Matrox Parhelia Reef Demo Ė The Best DirectX 8 Benchmark Ever?

Posters Name: tmmicklabs
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Subject: Matrox Parhelia Reef Demo Ė The Best DirectX 8 Benchmark Ever?

The Matrox Parhelia 512, the biggest disappointment of 2002 in my opinion. The card had tons of potential and stacked up really well against the Geforce 4 TI 4600 when anti-aliasing and anisotropic filter were cranked up. To bad for Matrox that ATI released the Radeon 9700 pro about a month later. One great thing did come from the Parhelia though, the underwater Reef Demo.

Full Story:
Please take a moment to drool at the below screen shots.


Everyone please wipe up your drool. Too bad Matrox only designed this demo to work on their Parhelia video card. But wait, what is this nice little app Iíve discovered only a few days ago. Itís the one, the only, 3D-Analyze 2.15 by Tommti-Systems. Good luck, this site is in German. This utility lets everyone with the following video cards run this awesome Reef Demo:Mad props to the guys at Tommti for making this nice little app available. Iíve also found out a reliable way to turn this awesome demo into a DirectX 8 benchmarking tool for comparing the Pixel and Vertex Shader power of newer DirectX 8 compliant video cards. The Reef Demo relies heavily on the usage of Vertex Shader 1.1 and Pixel Shader 1.3 specs. All you need to run is a few free utilities and my handy dandy notebook... Ummm.. j/k... And my hand dandy Reef Demo Benchmarking Guide. Letís get to work.

The first thing you need to do is download and install a handy little utility called Fraps. It lets you see the real-time frame rate while the demo is playing. It will also let us record the High, Average, and Low frame rate numbers from the demo. You can grab the latest version and additional information at We have made it simple for you, you can download the current 1.9c version directly from this link.

The next thing you need to do is download and install 3D-Analyze from, currently version 2.15. Once again to save you time you can download it by clicking here.

The last thing you need to download and install is the Reef Demo itself. It was freely available from Matroxís web site but they have since removed it.

*NOTE*: Per the request of Matrox the demo links have been remove. We apologize for this inconvenience and ask that Matrox once again allow us to post the demo.

Now itís time to install and configure Fraps. Just install Fraps to the default directory. The default should be c:\fraps. Now go and launch Fraps by going to the installed folder or through the StartMenu. Configure it to look like the following image:

Now minimize Fraps.

The next thing to do is unzip and install the Matrox Parhelia Reef Demo. The installation should default to C:\ProgramFiles\Matrox\MatroxParheliaReefDemo. Once installed you need to browse to the above folder or go through the StartMenu and run ReefDemoConfig.exe. Be sure to set the resolution to 1024/768, and uncheck "Use Fragment Anti-Aliasing 16X"(Circled RED). Also be sure to bump the "Video Memory Configuration"(Circled BLUE) down to 64mb if you donít have a 128mb video card. Then click on "Save and Exit". Here is what it should look like for a 64Mb card when you are finished.

Next thing to do is un-zip 3D-Analyze to C:\3Danalyzer. Now launch 3DAnalyze.exe from inside the C:\3Danalyzer folder. In the top left hand side of 3D-Analyze there is three select buttons. Click on the Select button next to the "1.", browse to "C:\Program Files\Matrox\Matrox Parhelia Reef Demo" and double-click on FishDemoClient.exe. This should populate the Select box next to the "1." with the path to the executable and the box next to the "2." with the path as shown in the below picture.

In the "DirectX 8.1 and 9.0 Options" section on 3D-Analyze, be sure to check "Matrox Reef Demo Fix" in the "Game/Demo Fixes". Finally the last thing to do is click on the "Save Batch File!" button. We named the batch file Reef.bat and saved it to the "C:\Program Files\Matrox\Matrox Parhelia Reef Demo" folder. Once this is done, you can now close 3D-Analyze.

The time has come that we have all been waiting for, it is finally time to run the Reef Demo and do some benchmarking.

Browse to "C:\Program Files\Matrox\Matrox Parhelia Reef Demo" and double-click on "Reef.bat". The Reef Demo will load up. It will get to a point where it may appear to be locked up shown by Screen1 Down below. Do not worry, it does take a long time like it says. When you see Screen2, hit the "Scroll Lock" key on the keyboard to start logging your frames. You should also see a yellow "1" in the place you told fraps to output the frames(indicated by the yellow arrow on Screen2).



Now kick back and enjoy the visuals. Once the demo is complete you will see Screen2 again. You need to hit the "Scroll Lock" again to stop logging the frame rate. Then hit the ESC key to exit the Reef Demo. Now letís browse to "C:\Fraps" and open the text file called "frapslog.txt".

Inside this file you will find your framerate for Average(Avg), Minimum(Min), and Maximum(Max) frames per second. The average is the number that we are looking for. Here is and example from my computer.

