HTPC enthusiasts are often concerned about the quality of pictures output by the system. While this is a very subjective metric, we have been taking 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 Ivy Bridge GPU has a number of interesting video post processing control knobs which earlier drivers lacked. The most interesting of these is the ability to perform noise reduction on a per-channel basis, i.e, only for luma or for both luma and chroma. More options are always good for consumers, and the interface makes it simple enough to leave the decision making to the drivers or the application. An explicit skin tone correction option is also available.

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. For the Ivy Bridge HTPC, we used Cyberlink PowerDVD 12 with TrueTheater disabled and hardware acceleration enabled for playing back the HQV streams. The playback device was assigned scores for each, depending on how well it played 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. How does the score compare to what was obtained by the Sandy Bridge and Llano at launch?

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 AMD 6550D was tested with Catalyst 11.6, driver version 8.862 RC1 and the HD4000 with driver version 8.15.10.2696

 
HQV 2.0 Benchmark
Test Class Chapter Tests Max. Score Intel HD3000 AMD 6550D (Local file) Intel HD4000
Video Conversion Video Resolution Dial 5 5 4 5
Dial with Static Pattern 5 5 5 5
Gray Bars 5 5 5 5
Violin 5 5 5 5
Film Resolution Stadium 2:2 5 5 5 5
Stadium 3:2 5 5 5 5
Overlay On Film Horizontal Text Scroll 5 3 5 3
Vertical Text Scroll 5 5 5 5
Cadence Response Time Transition to 3:2 Lock 5 5 5 5
Transition to 2:2 Lock 5 5 5 5
Multi-Cadence 2:2:2:4 24 FPS DVCam Video 5 5 5 5
2:3:3:2 24 FPS DVCam Video 5 5 5 5
3:2:3:2:2 24 FPS Vari-Speed 5 5 5 5
5:5 12 FPS Animation 5 5 5 5
6:4 12 FPS Animation 5 5 5 5
8:7 8 FPS Animation 5 5 5 5
Color Upsampling Errors Interlace Chroma Problem (ICP) 5 2 2 5
Chroma Upsampling Error (CUE) 5 2 2 5
Noise and Artifact Reduction Random Noise SailBoat 5 5 5 5
Flower 5 5 5 5
Sunrise 5 5 5 5
Harbour Night 5 5 5 5
Compression Artifacts Scrolling Text 5 3 3 5
Roller Coaster 5 3 3 5
Ferris Wheel 5 3 3 5
Bridge Traffic 5 3 3 5
Upscaled Compression Artifacts Text Pattern 5 3 3 3
Roller Coaster 5 3 3 3
Ferris Wheel 5 3 3 3
Bridge Traffic 5 3 3 3
Image Scaling and Enhancements Scaling and Filtering Luminance Frequency Bands 5 5 5 5
Chrominance Frequency Bands 5 5 5 5
Vanishing Text 5 5 5 5
Resolution Enhancement Brook, Mountain, Flower, Hair, Wood 15 15 15 15
Video Conversion Contrast Enhancement Theme Park 5 5 5 5
Driftwood 5 5 5 5
Beach at Dusk 5 2 5 5
White and Black Cats 5 5 5 5
Skin Tone Correction Skin Tones 10 0 7 7
             
    Total Score 210 173 184 197

A look at the above table reveals that Intel has caught up with the competition in terms of HQV scores. In fact, they have comfortably surpassed what the Llano got at launch time. Many of the driver problems plaguing AMD's GPUs hadn't been fixed when we looked at the AMD 7750 a couple of months back, so it is likely that the Llano's scores have not budged much from what we have above. In fact, the score of 197 ties with what we obtained for the 6570 during our discrete HTPC GPU shootout.

Testbed and Software Setup Video Post Processing in Action
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  • anirudhs - Monday, April 23, 2012 - link

    I can barely notice the difference between 720P and 1080I on my 32" LCD. Will people notice the difference between 1080P and 4K on a 61" screen?

    It seems we have crossed the point where improvements in HD video playback on Sandy Bridge and post-Sandy Bridge machines are discernible to normal people with normal screens.

