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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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  • formulav8 - Friday, July 01, 2011 - link

    I'm sorry but there are to many people complaining about your review and I doubt they are all AMD fannys. Maybe, just maybe the problem is you and your reviews? Or is it people are just all AMD fanboys? and couldn't have anything to do with you?

    Although I personally am not into the bias thing with you, you absolutely did NOT critque that Intel stuff near as much as you did AMD's. You need to go back and actually Expose Intels flaws. Not hide them or downplay them in a quote or something.

    In the end though, your article was way below many of the other Top 3 or 4 sites. Not because of being biased, but just the overall review is subpar imo. You do have alot of potential though :)
    Reply
  • dragonsqrrl - Friday, July 01, 2011 - link

    No, I'd say the source of pretty much all the accusations of bias and favoritism following this review has been AMD fanboyism. Reply
  • cjs150 - Friday, July 01, 2011 - link

    That at least up til now is what I have thought about each new HTPC review.

    Sadly this seems to be one step forward and at best at least one and a half steps back.

    The AMD A8 issues identified in the review show that, once again, AMD is launching a half tested product.

    There seems to be at least 2 or 3 different HTPC markets.

    I want something that sits in the main room and plays everything properly, with a bit of internet browsing on top. Game playing is something I leave to the main rig. Despite that, some game playing even if limited to older games would be nice.

    Other people want something that is much more powerful because they want serious game playing as well as proper HTPC work. That is not a criticsm of them, they have different priorities.

    Here are my thoughts

    1. AMD, INTEL, NVIDIA: dropped frames are totally unacceptable. I do not care if it one frame every 1000 frames or every 10,000 frames. The Blu ray playback rates are standard, it is the computer industry fault and no one elses if you cannot comply with the standard.

    2. INTEL (particularly): Audio, it may come as a suprise but people watch films with the sound on! Many of us have reasonable high end AV rigs playing 5:1 (or better), I rather like my AV rig where I simply plug an HDMI cable into Blu ray player and the other end into the AV receiver and get top quality pictures AND 5:1 sound. If you want to be in the HTPC market then you have to offer the same option (I am just wating for replies from all the audiophiles who will tell me that using the HDMI cable this way is sub-optimal - maybe it is but my ears are not good enough to tell the difference and I like the simplicity of fewer cables)

    3. SILENCE: would be nice. No small noisy fans

    Otherwise nice review
    Reply
  • jabber - Friday, July 01, 2011 - link

    Their importance is waning in terms of reviews for CPUs and ram etc. I dont need to know how fast a chip is nowadays. Unless I want to run mega gaming resolutions or spend all day transcoding, anything off the shelf will do. I now laugh if I see a DDR3 ram roundup review and roll my eyes at the waste of lifetime it took to create.

    7-8 years ago you had to give a little thought to a build. I'd spend a couple of weeks going over the reviews etc. Nowadays I spend about 30 minutes and just use the retail sites.

    "That will do (click) that will do (click) that will do (click)!" Proce now counts for morw than out right performance. I do not need Intel's fastest CPU. I don't even need their second or third.....

    As far as I am concerned going forward these Llano cpus will be going into quite a lot of builds for my customers. Not Intels.
    Reply
  • just4U - Saturday, July 02, 2011 - link

    Ram drives me crazy... even today. I'd say those reviews are still warranted. Reply
  • rachotilko - Friday, July 01, 2011 - link

    What a triumphant boasts were made of Bobcat & Bulldozer. The lauch of chips have been postponed several times, only to reveal that in its core the Bobcat is still the same Sledgehammer Opteron of 2003. It took AMD 3 years to shrink the Phenom II to 32 nm and pair it with GPU (that I admitt is very decent). What a disgrace ! Reply
  • jabber - Friday, July 01, 2011 - link

    And that means what to Joe Average User?

    Absolutely nothing.
    Reply
  • lestr - Friday, July 01, 2011 - link

    Hey Ganesh,

    Sorry you're taking so much heat. I appreciate your reviews because you DO point out shortcomings. I recall MANY, MANY reviews where Gary and Anand counted over 20 BIOS revisions they insisted upon in order to get a board remotely functional. (X58?) Unlike many of the Infidel fanboys here I don't have a photographic memory of every word in every Infidel review... and if they DID... they'd recall the many problems Anand encountered with Infidel chipsets, too.

