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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  • anactoraaron - Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - link

    What happened there at 1920x1200 for the 6870? 23.2 fps seems a bit off to me. I get a solid 60 just about everywhere (occasional dips to ~50) at 1080.

    I am so glad I bought a 6870 ICEQ a month ago. Got the email today that I will be getting my rebate so your point about getting a 6870 for 159 AR is absolutely true. And the ICEQ edition I have is rocking a 1000/1150 oc all day long 32c idle 69c load via furmark 15 min run. Best part is it's much quieter than a reference card.

    All of the 7xxx releases seem a bit lackluster to me.
    Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - link

    I go over this a bit in the commentary for that benchmark, but basically the 1GB cards are running out of memory in that benchmark. For reasons I've yet to determine, even though the 7700 series cards still only have 1GB they are handling the situation better than the 6800 and 5700. Reply
  • bazinga77 - Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - link

    first thing that should be pointed out is that i believe that the 7700 series cards that launched today only have a 128 bit memory interface so no one should expect miracles especially at higher resolutions. the memory bandwidth on x700 cards and lower has always held them back a little, where as nvidia for instance on their 550ti uses a 192 bit memory interface. if this card used a higher bandwidth memory it would do better. also the 79xx series from amd upped the bandwidth from the 69xx series from 256 bit to 384 bit which is probably one of the reasons it was so impressive.

    well the gtx 460 is starting to disappear and amd discontinued the 6850 and 6870 two months ago so once they are gone they are gone. this is directly from amd. so i think this card fits in nicely and i expect once the 7850 launches that the price of this card will drop. i think that the 7770 almost being as fast as the 6850 isn't all that bad, especially because of how cool it runs and it seems like the factory oc cards close that gap even closer. considering how much power some of these cards took a couple of generations ago it seems like we are making progress. once the 7850 launches, which i believe happens next month, i think it will be the card to get, just as the 6850 was.

    so all in all it seems like the 7770 will fit in nicely with a small price drop and and the discontinuation of some of the older amd and nvidia cards that has been happening, let alone taking into account the promotions we might see with rebates on these cards or bundled games etc.

    lastly the 7750 seems like it will now be the best card on the market that doesn't require an external power connector and it will come in at only about $10 more than the current champ in that arena. so it looks like a nice card for the casual gamer or someone looking for an htpc card and it looks like the encoding features of the 77xx cards are pretty great.
    Reply
  • chizow - Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - link

    Like I said in the 7970 and 7950 review comments, the reality of the situation is only going to get worst as AMD reveals the rest of their 7-series product stack.

    Ryan I can tell you're doing your best not to be too hard on AMD but there comes a time we need to call a spade a spade. What AMD is doing here in terms of price and performance with the 7-series is easily the worst we've ever seen in the last decade from a new GPU architecture, especially considering they're also on a new process node.

    If/when Nvidia pulls an RV770 on AMD, I really hope you and the rest of the media is up to the task the same way they were with the GTX 280. I don't think you were head GPU editor at that time but I'm sure you remember the backlash.
    Reply
  • jjj - Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - link

    So AMD either went stupid all of the sudden or they just can't produce enough cards yet and priced them to not sell.Either way,this is a mistake and they are only hurting their image (something they can't afford since Nvidia is still the stronger brand).
    Lets hope Nvidia wants market share and gives us something exciting soon.
    Reply
  • stolid - Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - link

    Arg. Might as well hang on to my 5770's. :/ Reply
  • adonn78 - Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - link

    And these cards are supossed to be an upgrade over the 6000 series how? Reply
  • Targon - Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - link

    There is still a 7800 series set of cards that we have not seen yet. We saw the 7900 cards, and now the 7700 series. The comparisons here are 7700 vs. 6800 series, and that is ONE issue.

    Price vs. performance is the primary issue that I can see, and TIME will hopefully bring down the prices to a reasonable level. I also hope/expect that there are reasons for the prices that will be fixed quickly, so will reduce the prices. We shall see, but if NVIDIA is having problems, it may be that AMD is giving NVIDIA a chance to come back, and is saving their next big performance jump for that release.
    Reply
  • chizow - Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - link

    "Price vs. performance is the primary issue that I can see, and TIME will hopefully bring down the prices to a reasonable level."

    But that's exactly the problem, time hasn't brought price down to a reasonable level because we've already had 14+ months of this performance level at the same or better prices. AMD's pricing does nothing to shift the price performance metric and if anything, they are actually falling behind the curve a bit as you can get "old" parts that perform the same or better than these "new" ones at much lower prices.

    The 7800 series will only emphasize this point further with similar performance relative to the 6900 series, but at much worst prices. But that's the trickle down effect of pricing a new "high-end" flagship part that's only 15-25% faster than the last-gen at a 10% price hike. There just isn't much value derived as you go further down the ladder.
    Reply
  • ET - Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - link

    This is disappointing, although I agree that the 7750 does have a place due to its low power. Let's see what NVIDIA will offer.

    The only ray of sunshine is that as always with a new architecture it takes a while for the drivers to take full advantage of the hardware, so it's possible to see performance improvements of tens of percents over time. Let's hope that's the case here.
    Reply

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