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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. We have been using the HQV 2.0 benchmark in our HTPC reviews to identify the GPUs' video post processing capabilities. The HQV benchmarking procedure has been heavily promoted by AMD, and Intel also seems to be putting its weight behind that. The control panel for the Sandy Bridge GPU has an additional skin tone enhancement option which the Clarkdale drivers used to lack.

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. 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.

Blu-rays are usually mastered very carefully. Any video post processing (other than deinterlacing) which needs to be done is handled before burning it in. In this context, we don't think it is a great idea to run the HQV benchmark videos off the disc. Instead, we play the streams after copying them over to the hard disk. As we noted in the previous section, the capabilities of the APU vary between Blu-ray and local file playback. How much difference does that cause in the HQV scores? How do the scores look when compared to the HD3000?

In the table below, we indicate the maximum score possible for each test, and how much each GPU was able to get. The HD3000 is from the Core i5-2520M with the Intel 15.22.2.64.2372 drivers. The Lynx was tested with Catalyst 11.6, driver version 8.862 RC1

 
HQV 2.0 Benchmark
Test Class Chapter Tests Max. Score Intel HD3000 AMD 6550D (Blu-ray) AMD 6550D (Local file) Sapphire 6570
Video Conversion Video Resolution Dial 5 5 4 4 5
Dial with Static Pattern 5 5 5 5 5
Gray Bars 5 5 5 5 5
Violin 5 5 5 5 5
Film Resolution Stadium 2:2 5 5 5 5 5
Stadium 3:2 5 5 5 5 5
Overlay On Film Horizontal Text Scroll 5 3 5 5 5
Vertical Text Scroll 5 5 5 5 5
Cadence Response Time Transition to 3:2 Lock 5 5 5 5 5
Transition to 2:2 Lock 5 5 5 5 5
Multi-Cadence 2:2:2:4 24 FPS DVCam Video 5 5 5 5 5
2:3:3:2 24 FPS DVCam Video 5 5 5 5 5
3:2:3:2:2 24 FPS Vari-Speed 5 5 5 5 5
5:5 12 FPS Animation 5 5 5 5 5
6:4 12 FPS Animation 5 5 5 5 5
8:7 8 FPS Animation 5 5 5 5 5
Color Upsampling Errors Interlace Chroma Problem (ICP) 5 2 5 2 5
Chroma Upsampling Error (CUE) 5 2 5 2 5
Noise and Artifact Reduction Random Noise SailBoat 5 5 5 5 5
Flower 5 5 5 5 5
Sunrise 5 5 5 5 5
Harbour Night 5 5 5 5 5
Compression Artifacts Scrolling Text 5 3 3 3 5
Roller Coaster 5 3 3 3 5
Ferris Wheel 5 3 3 3 5
Bridge Traffic 5 3 3 3 3
Upscaled Compression Artifacts Text Pattern 5 3 3 3 3
Roller Coaster 5 3 3 3 3
Ferris Wheel 5 3 3 3 3
Bridge Traffic 5 3 3 3 3
Image Scaling and Enhancements Scaling and Filtering Luminance Frequency Bands 5 5 5 5 5
Chrominance Frequency Bands 5 5 5 5 5
Vanishing Text 5 5 5 5 5
Resolution Enhancement Brook, Mountain, Flower, Hair, Wood 15 15 15 15 15
Video Conversion Contrast Enhancement Theme Park 5 5 5 5 5
Driftwood 5 5 5 5 5
Beach at Dusk 5 2 5 5 5
White and Black Cats 5 5 5 5 5
Skin Tone Correction Skin Tones 10 0 7 7 7
               
    Total Score 210 173 190 184 197

A look at the above table reveals that Intel has caught up with the competition in terms of HQV scores. There is not much to choose betwee 173 and 184. But, does it pass the video quality stress streams? How does the Llano fare in that? We will see in the next few sections. But, first, we will look at the discrepancy between the Blu-ray and local file playback with respect to chroma upsampling.

Lynx HTPC Testbed Setup Lynx: Chroma Upsampling Errors
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  • duploxxx - Thursday, June 30, 2011 - link

    You mention that 6550D is a good first step to counter the intel GPU HTPC market, I would turn it around.... provide any reason why there would be a need for any Intel HTPC without additional graphics with Liano released?

    Liano Display Quality and performance HTPC wise is better
    Liano total cost is lower, at least when you take the right board for it. (not like the asrock extreme review bold compare max vs low)
    Liano can actually play a game, can't on the Intel parts for any decent level and quality
    Liano will consume less power on idle, htpc use
    the boards have standard better features.

    anything left? oh yes unfortunate... its not an Intel branded logo...
    Quicksync is a marketing part just like the amd smooth
    Reply
  • L. - Thursday, June 30, 2011 - link

    Clearly, the opinion in the last AT reviews about the Liano is biased, and it's a pity.
    Good thing AT is not the only website that reviewed it, shows just how much of a threat this is for Intel.

    Fact of the matter is you can build your HTPC with just a Liano for cheaper, it does better and consumes less.

