Matrox Extio F1220 Banishes That Noisy PC to a Faraway Closet

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Move that noisy and heat-producing workstation 850 feet away from your serene studio with the Matrox Extio F1220, a high-end remote graphics unit (RGU) aimed at broadcasters, audio engineers, mission-critical financial wonks and the well-heeled.

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Its price tag is a bit lower than its $2300 Extio F1400 brandmate, and it lets you hook up two 1920x1200 digital (DVI) or analog monitors to its quiet little fanless desktop unit, unlike the F1400 which will let you feed four DVI monitors but only at a resolution of 1600x1200.

But Extio lets you do much more than that, offering some intriguing possibilities:

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This image was lost some time after publication.


With its 6 USB 2.0 ports and two 1394 FireWire ports, along with integrated audio jacks, you can plug in your speakers, camcorders and external DVD, Blu-ray or HD DVD drives and have them right there at your fingertips. Suddenly that distant, wheezing computer that sounds like a vacuum cleaner is a distant memory unless you need to take a hike to give it a cold boot.

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But Extio is expensive. That's because it all works with a fat fiber optic pipe, sending its signals back and forth with bandwidth to spare, and for that it needs both a PCI card and a PCIe card in the host computer. Plus, there's 128MB of graphics memory in that desktop unit, too. Hooking up all this tech and making it work perfectly every time can't be cheap. However, the cost of this technology is destined to plummet, as it always does.

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But take look at the technology in this system, and imagine it nestled in a home theater, its quiet little box connected to a 1080p projector and the other end to a remote server with terabytes of HD movies on board. That's what I'm talkin' about. The Extio F1220 will be shipping in Q2 of this year.

Product Page [Matrox]

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DISCUSSION

By
RaptorCK

It's definitely a pretty penny for detaching the peripherals from the PC, but at the same time, it's perfect for removing that extra noise from your HT setup. Sure, the fan tells you that everything's running, but some movies actually have moments of silence. The hum of fans and hard disks detracts from that.

The nice part is that when you hook up an external drive, you're done. Want to upgrade from DVD to HD-DVD? Just hot-swap. Picked up a dual-format drive? Hook it up. Want to dump some files to a FireWire disk? Go for it. Dumping to FireWire is almost certainly going to be faster than 802.11n, since most 802.11n hardware isn't going to come as close to the theoretical maximum as FireWire will, and you have the added bonus of a nice, fat, low-overhead connection directly on the host system. No pulling from a SATA array, dumping over TCP/IP, pumping over the air to the front end, and then down to that host's FW or USB 2.0 port.

That said, this is almost certainly going to be too rich for my blood for quite a few years. While some HT enthusiasts might get behind it, I'm going to stick with giant heatsinks, big, slow fans, aluminum cases, and various soundproofing tricks.