Matrox – Mystique G200 review

AGP Matrox MGA-G200 2D/3D card
Photo of Matrox – Mystique G200
£110 + VAT

If you’re into gaming on your PC, you’ll need a 3D graphics card. There are other types of game available, of course, but it’s the 3D action titles such as Quake II, Forsaken and Unreal that are proving the most popular. And as games like this become ever more realistic – assuming that your concept of reality involves riding armoured rocket bikes through tunnels or shooting aliens with unfeasibly large guns – they are requiring ever more processing power. The PC’s processor alone can’t cope. It needs help.

There are dedicated 3D accelerator cards available, but 3D functions are increasingly being built into 2D graphics cards, such as this Mystique G200 from Matrox. Built around the company’s own MGA-G200 processor, which is also used in the Millennium, it has 8MB of SDRAM memory, which can be upgraded to 16MB using the SODIMM socket on the card. Not that you’re likely to need it, since the standard memory count is enough for a resolution of 1280 x 1024 in 24-bit colour depth. Being an AGP card, none of that memory is used for 3D textures, which are stored in the PC’s system memory instead.

We tested the card for 2D and 3D performance and were impressed on both counts. 3D games under Microsoft’s DirectX API are accelerated well, making for smooth gameplay at very high frame rates. We were also impressed by the card’s support for high 3D resolutions, since most of the competing cards run out of puff at 800 x 600. This one was quite happy at 1042 x 768. It also has a TV output, allowing you to play your favourite games on a large-screen TV if you have such a thing. Have the motion sickness pills standing by, though.

The software bundle supplied with the card includes three optimised games – Motorhead, Incoming and Tonic Trouble – while a ‘wrapper’ that allows OpenGL games such as Quake II and Hexen II to be accelerated using the Mystique G200 with DirectX 6.0 is under development.

Company: Matrox

Contact: 01753 665544


Verdict
Considering that it's priced cheaper than some dedicated 3D-only cards, this is quite a bargain. It is genuinely fast in 2D and 3D, and supports higher 3D resolutions than most of its competitors. Expect to see it in many OEM PCs, while the retail upgrade version should disappear from the shelves at a healthy rate.