    Yes Liano is not half as good as it should be, but that's still much better than the Intel alternative, no matter how much you attempt to downplay the GPU part of this APU.

    Either way, platform costs will always make AMD a better option, the cheapest P67 mobo is around 100 euros, the first Liano mobos are 100 bucks, with a good price drop coming as usual.
    Reply
  • cacca - Thursday, June 30, 2011 - link

    I second your analysis, here is getting ridiculous.

    They even split the review to not close their analysis saying that as a generalist solution llano is the best for buck for medium/low market.
    Reply
  • prdola0 - Thursday, June 30, 2011 - link

    Sorry but this back-patting squad seems like the AMD PR department on a posting spree.

    If AMD wanted to make waves, they shouldn't come with a half-done product. For gaming, the best Llano APU is barely able to play some new games at minimum details. Great. But that is only the top product. All the other Llanos are just going to be worse. Did you miss that?

    For the $30-$40 you can save on the expensive memory needed for Llano to get a half-decent gaming result, you could just invest into a low-end discrete GPU (AMD or NVIDIA, i don't care) and Intel i3-2100 and you get a more powerful CPU, better graphics power- and quality-wise and the ability to actually upgrade the GPU and CPU parts independently, should such a need arise.

    Please AMD PR, stop throwing your paid posters at every review that is just and fair - even if unfavourable to your product. Thanks.
    Reply
  • cacca - Thursday, June 30, 2011 - link

    i think you have a reading comprehension problem.

    Llano is for medium/low market and if you go around you will see that it can run at medium settings with dX11 a lot of games and even some of the new.

    HD3000 can't run DX11 and not even at medium setting. That the reasono for the other review using not even AntiAliasing and/or super crappy quality/resolutions

    Is not problem of PR marketing or not.

    If i want a high market PC i would go intel 2500k/2600K overclock it and buy a 6950 mod to 6970 and overclock. Because INTEL has the best top processor.

    But at medium/low market for the same money Llano just puts a big torn in the ass to i3 and other half assed intel GPU. Are really 2 different worlds.

    If Intel halves the prices for motherboards and i3s they would get back the crown as system but not as single jack of all trades chip.
    Reply
  • prdola0 - Thursday, June 30, 2011 - link

    It is really a simple, elementary school type, equation. You save some money when you buy a i3-2100 instead of A8. You save some money by going for just DDR3-1333, which is enough for the i3, instead of DDR3-1600 or even DDR3-1866, that are needed in order to get decent performance. Buy a low end GPU with that saved money, and you get better CPU power, better HTPC video quality, possibly better gaming framerates and the ability to upgrade the parts separately.

    It can't be simpler. You may even buy an Athlon II X4 instead of the APU for pretty much the same effect with more money to spend on the GPU. I don't care about the brands.

    Llano is only half-done and your AMD PR relation is too obvious. The rhetoric is too similar on most of the review sites. And most of the sites stated that Llano is far from expectations (on the desktop side, mobile is decent).
    Reply
  • silverblue - Thursday, June 30, 2011 - link

    Here's what I expected:

    1) Llano's GPU would be bandwidth constrained and faster RAM would help ease these issues.
    2) Llano's GPU would approach DDR3 HD 5570 performance. It may not surpass it, but we're talking relatively close.

    In terms of its gaming performance, Llano has turned out pretty much as I expected. I can't be the only one to have this opinion.
    Reply
  • duploxxx - Thursday, June 30, 2011 - link

    I suggest you read again what you posted....

    HTPC Quality is better on Liano vs

    Mobo Price is lower for liano when you compare the same type of mobo, not the cheapest intel and the most expensive AMD like anandtech did. SO total price is already lower from the start not to mention the additional gpu cost and power consumption.

    you don't need 1866, 1600 has shown to be more then adequate and actually you can just use 1333 for HTPC only. Price of 1333-1600 is equal btw...

    Features are better on AMD chipsets

    Liano is able to play at least games on the same CPU, Intel not

    you can always add a gpu on liano, even a cheaper one in cf will do better.
    Performance idle and playback is lower then Intel
    Reply
  • cyrusfox - Thursday, June 30, 2011 - link

    Agreed, Super BIAS!

    Ganesh that whole bit about Intel getting the GPU on die quicker than AMD didn't mean anything for Intel as the GPU was very very weak. Even now on SB its still at the bottom of the discrete pile. Its also why Brazos is creaming atom and the only reason the ion market ever took off.

    Llano/Lynx is a great value proposition, you get AMD's superior GPU drivers and a bumped up Phenom ii performanc. With the A75 Chipset you also are getting usb3, when is Intel going to make that standard, 2012? Sure Intel has the fastest CPU's on the market, even in this price range. AMD 32nm is on the market! Can you imagine the impact fusion will have especially when it is this cheap.
    Reply
  • mino - Thursday, June 30, 2011 - link

    Just FYI, Clarkdale did NOT have a GPU on-die.

    It was a MCM - essentially a northbridge & CPU put on the same package.
    Reply

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