Back in 1999, I can clearly recall Matrox’s hot new Millennium G400 graphics chip achieving the fastest 3DMark 99 score I’d ever seen. Not only was it the fastest thing around at the time but the G400 also introduced the concept of dual-head, enabling users to run two monitors in both Windows and games from one card. At this time, Matrox was a dominant force in 3D graphics, ahead of nVidia’s TNT2, and ATI’s Rage Pro 128 and 3Dfx’s Voodoo 3. That was long time ago and its reign was shortlived as nVidia soon released its GeForce 256 card. Matrox next foray into 3D gaming was in 2002 with its Parhelia. This was notable for introducing the concept of triple head – giving the ability to run three displays in Windows and supported games.
Since then, Matrox, has quite wisely stayed out of the expensive 3D graphics performance race, leaving ATI and nVidia to battle it out. Instead its had great success in niche areas such as providing solutions for corporates, medical facilities and the military. The release of its TripleHead2Go, marks something of a return for Matrox to the high-end gaming market, at least indirectly. Matrox refers to the DualHead and the TripleHead as Graphics Expansion Modules – the box provides the connectivity and all the horsepower comes from the graphics card. In a sense, the TripleHead2Go is the biggest advert for SLI that nVidia could ever have hoped to have come up with. ATI can’t say the same however, as currently, the TripleHead does not work at all in CrossFire. If you’re a Red fan you’re out of luck. Matrox said that it currently doesn’t know why this is but it’s keen to resolve this issue with ATI. Let’s hope they work it out soon. However, it does work on single card ATI hardware.
Of course, the super wide display you'll get from this device, means that it not just of interest to gamers. Designers, photographers and 3D modellers will all gain from having this much space to play with. In fact, even as an average user you’ll appreciate being able to put an email application on one screen, a letter on the centre one and your web browser on the right.
Notebook users can get even more out of the TripleHead. Hook it up to your external VGA or DVI port and you can run with four screens. You can use the notebook display as the central one and have the others set up around it. Take a look at the screenshot of the Windows Display Properties - that's a shape of monitor that you probably haven't seen before. Awesome!