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Hercules Terminator Beast Super Charged HotHardwrare.com
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Date: Dec 15, 2001
Section:Graphics/Sound
Author: HH Editor
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The Hercules Terminator Beast Super Charged HotHardwrare.com - Page 1
 

Taming The Beast

 
 

A Look At The Hercules Terminator Beast Super Charged!

 
         
  Hercules Computer Technology Inc. is one of the oldest manufacturers of video cards in the US. They have long been regarded as a quality manufacturer of mainstream computer graphics accelerators. Hercules has been a little dormant in the past year or so. However Hercules has recently returned to the game with a multitude of exciting new products based on current chip sets which offer the end user features not available in other incarnations of the same chip set design through other vendors.

The Terminator Beast Super Charged ( no it's not an "Arnold" movie ) is such a product. The "SuperCharged" part of the Model Name is in reference to a new higher core frequency for the Savage 3D chip and more robust SDRAM memory to support it. Hercules actually screens different lots of Savage 3D chips to get the processors which have the best core speed yields from S3. This gives their card the ability to be clocked at higher frequencies than most other cards based on the Savage chip set.
 
 

 

 
 

 
         
 

Features

  • 128-bit graphics and multimedia S3 Savage 3D processor for AGP 2X bus.
  • 8MB of high performance memory.
  • "Best in class" 2D performance.
  • Unmatched 3rd generation 3D performance and image quality for 3D games and business applications.
  • Resolutions up to 1600x1200/85Hz.
  • 250 MHz DAC for SuperStable? flicker-free displays.
  • Smooth video acceleration and DVD motion compensation in hardware.
  • Software DVD-Ready
  • S3TC Texture Compression Built in
  • 120 Mhz. Core Processor and RAM Speed
  • TV-Out
 
     
  A note one S3 Texture Compression or "S3TC"...

This is a very interesting and unique feature to the Savage 3D chip set. The folks at S3 have designed a compression algorithm that allows transfer of textures over the AGP bus in 1/4 to 1/6 the size of their original state. This allows game developers to compress their artwork into a smaller footprint with no image quality loss whatsoever and thus using less local texture memory (or on board RAM) to store textures for processing. In addition, S3 claims the larger amounts of data can be transferred over the AGP bus and decompressed on the fly for faster frame rates and higher quality graphics as a result. I really think S3 has a great technology here. By the way, that little company that makes the O...S.. Who are they? Umm, oh yeah, Microsoft has licensed the product as their standard for texture compression in Direct X 6.0 and moving forward. Can you say "serious critical mass"?
 
         
  OK, so you get the point on S3TC. This should be a technology to watch and looks real good on paper. So how does it look running your Desktop and favorite 3D Game? In short... not bad! Let's look closer...  
         
 

Drivers

For starters you get a real nice set of utilities that come with the Terminator Beast SuperCharged. Here snap of their driver panel in Win 98.

 
         
  That's right, all you "Tweak Freaks" out there get to crank the Memory Clock up to 130 Mhz. with the "Hercumeter" button. There are also lots of settings for Gamma, Image Quality and "Performance Schemes" in the release driver. These are intended to set the card up for optimal image quality and speed depending on the game. I really liked these extra features and I was able to set the card up exactly the way I wanted to fairly quickly.

The drivers are still a little flaky at this juncture. This is not a "show stopper" by any means. I experienced faint lines streaking across the screen occasionally while in IE4 and scrolling vertically. I can't tell you how many video cards initially have problems with web browser. It is almost a given at first release of a product.

The 2D Image Quality was good. Not as good as the TNT or G200 based cards but better than a Banshee that's for sure. I ran the desktop up to 1280X1024. It was fairly crisp at lower resolutions up to 1024X768 but blurred slightly at 1152X864 (my favorite 19" Monitor Res.) and 1280X1024 at moderate refresh rates.
 
         
  3D Image Quality was a whole different ball game. The image quality of this board was easily as good as the reference TNT based card we compared the Beast to. Quake 2 looked fabulous at 1024X768 and Unreal in 32 Bit Color, although we had to run it in D3D mode, looked amazing! Also, image quality in 3D Mark 99 was superb and colors looked saturated and rich.

On to the benchmarks!
 
 

Test System

Full Tower ATX Case w/ 300W PS, Pentium 2 -333 Overclocked to 515, Abit BX6 Rev. 2 Motherboard, 128 MB of PC100 CAS2 RAM, IBM Deskstar 14GXP 10GB 7200 RPM EIDE UDMA Hard Drive, Hercules Terminator Beast Super-Charged AGP w/ 8 MB and STB Velocity 4400 TNT AGP w/ 16 MB Video Cards, Metabyte Wicked 3D 12MB Voodoo 2 PCI Card, Monster Sound MX300 PCI Audio Card, Toshiba SDM1202 3rd. Gen. 4.8X DVD/32X CDROM

 
         
  We ran these test in the identical system and just swapped out the boards. The drivers used were the intial release of Hercules Terminator Beast Super-Charged Drivers Version 1.00.61301 and the Nvidia Detonator Driver Release. Core Clock for the TNT was 104 and 120 Mhz. Memory Clock. The Beast was Clocked at 125 Mhz. These were maximum clock speeds without any corruption or instability.  
         
 

 Quake 2 TimeDemo demo1.dm2

No visual tweaks, low sound quality.

 
     
  As you can see, the TNT does outpace the new Beast Supercharged handily. However, this board still posts some solid numbers. Also, S3 is still working on their MiniGL driver and we should see some performance enhancements moving forward. There is definitely room for growth in the chip set.  
     
 

WinTune 98 Off-line Test Results

CPU (1) Intel Pentium II with MMX@502 MHz
Video Board Hercules Terminator Beast SuperCharged
Video Mode 1024x768@16bits/pixel
RAM 128 MB
2D Score 73 Mpixels/sec.

Final Reality Version 1.01

Test Beast TNT
2D Image 5.43 5.45
3D Performance 4.30 4.70
Bus Transfer 2.76 4.34
Overall Score 4.23 4.87

3D Mark 99

Beast 2621
TNT 2818

 
         
  The Savage does fairly well in 2D mode. Certainly enough to satisfy your requirements in Win98 Business Applications. I chose the above 3D Benchmarks Suites because of their relationship to "real world" performance. These tests, as you may be aware, run a series of 3D Gaming Scenes and Technology Demonstrations which are timed and gauged in a number of critical rendering and processing areas for an over all score. The Hercules Terminator Beast Super-Charged does very well with respect to the Final Reality Numbers and 3D Mark 99. I feel this is a good indication of the card's Direct X performance under Direct X 6.0 and higher due to S3TC being supported. As we are well aware, Direct X has come of age as a standard for game developers. Again, S3TC should be well supported in the future and should server as a good graphics platform in your system.  
     
  Before bringing closure to this segment, there is one more area that is a strong point for the card, PRICE! You can pick this card up from Hercules Direct for $99.95 ! That's a pretty competitive number for those gamers on a budget!  
     
 

We give this Beastly Hardware a "Temp-O-Meter" rating of...

80 !! "Mo-Hotta-Mo-Betta" !

-Davo

 
         
  (Temp-O-Meter scores are rated on a number of key metrics including performance, stability, ease of installation, compatibility, feature set, "overclockability" and component quality. A perfect score is 100 )


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