eBay Purchase #11 – Matrox Mystique 220 PCI Video Card

MatroxMystique220-1eBay Purchase Price: $275.50 AUD

Country of Origin: Australia

Condition: Excellent

Purchased from the same seller as the Creative SBS10 speakers, this was a highly contested item at auction. The desirability of the card was based on a combination of factors, though was a rather uncommon example of finding one with retail box and all. Here I’ve installed the card in one of my 486 PCs.

Matrox Graphics Inc. is a Canadian-based company originating back to the late 1970s, though were most popular for their video cards during the 1990s. They were arguably considered one of the best brands for 2D video cards. While the Mystique did have 3D capability, it was considered underwhelming for gaming use. At the time cards that offered both 2D and 3D were generally good with one or the other, not both. Gamers who wanted the best of both worlds may have opted to combine a Matrox with a Voodoo2.

With the introduction of video cards such as Nvidia’s Riva 128 and TNT2 by the end of the decade, Matrox was no longer in vogue and have since placed themselves in a niche workstation market were multiple monitors are needed. Think along the lines of stock-market trading or monitoring control rooms.

MatroxMystique220-7

This editor was one serious Matrox fan (InfoWorld, June 1997).

Originally when building my ‘ultimate’ 486 PC from a couple of years ago, I purchased a new 8 MB ATI Rage XL video card. The motherboard unfortunately just didn’t want to play with it, though one of my Pentium MMX machines had no issue with it. Later I obtained a used 4 MB Matrox Millenium II card for $25 AUD shown below and all was good.

MatroxMystique220-5

4 MB Matrox Millenium II PCI video card. It was also available with 8 MB.

Both cards to some extent are similar in appearance, and even share the same manual. The Millenium II’s core and memory clocks both had a rated speed of 66 MHz, used WRAM (Window RAM), and available in both PCI and AGP. On the other hand the Mystique 220 had increased the memory clock to 98 MHz, used the newer SGRAM (Synchronous Graphics RAM), but was only available in PCI. Both had the option of upgrading the memory with an expansion card, which for the Millenium II allowed up to 16 MB in total, beating the Mystique with a maximum of 8 MB. Overall the Mystique was positioned as a cheaper alternative to the Millenium II aimed at the home market predominantly.

MatroxMystique220-6

4 MB Matrox Mystique 220 PCI video card. It was also available with 2 MB.

Prior to the Mystique 220 was the original, simply named the Mystique though sometimes referred to as the Mystique 170. Both were essentially the same, though the numbering referred to the MHz rating of the RAMDAC (Random Access Memory Digital to Analog Convertor). The 220 MHz RAMDAC was particularly useful for users of 17-inch plus sized monitors that supported a combination of high resolutions (i.e. 1,600 x 1,200) with high refresh rates. Otherwise the speed increase was negligible.

MatroxMystique220-8

The Millenium II was frequently seen in high-end desktops (PC Mag, September 1997)

The side of the box for the Mystique 220 stated the minimum requirements to be a Pentium 90 MHz PC with 8 MB RAM, likely due to the included games. My 486 DX4/100 however had no trouble with it, and neither did the existing drivers on Windows for Workgroups 3.11 from using the Millenium II card.

MatroxMystique220-10

Mystique 220 in action before installing Windows 95.

After this I reformatted the hard disk and installed Windows 95 OSR 2.1 for the FAT32 support. The hard disk is a 20 GB Maxtor, and it felt wasteful not being able to utilise the whole disk space from using 2 GB FAT16 partitions.  The 486’s BIOS however only natively supports drives up to 8.4 GB, so the use of a dynamic drive overlay utility was needed to compensate for that.

After a little bit of effort, Windows 95 was installed and the whole drive was easily accessible. Windows didn’t have Matrox drivers available itself, so I went ahead with the one from the accompanied CD. As a prerequisite, DirectVideo and DirectX 3.0 was installed prior to the drivers. By the end of the installation, there’s the option to install a number of playable game demos such as Wipeout 2097, Tomb Raider, Hellbender, and Terracide. Not only that but there’s another 2 CDs to install a full version of Toy Story and Moto Racer, which I won’t bother with.

There was a Mystique 220 Business available alongside this package, which replaced the games with applications such as Netscape Navigator, Serif PagePlus 4.0, Micrografx’s Picture Publisher 7.0 and Simply 3D 2.0, and CompCore SoftPEG 2.2.

While the card works beautifully the MGA PowerDesk’s diagnostics would initially pop up explaining an issue with bus mastering. The cause appeared to be from the video card not being assigned an IRQ. As its only an issue with 3D, I turned off the option to use bus mastering. For a 486, it was really all about DOS gaming.

As I mentioned earlier both cards share the same manual. Below are specifications from it for side-by-side comparisons. All the more interesting when being the owner of both now.

MatroxMystique220-9MatroxMystique220-10

MatroxMystique220-11

Mystique 220

  • MGA-1164SG graphics chip, internal RAMDAC
  • Graphics cards –
    • MY220P/2 series: 220 MHz RAMDAC, 2 MB SGRAM
    • MY220P/4 series: 220 MHz RAMDAC, 4 MB SGRAM
    • MY220P/BIZ2 series: 220 MHz RAMDAC, 2 MB SGRAM
    • MY220P/BIZ4 series: 220 MHz RAMDAC, 4 MB SGRAM
  • Memory upgrades –
    • MYST/MOD2: 2 MB SGRAM (for MY220P/2 and /BIZ2)
    • MYST/MOD4: 4 MB SGRAM (for MY220P/4 and /BIZ4)
    • MYST/MOD6: 6 MB SGRAM (for MY220P/2 and /BIZ2)

Millenium II

  • MGA-2164W graphics chip, TI 3026 external RAMDAC
  • Graphics cards –
    • MIL2P/4 series: 250 MHz RAMDAC, 4 MB WRAM
    • MIL2P/8 series: 250 MHz RAMDAC, 8 MB WRAM
  • Memory upgrades –
    • MIL2/MOD4: 4 MB WRAM (for MIL2P/4 and MIL2P/8)
    • MIL2/MOD8: 8 MB WRAM (for MIL2P/4 and MIL2P/8)
    • MIL2/MOD12: 12 MB WRAM (for MIL2P/4)
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