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Old December 15th, 2003, 10:18 AM   #1
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matrox question (dual head or monitor + tv)

I'm selecting parts right now for my new video editing box. Matrox seems to be the way to go for quality 2D performance, and reviews seem to hilight how well the dual and triple head modes work on their cards.

I'm on a budget and don't want to pay hundreds of dollars for interface boxes just to get my preview window to show up on a TV. Apparently this is really easy to do on matrox video cards all the way down to the old G450. I'd be looking to buy anything from a G450 or G550 to a P 650 or P750. In fact, the G450 is so cheap, I was thinking of even getting two, an AGP one for primary views and a PCI one for secondary views.

So does anybody here have experience using these cards? Is it easy to do monitor + TV with the matrox cards and use the zoom mode to get a preview window or whatever else to show up in a TV? Would it be possible to get the TV to show the preview window without the preview window being in the other monitor? Would the window "remember" its location or would I have to drag it there every time? I use Premiere but might switch to Vegas.

Any advice or exerience would be helpful, thanks.
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Old December 15th, 2003, 10:41 AM   #2
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In Vegas, the preferred method of previewing on an external monitor is via firewire to a convertor (external box/camera/deck...) to the monitor. This will give you a TRUE representation of the colors when color correcting. Attempting to use the "TV out" of a video card will not.
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Old December 15th, 2003, 03:16 PM   #3
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firewire lag

Thanks for the reply. Currently I run a TV off of the video outs of my digital8 camera, which is fed by firewire. It really bogs things down when I have the firewire enabled. Previewing and scrubbing is choppy on screen, though usually full framerate on the TV.

After reading a bit about the Matrox cards and the way they implement DualHead it was sounding like I could hook a TV up to an output without a bunch of extra processor overhead (generating the DV stream to send out over firewire) and that they even put in independant color/gamma controls for the outputs so you could get a clean signal to a TV.

Does anybody have experience using a Matrox card (G450, G550, P650, P750) to do this?

I also like the idea of using the P750 card for dual monitors plus TV output. The only thing I can't figure out is how you tell it what ends up on the TV. Do you drag a window across the screens over to there or is it application specific? Can I specify specific applications to always appear on a particular output? Or, do any other manufacturer's cards allow for such abilities? nVidia's nView seems to come close, but I haven't gotten to try that out either.

Any input would be appreciated. Thanks!
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Old December 15th, 2003, 05:44 PM   #4
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Ok, let the guy with the Parhelia 256mb tell you how it is. Ok, the monitors can be configured in just about any order but you can't necessarily "drag" the windows over like with Radeon or Geforce cards, you select from a series of presets which is layed out like this:

Single (1x VGA)
Dual Head A (2x VGA)
Dual Head B (1x VGA + 1x Feature Display [TV or VGA])
Triple Head A (3x VGA)
Triple Head B (2x VGA + 1x Feature Display [TV or VGA])

Some of those configurations I'm not too sure about because it depends on where you put your monitors, but you get the idea ;). If you do go with a triple head card, don't worry about them coming out wrong once you hook them all up, the Matrox Help tool will arrange the monitors in the correct order that you have them physically set up to. It doesn't matter which DVI or VGA plug you put the monitors into, you can fix it later. But yeah, these cards do wonders in image quality and color, I would easily take a Parhelia 256mb over a Radeon 9800 Pro or Geforce FX 5950 anyday if image quality and color correctness were what I was after. Two problems though, first is that not all websites are configured for surround viewing, luckily DVinfo.net is =D! Second, for the feature display, you would have to drag the video window or game over to the feature display, you cannot view a movie or anything on the other two displays!!! Grrrr...that is the only really annoying thing really =P rest is great. Great cards, I recommend.
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Old December 17th, 2003, 12:48 PM   #5
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thanks!

In dual-head mode, how does the "two independant desktop" thing work that I've read about? Is that what you mean by not being able to drag windows form one to another? Is it like having two computers rather than a stretched desktop?

