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Hercules Prophet 9000 PRO - On the surface
Product : Hercules Prophet 9000 PRO 128Mb
Manufacturer : Hercules
Price : 179.99 (see conclusion for information)

Hercules' reputation goes back a fair few years. However the really big break came when they released a card based on NVIDIA's TNT 2 graphics chipset some years back. After which they went into liquidation and was bought out by Guillemot. Guillemot was clever enough to keep the brand that was extremely well known and continued the tradition of producing high quality and high performance cards. In Europe Hercules has a reputation many Taiwanese manufacturers envy, and rightly so.

Hercules don't produce cards based on NVIDIA chipsets anymore, instead they focus their attention on Kyro and the Radeon series of processing units. This is a curious mix, since Kyro based cards are aimed for the "mainstream" market, and so are the low end Radeon boards. From Hercules' point of view it is of course, brilliant since this "inner competition" can only help their market share in this mainstream market.

ATI announced their latest round of Radeon GPUs several months ago, and with rave previews NVIDIA were forced into action, which they will take with the NV30. Until then, ATI have the performance crown, by some margin. So, you have ATI's fastest GPU powering a card made by Hercules. What more could you want?

ATI designed the 9000 for mainstream markets. The so called "sub $200" market. Whilst this market might not be the most important from a gamer's point of view from ATI's (and NVIDIA's) it is the most important. Thats where most of the OEMs come in and say "we'll by a few thousand of your units". The 9000 PRO doesn't quite cater for the mainstream market, it goes beyond. We'll name this market the "power mainstream" market (suggestions welcome).

There are several differences between a Prophet 9000 and a Prophet 9000 PRO. Whilst they have the same "core" they are clocked differently and therefore perform quite differently. A list of the main features, showing the differences are listed below :

Prophet 9000
Prophet 9000 PRO
GPU clock speed
250 MHz
275 Mhz
128Mb DDR
128Mb DDR
Memory clock speed
200 MHz
275 Mhz
Memory bandwidth

With higher clock and memory speeds (the latter resulting in increased memory bandwidth) it is clear to see that the Prophet 9000 PRO is in fact an "overclocked" version of a standard 9000. Of course there is nothing wrong with this, NVIDIA do it with their "Ultra" range of cards and the performance gain is credible. The down side of this "overclocked" version is the fact that you probably won't be able to squeeze anything more from this card. This point was demonstrated when we tried ourselves and managed only a few megahertz.

Next we take a closer look at the Hercules Prophet 9000 PRO.