One of the main reasons for HTPC purists to override the Intel integrated GPUs was the lack of a proper 23.976 Hz refresh rate. Till Clarkdale, the Intel GPUs refreshed the display at 24 Hz when set to 23 Hz. When Sandy Bridge was launched, it was discovered that the 23 Hz setting could be activated and made to function as intended if UAC was disabled. With v2372 drivers, the disabling of UAC became unnecessary. While this didn't result in perfect 23.976 Hz (locked around 23.972 Hz), it was definitely much better than the earlier scenario.

How does Ivy Bridge fare? The short story is that the behaviour on the P8H77-M Pro board is very similar to Sandy Bridge. As the screenshot below shows, the refresh rate is quite stable around 23.973 Hz. This is as good as the bad AMD and NVIDIA GPU cards.

The good news is that Intel is claiming that this issue is fully resolved in the latest production BIOS on their motherboard. This means that BIOS updates to the current boards from other manufacturers should also get the fix. Hopefully, we should be able to independently test and confirm this soon.

It is not only the 23 Hz setting which is off the mark by a small amount. Other refresh rates also suffer similar problems (with videos played back at that frame rate dropping a frame every 5 minutes or so). The gallery below shows some of the other refresh rates that we tested.

Another aspect we found irritating with Intel's GPU control panel is the custom resolution section. Intel seems very reliant on EDID and doesn't allow the user to input any frequency not supported by the display. Our testbed display (a Sony Bravia KDL46EX720) doesn't indicate PAL compatibility in its EDID information. I was able to play back PAL videos with matched refresh rates using the Vision 3D (NVIDIA GT 425M) as well as the AMD 7750. However, Intel's control panel wouldn't allow me to set up 50 Hz as the display refresh rate. It is possible that an EDID override might help, but we can't help complaining about Intel's control panel not being as user friendly as NVIDIA's (despite the availability of a custom resolutions section in the control panel).

Video Post Processing in Action Video Decoding and Rendering Benchmarks
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  • jwilliams4200 - Monday, April 23, 2012 - link

    Not really. I think HD4000 is just about right for an HTPC. Later, when the Ivy Bridge core-i3's come out, I think the i3-3225, with HD4000, will be the first choice for HTPCs. Reply
  • shawkie - Monday, April 23, 2012 - link

    If the i7-3770T is actually ever available to buy then from a power consumption point of view it would also be a good choice (with plenty of CPU headroom for the times where GPU decoding doesn't work) . From a cost point of view it might be a bit on the high side I suppose. Reply
  • flashbacck - Monday, April 23, 2012 - link

    As one of the few people still running a dedicated htpc, I appreciate the article. Reply
  • anirudhs - Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - link

    You mean use your HTPC for all media, including HD-DVR and Blu-Ray? I am just getting into it now. Reply
  • jwcalla - Monday, April 23, 2012 - link

    Getting an i7 for an HTPC is like getting a Mustang GT500 to drive Miss Daisy. Come on now, is AT a review site for Daddy Warbucks types?

    Ok serious question though. What's the Intel IVB driver / HW acceleration situation on Linux? I couldn't imagine dropping $100 on Windows 7 for something as simple as HTPC functionality. For nvidia we're talking $10 Geforce card + VDPAU + lowest end CPU + least amount of RAM possible + linux = HTPC solution. Or a Zotac box. Can Intel compete with that?
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  • ExarKun333 - Monday, April 23, 2012 - link

    This review is really testing the HD4000 implementation. When the dual-cores are released with the HD4000, the GPU will be exactly the same, so almost everything will be directly applicable there too. Reply
  • anirudhs - Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - link

    If you plan on getting cable onto your PC you have no choice but Windows due to DRM issues. Some channels will not be recorded by MythTV. Reply
  • CoffeeGrinder - Monday, April 23, 2012 - link

    With that P8H77-M config, if you use a double slot GPU in one PCIex16 slot (and so lose one PCIex1 slot) and use TV tuners in both on the remaining slots PCIex1 and PCIex16 does using the second PCIex16 slot result in the first PCIex16 running at x8 ? Reply
  • ganeshts - Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - link

    If the second PCIe is occupied, then it will cause the first x16 to run at x8. Both these slots are electrically connected, so when you need even one lane, it takes eight away from the first PCIe slot for it. Reply
  • Bluestraw - Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - link

    I see you didn't test madVR in Full Screen Exclusive mode - can you elaborate on the reason for this please? I read over at missingremote that FSE improved the situation significantly for madVR with the HD4000? Reply

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