Decisions...decisions. Do I go to Hawaii or buy a new video card?
Well, we finally broke the 1 GHz mark for home PCs, and motherboards can now support 1.5 Gigs of RAM. As processing power advances, so do the various cards in the little off-white box that we all worship so. The driving force in pushing this stuff to the limit is the high demand we gamers place on games; we are a greedy bunch when it comes to fast machines, and developers know just how to capitalize on our primal urge for more power.
The latest wave in 3D graphics cards is based on Nvidia's GeForce2 Pro chipset. This is one of the best 3D chipsets ever made (rivaled only by the Ultra). With full support of D3D, Glide, and Open GL, as well as Nvidia's Transform & Lighting engine, the 3D Prophet II GTS Pro from Hercules is an excellent showcase for this spectacular technology.
I stepped up from a Voodoo 3, which still remains a great card. However, the P2GTS Pro is four times the Voodoo; four times the RAM, four times the rendering capabilities, four times the speed and four times the TPS (triangles per second). Of course, all these bells and whistles come at four times the cost and require four times the support.
Upon successful installation, I was surprised to discover that my AGP slot did not support the P2GTS Pro. This card definitely requires 2x/4x AGP, so be sure that your motherboard is current (6 months or newer), and has at least 2X AGP. Otherwise, you may be in for more than you bargained for.
64 MB of DDRAM (Double-Data RAM), which clocks in at a mere 400 MHz, is more than enough to handle texture heavy games such as Rune, Unreal Tournament or Sacrifice. The new DDRAM has twice the transfer rate of conventional RAM. No "Alzheimer's Syndrome" here, where a lack of video memory can slow your favorite game down to a crawl or limit your resolution. I was able to run Unreal Tournament at 1600 x 1200 without a hitch - no slowdown, no locking-up and every effect from environment texture to muzzle flash looked better than I have ever seen it.
And if a 200MHz core clock paired with 400Mhz DDRAM isn't fast enough for you, the utilities that support the P2GTS Pro are a breeze. Overclocking is made easy as pie. Thanks to Nvidia's helpful software, I had the P2GTS Pro running at 300MHz GPU speed, and the RAM clocking in at an impressive 475MHz.
3D is what this card is all about, and like a well-cut diamond it shines from every angle. However, the majority of what we use our PCs for is standard 2D fare. As it turns out, the P2GTS Pro is a many faceted stone because it's 350MHz RAMDAC makes for an incredible 2D card as well.
I know a few of you out there still need specs to feel comfortable spending $400 on a video card, so here you go. I benchmarked it side by side with my Voodoo 3.
The card also comes with Tv-Out capability, so you can link your PC up to a television adn game in big screen glory.
The one letdown is the software bundle. The P2GTS Pro comes with a few demos and a special Quake 3 Arena level for which you have to have Q3A installed to play. But it still feels a little short. They could at least throw you a bone for dropping the cost of a round-trip ticket to Hawaii for one of their products. It's always a treat when companies throw in a free game or two.
When all is said and done, the 3D Prophet 2 GTS Pro is an excellent card. But at a costly at $400, it's tough to rationalize. Most folks would shy away, and I wouldn't blame them - high technology seems to always come at an even higher price. In this case, however, the hefty tag is met with equally hefty performance. The intuitive utilities make this card as friendly as it is powerful, and the TV-Out opens the doors for high-end "console-esque" gaming.
If you have the resources and are needing to upgrade or are building that uber box of your dreams, then consider the 3D Prophet2 GTS Pro a more than adequate addition.