Matrox Parhelia DL256

The new Parhelia DL256 card from Matrox is aimed specifically at high-end, high resolution screens such as the 30in Apple Cinema Display. With its dual link DVI output, it has no problems driving the Apple screen at its native resolution of 2,560 x 1,600 – a feat that the majority of other graphics cards just can’t manage.

As mainstream graphics cards move over from AGP to PCI Express, it’s surprising to see a PCI card, but there’s method in Matrox’s madness. The Parhelia DL256 is a 64bit PCI card, so it’s compatible with both standard PCI and PCI-X slots. But the fact that this is a PCI card, means that you could, in theory, still run an AGP or PCI Express graphics card as well.

As well as sporting a maximum digital resolution of 2,560 x 1,600, this card will also output a maximum analogue resolution of 2,048 x 1,536. So you could drive the Apple 30in Cinema Display, as well as another large screen via an analogue signal – maybe a 23in widescreen display running 1,900 x 1,200 would complement it nicely.

I’ve used the Matrox DL256 with the Apple screen for the past couple of weeks and it has worked beautifully, making image editing an absolute joy. But although this card and screen combination lend themselves brilliantly to Photoshop work, it’s a different Adobe package that Matrox is really catering for.

There was a time when Matrox ruled the roost of PC graphics. Back in the mid nineties, if you wanted a fast PC, you needed a Matrox Millennium card, it really was that simple. However, as 3D graphics became more and more important, Matrox started to fall behind the likes of nVidia and ATI. Instead of getting drawn into the convoluted and expensive development cycle of 3D chips, Matrox decided to bow out of the race and carve out a niche for itself, and that niche was multi-display setups for video editors.

So, even though a combination of a Parhelia DL256 and an Apple Cinema Display is ideal for Adobe Photoshop users, it’s Adobe Premiere users that Matrox is most interested in. With this in mind, as well as being able to drive two computer monitors, the Parhelia DL256 will also happily drive the 30in Apple display and an NTSC/PAL video monitor.

This type of setup will be ideal for video editors, since the large Apple screen will allow them to work on a very long timeline, while the video monitor is ideal for previewing the edited project – it really is the best of both worlds.

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