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Matrox's G550 graphics card

How much RAM can a RAMDAC DAC?
— 12:00 AM on November 26, 2001

ModelG550 Dual DVI

THERE'S SOMETHING TO BE SAID for Matrox's stubbornness. While other graphics companies seem bent on dethroning NVIDIA's 3D chips, Matrox has been content to plug away in the business sector with its G400-derived products. Maybe it's because Matrox is a privately held company, so it doesn't have shareholders clamouring for a sexy new 3D product to drive up the company's stock price.

Not since the G400 MAX has Matrox had a card with 3D performance as a priority, and the G550 doesn't disturb this trend. Not being an exception, however, doesn't mean the G550 can't be exceptional at what it's designed to do. Like the G450 before it, the G550 focuses on features for the business world rather than 3D frame rates for gamers. We all know the G550 is a bit of an enigma, but is it really especially well suited for the business niche? Is its 3D performance really that bad? Let's find out.

The card
The G500 isn't much to look at. The card sports a single passive heat sink, as quiet as they come, and has a nice low-profile design that should fit even the smallest corporate chassis.

The G550's low-profile design should fit easily into even the most crowded cases

The G550 consolidates its outputs into a single backplane connector

Yep, there's only one port at the back. The G550 comes with a Y-cable to plug into the back of the card to provide connectors for two DVI or analog monitors. Connecting two monitors through a Y-cable rather than directly to the video card had me a little worried about signal quality, but the cables Matrox provides for both DVI and analog interfaces are nice and beefy. I didn't experience any signal quality problems.

For those lucky enough to have two digital monitors, the G550 will run them both

For the rest of us, DualHead will likely be with the analog cable and CRTs

Powering the Y-cables are 360 and 230MHz RAMDACs for the primary and secondary displays, respectively. This limits the secondary display to a resolution of only 1600x1200 on analog monitors, while the primary display can sustain a massive a 2048x1536 pixel landscape. On the digital flat panel front, both the primary and secondary displays max out at 1280x1024x32.