Hercules was the first major manufacturer to announce a partnership with ST Microelectronics to produce Kyro and Kyro II based graphics cards. The board we’ll be evaluating today, the 3D Prophet 4500, is based on the Kyro II, and features 64MB of memory.
Fig 4. The top of Hercules 3D Prophet 4500 graphics card. This version does not include TV out.
Compared to more complicated GeForce-based boards, the 3D Prophet 4500’s layout appears spartan at best. The Kyro II processor is cooled by a small heatsink and fan, and clocked at 175 MHz. At 175 MHz, the card boasts a fill-rate of 350 Mpixels/second, a single texture rate of 350 Mtexels/second, and a dual texture rate of only 175 Mtexels/second. The card’s 64MB of memory is clocked at 175 MHz as well, yielding a bandwidth of 2.8 GB/second.
Fig 5. The underside of the 3D Prophet 4500.
In order to keep costs down, the card is bundled with only a User’s Manual and driver CD. The card can currently be bought for as little as $120 USD, putting it about the same as a GeForce 2 GTS 32MB, and slightly more than a GeForce 2 MX. A version with TV-out is available at a slightly increased cost.
While the first samples of the Kyro II drivers sent out were somewhat less than perfect, we’d like to make it perfectly clear that, using the retail drivers shipped with the card (or those provided on Hercules’ website), we noticed absolutely no video anomalies whatsoever. Furthermore, we experienced no compatibility problems with VIA or Intel chipsets, or Windows 98 or 2000. As far as we’re concerned, the Kyro II drivers are just as good as any others out there, and we commend both Hercules and Imagination/ST Micro for dealing with matters swiftly, and releasing a reliable product.
Hercules is also marketing a Kyro (not Kyro II) based board, called the 3D Prophet 4000. The only real difference between the Kyro and Kyro II is that the former operates at only 125 MHz, while the latter operates at 175 MHz. They both have the same number of pixel pipelines and texture units per pipeline. Additionally, the Prophet 4000 includes only 32MB of memory, which serves to keep its cost below that of the 4500.
We’d also like to make note of Hercules’ toll-free technical support line, which is always available (and more importantly, won’t cost you), should you run into difficulties.