In the Forums...
Posted: September 15, 1999
Written by: David "Spunk" Grampa
Estimated retail price: $199.99
Quake III Test
Quake III definitely serves as a feature intensive benchmark to judge performance when everything is looking its best. We took the following benchmarks with all the usuals checked, and v-sync disabled as specified in the 5.13 drivers. These benchmarks were taken in 32-bit color:
These results, while seeming a bit low, are really not too far behind the TNT2 (non-ultra) and Voodoo3 2000/3000. Again take note of the gradual drop in framerate while going from a low resolution to a higher one. Nevertheless, the G400 keeps the framerate playable while offering outstanding visuals. With that said, on to Visual Quality...
These four screens taken from various games/demos should be enough to put butterflies in your stomach. Without further ado, here they are: (Click to enlarge)
Please note the Q3 screenshots (top right and bottom right) were taken with texture quality on high and all other parameters correctly set to show optimal visual quality. The Expendable screenshot (top left) shows the G400's great use of EMBM (explained on the next page), while the TechDemo screenshot (bottom left) poetically displays Vibrant Color Quality 2 in action. You do not even need a side by side comparison to tell that the G400's visual quality is definitely one of its finest features. You want pure eyecandy in games, then the G400 is the board for you- hands down.
The bundled applications and games were by far dissapointing. After popping in the bundled CD, I went straight into the full version of Expendable and began fraggin' in an old-school arcade fashion of gameplay. This game was a great pick by Matrox to pack in. Not only did it show off some great Environment Mapped Bump-Mapping (one of the G400's strong points you'll learn about on the next page), but also some other great visuals such as alpha-blended explosions. All this while still offering solid gameplay.
For the more applicative user- PointCast Business Network, Simply 3D, and Picture Publisher 8 were included. All in all, the bundle is definitely what I like to consider- mint. It will add hours on end of exploration and gameplay, all while enjoying your new video card.
Perhaps one of Matrox's biggest downfalls, were the drivers. While boosting average performance, there isn't a doubt in my mind they could have been better. After taking into consideration that a better driver release is still to come, the drivers that the G400 shipped with are a stroke over par. The problem did not lie with overall performance in frames or effects, but more or less 32-bit color depth support...
As you would imagine, after installation I hastily wanted to enter Quake3 and enjoy some 32-bit colored textures. Upon running Quake3 with correct configurations set, I was reluctant to find serious visual artifacts. Everything appeared to have a strong green glow to it, much like playing Alien vs. Predator from the Predator perspective! Following many attempts to fix the problem, I came up empty and have but the drivers to blame. It was my calling to truthfully give my opinion on the drivers, but I do have faith in Matrox and their forthcoming updated release. Update: After updating to the v5.25 drivers released by Matrox, this Quake3 problem was solved, and no loss in performance was visible. This ups Matrox's driver review to average ;).