[SofTouch Systems: Utilities and more... (click here) ]

Matrox Mystique- by Donovan Long


As some of you are coming to expect from reading my reviews, I have the worst luck in installing new hardware. I like to feel it is not because I'm an idiot but because some things are just not as simple as they should be or possibly that my purpose in life is to be tortured by these products. <grin>

Case in point: The Matrox Mystique. After spending a couple hours trying to get this card working properly under OS/2, I was wondering if in fact, since the manufacturer is located in Quebec and is primarily French, they really meant to call this card the Matrox Mistake.

The Whole Story

Let's start at the beginning. After installing my new Mystique I eagerly grabbed the latest drivers from the Internet (since the ones on the Warp 4 driver CD-ROM are older), and selected my monitor from the MGA properties notebook. After selecting a resolution, however, my system rebooted to an incorrect video mode. There was nothing I could do but reboot and then reset to VGA (via Alt-F1 on boot-up).

Okay. So I reinstalled the software, selected my monitor and rebooted -- right back into an incorrect video mode. Again, I rebooted and reset to VGA, with blood pressure level rising.

Checking the documentation and Matrox's web page I found that they only suggested using Alt-F1 to reset to VGA if you were put into the wrong video mode. This was no help at all, as that was what I had already done. Reading further into the install documentation I discovered how to completely remove the drivers from the hard drive (via INSTAL -clean). With this done, the system finally rebooted into a proper video mode (but still in 640x480).

Eventually I discovered that if I selected my monitor (a Samsung SyncMaster 3), closed the properties notebook and reopened it, the monitor selected was the Samsung SyncMaster 3NE. By experimentation I noted that the settings remained correct when I selected other monitors, but the notebook always wanted to remember the SyncMaster 3NE when I selected my monitor.

Feeling inspired, I edited the MGA.MON file in the \MGA\OS2 directory to comment out the Samsung SyncMaster 3NE entry. It appears the similarity of the names was exploiting a bug in the monitor selection dialogue that has, up to this point, probably never been experienced. By using the wrong monitor profile the video card was attempting to use frequencies that my monitor was not designed for. Removing the SyncMaster 3NE entry from the file solved this problem.

I did have a bit of trouble getting my older monitor to center the display properly in all modes. It is very unlikely this is the Mystique's fault though. I was finally able to sort this out more or less satisfactorily.

Vrooom

With the Mystique up and running, I immediately ran SysBench to see how it performed vs. my 5 year old Trident 8900C.

SysBench 0.9.1b Graphics PM-marks
Depth (Colors)Trident 8900CMatrox MystiqueSpeed Increase
8bpp (256)3.323186.64056.0x
16bpp (65,535)n/a92.35127.8x (1)
32bpp (1,677,216)n/a43.16413.0x (1)

(1) Since the trident could not do more than 8 bits per pixel (256 colors) in 800x600 mode, all speed increase comparisons are with the Trident running at 800x600x256.

The results, as you can see, are quite impressive, even in 32bpp. However, I settled on 16bpp because of a glitch I noted: in deeper colour resolutions the WarpCenter's CPU activity graph would turn red instead of blue when it wasn't either at minimum or maximum CPU usage, so you would end up with the bottoms and tops of the CPU meter in blue, and the rest of the graph in red. I've also noticed that, in the past at least, there are other problems with some cards using ridiculously high resolutions. Finally, the speed is twice as fast in 16bpp as it is in 32bpp, and after using the Trident, the more speed I can get, the better. <grin>

Down to Business

With SysBench out of the way and my ego satisfied, I wanted to see if I could maximize QuickTime movies (viewed with MainActor) to full screen without slowing down the frames per second (fps) rate. It worked great except the system would very shortly and very reliably "hard lock" -- that is, freeze up with no recourse but to hit the reset button. Ctrl-Alt-Del would do nothing.

By this time I was pretty upset, as the MGA cards were supposed to be a sure bet under OS/2. MGA has been making top-quality high-end video cards for business for over 15 years now, and if anyone was going to do a video card right under OS/2, it was supposed to be MGA.

I gave up trying to watch movies (it was getting late) and tried to forget about the problem for a while. Later, I noticed that my Mahjongg Solitaire would not start, it would crash immediately, and Klondike Solitaire would start but then freeze-up when it was about to deal the cards and had to be killed. Would you be frustrated a bit at this point?

Seeking the help of the IRC channel, #os/2, I didn't get a response that day, but the next day while mentioning the bug in the monitor selection dialogue, I was rewarded with a shout of "Disable EnDIVE!" Sure enough, as soon as I deselected "Enable EnDIVE for 16 and 32bpp" everything worked as it should! I was thrilled (as you can well imagine); that was it, the last problem overcome, the card working flawlessly ever since.

Back to testing the card, I once again tried viewing some movies. Using the highest frame per second movie I had (only 15 fps), I noted that there was absolutely no reduction in fps rate with a movie maximized! I could even move the movie around and resize it while it was playing with the window still updating.

Finally, with regards to my EnDIVE problem, I had e-mailed MGA tech support the day before I discovered my solution with the help of #os/2. Rather than tell them I had figured it out, I waited for a response and over a week later, someone got back to me, wanting more information such as my CONFIG.SYS. I brushed them off, saying that I had simply disabled EnDIVE support. They responded that they would only do that as a last resort and still wanted to try to solve the problem and add my hardware information to their 'bug database'. I appreciated the offer, and gave them the information; who knows, they may get that problem fixed in the near future. Please note, however, that the drivers are fast enough with EnDIVE disabled, this is absolutely nothing to be concerned about, in my opinion. The results in the SysBench tests are with EnDIVE disabled.

One interesting feature of the Mystique drivers is that you can set up two keyboard hot keys. One will bring up the MGA properties notebook, and the other enables PixelTouch, which uses the whole screen to double the size of the area near your pointer when activated. (This could be useful for reading text that is too small or for the visually impaired.) I found scrolling while in PixelTouch mode too jerky. The screen won't scroll continuously when you move the pointer to one of the edges; you have to keep moving away and towards the edge to move the viewing window. For the most part this is just a cute feature, perhaps useful if you have an application that only uses 1/4 of the screen and you want to blow it up to use the whole screen...

One final note about the drivers: I did notice that if there was a scrolling/updating window behind another window that you had your mouse over, the mouse would flicker as if the scrolling/updating was being done in the current window and not the one underneath it.

Summary

Despite my early problems with the drivers the Matrox Mystique is number one on my recommendation list. It is reasonably priced given its outstanding performance. In today's world where mediocre or no OS/2 support abounds, this is the OS/2 compatible video upgrade you have been waiting for. Get yours today!
 * Matrox Mystique
by Matrox
MSRP: US$159 (2MB PCI card)
Donovan Long is an avid Team OS/2'er in Halifax, Nova Scotia. His latest web endeavour is Maximizing OS/2 Warp, a resource designed to solve problems, such as the one with the Mystique, and share this information with other users. As the title suggests, there is also information on performance tuning.

[Index]  [ Previous] - [Feedback] - [Next ]
[Our Sponsor: CrossTec Corporation - Cross platform NetOp Remote Control for OS/2.]


This page is maintained by Falcon Networking. We welcome your suggestions.

Copyright © 1997 - Falcon Networking