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Firstly, I'm going to admit that I'm not a graphics card expert by any means. However, I know when I have a good card, and I know when I have an appalling card. The Hercules 3D Prophet 4500 IS an appalling graphics card.
What's so bad about it then? Well, this review will predominantly contain the 'cons', so brace yourselves for a rant.
To begin with, the card (as they all do) claims to bring optimum performance and smooth and fast graphics in the gaming field. Upon installation, there was a video that was supposed to show off what the card can do. This it did very badly, lowering my opinion of the card immediately. It was a terrible and stuttery (only 800x600 resolution!) movie that makes you want to cry at the money you've just wasted for it. It was jerky, slow, and the graphics in the video were poor anyway! Truthfully, the built-in graphics card was better than this.
Once the metaphorical tears had all been wiped away, I thought I might be more impressed if I played a game with the card. The excitement began to build up once more as I loaded 'Counter-Strike', which isn't exactly taxing for any average graphics card to deal with, and tried Direct3D acceleration. The game didn't even load. Not entirely disheartened, I tried opening it in OpenGL and this time it worked! Joy! But I was still in for a shock...
The game opened, and I was utterly dismayed when the graphics were not "smooth", nor "fast", as they were supposed to be. It was very jerky indeed, and even after an update to the latest drivers from the (useless) website, it was still just as bad. Even with the lowest texture settings etc., the game still stuttered and jerked. I have far more than the recommended requirements for this card, yet it turned out to be a complete waste of time and money.
Another useless bug in the drivers and operation is that once the card has accelerated a game, if another game using the card is opened, the graphics distort and the entire system hangs and crashes. This obviously is very dangerous for the computer and important files stored on it.
This brings me to the customer support. It is completely useless too. The phone number was down for the entire week I tried telephoning them for assistance. Growing impatient, I sent an e-mail to the technical support. I was pleased and surprised that I had a very quick response however. It looked promising, as I was told to send many technical details about my computer (processor, RAM, USB devices), although I got a sneaking suspicion that some of this was pointless information. I entered it all however, and sent it off. I got a reply saying:
Try leaving a max of 256 megs of ram, see how this gpes.
Regards, <<Name of assistant>> The Hercules Support Team"
The spelling mistake was not something I take kindly to, but the useless information I was given threw me even more. How could removing the RAM (previously 608MB) actually do anything? I did as he said, and the card of course didn't work, with the system going more slowly than before anyway! Upon request for more help, there wasn't a reply. Therefore I gave up from this point onwards.
-Speed- Very slow - Does not function and operate quickly as described... instead it is slower than the built-in piece of rubbish on the system already! 2/10
-Stability- Unstable - Crashed every time a game was loaded more than once without a full reset between plays. Completely shocking. 2/10
-Ease of Installation- Satisfactory - The installation method was fairly primitive, but not necessarily bad. The uninstallation is worse though... 5/10
-Picture Quality- Very poor - It DOES give 3D graphics, but cannot sustain them with a good speed, and sometimes many objects in games are transparent, buggy or just simply awful. 2/10
-Instruction Manual- Totally unhelpful - The only thing the manual contains is the support numbers and installation methods. No troubleshooting and a poor layout anyway. It is not even graphics-card specific, just talks about the "3D Prophet Series". 2/10 for multilingualism.
-Memory/Capacity- Poor - Although it claims to be a 64MB graphics card, it didn't act like one, and as the above points have shown, it really wasn't worth the chip. 3/10
-Manufacturer Support- Needs improvement - The only good thing about the customer service was the fast response on the first two instances. Everything else about it was simply dire. 3/10
-Value for Money- Poor - At only £39.99 I wasn't expecting miracles, but I was expecting something a lot better than what I got. It was 40 pounds I would willingly and eagerly have returned in a hurry! 3/10
Overall, I would certainly not recommend this product to anyone, be you a person with a top of the range computer, average computer or ancient computer. It is dreadful, and I pity those computers upon which it lays its curse.
*** 3/10 ***
Minimum system requirements -Intel Pentium II or AMD-K6 and higher or compatible -AGP slot (2.0 compliant) or PCI slot (depending on the version of your graphics board) -32MB RAM -10MB hard disk space (or more for installing games) -CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive -Microsoft Windows 98 and higher