Can you clarify what you mean by: "Second, for the feature display, you would have to drag the video window or game over to the feature display, you cannot view a movie or anything on the other two displays!!! "

Do you mean that any particular window can *only* appear on one display at a time and not mirror? If so, that's okay with me. I'm more concerned with easily being able to get particular windows to show up on the tv. For example, I'd want the preview window in Premiere, or a video playback window from some other movie player, or the window/fullscreen of a MAME game, but still have the other monitors available to display other programs/windows. They don't explain very well on their website how windows are moved around and set up.

By the way, on the TV, do windows have to be set as fullscreen to display properly? How is that implemented? Do you just drag a window to the TV and it magically works or do you have to fiddle with settings to get it to look right? The only TV out I've used so far is the on-board TV out on my VIA mini-ITX motherboard, which doesn't quite fill the TV to the borders and doesn't give a pixel-perfect display. It's kind of wavy and messed up at times.

Any other experiences, pros and cons, would really help me. If I'm going to drop some big bucks on a video card, I want it to be good. I'd still like to hear from anybody with experiences with the cheaper Matrox cards like the G450 or G550, since they seem to offer many of the same features, but are much cheaper. I don't really need triplehead right now (but hey, I guess it would be nice).

Thanks for the replies so far!
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Old December 17th, 2003, 05:00 PM   #6
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Well, what happens is that, say, you have two displays and one feature, right? Well the whole thing is still in surround mode but as I said, to watch a movie or something, the program would work only on the feature display, so yes, you would have to drag WMP/Realplayer/Divx/PowerDVD or whatever windows to the feature display to watch video and when you go into games *without* setting them for surround gaming mode, the other two displays are blacked out =P. But actually this is useful for video stuff since you want to have the video out of the way and on the TV right? Right.

Oh, I see you've noticed the TV issues too ;). Yes, no matter what you do, your desktop/text/anything will be a bit blurry on a TV display, hence why they don't sell computers with cheapo 19" TVs. Computers require a higher resolution display in order to see things clearly, that obviously being CRTs and LCDs. When I use my TV (I have 3 LCDs and one TV and I alternate between one of the screens and the TV depending on what I'm doing), I didn't have to set programs to full screen to display things properly, although as I've implied, don't try to surf the web or try to read some text files on a TV screen, it strains the old eyeballs ^_^. TVs really are just low tech CRTs from what I'm told and that's why they are a little blurry. But then of course that is a key feature to us DV nuts right? Right. =D ;)

But in any case, the same rule applies for Dual head, one screen is set to display the program and one is set to display the video/finished project. But don't get me wrong, Dual head can also be set to just display a stretched desktop like any other dual screen capable card. Triple head only adds another monitor to the mix in order to stretch the program out to give you more timeline control and room in general for other little windows, like audio editing, special effects, ect., that's about it in a nutshell.
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Old December 18th, 2003, 08:14 AM   #7
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Matrox system

Tavys,
I'm using the Matrox RT.X100 Xtreme with a Matrox Parhelia AGP 128mb video card running two 21" monitors. The system works great. I strongly recomend this setup. Dual-head mode works very well for me. I've never had a problem with dragging windows back and forth.

I'm using Premiere Pro and It's been VERY solid. I've only had one crash in two weeks of editing.

I use the "video out" on the Matrox breakout box to feed my monitor. That way I get the best image possible when editing.

Hope this helps.
Jason
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Old December 18th, 2003, 02:27 PM   #8
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Tavys,

Ya Tavys, Jason is right. One thing i want to add up, With RTX100 Matrox G550 works fine. As you said, you have budget, going for G550 instead of Parhelia you can save hundreds of dollers. Using composite out of the Matrox Breakout cable for preview TV is the simplest solution for you.

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Old December 18th, 2003, 05:50 PM   #9
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Thanks for all the input, folks!

I'm not planning on getting the RTX, just because they're pretty expensive. But I think I'm going to settle on a G550 or P650.

