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      3D Prophet 4000XT Comparison Review

     
     
     Date: October 22nd, 2001
     Type: Review
     Supplier: Guillemot
     Author: mayhem
     RRP: $199 AUS (Base Model)

    Everyone knows that the fast pace gaming industry is helping to push computer technology to its limits, from this massive market many new products are developed to bring reality to games, new technology is brought about before you even purchase what you think may be top of the line, this is why products my strive to be the best not only in performance but in costs also.

    Hercules is a brand that many people recognize and recommend in the market place and this review is mainly about comparing two KRYO based graphics cards produced by Hercules, the first being the entry level card aimed at the lower end of the market, the 3D Prophet 4000XT 32MB Kryo based card and the high performance 3D Prophet 4500 64MB KryoII with TV out.

    Product Overview
    Graphics Processor Kryo - 4000XT Graphics Processor KryoII - 4500
    Memory 32 MB SDR RAM Memory 64 MB SDR RAM
    Memory Interface 128-bit Memory Interface 128-bit
    Memory Clock Speed 115 MHz Memory Clock Speed 175 MHz
    Core Clock Speed 115 MHz Core Clock Speed 175 MHz
    Bus AGP or PCI RAMDAC 300 MHz
    Supported API(s)

    DirectX & OpenGL

    Bus AGP
    Options The next models up have the option of TV out or 64MB memory. Supported API(s)

    DirectX & OpenGL

    Options The next models up have the option of TV out or 64MB memory, or 64 with TV out.

    For full specifications on these products then visit the Hercules site: http://au.hercules.com/

    STMicroelectronics KRYO is not a commonly recognized chipset, these days most people are thinking about nVidia GeForce based graphics cards, I know this because until I purchased my 3D Prophet 4500 I had never heard of it before, many of my friends had thought I bought a no-name brand, but to their shock it was a great buy.

    3D Prophet 4000XT 32MB
    The card is mainly a entry level card, aimed at those who want performance but don't want to have to fork out large amount of cash, it features tile architecture and 32MB on-board RAM. Before we get down to the testing it is a good idea to fill you in on the technology behind this card.

    The principle behind Tile Rendering is that the display is split into small areas called tiles that are independently rendered. This card also used Hidden Surface Removal (HSR), this means that section of frames scenes that are not visible on screen are not rendered or processed, this allows the full use of memory bandwidth to those things that count.

    A 3D scene is made up of triangles. The 3D Prophet 4000XT Kryo chipset determine which surfaces are displayed and which remain hidden and created 3D Triangles for displayed surfaces, it then maps textures only onto the visible surfaces, this results in:

    • Optimising use of the RAM bandwidth
    • Higher filler rate
    • Solid 3D acceleration in high-textured scenes, because it only draws what can be seen onscreen
    • Gain in performance due to an increased CPU.

    It also uses 8-layer Multi-texturing, which means that it uses up to 8 layers of different textures that can be combined together in order to obtain lifelike 3D environments, with most realistic details on background surfaces.

    Another nice features is the Internal True Colour, whether you have chosen 16-bit or 32-bit, all the blending operations on all pixels in each tiles are performed on-chip in full 32-bit colour (that is 16.7 million colours). There is no loss of colour precision during the process.

    Full Scene Anti-Aliasing (FSAA) smoothes the edges of all 3D objects. Tile rendering supports full speed FSAA, even in high resolutions. HSR reduces the number of surfaces to handle, making FSAA process easier that in traditional 3D.

    Finally the card uses Environmental Bump Mapping (EBM), this is used to simulate rough or bumpy textures with irregularities in their shading. The 3D Prophet 4000XT performs true EBM, by adding for example a base texture, plus a bump texture, a light textures of an environment bump.

    The memory chips (4 in total) are Samsung with 7 ns access time, which works out to 143 MHz. But the memory of the card works at 115 MHz, this is the same as the chips, mainly because the frequencies of the graphics processor (GPU) and the memory are synchronized for performance. That is the main reason why the memory has a good overclocking potential, but unfortunately, limited by the chip's speed. The card itself (PCB board) is blue in colour, and you can notice spaces where the TV-Out chip and S-Video / RCA connectors are placed in the TV-Out models.

    Attached to the GPU is a rather effectively designed head sink, being placed on both sides of the PCB board the top section (as you can see in the above pictures) has a Blue Orb style fan which proves to be quite affective at keeping the card cool.

    3D Prophet 4500 64MB with TV-Out
    This card is based on the newer KryoII chipset which has all the features (mentioned above) of the Kryo but with some added power. By increasing the memory and core clock speed the new chip is able to process graphics information a great deal faster.

    An added bonus for those people with a DVD player is the TV-Out feature. Many people think that TV out quality on-board graphics cards is not of the quality of third party TV In/Out cards, it really depends on your TV, as you will see further on for most situations the on-board TV out is exactly what is required.

    The extra Samsung memory modules for the 64MB card are actually placed on the exact opposite side of the PCB board directly in place with the other memory chips, by looking at this card and comparing it with the Kryo 4000XT you can notice the BRAND TV-Out chips. The heat sink and fan setup is the same as the 4000XT (except that there is no heat sink on the underneath of the card) and this also included the blue coloured PCB board. The overall size of the two cards is quite different, the 4000XT is a normal video card size (80mm x 150mm) whereas the 4500 is a larger sized card (100mm x 185mm).

    TV Out
    Both the 4000XT and the 4500 have the option for TV Out (that is if you want the TV out model you can get it for a little extra on the price tag), this is provided by a S-Video connection on the back of the video card next to the normal 25pin monitor connection. By plugging in the supplied S-Video to RCA converter you can plug the cards output into your TV, this must be done before you start you computer (i.e. your system must be off when you connection the TV Out) as it it resizes your desktop to 800x600 so that it can display on your TV.

    For those people looking for a cheap TV Out option then on-board is the way to go, unfortunately these Kryo cards don't support TwinView and the same images is displayed both on your PC monitor and your TV screen (where as with TwinView you can have two separate displays). If you want serious TV functionality then It is recommended you buy a decent video card and then spend approx. $100 (AUS) on a separate TV In/Out card as it will give you more functionality and slightly better quality.

    NEXT: Testing and conclusion

     

      Supplier Information

     

    Hercules Australia (a division of the Guillemot Corporation) have a wide variety of computer gaming and multimedia products from the Graphics cards to Sound Cards, TV cards and also gaming equipment, they are one of the leading brands in todays rapid computer technology market. If you would like more information on the company then please visit there site: www.guillemot.com.au, alternatively if you would like to browse the Hercules product line then you can visit there Australian site: au.hercules.com.

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