Matrox Parhelia128 implements innovative features

31 Jan, 2003 By: Ron LaFon

Matrox Parhelia128
With Matrox’s Parhelia128, you can drive three separate monitors with the company’s Surround Design technology.
We first looked at the Matrox Parhelia128 in our last roundup of graphic cards, but the drivers were still in beta and in the process of being optimized. Since that time, Matrox released two drivers and added more application-specific optimizations.

Matrox has long been noted for its 2D capabilities, but the 3D performance has improved enough to bring the $399 Parhelia128 in line with other midrange or entry-level graphics cards, though overall OpenGL performance remains weak. As requested by Matrox, we ran the MaxBench 4 benchmark under discreet's 3ds max 5 using DirectX in addition to OpenGL, as we normally do. Though performance figures were good, we'd like to see significantly better OpenGL support from this graphics card. This would benefit CAD and design professionals who depend on OpenGL performance as well as those who have independent applications that rely heavily on OpenGL.

The Parhelia128 offers many innovative features. Perhaps the most interesting is the ability to drive three monitors simultaneously, which Matrox calls Surround Design. This ability offers wraparound monitors for an immersive experience for games or the Windows desktop. For example, you can have one monitor open for design work, one for collaboration tools, and another for e-mail. Additional features include the bundled AEC/VIZ visualization tool by Tornado Technologies and Matrox PrecisionCAD drivers for AutoCAD. Motion graphics, animation, and visualization creators will benefit from the WYSIWYG plug-ins for both Adobe After Effects and discreet 3ds max.

In addition to the Parhelia128, Matrox now offers the Parhelia256, a 256MB version of the graphics card, for an estimated street price of $599. For specific 3D application support, check the Matrox support grid at mga/start/3dws.cfm.

Though not the fastest of graphics cards for design professionals, the Matrox Parhelia's many innovative features, including Surround Design, can make it a useful addition to the work environment.

About the Author: Ron LaFon