The Matrox Parhelia 128MB AGP
Hands on testing of Matrox's High End Gaming Card

By -Dave Altavilla
June 25, 2002

 


We wanted our test system to place as little limitation on overall performance as possible, so we configured an i850E test bed with the fastest PC1066 memory money could buy, from Kingston.  Here are the rest of the detail of our system.

HotHardware's Test System
A high end Pentium 4 and PC1066 RDRAM

Pentium 4B  at 2.4GHz - 533MHz System Bus
Abit TH7II-RAID Motherboard
512MB of Kingston PC1066 RDRAM
IBM DTLA307030 30Gig ATA100 7200 RPM Hard Drive
Matrox Parhelia 128MB AGP
GeForce4 Ti4600 128MB Graphics Card
nVidia Detonator 4 reference drivers version 29.42
ATi Radeon 8500 - 64MB
Catalyst Drivers 2.1
3Com 10/100 NIC
Intel chipset drivers version 4.01
On board AC '97 Sound
Windows XP Professional
DirectX 8.1


In our first series of benchmarks with the Parhelia 128MB card, we're going to focus on current gaming titles with a standard run of time demos for Quake 3, Serious Sam, Jedi Knight II and 3D Mark 2001SE.  We'll then show you some of the number under two specific targeted benchmarks, Matrox "Shark Mark" and NVIDIA's "Chameleon Mark".  Finally, we'll dig into the AA driven scores, to show you how the three top of the line graphics cards from each of the majors, stack up versus one another.

Benchmarks / Comparison - The Parhelia Vrs. ATi and NVIDIA's Finest
It's all about the numbers

Although frankly Quake 3 is not a very demanding or all that meaningful benchmark, in terms of current generation of graphics accelerators,  it is definitely a familiar test in terms of relative performance in fill rate and general throughput.  So, we'll include the numbers for you here, for what it is worth.

These series of scores are an example of where the Parhelia definitely will not shine.  With none of it's pixel and vertex shaders being utilized, the Parhelia is dependant on fill rate alone.  As you can see, with it's 220MHz core clock, the Parhelia falls far behind both competing cards from ATi and NVIDIA.  However, it is safe to say that these are more than playable frame rates at any resolution.

Serious Sam's heavy texture detail lends itself a little better to the Parhelia, however, the delta is still significant between Matrox's new flagship and the mature Radeon 8500 and GeForce4 Ti 4600 cards.  We ran the extreme quality script to level the playing field, so that all cards were pushed to the same limit with the Serious Sam engine.

Frankly, we expected better performance by the Parhelia but clearly it is hampered by it's relatively low core clock speed.  On the other hand, again, these older generation game engines are not a strong suite for a graphics card that was design from the ground up with DirectX 8 and DirectX 9 in mind.  Additionally, Matrox is claiming "high fidelity" graphics with the Parhelia and we haven't turned on the AA as of yet.  We'll group all of the AA benchmarks scores together, later in this article.

 

Jedi Knight II and 3DMark 2001SE