latest foray into high-end 3D graphics. With a four-pixel pipeline, this means that with standard 3D games, the Parhelia-512 should be at the same approximate base GPU performance as a same-speed GeForce4 Ti, GeForce3 or Radeon 8500.

    The 275 MHz (550 MHz DDR) memory speed of the Parhelia 128-MB board translates into an available bandwidth of approximately 17.6 GB/s, due to its full 256-bit bus. Matrox has elected not to go with any form of specialized occlusion culling memory architecture (like NVIDIA's LMA II or ATI's Hyper Z II) with the Parhelia. This could be a design call, but the wide data bus of the Parhelia does make any bandwidth-saving features seem a bit non-productive. Memory bandwidth is only half the equation, as the 220 MHz Parhelia-512 GPU still needs to process the data, some of which would have been alleviated with a more elegant memory design.

    The card includes dual DVI connectors for LCD panels, or through the use of an included adapter, you can attach a standard CRT. While the design considerations inherent with a 3-display format are understandable, using an adapter for a standard VGA-out is not the optimal choice for many. Adapters create a longer PC requiring more real estate, not to mention placing a bit more stress and weight on the AGP card itself. As stated above, this design is required for the features Matrox intends for the Parhelia, such as dual-DVI, TV-out, and tri-analog display output. For this functionality, Matrox includes a dual-VGA adapter and a VGA-to-S-Video/Composite cable.

    There are two distinct Parhelia models announced today, the full retail Parhelia and the OEM Parhelia. If the names sound a bit confusing, Matrox is using an "R" (retail) part number for the retail board, and a "B" (bulk) to denote the OEM version. The main difference will be in overall core and memory speeds, with the retail shipping at the standard 220 core/275 MHz DDR memory, while the OEM card tones that down a bit with a 200 MHz core and 250 MHZ DDR memory. Parhelia 64-MB desktop and 256-MB professional cards will be made available a bit later on, but no firm pricing or release date information has been made public.


    Page 1 Introduction
  • Page 2 The Matrox Parhelia 128-MB Card
    Page 3 Parhelia-512 GPU Features
    Page 4 Performance and Test System
    Page 5 Quake 3 and Serious Sam 2 Performance
    Page 6 Jedi Knight II, Comanche & 3DMark 2001 Performance
    Page 7 Anti Aliasing and Anisotropic Filtering Performance
    Page 8 Anti Aliasing Techniques
    Page 9 Image Quality and Screenshots
    Page 10 Value and Conclusion


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