Matrox Mystique

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Matrox Mystique (Compaq version)

Matrox Mystique is a 2D/3D/video accelerator for PC. Matrox released their first Mystique on August 14, 1996. Newer versions, including Mystique 220, kept appearing until summer 1997. The videocard usually had 2-4 Mb SGRAM expandable to 8MB with a special memory add-on card. However, apart from higher resolutions, upgrading memory did not make much difference.

Mystique was oriented on business market, offering excellent 2D performance, traditional for Matrox. It also has basic 3D capabilities, delivered mainly through Matrox Simple Interface API. As for the 2D part, it's safe to say the videocard has no known flaws. The image is crisp, has fine colors. But the 3D part is not as good as 2D. It's major flaws are:

  • abscence of texture filtering
  • abscence of mipmapping
  • crude alpha-blending and environmental mapping emulation
  • performance issues.

Basically, it means that:

  • pixels of low-resolution textures have sharp edges
  • distant textures appear noisy
  • glass, fog, smoke, etc. appear as a checkpattern of fully transparent/opaque pixels, environment (like underwater) is frequently not implemented at all.
  • many early Direct3D are barely playable.

Still, Matrox Mystique was not all that bad. It still accelerated 3D graphics a great deal, and, although the picture was close to software rendering, Mystique worked on calculating 3D instead of the CPU, which was already under heavy load. It offered gamers, who could not afford a Voodoo, a playable framerate on some 3D titles. Indeed, if one learns to deal without alpha-blending and propper environment mapping, Mystique brings it's owner a nice crisp image with bright colors. In games, where it's not crucial (Tomb Raider, for example), the picture can be described as curious and overall not bad.

Thanks to vetz, we can enjoy this list of games, that work with Matrox Mystique API (MSI):

  • Actua Soccer
  • Battle Arena Toshinden
  • Destruction Derby 2
  • Croc
  • Mechwarrior 2: Mystique Edition
  • Monster Trucks (Thunder Truck Rally)
  • Scorched Planet
  • Screamer II
  • Screamer Rally
  • Time Warriors
  • Tomb Raider
  • UEFA Champions League 1996/1997

For more information on the supported games, see forum thread

Due to it's good 2D performance and lower than average 3D capabilities, it is common practice to put Mystique in pair with a Voodoo Graphics to combine fast 2D with even faster 3D.

Mystique 220

Original Matrox Mystique has 170 MHz RAMDAC and is based on MGA 1064 GPU. The later version, Mystique 220, has 220MHz RAMDAC and is based on MGA 1164 GPU. Other than that, there is basically no difference between two versions of the card. The major problems of Mystique were never resolved.

However, benchmarking concludes that Matrox kept including minor changes in Mystique without informing the customers, so later Mystique versions, like the one on the picture above, can have 220 MHz RAMDAC and identify themselves as Mystique 220 while having old 1064 GPU.