I'm buying all my computer parts from NewEgg, just because of great past experiences with them. I just read a review of the G550 on NewEgg that states "There is no color control (contrast, gamma, temp) for the second monitor which is the analog and the analog is most likely to be the one you'd want to make color adjustments on."

Can anybody confirm this?

This is why I'm considering the P650 over the G550, because I think I remember reading that the P-series cards allow for color correction and gamma adjustment, etc.

A review on NewEgg of the P650 states "Pick up this card 2 weeks ago and added it to my NLE and it works great! If you're looking for a card that can do 2D for video editing, then this is the card. I had an ATI, but there were too many conflicts. Matrox's P650 ended those!"

Sounds good to me.
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Old December 18th, 2003, 07:20 PM   #10
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Yeah, a Matrox RTX100 Xtreme would be a nice addition and would make the whole TV+monitor situations easier but you need to look at it this way, "$200-600 plus $1100= Empty wallet". =)

But you know what? I just recieved a Matrox Newsletter telling me about how I can preorder the Matrox Parhelia 256mb PCI cards that are coming out soon!!! Holy Motherfather!!!!
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Old December 18th, 2003, 07:44 PM   #11
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From looking at the specs of the Matrox cards, it looks like they're getting some serious competition from the Nvidia-based cards.

The ideal setup for putting your NTSC monitor or TV is hooking it up to your deck, which is connected to your computer through firewire. So you don't need the video output on any video card.

Triplehead:
If you want three monitors then only the Parhelia or P750 are worth it. You can get 3 or more monitors with a PCI video card but that has its own limitations. The Parhelia/P750 btw only supports certain combinations as Jack pointed out. But do you really need three monitors?

2 LCDs:
Gainward sells Geforce FX5600 cards that have dual DVI outputs for around the same price as cheapest Matrox card that will do dual DVI (matrox P650). The main differences:

The GeForce has much better 3d performance (better than the Parhelia). Some editing programs like After Effects take advantage of this (http://www.adobe.com/products/aftereffects/opengl). I don't think the Matrox P650 even has openGL support.

Image quality: The Matrox should have a slight edge because of glyph antialiasing. For video editing this may not make that much of a difference? (you're looking at video most of the time)

The Matrox is passively cooled (no fan noise).

http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProduc...=BROWSE&depa=1 <--Geforce with dual DVI output
http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProduc...=BROWSE&depa=1 <--Matrox with dual DVI output, $6 more and OEM version

One LCD and one VGA:
A lot of the budget Nvidia cards have a DVI and VGA output like the FX5200 and Geforce4 cards. Dual montior performance is about par with Matrox's according to Tech Report's Multimonitor Shootout http://www.tech-report.com/reviews/2.../index.x?pg=11. The main differences:

3d performance.

The Matrox G450 and G550 cards have 360/230mhz RAMDACs. The Nvidia-based cards have 350/350mhz RAMDACs (or worse). On the LCD monitor the quality should be the same, on the CRT monitor I'm not sure if it gets the 230mhz RAMDAC on the Matrox or the 360mhz RAMDAC.

Some of the Nvidia-based cards are not passively cooled (the fans make noise).

If you step up the matrox to a P650 or a P750 then you get:
400/400mhz RAMDACs versus 350/350.
Glyph Antialiasing.
Multimonitor calibration (can control the colors on both monitors, not just the LCD).
10-bit DACs and "Gigacolor". (more accurate colors on the CRT monitor I presume)
A steeper price tag. The G450 is $88, the G550 is 103, the G650 is $155. (the G750 is $215 and the cheapest Parhelia is $319).

Two VGAs:
Like 1LCD and 1CRT except that one of the monitors will be stuck with the 230mhz RAMDAC (360/230mhz on the Matroxes versus 350/350 on Nvidias).

It seems like:
The G450/550 cards aren't worth buying. Get a passively cooled dual head GeForce FX5200/MX440 (Geforce4) with 2X350mhz RAMDACs instead.

The p650 might be worth it, but the GeForces give better 3d performance.

The P750/Parhelia cards will do 3 monitors, which the GeForce cards won't do. There are limitations to triple head though (can't do 3XDVI).

