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HTPC enthusiasts are often concerned about the quality of pictures output by the system. While this is a very subjective metric, we have decided to take as much of an objective approach as possible. Starting with our HTPC reviews, we have been using the HQV 2.0 benchmark for this purpose. The HQV benchmarking procedure has been heavily promoted by AMD, but it is something NVIDIA says it doesn't optimize for. Considering the fact that there aren't any other standardized options available to evaluate the video post processing capabilities of the GPUs, we feel that HQV benchmarking should be an integral part of the reviews.

However, HQV scores need to be taken with a grain of salt. In particular, one must check the tests where the GPU lost out points. In case those tests don't reflect the reader's usage scenario, the handicap can probably be ignored. An example is cadence detection. Only interlaced streams with non-native frame rates (i.e, 24p content at 60i, 25p content at 50i etc.) need this post processing. Even within this, it is streams requiring 3:2 cadence detection that are most common. Streams with 2:3:3:2 and other fancy patterns are almost non-existent in most usage scenarios. So, it is essential that the scores for each test be compared, rather than just the total value.

The HQV 2.0 test suite consists of 39 different streams divided into 4 different classes. In our HTPC(s), we use Cyberlink PowerDVD 11 with TrueTheater disabled and hardware acceleration enabled for playing back the HQV streams. The playback device is assigned scores for each, depending on how well it plays the stream. Each test was repeated multiple times to ensure that the correct score was assigned. The scoring details are available in the testing guide from HQV.

In the table below, we indicate the maximum score possible for each test, and how much each GPU was able to get. The NVIDIA GPUs were tested with driver version 270.61 and the AMD GPUs were tested with Catalyst 11.5.

 
HQV 2.0 Benchmark Shootout
Test Class Chapter Tests Max. Score NVIDIA GT 430 MSI GT 520 AMD 6450 Sapphire 6570 MSI 6450
Video Conversion Video Resolution Dial 5 5 4 5 5 4
Dial with Static Pattern 5 5 5 5 5 5
Gray Bars 5 5 3 5 5 5
Violin 5 5 3 3 5 3
Film Resolution Stadium 2:2 5 5 0 5 5 5
Stadium 3:2 5 5 5 5 5 5
Overlay On Film Horizontal Text Scroll 5 5 5 5 5 5
Vertical Text Scroll 5 5 5 5 5 5
Cadence Response Time Transition to 3:2 Lock 5 5 5 5 5 5
Transition to 2:2 Lock 5 5 0 5 5 5
Multi-Cadence 2:2:2:4 24 FPS DVCam Video 5 5 0 5 5 5
2:3:3:2 24 FPS DVCam Video 5 5 0 5 5 5
3:2:3:2:2 24 FPS Vari-Speed 5 5 0 5 5 5
5:5 12 FPS Animation 5 5 0 5 5 5
6:4 12 FPS Animation 5 5 0 5 5 5
8:7 8 FPS Animation 5 5 0 5 5 5
Color Upsampling Errors Interlace Chroma Problem (ICP) 5 5 5 5 5 5
Chroma Upsampling Error (CUE) 5 5 5 5 5 5
Noise and Artifact Reduction Random Noise SailBoat 5 5 5 5 5 0
Flower 5 5 5 5 5 0
Sunrise 5 5 5 5 5 0
Harbour Night 5 5 5 5 5 0
Compression Artifacts Scrolling Text 5 5 3 3 5 0
Roller Coaster 5 3 3 3 5 0
Ferris Wheel 5 3 3 3 5 0
Bridge Traffic 5 3 3 3 3 0
Upscaled Compression Artifacts Text Pattern 5 3 3 3 3 0
Roller Coaster 5 3 3 3 3 0
Ferris Wheel 5 3 3 3 3 0
Bridge Traffic 5 3 3 3 3 0
Image Scaling and Enhancements Scaling and Filtering Luminance Frequency Bands 5 5 5 5 5 5
Chrominance Frequency Bands 5 5 5 5 5 5
Vanishing Text 5 5 5 5 5 5
Resolution Enhancement Brook, Mountain, Flower, Hair, Wood 15 15 15 15 15 15
Video Conversion Contrast Enhancement Theme Park 5 5 5 5 5 5
Driftwood 5 5 5 5 5 5
Beach at Dusk 5 5 5 5 5 5
White and Black Cats 5 5 5 5 5 5
Skin Tone Correction Skin Tones 10 7 7 7 7 7
                 
    Total Score 210 193 146 189 197 144

A look at the above table reveals that there is not much to differentiate between the AMD 6450, GT 430 and 6570. The GT 430 scores in between the 6450 and 6570. However, the GT 520 and the DDR3 based MSI 6450 stand out because of their low scores.

In our GT 430 review last October, we were willing to give it some leeway because it lost out in the bulk of the cadence detection tests. The GT 520 is in a similar situation here. The all-important 3:2 pulldown is performed correctly. However, none of the other cadence detection tests passed. GT 520 also has other issues in general which cause it to get a lower score than what the GT 430 obtained in its initial review. We will take a look at how the GT 520 fares in the other tests before delivering the final verdict.

