Hercules 3D Prophet 8500 128MB Review

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Hercules 3D Prophet 8500 128MB Review
RADEON 8500 and All the Trimmings

By -Chris Angelini
July 3rd, 2002

Drivers and Utilities
The new and improved...Catalyst

If a group of hardware enthusiasts were to agree on one weakness that has consistently plagued ATI, driver performance would likely rank towards the top.  On June 13th, ATI made a significant driver release aimed toward improving both performance and stability.  We showed in our Unitech Optimus 8500 eXP review that performance increased noticeably moving from version 7.68 to 7.70.  The Catalyst 2.1 drivers yield a similar performance boost.  More importantly though, the new driver set exposes a host of user-configurable options for adjusting anisotropic filtering and SMOOTHVISION anti-aliasing, in addition to image quality. 

     

Notice the display option for YPbPr.  ATI recently released a component output upgrade for the RADEON, that enables output to a TV with component input.  The Direct3D and OpenGL tabs offer several more options than previous ATI drivers and the compatibility-oriented options have been consolidated into a single button.  ATI has committed to more regular drivers updates as well as improved methods for feedback on current driver issues.

Overclocking The 3D Prophet 8500
Every little bit counts

I'm the optimistic type, so when it comes to overclocking, I shoot for the stars.  Initially, the 3D Prophet achieved an astronomical 320MHz core and 335MHz (effectively 670MHz) memory clock using Rage3D's tweak utility.  I obtained some impressive Quake III results, but 3D Mark 2001 SE wasn't stable enough to complete a benchmarking run. 

When all was said and done, I was able to settle on 308/308MHz,  +33MHz for both the memory and processor.  Despite operating all the way up to 308MHz, the 3D Prophet is merely able to pace ATI's own reference design.  We we perplexed by these results, so we ran them by Hercules' own R&D department.  Sure enough, Hercules confirmed a timing issue with the Samsung DDR memory that caused lower performance.  Hercules also confirmed that a BIOS revision is in the works, that should enhance the card's performance. 

Screenshots
Warcraft III - We can wish, can't we?

Unfortunately, Hercules doesn't include any gaming titles with the 3D Prophet, so instead, we've taken a couple of screenshots in the newly released Warcraft III from Blizzard.  Unlike the previous two Warcraft games, this one utilizes a 3D rendering engine.  Our 2.4GHz test machine had no problem running Warcraft at 1280x1024 in 32-bit color.

 

Shots taken on the 3D Prophet 8500 128MB
Warcraft III

Test Setup, Quake 3 With and Without AA and Anisotropic Filtering

Tags:  3D, 8500, hercules, review, view, pro, HET, IE

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