Matrox RT.X100 Xtreme

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Matrox RT.X100 Xtreme

The hardware's not changed, but the new software bundle means that the latest version of Matrox's RT.X100 offers a whole lot of new and welcome features

Say what you like about Matrox products, there's no getting away from the fact that buying one is an investment in an ongoing development process, rather than a simple purchase of a set of features fixed in stone. The RT2000 gained huge functionality during its lifetime, mostly as free (albeit gigantic) downloads.
Similarly, many new effects were added to the RT2500 after its initial release, and that tradition is being continued with the launch of Xtreme drivers for the RT.X100. As we said last month, the new drivers came just in the nick of time, what with the arrival of V5 of Edition, and Canopus introducing its own editing program, too. Xtreme is much more than a bunch of new effects. The underlying drivers have been re-engineered for increased productivity and to take advantage of ever-increasing processor power.
All RT.X100s purchased from now on will include the Xtreme drivers, and there are three different versions of the bundle - with or without Premiere 6.5, and with or without Sonic ReelDVD Studio, although you can't seem to buy it with neither. Existing owners get the entire Xtreme functionality for free, and can buy ReelDVD retail for a special price of $399. ReelDVD Studio owners can get the retail version for $199. It's worth bearing in mind that the free Xtreme drivers are a massive 312MByte download, so broadband is a necessity to download the update. Existing RT2x00 owners can trade in their old cards and get RT.X100 Xtreme for a reduced price of £399, too.
Anyone upgrading needs to ensure that the previous X Tools and all add-in effects have been removed prior to installing the new drivers. Other than that, we found the update process smooth on our test system, although some projects created using the previous drivers wouldn't load properly.
For new users, the same considerations apply as with the original RT.X100. Although the minimum spec is not outrageous by today's standards - a 1.8GHz Pentium 4, an Athlon XP 1500+ or 1GHz Pentium III, and 512MByte of RAM - something a lot better is required to feel the full benefit of the X100's full capabilities.
For now, the RT.X100 just about manages to remain cutting edge, but Pinnacle's Edition has shown the writing on the wall. The limitations of the PCI bus architecture will eventually reduce the potential development of Xtreme, even though differences aren't that pronounced for the time being. Of course, Matrox almost certainly has something new up its sleeve - for starters, Premiere Pro support will be available soon after the new Adobe editor becomes available. But Matrox is rumoured to be concentrating on its ageing Digisuite range for the next major technological push. Still, any improvements on one product line generally make their way fairly rapidly to the other - in some shape or form - so the X100 should see some benefit, too. Until then, Xtreme delivers enough, particularly for existing users, to keep RT.X100 a powerful and productive editing platform.

James Morris

Read the full feature in November 2003's Computer Video magazine.


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