The Card

The Hercules Dynamite TNT2 Ultra is built upon a somewhat sloppily laid out reference design PCB. The 32MB Ultra board is available with TV-Out for $16 more, as well as bundled with a software DVD decoder for $20 in addition to the $229.99 base price of the card. What do you get for $229.99?

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The Dynamite TNT2 Ultra, as the name implies is based on an "Ultra" version of the TNT2 chipset, which according to NVIDIA, indicates that the core clock speed and the memory clock speed should be no less than 150MHz and 183MHz respectively. While the 150/183MHz clock configuration is considerably higher than the 90/110MHz configuration of the original TNT, it still doesn't live up to the hype that benchmarks of the first pre-release TNT2 Ultra cards inspired. Regardless of the factors that went into NVIDIA's decision to lower the core clock speed from 175+ down to 150MHz, the bottom line is that had manufacturers stuck to NVIDIA's 150MHz clock speed they would've most definitely lost quite a few supporters with their inability to deliver a more competitive product.

So instead of NVIDIA risking the humiliation of supplying chips shabbily rated at frequencies greater than 150MHz, they put the final decision in the hands of the board manufacturers. If the board manufacturers were willing to take the heat (no pun intended) on a part that doesn't work at a frequency greater than the 150MHz specification, then they can go right ahead and do it. Consider this a form of indirect encouragement for overclocking from NVIDIA, they know it can be done, and they know just how far their chips can overclock. However as with overclocking CPUs, there's always a risk that your processor won't work at the new speed, and that's a risk NVIDIA's not willing to take. If a user wants a faster TNT2 part, they have two options, try and overclock their 150MHz Ultra part to something higher, or seek out a manufacturer that's willing to rate their chips at a higher frequency than the 150MHz spec. The latter type of manufacturer is just the type of manufacturer Hercules happens to be. They're so confident in their Dynamite TNT2 Ultra boards that they're willing to rate them at a 175MHz core and 200MHz memory frequency, a 16% and a 9% increase over NVIDIA's rating respectively.

This isn't the first time Hercules has made their products offer more than the competition, even with their Terminator Beast Supercharged board Hercules made sure that they got the fastest and most reliable Savage3D chips by hand picking them and putting them through a rigorous testing process.

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It's this dedication and work ethic that drove Hercules to announce the fastest TNT2 Ultra based product on the market, but as we've all come to know all too well, performance isn't everything, so what's the rest of the Dynamite TNT2 Ultra like?
Index The Rest of the Story

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