2003-03-08 13:16:52 - FishDemoClient
Frames: 5891 - Time: 125511ms - Avg: 46.936 - Min: 26 - Max: 76

Benchmark results

Here are the Specs of the Testbed I used to run the Reef Demo:

Athlon XP 1600+
Epox 8KHA+ motherboard with Via KT266A Chipset
512mb of PC-2100 DDR-Ram
64mb ATI Radeon 8500 Video Card
Maxtor Diamond Max 60gb 7200rpm ATA-100 Harddrive

The first test I ran was with the video card settings at factory defaultÖmeaning 0x Anisotropic Filtering and 0x Anti-Aliasing. Here are the results.

2003-03-08 13:16:52 - FishDemoClient
Frames: 5891 - Time: 125511ms - Avg: 46.936 - Min: 26 - Max: 76

Not too shabby for a video card that is 18 months old.
Low lets crank up the Anisotropic Filtering to 16X and see what happens.

2003-03-08 13:22:35 - FishDemoClient
Frames: 5876 - Time: 125251ms - Avg: 46.913 - Min: 26 - Max: 76

Still 46 frames per second. Looks like the Radeon 8500 handles Anistropic Filtering without any kind of performance hit. Very cool. Now letís leave the Anisotropic Filtering at 16x and crank the Anti-Aliasing up to 4x and see what happens.

2003-03-08 13:12:34 - FishDemoClient
Frames: 2125 - Time: 127062ms - Avg: 16.724 - Min: 14 - Max: 21

16 frames per second =í-( Ouch. My poor little Radeon 8500 does not have enough memory bandwidth to handle 4x Anti-Aliasing. Now letís turn the Anti-Aliasing back off and over clock the Athon XP cpu from 1400mhz to 1570mhz and see what happens.

2003-03-08 14:56:26 - FishDemoClient
Frames: 5887 - Time: 125321ms - Avg: 46.975 - Min: 26 - Max: 76

Wow. Just about no performance increase whatsoever. This is a good thing believe it or not. This means that the Reef Demo is strictly a GPU bound benchmark. Very good news indeed. Now lets clock the Athlon XP cpu back down to 1400mhz and crank the core of the Radeon 8500 GPU up to 295mhz from the stock 275mhz and see what happens.

2003-03-08 15:11:52 - FishDemoClient
Frames: 6191 - Time: 125410ms - Avg: 49.366 - Min: 27 - Max: 80

BAM!!!! I nice little increase of 3 frames per second. It looks like the increasing GPU core clock definitely makes a difference in this benchmark. Now letís bump the GPU core back down to 275mhz and raise the video ram up to 295mhz from the stock 275mhz and see what happens.

2003-03-08 14:56:26 - FishDemoClient
Frames: 5887 - Time: 125321ms - Avg: 46.992 - Min: 26 - Max: 76

Looks like overclocking the video ram is not gonna help any for this benchmark.

Now let take out the Radeon 8500 and put in a Gerforce 4 TI 4400 and see what happens. I set the Geforce 4 at 0x Anisotropic Filtering and 0x Anti-Aliasing for the first run.

2003-03-12 20:59:42 - FishDemoClient
Frames: 24403 - Time: 486610ms - Avg: 50.148 - Min: 11 - Max: 75

Looks like the Geforce 4 TI 4400 is also very good at running the Reef Demo. 50 frames per second is nothing to laugh at with a demo this intense in graphical quality. Now letís crank up the Anisotropic Filter to 8x and the Anti-Aliasing to 4x and see what happens.

2003-03-13 21:47:40 - FishDemoClient
Frames: 26747 - Time: 755286ms - Avg: 35.413 - Min: 1 - Max: 50

Holy crap. Look at those results. Looks like the Geforce 4 TI 4400 is scoring twice the framerate as the Radeon 8500 with Anisotropic Filtering and Anti-Aliasing cranked up.

Now letís take out the Geforce 4 TI 4400 and put in a ATI Radeon 9700 Pro and see what happens. First letís run it with 0x Anisotropic Filtering and 0x Anti-Aliasing.

2003-03-13 19:14:54 - FishDemoClient
Frames: 9714 - Time: 125297ms - Avg: 77.527 - Min: 36 - Max: 102

Oh my heck, and yes I did just say that. The Radeon 9700 Pro is a butt kickiní monster. At 77 frames per second, this is large and in charge. Now letís crank up the Anisotropic Filtering to 16x and the Anti-Aliasing to 4x and see what happens.

2003-03-14 12:36:32 - FishDemoClient
Frames: 7378 - Time: 120765ms - Avg: 61.093 - Min: 29 - Max: 78

Mamma Mia, 61 frames per second on the Radeon 9700 pro with the details cranked up rocks the house. Looks like the Radeon 9700 Pro takes the cake today.

So there you have it boys and girls. I was not able to test Reef Demo on a Geforce 3 or a Geforce FX due to not having any access to those cards. It would also be interesting to see how the Reef Demo runs on a Matrox Parhelia card. Please feel free to email me your system configs and Reef Demo benchmark scores to

PS. Just to end the article on a good note... Here are some more screens ;) Also, if you want to have a little fun with your own screenshots, hit the TAB key to change camera angles as well as fly the camera yourself using the arrow keys and the mouse.


Peace Out.

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