Five years ago, despite the growing ubiquity of FireWire, if you wanted to edit video seriously on your PC you were still better off with dedicated hardware. But times have changed, and dedicated hardware just hasn’t been able to keep up with the burgeoning power of more general components like the graphics card and CPU. So most video editing companies have moved as many editing tasks as possible over to software, in order to take advantage of faster GPUs and processors.
One product which was starting to look a little jaded in this context was Matrox’s RT.X100. Although this could still give you dependable real-time editing when mixing two, or on a good day three DV files and a title layer or two at the same time, it couldn’t go beyond that. This was because a fair amount of the effects processing and video encoding was still being performed by the editing card itself. Although you could rely on the performance for this reason, it also meant that a faster processor would not give a significant increase in abilities, and your graphics card wasn’t being used at all.
But Matrox has been hard at work, and not long ago launched a whole new line of products aimed squarely at the growing market for editing in High Definition. First on the scene was the Axio family, now consisting of three members. This is primarily aimed at the serious professional, with price tags to match. Now that Axio is out the door, Matrox has turned to the more ‘prosumer’ end of the market covered by the RT.X100, and repackaged much of the same technology as Axio in a more cost-effective offering. But at over £1,000, where the RT.X100 hardware can now be had for under £500 without Adobe Premiere, the RT.X2 is still aimed at those who are quite serious about their video editing.
Big card, big system
The first thing you’ll notice about the RT.X2 hardware itself is just how big it is. Despite using the diminutive PCI Express 1x interface, the RT.X2 is a full-length card, and won’t fit in many chassis. You’ll need a full-depth case to house this card. You also need to take great care what hardware platform you use. Taking a look at Matrox’s list of validated motherboard and processor combinations and you will see there are only a few recommended options.