Leader of the pack: Hercules 3D prophet 9800 pro

The outright performance leader, the ATI 9800 card, is not cheap but will certainly satisfy the needs of early adopters and those seeking the ultimate in graphics performance.

The 9800 (in the form of a final release Hercules 3D Prophet 9800 Pro) returned the best performance we've seen to date - ideal for the enthusiast looking for the ultimate in 3D performance. With 128MB of DDR memory and a 380MHz core, our 9800 Pro (using AGP 8x), outperformed rivals based on NVIDIA's high-end FX5800 and ATI's previous flagship 9700 Pro chipsets in all tests except Quake III. It performed especially well in 3DMark 2003, a DirectX 9.0-based benchmark.

The card's operating temperature turned out to be around 47ºC. Although copper, the heatsinks on the main chip and memory aren't as glamorous as ones that can be found on many other high-end ATI Radeon 9700-based cards or FX5800-based cards. A medium-sized fan complete with blue light goes well with the heatsink on the main graphics processor.

Like the Radeon 9700 cards before it, the 9800 must be connected to supplemental power before it will work, and this is by way of a standard Molex (a regular hard drive power connector) plug. Dual monitor setups and connection to TV/video output devices can be made through the DVI and S-Video ports on the mounting bracket; necessary cabling (DVI to VGA converter, S-Video, RCA) is in the box. Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield, a great squad-based first person shooter, is also bundled.

In brief: Hercules 3D Prophet 9800 Pro
Price: $999
Distributor: BCN Technology
Phone: (02) 9648 0888
URL: www.hercules.com

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