The Test

Our test setup consisted of multiple processors including a high end, low end, and previous generation test case. Our desire was to evaluate how much difference hardware decode makes for each of these classes of CPU and to determine how much value video offload really brings to the table today.

Performance Test Configuration:
CPU: Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800 (2.93GHz/4MB)
Intel Core 2 Duo E4300 (1.8GHz/2MB)
Intel Pentium 4 560 (3.6GHz)
Motherboard: ASUS P5W-DH
Chipset: Intel 975X
Chipset Drivers: Intel 8.2.0.1014
Hard Disk: Seagate 7200.7 160GB SATA
Memory: Corsair XMS2 DDR2-800 4-4-4-12 (1GB x 2)
Video Card: Various
Video Drivers: ATI Catalyst 8.38.9.1-rc2
NVIDIA ForceWare 163.11
Desktop Resolution: 1920 x 1080 - 32-bit @ 60Hz
OS: Windows Vista x86


We are using PowerDVD Ultra 7.3 with patch 3104a applied. This patch fixed a lot of our issues with playback and brought PowerDVD up to the level we wanted and expected. We did, however, have difficulty disabling GPU acceleration with this version of PowerDVD, so we will be unable to present CPU only decoding numbers. From our previous experience though, only CPUs faster than an E6600 can guarantee smooth decoding in the absence of GPU acceleration.

As for video tests, we have the final version of Silicon Optix HD HQV for HD-DVD, and we will be scoring these subjective tests to the best of our ability using the criteria provided by Silicon Optix and the examples they provide on their disk.

For performance we used perfmon to record average CPU utilization over 100 seconds (the default loop time). Our performance tests will include three different clips: The Transporter 2 trailer from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Blu-ray disc (H.264), Yozakura (H.264), and Serenity (VC-1). All of these tests proved to be very consistent in performance under each of our hardware configurations. Therefore, for readability's sake, we will only be reporting average CPU overhead.

Index HD HQV Image Quality Analysis
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  • smitty3268 - Monday, July 23, 2007 - link

    No. The 2400 and 2600 have support for Avivo HD feature set even with VC-1 decoding, while the G84 and G86 don't so their quote is correct. If a little confusing, since Avivo is ATI terminology. Nevertheless, it is basically equivalent to the NVIDIA hardware. Reply
  • scosta - Monday, July 23, 2007 - link

    I think this sentence in page 1 is wrong!

    <blockquote>While the R600 based Radeon HD 2900 XT only supports the features listed as "Avivo", <b>G84 and G86<\b> based hardware comprise the Avivo HD feature set (100% GPU offload) for all but VC-1 decoding ...<\blockquote>

    Dont you mean ...
    <blockquote>the features listed as "Avivo", <b>HD 2400 and HD 2600</b> based hardware comprise the Avivo HD feature set (100% GPU offload) for all but VC-1 decoding ...<\blockquote>

    Regards
    Reply
  • iwodo - Monday, July 23, 2007 - link

    quote:

    We have to stress here that, in spite of the fact that NVIDIA and AMD expect the inclusion of video decode hardware on their low end hardware to provide significant value to end users, we absolutely cannot recommend current low end graphics card for use in systems where video decode is important. In our eyes, with the inability to provide a high quality HD experience in all cases, the HD 2400, GeForce 8500, and lower end hardware are all only suitable for use in business class or casual computing systems where neither games nor HD video play a part in the system's purpose.


    May be i am the only one who doesn't understand why would they not recommend a Geforce 8500 for Low end machine?
    Reply
  • Chunga29 - Monday, July 23, 2007 - link

    The NVIDIA 8500 drivers are not currently working with PureVideo HD, I believe was mentioned. Reply
  • ssiu - Monday, July 23, 2007 - link

    NVIDIA PureVideo HD still doesn't support Windows XP, correct? That would be the deciding factor for many people (instead of a noise reduction score of 15% versus 25% etc.) Reply
  • legoman666 - Monday, July 23, 2007 - link

    this man hit the nail on the head. A couple months ago i was on the verge of buying a new video card for my htpc with h.264 acceleration, but upon learning that those features were only enabled for vista (bleh) I decided not to upgrade at all. Reply
  • DigitalFreak - Monday, July 23, 2007 - link

    Any ideas as to why the HQV scores are almost totally opposite of what http://techreport.com/reviews/2007q3/radeon-hd-240...">The Techreport came up with? I'd trust AT's review more, but it seems strange that the scores are so different. Reply
  • phusg - Monday, July 23, 2007 - link

    Yes very interesting! FTA:
    quote:

    Also, even on the 8600 GTS, Nvidia's noise reduction filter isn't anywhere near ready for prime-time. This routine may produce a solid score in HQV, but it introduces visible color banding during HD movie playback. AMD's algorithms quite clearly perform better.
    Reply
  • DigitalFreak - Monday, July 23, 2007 - link

    I'm wondering if they ran with the noise filter at over 75% in their test. As Derek mentioned, higher than 75% produced banding. I also noticed that Derek used 163.x drivers, while TR used 162.x.

    Honestly, I wish there was an 8600 GT/GTS with HDMI out. Would really love to avoid running two cables to my receiver.
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Monday, July 23, 2007 - link

    quote:

    Honestly, I wish there was an 8600 GT/GTS with HDMI out. Would really love to avoid running two cables to my receiver.


    There will be in about 60 days, hardware is sampling now. ;)
    Reply

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