Hercules Graphics Station Gold 16. (graphics board) (Evaluation)
by Tom Benford
If you're looking for a Windows or GUI accelerator that's also a CAD engine and an animation platform, read on: The Hercules Graphics Station Gold 16 card has it all. And, if that's not enough for you, there's TIGA compatibility for true photorealistic image display and manipulation, as well as a 32,768-co1or palette in Windows.
Right from the start, I should make it clear that the Graphics Station Gold 16 card in the configuration I received for review has no built-in VGA capabilities; it's meant to be used in conjunction with an existing VGA card that connects via an included ribbon cable. Hercules also offers the Graphics Station Gold 16 card with built-in VGA, as well as other configurations with more advanced features at correspondingly higher prices.
Everything about the Graphics Station Gold 16 card exemplifies the excellence in engineering and manufacturing on which Hercules has built its reputation. The full-length board utilizes the popular Texas Instruments $3 graphics processor chip with 1 MB of video RAM as the standard configuration to deliver razorsharp images with pure color saturation at refresh rates of up to 75MHz. This ensures comfortable, flickerfree viewing on today's better monitors. This board is a high-end video product that will serve the most demanding user without a whimper, while maintaining a price point that makes it affordable for just about everyone who's looking to increase the speed of video performance significantly.
A single 15-pin D connector is located on the board's mounting bracket for attaching the monitor's video cable, and installation is a quick and painless procedure that can be accomplished in just a few minutes. Installing the Graphics Station Gold 16 card consists of inserting the card in any available full-length 16bit slot and connecting the ribbon connector cable from the card's pin connector to the "feature" connector of the resident VGA board.
Either pin-type or edgetype VGA board feature connectors can be accommodated, since the Graphics Station Gold 16's ribbon cable has both types of connectors on it. A supplied 75ohm terminator plug is then inserted into the 15-pin socket of the existing VGA board, and the monitor cable is connected to the 15pin D connector of the Hercules card. Since there are no jumpers or switch settings to deal with, even a novice can achieve a successful installation. Once you've installed the hardware, all that remains is to load the driver and utility software.
I liked that the Graphics Station Gold 16 worked with my existing VGA card, a Truevision Video VGA with Overlay, but most users will probably want to purchase the version of the Graphics Station Gold 16 that comes with built-in VGA; even with the built-in VGA, you still have the option of bypassing it to use an existing VGA card via the ribbon connector cable. There's plenty of configuration flexibility here.
The Graphics Station Gold 16 supports virtually all resolutions, up to and including 1024 x 768 noninterlaced. Its true-color capabilities are truly spectacular. A rich assortment of drivers is supplied with the card for Windows and AutoDesk programs such as Autodesk 3D Studio, AutoShade, and Animator Pro.
Also included are several utility programs for adjusting monitor performance, changing display resolutions, and adjusting the display parameters interactively via the exclusive Hercules MoniTrac feature, which gives you the best fit for your particular monitor. Once the card has been adjusted to achieve the best possible image from your display, MoniTrac saves the adjustments in a configuration file that loads these settings automatically every time.
If you have high-end video or GUI needs but you're on a low-end budget, the Hercules Graphics Station Gold 16 may be the best way to go.