    I spoke to a high-end audiophile/videophile dealer, and he tells me that the state of video technology (Blu-Ray) is pretty stable. In fact, it is more stable than it has ever been in the past 40 years. I don't think "improvements" like 4K are going to be noticed by those other consumers in the top 1%. This seems like a first-world problem to me - how to cope with the arrival of 4K?
    Reply
  • digitalrefuse - Monday, April 23, 2012 - link

    ... Anything being discussed on a Web site like Anandtech is going to be "a first-world problem"...

    That being said, there's not much of a difference between 720 lines of non-interlaced picture and 1080 lines of interlaced picture... If anything a 720P picture tends to be a little better looking than 1080I.

    The transition to 4K can't come soon enough. I'm less concerned with video playback and more concerned with desktop real estate - I'd love to have one monitor with more resolution than two 1080P monitors in tandem.
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, April 23, 2012 - link

    OK, one of my favourite topics :)

    Why does an iOS device's Retina Display work in the minds of the consumers? What prevents one from wishing for a Retina Display in the TV or computer monitor? The latter is what will drive 4K adoption.

    The reason 4K will definitely get a warmer welcome compared to 3D is the fact that there are no ill-effects (eye strain / headaches) in 4K compared to 3D.
    Reply
  • Exodite - Monday, April 23, 2012 - link

    We can certainly hope, though with 1080p having been the de-facto high-end standard for desktops for almost a decade I'm not holding my breath.

    Until there's an affordable alternative for improving vertical resolution on the desktop I'll stick to my two 1280*1024 displays.

    Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see the improvements in resolution made in mobile displays spill over into the desktop but I'd not be surprised if the most affordable way of getting a 2048*1536 display on the desktop ends up being a gutted Wi-Fi iPad blu-tacked to your current desktop display.
    Reply
  • aliasfox - Monday, April 23, 2012 - link

    It would be IPS, too!

    :-P
    Reply
  • Exodite - Monday, April 23, 2012 - link

    Personally I couldn't care less about IPS, though I acknowledge some do.

    Any trade-off in latency or ghosting just isn't worth it, as accurate color reproduction and better viewing angles just doesn't matter to me.
    Reply
  • ZekkPacus - Monday, April 23, 2012 - link

    Higher latency and ghosting that maybe one in fifty thousand users will notice, if that. This issue has been blown out of all proportion by the measurable stats at all costs brigade - MY SCREEN HAS 2MS SO IT MUST BE BETTER. The average human eye cannot detect any kind of ghosting/input lag in anything under a 10-14ms refresh window. Only the most seasoned pro gamers would notice, and only if you sat the monitors side by side.

    A slight loss in meaningless statistics is worth it if you get better, more vibrant looking pictures and something where you CAN actually see the difference.
    Reply
  • SlyNine - Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - link

    I take it you've done hundreds of hours of research and documented your studies and methodology so we can look at the results.

    What if Anand did videocard reviews the same way your spouting out these "facts". They would be worthless conjector, just like your information.

    Drop the, but its a really small number argument. Until you really document what the human eye/brain is capable all your saying its a really small number.

    Well Thz is a really small number to. And we can the human body can pick up things as little as 700 Tera Hz. Its called the EYE!.
    Reply
  • Exodite - Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - link

    Look, you're of a different opinion - that's fine.

    I, however, don't want IPS.

    Because I can't appreciate the "vibrant" colors, nor the better accuracy or bigger viewing angles.

    Indeed, my preferred display has a slightly cold hue and I always turn saturation and brightness way down because it makes the display more restful for my eyes.

    I work with text and when I don't do that I play games.

    I'd much rather have a 120Hz display with even lower latency than I'd take any improvement in areas that I don't care about and won't even notice.

    Also, if you're going to make outlandish claims about how many people can or cannot notice this or that you should probably back it up.
    Reply
  • Samus - Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - link

    Exodite, you act like IPS has awful latency or something.

    If we were talking about PVA, I wouldn't be responding to an otherwise reasonable arguement, but we're not. The latency between IPS and TN is virtually identical, especially to the human eye and mind. High frame (1/1000) cameras are required to even measure the difference between IPS and TN.

    Yes, TN is 'superior' with its 2ms latency, but IPS is superior with its <6ms latency, 97.4% Adobe RGB accuracy, 180 degree bi-plane viewing angles, and lower power consumption/heat output (either in LED or cold cathode configurations) due to less grid processing.

    This arguement is closed. Anybody who says they can tell a difference between 2ms and sub 6ms displays is being a whiny bitch.
    Reply

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