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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  • Dianoda - Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - link

    Yeah, I jumped on that BB/Visiontek HD4850 512MB deal as well. Bought the card about a week before the official launch and at a $50 discount on top of that. Timing was perfect, too, as I had just finished my build, short one video card (borrowed a 3850 from a friend for a few weeks).

    I finally upgraded from that card to a 6950 2GB (BIOS modded to 6970) about a month ago - Skyrim was just too much for the 4850 to handle @ 2560x1440. The 6950 2GB is a great card for the price if you're willing to perform the BIOS mod (and don't mind rebate forms).
    Reply
  • nerrawg - Thursday, February 16, 2012 - link

    Exactly! I bought 2 4850's in the UK in 2009 for £65 ($95) each - best GPU purchase I have made in 12 years! I now have a single 6870 that I bought in 2011 for £120- but its not really an upgrade at all. Thought I would wait and get a second one cheaper but now I don't think that will happen

    2008-2009 was the sweet spot of a decade for Desktop GPUs. The way things are going with the Desktop (AMD bullsnoozer etc. etc.) I fear that it might have even been the sweet spot of GPU performance for the decade to come as well. I would love to see some massive progress in graphics, but it seems that the all the "suites" care about now days is "smart" this and "smart" that. I can't really blame them either, because until pc programmers get their act together and actually start making apps and games that push what is possible on current hardware I don't see any reason why I need 2X the GPU and CPU compute power every 1-2 years.

    Come on guys - we are all waiting for the next "Crysis" - if it doesn't come then it might spell the end of the enthusiast desktop
    Reply
  • StrangerGuy - Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - link

    AMD having a fail product at $160 that couldn't even beat an almost 1.5 year old $150 6870 isn't surprising considering they are also the ones with the cheek to price their FX-8150 at near 2600K prices. Reply
  • thunderising - Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - link

    The only problem I have with AMD on this card is WHY THE LOW BANDWIDTH.

    The card performs nearly 10% faster when the memory is clocked at 6GHz QDR (TPU reviews) and 15% with Core Clock matching XFX's OCed Speed.

    I think that 6GHz memory modules would have taken the HD7770 a long way ahead. The performance boost would have been enough to hit HD6850 performance, or beat it in all cases, and at that point, this card at 159$ would make sense.

    Right now, until the price hits about 129$, this doesn't make sense.
    Reply
  • chizow - Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - link

    But you get GCN, 28nm and a bottle of verdetard? Reply
  • Zoomer - Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - link

    GCN is worse than useless for gamers and non compute users. Reply
  • jokeyrhyme - Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - link

    I think I've built my last system with an AMD CPU. Intel completely abused their monopoly and decimated AMD's success in the CPU department, and I don't think AMD will have an enthusiast-quality CPU ever again. :(

    That said, I think I will still use AMD GPUs for a while yet.

    nVidia's Kepler may beat AMD later this year, but AMD actually has an open-source driver developer on staff and routinely publishes hardware documentation. AMD GPUs will probably have better support for Wayland than their nVidia counterparts due to these factors. If you use Linux and want to stay on the cutting edge, then I don't think picking nVidia is particularly wise.
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - link

    At least in the HTPC area, NVIDIA is miles ahead of AMD in the open source support department.

    Almost all Linux HTPCs capable of HD playback have NVIDIA GPUs under the hood, thanks to their well supported VDPAU feature.

    AMD started getting serious with xvBA only towards the end of last year, and they still have a lot of catching up to do [ http://phoronix.com/forums/showthread.php?65688-XB... ]
    Reply
  • Ananke - Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - link

    AMD is several years behind NVidia on the compute side...actually they are nowhere as of today. The AMD 7xxx series is so ridiculously priced, it will not get an user base to be attractive for developers. Actually, I am at the point of considering NVidia cards for computing, despite that I hate their heat and power consumption.

    AMD had their chance and they blew it.

    Besides, we shall see where the AMD ex-VP will go - that company most likely will be the next big player in graphics and high performance computing. Probably Apple.
    Reply
  • PeskyLittleDoggy - Thursday, February 16, 2012 - link

    In my country, company policy dictates you cannot leave your company and work for a competing company if you have valuable R&D knowledge. Thats part of the restraint of trade clause in your contract.

    Basically what I'm saying is, AMD's ex-VP will not be able to work in any company with a graphics department for 2 years if the contract is similar to mine. I can't remember now but some CEO was sued for that recently.
    Reply

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