Matrox Millennium G550 (AGP 4x review: Matrox Millennium G550 (AGP 4x

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Lots of features; good price; innovative function for visual chatting online; dual-display with any combination of CRT, LCD, and TV; long warranty.

The Bad Poor 3D for gaming; HeadCasting applications are hard to use.

The Bottom Line Dedicated 3D gamers need not bother, but home or business users will appreciate the solid 2D performance and a new approach to face-to-face communication over the Internet.

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Matrox makes it clear that the audience for its new $125 dual-monitor Millennium G550 video card is business and home users--not gamers. You won't find anything close to acceptable 3D performance on this graphics card. What you will find is Matrox's new HeadCasting engine for face-to-face voice chats, Matrox's DualHead technology for multimonitor setups, and strong 2D performance. Matrox makes it clear that the audience for its new $125 dual-monitor Millennium G550 video card is business and home users--not gamers. You won't find anything close to acceptable 3D performance on this graphics card. What you will find is Matrox's new HeadCasting engine for face-to-face voice chats, Matrox's DualHead technology for multimonitor setups, and strong 2D performance.

Simple-enough setup
Installing the card is simple enough, but as with other Matrox installations, you should cancel Windows' automatic prompting for the drivers and install everything directly from the CD. The numerous programs necessary for using the card's features are all on this CD, and you'll go through several reboots before everything is ready to roll. Still, we encountered no installation difficulties. The card is compatible with Windows 98, Me, 2000, XP Home, and XP Professional.

Two reasons to see you again
There are two primary reasons to consider this card. First, you get DualHead technology, which means that you can use two displays at the same time, such as two CRTs, one CRT and one LCD (analog or digital), or a TV with a CRT or an LCD. The adapters necessary for these connections are included.

Lots of home users have a second monitor sitting around. Plug it into the second VGA port on the G550, and you instantly give yourself some viewing options: a place for a browser window that you don't want to close, an encyclopedia entry that you're using in conjunction with an open Word document, a separate screen for the DVD movie you're playing, or a dedicated area for your chat windows. For many business users, multiple displays have become essential, and the G550 provides greater flexibility in working with two displays (the displays can be run at different resolutions, for example).

A second reason to consider this card is the fact that it incorporates Matrox's newest feature, the HeadCasting engine. This engine allows you to project a high-resolution 3D animation of your face and head over a LAN or the Internet, which another G550 user can see in the same resolution or a non-G550 user can view in a lower resolution. You create an image of your head by using the included DigiMask software to compile two digital photographs--one of the front of your face and the second of one side of your head. Another piece of included software, LipSinc's HeadFone, works with the HeadCasting system to animate the lips of the face when the user speaks into a microphone attached to the PC. The result is a kind of Max Headroom-like version of your face on the other user's screen.

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Where to Buy See All

Matrox Millennium G550 (AGP 4x, 32 MB)

Part Number: G55MDHA32DR
MSRP: $125.00 Low Price: $263.59 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Interface Type AGP 4x
  • Max Monitors Supported 2
  • Graphics Engine Matrox MGA G550
  • Size 32 MB / 32 MB (max)
  • Compatibility PC
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