Granted, I don't have experience with any of these cards. Maybe I missed something.

Links:
newegg.com for prices.
http://www.tech-report.com/reviews/2.../index.x?pg=11 Multi-monitor shootout comparing Nvidia, ATI, and Matrox cards. Their dated conclusion:
So, in the end, nView is nipping at Matrox's DualHead heels, but no one can touch what Matrox can do with three screens. You could, of course, run an additional PCI card, but then you start losing out on things like 3D acceleration across all monitors. Unfortunately, Matrox doesn't currently offer a low-end or even mid-range Parhelia card, and multimonitor connoisseurs may be the only ones willing to pay the steep price of entry for the high-end model. If Parhelia is overkill or the price is too steep, the wide range of nView-compatible graphics cards make a good second choice.

Note that Matrox released a watered-down version of the Parhelia, called the P750. It has weaker 3d performance (although the Parhelia isn't particularly strong at 3d performance).
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Old December 19th, 2003, 01:21 AM   #12
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Wow! Talk about thorough!

A lot of that is info I've been coming across in my hunt. What I'm trying to figure out now is if the Matrox cards really *do* offer superior 2D performance like many claim. 2D is really all I care about since I don't really do much 3D.

Some people say that everybody's 2D is about the same these days, and some people swear by Matrox's 2D. I can't tell if it's just loyalism at this point or what.

For a 64 meg, slightly out of date card, the P650 is a little steep at over $150 at NewEgg.

I do want really clean crisp video coming to my CRT. I plan to upgrade to two monitors, and eventually to two LCDs one day, so having the good DualHead implementation is a perk.

I was noodling around with the nView settings on a friend's computer today and it seems pretty solid. The TV out of course looks so-so. I guess the only way to really get a pixel perfect display is through a dedicated firewire device like people are saying. I was just hoping I could eliminate that extra CPU load. I'd hate to get the Matrox card and find out that the image on the TV is no better than the TV out of any of these other video cards.

It's hard to tell if it's worth forking out the extra dollars to get the Matrox card versus a low-end ATI or nVidia.

Hrm....
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Old December 22nd, 2003, 10:28 AM   #13
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Hi Tavys.

My humble advice based on my experience.

From your post I'm assuming you are going to edit video, not just fooling around with a bunch of clips once in a wile.

Get a Matrox G550. That will give you dual head cheap, really cheap and more than enough for NLE.

Save, save and save again for a RT-X100. Its worth the wait. You'll have a properly configured system without the hassle and guesswork of other intermediate solutions.

All of the times I took the in between road, I ended up not happy, upgrading frequently, waisting my time instead of editing, and finally, spending more money.

Better do one good buy, than many poor ones.

Good luck and best regards,
Arnaldo
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Old December 22nd, 2003, 10:50 AM   #14
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Yes, I *definitely* want to edit video. Editing video is better than everything! I'm at work right now and let me tell you, I'd rather be editing video. If somebody were to walk up to me right now and offer me a job editing video I couldn't possibly say no.

As for the new computer, I already ordered all my parts from Newegg and left the video card out of the order. I think I'll pick up a G550 on eBay for cheap. This computer is going to be great. Striped 120G SATA drives plus a 120G primary drive, 1G of dual channel memory, quiet fans, the works. Now all I need is a second trinitron CRT for my dual head madness.

I'll look into the RTX100. It's definitely out of my price range for now, though.

Since you are experienced, what can you tell me about the RTX? What can you do now that you couldn't do before and where does it fall short?

Thanks!
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Old December 22nd, 2003, 11:23 AM   #15
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Hi Tavys.

With the RT-X100 I got:

What I play in the timeline, I get on my video monitor.

Real Time effects and transitions.

Real Time MPEG-2 encoding. Believe me, this is good, because some time in the future you will step into DVD authoring/burning, and you'll apreciate having that.

Editing without a dedicated video editing card its ok, millions of people do it, but once you get the taste of the real thing, you will not want to get back.

Best regards,
Arnaldo
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