Installing the 3D card was a breeze and I didnít encounter any problems: I simply unplugged (before I have removed its specific drivers) my old Creative GeForce II GTS and replaced it by the Hercules 3D Prophet II Ultra and plugged on it my Sony Trinitron 17Ē (only) monitor. Then when Windows Me started I installed the latest drivers for it along with the Hercules 3D tweaker and rebooted the computer. Once the PC has finished rebooting it was ready to show me some extraordinary kick ass graphics.
One good point goes to Hercules for its top-notch technical support. The card is warranted for 3 years and you can reach the technical support by phone or email. But another good point goes to Hercules, unlike Creative, Hercules provides their customers with latest Bios updates. Best of all this bios updates are really easy to install since a setup wizard under Windows will guide users.
Hercules provides its 3D Prophet II Ultra 64MB card with a small applet named 3D Tweaker. This utility is intended to be used only by power users and let them define the advanced settings of the card. They can change the Hardware core clock speed up to 315Mhz as well as the RAM clock up to 575Mhz. Sure overclocking the board in a such an intensive way you can expect freezes, and problems when you use your computer. The best rule of overclocking is to OC the frequencies in a reasonable way that doesnít exceed 15% of the initial frequency. When you launch the 3D Tweaker its icon appears in the tray area of Windows so you can access it easily. The tool also let you change the different FSAA settings (like the anti-aliasing method from 2 to 9). A nice feature of the 3d Tweaker is the test button that will test the new frequencies you have set by applying them now: if ever your system becomes unreliable youíll simply have to reboot it and the previous settings will be restored.
OverClockingWe were able to push our card up to 260 MHz core, and 475 MHz memory with complete stability due to the memory heatsinks that are really efficient. Notice we would certainly be able to push the core clock higher if we would have more powerful cooling systems inside the computerís box (the testing computer has already 5 fans: two for the CPU, one for the power adapter, one for the box, and a special one intended to cool the extension cards plugged on PCI & AGP slots). Note that overclocking isnít really advised by any 3D card manufacturer as it may causes damages to the card if you overclock it incorrectly.
The drivers provided with the board are Hercules 5.32. Hercules built its own set of drivers that really look like NVIDIAís since they are based on the NVIDIA Detonator 5.32 drivers, so thereís small differences between the two drivers distribution. The only major difference between Hercules & NVIDIA drivers is that the Hercules are available in different languages such as French, German, Spanish, etc. when the NVIDIA are only available in English. You can replace the Hercules drivers with the latest NVIDIA Detonator 6.35 drivers that leaked on the web recently so youíll obtain faster performance. Thatís what we did for some of our extensive tests and it worked perfectly.
Frankly we loved this feature since many other NVIDIA based cards donít have a TV output. The functioning of the TV Output is really simple: plug the S-Video cable from the card output to your TV and go into the display properties of the driver: youíll be able to select the TV output and define its settings like PAL or NTSC output as well as the resolution you want the TV to use (640*480 or 800*600). The TV Output is coded by a standard BrookTree 869 chip. However unlike with a Matrox G400 or G450 you canít use at the same time the Monitor output or the TV output: itís the one or the other. The TV-Out plug shows its full efficiency especially when you watch DVDs as you can watch them on your TV instead of your monitor without using any supplementary adapters.