    It has been a few months since the introductiion of the 1155. Have they ALL forgotten how bitterly everyone complained that you couldn't OC the CPU on one board and that you couldn't OC the iGP on another? Oh, that's because Intel wanted to soak the market THEN give them "Z" board they'd rather have had... makes sense now.. Why did they cut / limit the # of PCIe lanes? A VERY frequent comment was the only chip to get was the K series.. Talk about rabid dogs. No, they forget about all that. They forget about the extremely limited lifespan of the 1156 line all together? Did they even forget about the recent chip failure? I give credit where it's due and Intel handled that wonderfully while EVERYONE complained about having to wait and return their boards. Talk about the blind leading the deaf and dumb!!.. What ever Infidel does is ok by them regardless of how deeply they greedily dig into your pockets. They make you pay for each and every incremental improvement many of which AMD includes as native. SATA 6, USB 3 and NOW they're complaining that the HD6550D CF capable chip isn't good enough in a few limited areas? How long have people been waiting for Infidel to fix the 23.997 glitch?

    They'll sit and criticize AMD for purchasing ATI and in the next breath say the only way Infidel can fix their graphics is if they BUY NVidia? It's simply another example of near-sighted bigotry by self-assessed elitists.

    It would be nice if, for a change, the readers could think... some of them need to learn to spell, too! Ok Anand has discovered another glitch. They Published it while other reviewers passed over it. They - you - are responsible for getting a lot of glitches fixed on BOTH sides. No, they don't give you guys enough credit for that. I have to believe that the mfr's respect your openness and honesty and know you can't be bought or bribed. Anand is an advocate for the people.

    I own both brands of systems. I prefer AMD because they are more feature rich for the buck. Maybe they aren't as fast.. We're reaching a point of diminishing returns.. "DAMN! I had to wait and blink my eyes twice for the screen to change." I remember an 8088 costing 3 grand. No, it isn't a perfect world. It never will be. I happen to believe you're just as critical, if not more so with Intel on some of the products they've produced in the last few years. They're so much bigger and they should know better. I know some people won't change their opinions and there is always going to be bias on both sides. You're right, they do need to go back and read some of your Intel reviews.

    No, this readership isn't comprised of the average John or Jane Doe. They don't even know it exists. I was one of them about 5 years ago. Big box off the shelf crap forced me to seek alternatives. After extensively exploring more sites than I an count I selected Anand as my primary go-to source because you DO tell it like it is not because you sweep things under the rug. Keep pissing people off - isn't that the job of a good journalist? Another good, honest review. Thanks...

    Now.. about that G.Skill contest... if I "happen" to win... well.. let's just call that a coincidence, ok? :)~`
    Reply
  • lestr - Friday, July 01, 2011 - link

    From another site 7/1/11

    AMD's launch of two Llano A-series desktop APUs yesterday comes a little over two weeks after the CPU/GPU maker made available its Catalyst 11.6 driver package. For whatever reason, AMD chose not to bake in support for its then soon-to-be-released A8-3850 and A6-3650 APUs, but don't despair, there's a hotfix available if you plan on running one of these chips.

    The AMD Catalyst 11.6a hotfix also adds support for the A8-3800 with Radeon HD 6550D (same as the A8-3850) and A6-3600 with Radeon HD 6530D (same as the A6-3650). Otherwise, there isn't anything new in this hotfix.

    In case you missed it, the Catalyst 11.6 drivers promise performance gains in a handful of titles, including Crysis, F1 2010, Far Cry 2, HAWX, and the Unigine Open GL tests. It also adds a few new features, such as Steady Video, Image Stabilization brought to you by YouTube, and decode acceleration of MPEG-4 part 2 content in Microsoft video player applications (through MFT support) for all Radeon HD 6000 cards.
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Friday, July 01, 2011 - link

    Yes, we are aware of this. The 8.862 RC1 driver release we used has all the above features inbuilt. Basically, you can say that we tested with the hotfix Cat 11.6a. Reply

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