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Matrox TripleHead2Go

Hardware Reviews By Carolyn Koh on February 19, 2007

Matrox TripleHead2Go Continued (page 2 of 2)

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System Requirements: Single VGA or DVI-I output connector Microsoft Windows 2000, XP, XP x64bit, Vista™, and MAC OS X v10.4 Two / Three Monitors The above are the requirements. Whether your system can push that many pixels with acceptable performance for gaming is another thing altogether.

Supported Display Modes: 1920 x 480 (triple 640 x 480), 2400 x 600, 3072 x 768 or 3840 x 1024 resolution 2560 x 1024 (dual 1280 x 1024), 3360 x 1050 (dual 1680 x 1050), 3072 x 768 (triple 1024 x 768) at 75Hz and 85Hz for CRTs and 3840 x 720 with the expander tool.

A wealth of information is available on the Matrox site http://www.matrox.com/graphics/en/gxm/products/th2go/home.php including a full page showing the maximum resolutions achievable by your particular GPU. http://www.matrox.com/graphics/en/gxm/support/th2go/compatibility.php.

The Gaming Experience

There's just one word. Sweet! After using the SGU to create a new config file, I launched them and there was World of Warcraft and Dungeons and Dragons Online spread out in glorious 2400 x 600 pixel goodness.

EverQuest2 wasn't in the Matrox list of supported games, http://www.matrox.com/graphics/en/gxm/products/th2go/gaming/list.php but I gave it a shot anyway and it worked! It would only support a resolution of 2400 x 600 through the Preferences/Display Settings but that was still 47" of screen.

Vanguard: Saga of Heroes has built in screen resolution support of up to 3840 x 1024 so that was simply a matter of selecting the resolution I wanted (and my monitors supported) in game options.

Encouraged by that, I had to try it with the granddaddy of 3-D MMORPGs, EverQuest by manually editing the configuration file. Sadly, it didn't get as far as 2400, but 1440 x 600 wasn't to be sneezed at.

What did three screens give me in an MMORPG? Peripheral vision baybee! A way to see mobs and the hordes of unfriendlies that seem to always lurk outside of your normal view and blind-side you just when you least need for it to happen.

Now that I knew for sure, I returned the Dell monitors to the office and began switching out other old monitors I had: An old Viewsonic15" LCD with bad pixels that had been banished into the basement, an older monitor on the file server, the one on the kitchen computer. I won't say that they all worked as well, but they worked as long as I went down to the lowest common denominator, which was 800 x 600 on the oldest monitor I had.

I spent the rest of the week playing different games - both MMORPG and single-player. One issue I encountered was that although the lovely wide-screen configuration worked well within the game, the splash screens and character creation screens of some (older) games could present problems as they distorted across three monitors. Some of the Free-to-play MMOGs do not support wide-screen video configurations but that was not entirely unexpected.

Having a panoramic view like this took a little getting used to. At first I was a little disoriented, especially in cities when the textures of buildings and streets rushed by at a stomach churning rate. The breaks in the visual panorama created by the monitor frames also seemed a little distracting. Once I adjusted the side screens by angling them inward, however, they became the peripheral vision that has been lacking in games, and the black bars of the monitor frames slipped away from notice.

The only niggle I have is that the device is an analog device. Digital I/O (DVI-I) is common in today's video devices, and DVI is an interface standard that is designed to maximize the visual quality of digital display devices such as flat panel LCD screens. However, as can be seen by the announcement that its little brother, the Digital version DualHead2Go will be released in March of 2007, Matrox is moving in that direction.

Apart from gaming, I greatly enjoyed multitasking on the three screen spread. A game is updating on the left screen, I'm writing this on the center, and a web browser and email/ IM on the right as I check facts and download product photographs. So if you need a more reasons to justify this purchase... there you go. Efficiency and productivity. No more windows layering on top of each other, shrinking windows or alt-tabbing.

For most, this upgrade would be the cost of the unit ($299) plus 2 monitors to supplement what they already have. Conservatively, therefore, a $700 output could provide you 57" (3 x 19") of visual real estate, compared to the $1,500 you'd need to drop for a 30" monitor.

Conclusion

The limited view of an MMOG world always made me feel as if I were looking at the world with blinkers on, and over the years, I had gone to the "behind the shoulder" camera view for wider field of vision and hence better awareness of my surroundings

The Matrox TripleHead2Go brought back the immersion of the first person camera view for me. My gaming experience improved as I enjoyed a surround view of the game worlds. This is the ultimate gamer eye-candy upgrade. Go for it.

Review System Specs:
CPU: AMD X2 4600+
Motherboard: Asus M2N32 Deluxe - nVidia nForce 590 SLI chipset
RAM: 2G Mushkin DDR2-800 RAM (4-4-3-10)
Video: Dual nVidia 7900GS in SLI mode

Monitors:
Samsung 710N-2 17"
Native Resolution: 1280 x 1024
Response Time: 8ms

Dual Dell E153FP 15"
Native Resolution: 1024 x 768
Response Time: 25ms

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