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Blue Wonder? The Guillemot/Hercules 3D Prophet II GTS

Test Methodology

Testing this card gave us a few headaches. As you already found out in the introduction, Hercules/Guillemot tunes the 3D Prophet II GTS above the values officially specified by nVidia. It was obvious to us from the beginning, that this card must do better than the other GeForce2 candidates. However, to guarantee comparable results, we did the performance measurements with the default setting of 210 MHz for the chip and 340 MHz for the memory, as well as with the official nVidia settings of 200/333 MHz. Nevertheless, we publish the results for both settings. Our reference platform is based on a Pentium III 866. All GeForce2 results are compared to its predecessor chip GeForce 256.

We benchmark for the most important game interfaces: OpenGL, and Direct3D API from DirectX 7. In case of OpenGL we run the test with the game Quake 3 Arena, and for Direct3D we use the Demo Game1 from the 3DMark 2000. Furthermore we investigate the performance with Full Scene Anti-Aliasing (FSAA) switched on, that improves the picture quality in games by smoothing the edges. The helicopter scene from 3DMark's Game1 possesses high complexity and uses the T&L capabilities of the GeForce chip in Direct3D. The NV15 Demo in Quake 3 Arena also utilizes the T&L capabilities.

We set the resolution to 640x480, 1024x768 and 1600x1200. Low resolutions show the quality of the drivers and the board layout. Only a few gamers will still play at 640x480. These days the standard resolution is 1024x768, which is used by the majority. Only a few freaks play at 1600x1200, but in the past the possible frame rates never delivered satisfying results. Let's see whether the 3D Prophet II achieves acceptable results at this bandwidth-hungry resolution.

Generally, a smooth picture sequence requires an average of 60 frames per second or more. Please note, that all results show the average frame rate. Within one benchmark lower instantaneous values may occur. At 30 frames or less the game gets to jerky. Therefore you need at least 60 frames (for the complete run of a demo) to be on the safe side.

In our last graphics card test we observed that modern cards show almost no differences in 2D applications anymore. Therefore we are not testing with BABCo's Sysmark2000. We do address the topic of overclocking, however, and determine the maximum settings for this Hercules card. In the roundup we especially discuss the purpose of chip and memory overclocking. Both methods are thoroughly explored. The 3D Prophet II GTS is also tested in a motherboard with BX chipset running at 133 MHz FSB and system speed. Since the AGP bus then operates at 88.8 MHz, owners of such systems can use this test as a very good stability indicator.