Matrox Marvel G400TV

by Anand Lal Shimpi on September 25, 1999 1:28 PM EST

For those of you that aren't familiar with the original Marvel, it was considered to be the "Swiss Army Knife" of video cards because it was one of the more versatile all-in-one solutions available on the market at the time. The Marvel series offers your basic set of S-Video Input/Output, Composite (RCA) Input/Output, and Coaxial input for TV/Cable input.

The Marvel G400 comes with the same cable and instructional bundle that blessed the original Marvel, which includes the two 6' RCA cables, and a quick installation poster that helps the installation process considerably. The idea behind the Matrox G400 is still to bring video editing to the home PC user or the video enthusiast at a reasonable cost without compromising features. Does it accomplish that? Let's have a look at the physical card first.

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The Marvel G400 is noticeably smaller than the old Marvel G200 simply because of the move towards higher density memory chips and the lack of a memory expansion connector on the card itself. The Marvel G400 is actually quite reminiscent of the Millennium G400 with a few minor differences.

The card features a standard 16MB of SGRAM that is non-upgradeable. According to Matrox the decision to include only 16MB of SGRAM was made because of a lack of space on the Marvel's PCB, but as we've seen with other video card manufacturers, placing memory chips on the back of the PCB isn't a forbidden fruit and it can be done. Most likely, due to cost concerns, the Marvel G400 will only ship as a 16MB SGRAM card.

The memory present on our evaluation board was 6ns Samsung SGRAM which is mathematically rated to support clock speeds of up to 166MHz, indicative that the Marvel G400 is based on the regular G400's design and not that of the G400MAX (the Marvel G400 also features the 300MHz RAMDAC versus the 360MHz RAMDAC of the G400MAX). Once again, a decision probably made as a direct result of cost considerations.

Like the G400 boards, the Marvel G400 will only be available in an AGP interface with no planned support for the PCI bus. Since the G400 chip itself boasts AGP 2X and 4X compliance, the Marvel G400 does the same.

The chip itself is covered by a fairly large heatsink but don't let that deceive you as it generates considerably less heat than the most recently released product of this kind, the 3dfx Voodoo3 3500TV. The Marvel G400 still adds a good amount of heat to your system but after hours of continuous usage it wasn't nearly as hot as the 3500TV.

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