The Card

As seems to be the recent trend in GeForce 2 cards, the 3D Prophet II GTS 64MB comes with plenty of eye candy, features which immediately strike the potential buyers. Of the GeForce 2 GTS cards we have seen come in the lab, the 3D Prophet II GTS 64 seems to be the most visually pleasing Not only is the card manufactured on a blue PCB (color which is simply a product of the dye used in the PCB's manufacture), but ever component on the card shares this color scheme, making the card go nicely with the blue Windows desktop theme. Not only are the card's various heatsinks blue, but Guillemot/Hercules even went as far as adding a blue stripe on the inside of one of the card's capacitors.

Although the color of the board may not strike many as an impressive feature, being that the card will reside inside your closed system case, the RAM heatsinks are one feature that may users may find attractive upon first glance. We wont find out how effective the heatsinks are until we delve into the overclocking section, however it is clear that the heatsinks do not hinder stock performance.

This is further shown by the speeds at which the 3D Prophet II GTS 64MB was originally released at. Initially, the card came clocked at a rather impressive stock speed of 220/366 MHz, a 20 MHz overclock in the core and a 33 MHz overclock in the memory. This speed was recently brought down by the latest BIOS update from Guillemot/Hercules, reducing the card speed to the standard 200/333 MHz we have seen all other GeForce 2 GTS cards come with. Cards shipping now should be clocked at this "lower" speed, however we suspect that almost every 3D Prophet II GTS 64MB should overclock at least to the 220/333 MHz level, being that this is what the card initially shipped at.

As we noted in our 64MB GeForce 2 GTS Review, the 3D Prophet II GTS 64MB uses slower DDR SDRAM chips, as do all 64 MB GeForce 2 GTS cards. Performing a bit slower than the DDR SGRAM chips used in 32 MB DDR GeForce cards, 64 MB GeForce 2 GTS cards are forced to use this DDR memory solution simply due to the fact that the only maker of DDR SGRAM chips for use in video cards, Infineon, does not make RAM chips with a high enough density to fit 64 MB on the card.

The card comes with eight 6ns Hyundai DDR SDRAM chips mounted on the front of the board and covered by RAM heatsinks. Each heatsink hides below it 2 SDRAM chips, bonded to the heatsinks buy use of thermal tape. We will investigate in the overclocking section the advantages of these heatsinks, if any.

The, surprise, blue heatsink is the generic reference heatsink we have seen on so many other GeForce cards. Disappointingly, the heatsink is bonded to the surface of the GPU only via the side clips. A thermal pad on the bottom of the heatsink serves to aid in thermal transfer, however it is not as effective as the thermal grease we have seen in other cards. This is in contrast to the process that the old Hercules cards used to incorporate. These cards came supplied with thermal grease bonding the GPU to the heatsink, a fact which provided for cards that could overclock to a great extent. Luckily for Guillemot/Hercules, core heat does not play as great of a role in maximum overclockabilty as it used to, however it still does hinder card performance to some extent, as we will see in the overclocking section.

The 3D Prophet II GTS 64MB is one of the first cards we have seen come with both TV-out and DVI-out standard. At a retail price of $420 (the card can be found for significantly lower via a simple search), these features may not be too much to expect from such a high priced card.
TV-output is provided via a blue daughter board which powered by the commonly found Brooktree 869 chip. This is the same chip that has been used in NVIDIA cards since the TNT2. As we saw in our Picture This: TV-Output Comparison, the Brooktree 869 is a quality output chip that should be sufficient for most video-out applications.

We were quite surprised that it took this long for a DVI port to come standard on a GeForce 2 GTS card. Since the GeForce 2 GTS GPU has a built in TMDS decoder, there is no need for the external chip that we saw on GeForce 256 based cards. As you can see by the picture, the only thing that adding DVI-out support requires is a DVI-out port, a cheap add on from any manufacturer's perspective. Including the DVI-out port ensures at least an upgrade path for those out there interested in keeping the card for an extended period of time.

Index Overclocking

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