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Review The Hercules 3D Prophet III is unquestionably the fastest graphics card ever, and it might just be the most attractive to boot. It benefits from all the technological innovations of Nvidia's groundbreaking GeForce 3 chip. For example, the astounding programmable nFinite-FX engine offers games programmers new levels of flexibility and should radically improve previously grey areas in PC graphics, such as human faces and hair. These tools will be integral to the next version of Microsoft's games API, DirectX 8.0, so expect future games titles to take full advantage of the GeForce 3's superlative graphics quality.

The jagged lines that ravaged many a 3D image were helped by 3dfx's full-scene anti-aliasing, but it's only with GeForce3's advanced Quincunx Anti-Aliasing that the technology really takes off. Silky smooth graphics quality still comes at a price, and you'll have to sacrifice between 25 and – at resolutions of 1600x1200 and beyond – 55 per cent of the games speed to sample the goods.

Hyper-efficient memory handling and the enhanced GPU maximise speed, but it’s only at the higher resolutions – 1280x1024 and upwards – and with 32-bit colour that you ll notice the GeForce 3 outstripping the GeForce 2 Ultra cards.

With this in mind, the GeForce 3 is more a step forward in 3D graphics than an outstanding buy in its own right. Prices were slashed as we went to press, but only the most ardent gamer will be happy to pay £340 for a product that probably won't come into its own for another four to six months.

If you're buying for the future, this will be the product to beat, especially with the DVI (digital video interface) and TV-out connectors, but the prudent gamer should take advantage of the price cuts that will bring the still-excellent GeForce 2 Ultra cards into the mainstream. ®

Info

Price: £340
Contact: 020 8686 5600
Website: www.hercules-uk.com

Spec

Memory: 64MB
Processor: Nvidia GeForce 3
Ramdac: 350MHz
Refresh Rate: 75Hz
Max 32-bit Resolution: 2048x1536

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