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Product: 3D Prophet All In Wonder 8500DV
Company: Hercules
Website: http://www.hercules.com
Estimated Street Price:
$299.99
Review By: Julien Jay

Introduction

Table Of Contents
1: Introduction
2: Radeon 8500 Architecture
3: Accessories
4: Software
5: Direct 3D Benchmarks
6: OpenGL Benchmarks
7:
Conclusion

After a long partnership with NVIDIA, Hercules the famous graphics card maker has chosen to work with ATI, the Canadian supplier of 3D graphics chips and  NVIDIA competitor. Anyway this new partnership is quite interesting since it brings to Herculesí graphics cards hot, new and exclusive technologies. The Hercules 3D Prophet ďAll In WonderĒ 8500DV is probably the best illustration of this statement: not only is the Hercules 3D Prophet All In Wonder 8500DV a good 3D accelerator but also it includes exceptional multimedia features through a built-in TV tuner, video capturing/output features, full hardware DVD decoder and even a built-in IEEE1394 connector.  

In Europe, Hercules is the exclusive distributor of ATI powered graphics cards. Even if for the 3D Prophet 8500LE, 3D Prophet 8500 and 3D Prophet 8500 128MB, Hercules has made its own board design, though the 3D Prophet All In Wonder 8500DV is manufactured by ATI.

 

Board Design

The Hercules 3D Prophet All In Wonder 8500DV isnít really a big graphic card. Its green PCB has a standard size and remains much smaller than a GeForce 4 Ti 4600, for example. If the board design is compact the card hosts a lot of chips. The R200 graphic processor is covered by a modest heatsink/fan couple that sports a nice ATI sticker.  

The TV part is managed by a brand new multi standard digital tuner. This new TV tuner is much more compact than old school analogue tuner and is compatible with every TV standards used in the world. So if you pick a Hercules 3D Prophet All In Wonder 8500DV in France, the TV component of the card will work flawlessly in the United States. If the tuner is new, the antenna plug is a standard one. The Hercules 3D Prophet All In Wonder 8500DV is one of the few cards to offer full hardware DVD decoding for a smooth DVD viewing experience. This task is allotted to the ATI Rage Theater chip. 

The most innovative inclusion ever made on a graphics card is obviously the presence of an IEEE1394 connector that lets you connect every FireWire devices (like burners, hard disk, camcorders, VCRs, etc.) to the board. To achieve this technical performance, the 3D Prophet All In Wonder 8500DV uses an AGP/PCI bridge: that way the system will identify the IEEE1394 controller of the All In Wonder as a PCI device thus not interfering with the AGP connection (however it obviously consumes a part of the AGP bandwidth). This integration is convenient and saves one valuable PCI slot. FireWire devices are managed by the Agere controller. At first, we regretted the fact ATI hasnít chosen Texas Instruments IEEE1394 chip that generally offers a broadest compatibility, but during our test we didnít experience problems with the firewire connection offered by the 3D Prophet All In Wonder 8500DV. For those of you that already have a FireWire solution installed in their PC or if you donít want to waste AGPís bandwidth a small red switch lets you turn off the DV circuit. 

The back of the board hosts four 200 MHz 5ns certified memory chips that are manufactured by Samsung. The last chip of the card, the Micronas MSP3415 will decode the stereo streams coming from the TV tuner. In order to supply sufficient power to IEEE1394 devices connected to the Hercules 3D Prophet All In Wonder 8500DV, a mini molex connector is present on the card.  

Finally the card offers four external connectors: one Antenna plug, one DVI connector, one proprietary video input/output connector and one IEEE1394 connector. You can obviously connect a regular CRT monitor using the provided DVI to CRT adapter. Attention: the position of the antenna connector can be a problem for the installation of the card in some PC beds.


Hercules 3D Prophet All In Wonder 8500 DV

 

  Radeon 8500 Architecture Ľ

 

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