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Miscellaneous HTPC Aspects

One of the nice aspects of the Radeon HD 7750 is the fact that AMD's excellent video post processing capabilities with respect to deinterlacing, cadence detection and noise reduction are carried over from the previous efforts without the introduction of any bugs. As such, deinterlacing is of the same quality as before, and we felt that there was no necessity to repeat screenshots very similar to what we already provided in our previous Llano HTPC review.

3D works very well, and is even more seamless compared to NVIDIA's implementation. I don't play 3D games, and my only interest from a HTPC perspective is playing back 3D Blu-rays. I found that simply clicking on the 3D icon in PowerDVD shifted my VSC-32 / Sony KDL46EX720 into 3D mode. There was no need to explicitly set up the 3D display as I had to do with the NVIDIA cards. This might be a drawback for people doing 3D gaming, but for 3D media watching this is as simple as it could be.

It is not that the 7750 is without its faults. For all practical open source software purposes, MPEG-4 decode acceleration is absent even though it is a feature of UVD3. The Catalyst 10.4 release notes promised support for H.264 L5.1 stream decoding. However, consumers soon discovered that enabling DXVA decode for 4K clips often ended up in a BSOD. AMD has quietly slipped this under the radar, and now officially states that 4K decode is not officially supported for the time being, however this appears to be a matter of validation rather than hardware limitations. That said, we did see that trying to decode a 4K clip now no longer results in a hard BSOD.

The 7750 also has support for HDMI 1.4a's full specifications. This means that the GPU can drive resolutions of up to 4096x2160 at 24 fps and 3840x2160 at 30 fps over a single HDMI port! I am currently aware of only one HDMI sink supporting this over a single HDMI link, namely, the Sony VPL-VW1000ES projector. Users on AVSForum are already reporting success with driving 4K over a single HDMI link using the Radeon HD 7970, and I expect the 7750 to have no issues either. That said, if we do get access to this projector system, the 7750 will be one of the first HDMI sources to get connected to it.

I recently set up a 2x2 Eyefinity system using the 7950 to drive QFHD videos onto the displays. I was very impressed with the quality and ease of setup. Frankly, I am more excited about 4K compared to what I felt about 3D when manufacturers were trying to push that down the throat of the consumers. In my opinion, 4K (QFHD) with 2x2 23" 1080p thin bezel monitors will become a very cost effective solution for those looking at 4K for the desktop. In that respect, it is a bit disappointing that the 7750 we tested today can't drive four displays without a DisplayPort MST hub.

It is a little bit interesting to compare the GT 520 with the AMD 7750 with respect to readiness for 4K. While the GT 520 has full hardware decode acceleration for 4K videos, it is unable to push out the 4K material to the display(s). The HDMI 1.4a PHY in the GT 520 can drive only 1080p monitors and there is no way to drive four displays with it. The 7750, on the other hand, can drive 4K displays through HDMI right now (and to four monitors using an MST hub down the road), but it is unable to accelerate the decode of those videos. It will be interesting to see what NVIDIA has in store for the HTPC fans down the road. Can they deliver working cards and drivers before AMD fixes its driver issues? It is going to be a very interesting year ahead.

As a summary for our HTPC section, we have to say that the Radeon HD 7750 is an excellent addition to our HTPC testbed. It will definitely be the one to compare against when the new cards from NVIDIA and Intel's Ivy Bridge CPU come out over the next few months. We just hope that AMD will be able to get its driver act together before then.

Video Post-Processing: GPU Loading VCE & The Test
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  • mattgmann - Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - link

    Don't forget, when the 4870 pricing was low, at the end of 2008, BOTH AMD and Nvidia were settling price fixing lawsuits. These companies have cheated before; they'll do it again. Reply
  • Hubb1e - Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - link

    "Recessions are good for the rich... not so good for everyone else. "

    Really? So when the stock market lost 40% of its value and the rich lost 40% of their net worth, that was good for them?

    The rich can ride out a recession better than the poor because they don't live paycheck to paycheck, but it sure as hell wasn't good for them.
    Reply
  • Galidou - Sunday, February 19, 2012 - link

    Maybe we can see 4870's with maximum performance/die size in mind pricing failure because it was performing close to the big die from Nvidia gtx2xx. Or maybe we can see the ''double performance from last gen'' tactic from Nvidia a fail when it means building a super big die with low performance/size ratio just to get that double performance motto... It was all a question of ''goal to attain'' from each company. One goal paid off more than the other that time.

    From an Nvidia's fanboy perception, the first will be true and the second unthinkable. From an ATI fanboy, the first will make no sense and the second will suit them well. From someone with no choosen side, both can be true.

    But these 7770 and 7750 here, makes no sense, such small die with such performance for that price.....
    Reply
  • Malih - Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - link

    I agree, smells fishy, usually at this point nVidia would lower their card price.

    The latest price competitive part from AMD is the 6800 series. Probably have to wait for the 8800 series?
    Reply
  • Kjella - Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - link

    I know, I bought a 5850 before the MSRP hike for around $279 + VAT in 2009 and I just checked, it clearly beats a 7770 so a >$159 value today, maybe close to the $200 card being launched in March. The 6xxxx series I thought was just because they had to scrap the 34nm process and deliver essentially a refined 5xxx series, but now they're on 28nm and there's not much bang for the buck for those of us that already have a gaming card from the 4/5xxxx series. I hope this is just a temporary situation until nVidia gets their Kepler out, or I might just sit out another generation... Reply
  • eminus - Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - link

    AMD has AMD (Accute Money Deficiency) right now so they need every penny they can gain. Reply
  • Cygni - Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - link

    It seriously seems that the 4850/4870 was an incredible purchase. In 2009, you could get a 4850 for $99 dollars. And it STILL holds up to the top range cards.

    I mean we all know that Nvidia and AMD are playing the profit game 10 times harder than the performance game in this sector, simply because games can't press the limits of the hardware, but it's still impressive.
    Reply
  • just4U - Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - link

    I bought 4 cards in the 4x lineup..

    First a 4850 for $170, Second a 4870 for $199 Third a 4870 1G for $229 and lastly a 4830 for 140.. While I live in Canada I don't think prices ever came that low unless you got one helluva good deal.. $99 pricing for the 4850 wasn't the norm even late in its production run.
    Reply
  • BPB - Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - link

    I got mine real chaep at launch! BestBuy mispriced them. Still, not too much later there were good deals again and I got one for my daughter's desktop. These cards in CF still hold up well for 1920x1200 gaming. I would like to upgrade to better performance and lower power, but AMD is making that hard dollar-wise. Reply
  • Jorgisven - Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - link

    Indeed. Best Buy had a 25% off all Visiontek cards the week of the 4850 launch, so I got mine at launch for $150. I then caught an amazing deal on a 4870 a few months later ($129 shipped), sold my 4850 for $140. I basically bought both for a net $140.

    I've been waiting for a good AMD card, but just haven't seen one. I've been tempted by the 560 Ti or 570, but they're still too expensive for my taste, and don't offer enough of an advantage to spend the cost of a PS3 on upgrading from an already decent GPU.

    I'm rather disappointed with Red as of late.
    Reply

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