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Hercules 3D Prophet 9000 Review

By: Asher Moses | AMD Radeon GPU in Video Cards | Posted: Aug 27, 2002 4:00 am
TweakTown Rating: 9.5%Manufacturer: Hercules

Taking A Closer Look


- Technology Overview



The first technology advancement featured on the R9000 is full DirectX 8.1 support, with both programmable vertex (v1.0) and pixel shaders (v.1.4). As well as this, it features four pixel pipelines that are capable of processing two textures per pipe and six textures per pass.


In usual ATi style, multiple monitor support is available as well as an inbuilt TV-out chip supporting resolutions of up to 1024x768. For the FSAA lovers amongst us, ATi's "SmoothVision" provides sampling rates of 2x, 3x, 4x, 5x and 6x.


Another interesting feature the R9000 boasts is its video de-blocking abilities that ATi have dubbed "FullStream". FullStream gives the chipset the ability to run pixel shader programs on video streams, resulting in a much cleaner, less blocky image. This is quite an impressive addition and will help smooth out blocky compression artifacts that commonly plague low bandwidth video.


Although the chipset only supports an AGP transfer rate of 4x, any increase in bandwidth will most likely go unused as even the bandwidth provided by AGP 2x is barely being utilized in most current games. This is because, although AGP 8x can theoretically provide double the bandwidth of AGP 4x, the extra bandwidth is potentially underutilised because once texture data is transferred to the cards local memory, the bus sits relatively idle. As current games are yet to utilise a video cards available memory, it's unlikely the AGP bus will be heavily accessed rendering fast AGP transfer rates useless.


- The Card



The 3D Prophet 9000 comes equipped with 64MB of DDR memory clocked at 275MHz (550MHz DDR). Coincidently, the RV250 core also runs at a speed of 275MHz. The core is cooled by a circular cooler, closely resembling ThermalTake's Blue Orb. As you can see from the below image, a generous amount of thermal compound aids in the transferring of heat from the core to the heatsink.



The card features both TV and DVI outputs. ATi chipsets are renowned for their superb TV-out image quality and the R9000 is certainly no exception. During testing it produced a clear, crisp image that was well above our expectations of a budget card.



The component layout of the card is virtually identical to that of ATi's reference board, however, there is a big difference as far as aesthetics are concerned. Firstly, the card features a cool blue PCB, which is certainly a plus for users that like to show off their PC's innards through window kits, etc. Furthermore, the presence of a shiny blue heatsink/fan unit complements the PCB well.




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