The DDR3 based 6450 misses out on the bulk of the scores because it is unable to perform denoising in a proper manner. When AMD was contacted about this, they admitted the issue and indicated that they were working on a fix. However, they pointed out that the problem was only for standalone files and not Blu-ray discs. To our surprise, we found that denoising worked properly in PowerDVD irrespective of ESVP when the HQV Benchmark Blu-ray was used! We decided not to let that alter the scores above. Blu-rays are already mastered carefully, and don't need as much post processing as local files from recorded TV shows or camcorder files. The low score of the DDR3 based 6450 will probably improve a great deal after driver updates, but we will consider only playback of files on the hard drive in the rest of this review.

HTPC Testbed Custom Refresh Rates
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  • ganeshts - Thursday, June 16, 2011 - link

    PotPlayer apparently doesn't have support for hardware deinterlacing, and has a host of other issues [ Search for PotPlayer in this page and then read the next set of posts about it : http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?p=20... ].

    Of course, if it works for you, it is great :) (probably it is a good solution for people watching progressive material only).

    The author of LAV CUVID talks in that thread about how renderless DXVA mode works with madVR at the cost of deinterlacing.

    Btw, there is no decode of DTS-HD in any open source software now. Both ffdshow and PotPlayer can decode only the core DTS soundtrack. DTS decode has been around for a long time, though.
    Reply
  • NikosD - Saturday, June 18, 2011 - link

    Indeed, I was referring to progressive material only - interlaced material is rare - but the page you mentioned says PotPlayer has CPU deinterlacing.

    I don't see where is the problem.

    Hardware Deinterlacing is less important - for most users - than Hardware Decoding (DXVA) and less important than the UNIQUE capability of using DXVA + madVR at the same time.

    The cost of hardware deinterlacing is nothing compared to the cost of DXVA and madVR.

    For the audio part of your answer, I have to say that because of my AVR (Pioneer VSX-920) decoding inside a PC, BluRay, Media Player or any other decoding capable device of multi-channel audio is never an option for me.

    I always prefer the bitstreaming solutions for multi-channel audio - as most of the owners of AVR do - like those provided by FFDshow and PotPlayer which both are more than capable of providing them.

    That's why I wrote "decoding and pass-through", I had to write "splitting and pass-through".

    One last word.

    For every piece of software out there, there is always a list of changes, bugs, things to do.

    That doesn't mean we don't use it or like it.
    Reply
  • PR3ACH3R - Friday, June 17, 2011 - link

    @Ganesh T S,
    This is some NICE work.
    In fact, I cannot recall when was the last time I have seen such an in depth article on the HTPC GPU subject in Anandtech.

    The balance between the technical issues, the background, & the effort to honestly report all issues known to you in this article, is spot on.

    If it is missing something on the issues report, it misses on the ATI/AMD DPC Latency spiking issues.

    As this is still remains unnoticed in Anandtech even in this excellent article, here is a link to the AVS post describing it.

    http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=12...

    (Ignore some of the discredit attempt posts in this thread, this problem exists to this very day.)
    Reply
  • NikosD - Thursday, June 23, 2011 - link

    Well, I did some further tests and found out that PotPlayer does have hardware deinterlacing.

    Have you done any tests by yourself to see if the player supports Hardware Deinterlacing ?
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Saturday, June 25, 2011 - link

    NikosD, I will definitely try PotPlayer out in the next GPU review. Till now, my knowledge is limited to what is there in the AVSForum thread. Reply
  • flashbacck - Friday, June 24, 2011 - link

    I know HTPCs are even more of niche these days than ever, so I appreciate you still doing these tests very much. Reply
  • wpoulson - Thursday, July 28, 2011 - link

    I really appreciate this guide and have been stepping through it

    I just registered the ASVid.ax file from TMT5 but the filter is not showing up in the External Filter section of MPC-HC. At first I thought it might be because I registered it on the 32 bit side and I'm using 64 bit MPC-HC, so I unregistered the file from System 32 and registered it on the 64 bit side.

    I registered it by going to Start>CMD>Cntrl-Shift-Enter and using the "Regsvr32" command to register the file. I put the file along with the checkactivate dll in a folder in the root directory of my C drive and pointed the Regsvr command to the ASVid.ax file. After hitting enter, I received a "dll successfully registered" message.

    Can someone help me to get the filter visible for MPC-HC?

    A question...While it's considered beta, will the new LAV video decoder do the same thing the arcsoft video decoder does?

    Thanks

    Warren
    Reply
  • stuartm - Friday, January 20, 2012 - link

    I am aware the gt 430 is a good choice to work around the infamous WMC 29/59 framerate bug. Can you comment on whether or not the 6570 will stutter or not when playing content with 29/59 framerate problems? A very important consideration for those of us using ceton or HDHR Primes (or the new Hauppauge box) for cable TV Live viewing and record/replay.

    Thank You
    Reply
  • MichaelSan1980 - Saturday, January 21, 2012 - link

    I'd use my HTPC for DVD's and BD's only with an Full-HD TV. Since i have a rather strong CPU and wouldn't use Hardware Deinterlacing for DVDs, i wonder, if the GT520 is ~that~ bad, in terms of image quality? Reply
  • drizzo4shizzo - Wednesday, June 20, 2012 - link

    Old guy here.

    In the market but I need confirmation that these cards can do component output to "old guy" HDTV.

    NONE of the marketing materials suggest that any recent card can.

    Meaning they either come with a component video breakout or at least are compatible with a known 3rd party product, and that they can do the RGB -> YUV thing.

    This ancient EVGA 7600 GT I have does it... with an "svideo lookalike" 7 pin -> component breakout.

    Anyone? Beuller?
    Reply

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