October 20, 2000

Review: Matrox Millenium G450 video board

Author: JT Smith

By Jeff Field
Hardware Reporter

The Matrox Millenium G450 Dualhead is the latest in Matrox's line of 2D/3D video boards. The G450 boasts the latest chipset from Matrox, capable of, among other things, Dual Monitor output. The G450 also has 32-bit 3D rendering. This card is targeted toward the business user, but does it really compare?


CPU 0.18 micron technology
AGP Support AGP 1X, 2X, 4X
BUS 256-bit DualBus
Display DualHead Display
Rendering Vibrant Color Quality² rendering

Documentation and software
As with most video cards, the Matrox comes with adequete documentation for the installation of the card, but for Linux installation, nothing is mentioned. However, once you do get the drivers from the Matrox Web site, there is reasonable documentation provided as well as support forums. This is quite necessary, as the Linux drivers are quite buggy at this time (as is to be expected, they are beta software).

System Specifications
Pentium III 933EB MHz CPU provided by Intel.
128 Megs PC133 Memory
Western Digital 7200RPM 10.2 gig IDE Hard Drive
Sound Blaster Live! Value Sound
3Com 3C905TX-C PCI 10/100 NIC
300 Watt AMD-Approved ATX Power Supply
The above components were purchased from Specialty Tech.
ABIT BX133-RAID Motherboard
Operating System: Mandrake 7.2B3 with 2.2.17 Kernel.
XFree 4.0.1 with Detonator 3 NVidia Linux Drivers
Quake 3 Demo 1.11-Linux & Windows

Quake III time demos
Quake III time demos are done by going into Quake III, entering the console, disabling sound and enabling the time demo function. The commands are as follows:
s_initsound 0 - disables sound
snd_restart - resets sound
timedemo 1 - enables timedemos
demo demo001 - runs the demo demo001

Time demos are an excellent estimate of how a product will perform in similar games. It is not a good reflection of professional 3D program scores.

Quake III results

Matrox Millenium G450
Resolutions Windows Frames/Second Linux Frames/Second
640 * 480 * 16-bit 64.8 FPS 60.8 FPS
800 * 600 * 16-bit 53.9 FPS 45.1 FPS
1024 * 768 * 16-bit 36.0 FPS 30.5 FPS
1280 * 1024 * 16-bit 22.6 FPS 19.3 FPS
1600 * 1200 * 16-bit 15.7 FPS 12.4 FPS

The Linux driver for the G450 is nearly on par with the Windows driver, only behind by a few frames per second. The difference in speed becomes greater as you get into higher resolutions. On average, the Linux drivers are 14.7% slower than the Windows drivers. However, this can be blamed on immaturity of the drivers rather than the architecture, as these drivers aren't as old as the Matrox Windows drivers, which are up to version 6.13 now.

Xmark 2D Benchmarks
XMark is a program that gathers the results from x11perf (in this case, 'x11perf -display squirtle:0.0 -v1.3 -rop GXcopy GXxor -all -repeat 2 -time 2 > datafile; Xmark datafile > output.comp') in order to give accurate 2D benchmarks under X. At present, this is the best X benchmark, and is quite a thorough one that puts a driver through its paces, repeating and using every X graphics function you could think of.

XMark 2D results

Matrox Millenium G450
XMark 55.83

While targetted at 2D business performance, the Matrox G450 lacks in 2D performance, coming in behind the cheaper GeForce 2 MX. This leaves only the fact the G450 supports DualHead to place it apart from the rest of the boards on the market currently.

The feature that makes the G450 stick out from the crowd is its native ability to run two displays at once, be it a monitor and a TV or a monitor and another monitor. This is great for programmers and others who need as much desktop real estate as possible. By setting up your XF86Config to load both screens, you can easily double your desktop real estate, something that can be quite valuable to business people, programmers, and others who regularly have more than one application visible at one time. A nice example is running an e-mail program in one window while you type in the other, which I found quite useful. While this is a nice feature, unless you need it, it's really not much of a factor.

About Matrox
Matrox, founded in 1976, is a leader in the computer graphics market. Both their Millenium and Mystique lines of cards have enjoyed popularity in the past. Currently they are in competition with giants NVidia and 3DFX, and have to adjust their strategies accordingly.

While the Matrox Millenium G450 may be nice for those who need the extra screen real estate provided by the second monitor, those looking for power/performance in both 2D and 3D are going to want to look elsewhere. The Matrox is bested by even the lowest NVidia offering in both 3D and in 2D, where Matrox used to excel. However, if you do need the extra desktop space and have room on your real desktop for an extra monitor, then the G450 will be your best bet.


  • Unix
Click Here!