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Hercules 3D Prophet FDX 8500LE
By CPU-zilla
Category : Graphics
Published by Jimmy Tang on Friday, 10th May, 2002
Rating : 4 out of 5 stars  
Price : SGD299

Likes and Dislikes

The card comes decorated in a blue PCB with an attractive blue heatsink and fan combo. Certainly a very well designed card in terms of looks and it should make this a target for those into case modding. The blue heatsink and fan, of course, does more than just look pretty. It helps keep the GPU cool and with it, we managed to overclock the GPU to more than what is intended for the 8500. That's the beauty of the card, as it is possible to overclock it to as much as the RADEON 8500 by paying the price of an 8500LE.

Hercules' attractive blue heatsink fan used to cool the ATI RADEON 8500LE GPU.

The card uses Hynix DDR memory chips, just like most of the cards we've seen so far. The memory chip is specified to run at 4ns and theoretically, it should deliver a clock speed of exactly 250MHz. What's more strange is that the default memory clock on the Hercules 8500LE was lower than 250MHz. Using PowerStrip, we measured the memory clock to be 238MHz. Although we know PowerStrip does not have the accuracy like an oscilloscope, give and take 2 to 3MHz and the clock speed is still nowhere near 250MHz. Perhaps Hercules wanted to play safe by underclocking the memory as it is common for graphics card manufacturers to use a slightly faster memory chip in the product. Still, if there's one reason to dislike the card, it has got to be the memory as it is not clocked like the original RADEON 8500LE.

The card uses Hynix's 4ns DDR graphics memory which is rated 250MHz.

In the rear end of the card, you'll find various connectors for TV-out, analog RGB and DVI output. The TV-out connector uses a 7-pin mini-DIN connector. Although it looks a little irregular for an S-video connector, it actually fits the S-video cable very well and it should output pretty high quality video signals to your TV screen. If you only have composite video, then you might want to use the bundled converter to output the video signals to a composite RCA jack. The ATI Rage Theater companion chip takes care of the video processing and you can be assured of high-quality video outputs with this card.

The I/O connectors at the rear end of the card. From left : mini DIN-7 connector for TV-out, analog RGB connector and DVI connector for digital flat panel display.

The DVI connector allows you to output digital video signals to any digital flat panel displays. Unfortunately, Hercules did not bundle a DVI to RGB converter to allow you to perform dual display on two analog monitors. Even if you were going to use a converter from some other card, it won't work as the secondary RAMDAC for the analog monitor is not integrated into the board. We noticed a missing RAMDAC on the card and this confirms that the card will not allow secondary output on an analog monitor. Unlike the Gigabyte MAYA AP64D-H, the Hercules RADEON 8500LE will not allow you to view an extended desktop on two monitors.

There should be a secondary RAMDAC here to support a secondary analog RGB monitor. Since it is not here, it looks like this card will only limit you to use a digital flat panel as your secondary monitor.

The software that came bundled with the Hercules 3D Prophet FDX 8500LE could leave you wanting for more. You'll be getting the full version of CyberLink's Power DVD XP 4.0 which should be more than enough for all your DVD movie viewing needs. There's also a full version of Ghost Recon bundled with the card. A fairly good game but we think it could do better with another one or two other games. There are other CDs in the package but they are just drivers and demos.

The software CDs bundled together with the 3D Prophet FDX 8500LE.

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