Video Post Processing and HTPC Configuration Options

Our HTPC reviews over the last few years have used the HQV 2.0 benchmark to estimate and compare video post processing quality of the GPUs. We are at a stage where almost all GPUs end up scoring around 200, leaving very little differentiation. Put bluntly, the HQV 2.0 benchmark is dated, and presenting scores from it delivers no practical value to readers. That said, the tests themselves are relevant, but, instead of the HQV 2.0 Blu-ray, we used clips from Spears & Munsil's HD Benchmark (2nd Edition).

Intel has been paying particular attention to video post processing (courtesy of the pressure put by AMD's high scores in the HQV benchmark during the Sandy Bridge era). Haswell manages to clear common deinterlacing, chroma upsampling and cadence detection tests without issues, as shown in the gallery below

The disappointment comes in the form of the revamped Intel Graphics Control Panel. While the changes in appearance can be excused as migrating to be friendly with the Windows 8 touchscreen devices, the distribution of the various configuration options makes no sense at all. For example, it is only fair for users to expect the 'inverse telecine' option to be present under the Video category. However, it makes its appearance under the advanced display settings. Input range (Full / Limited for 0 - 255 / 16 - 235) is under advanced video settings, but the YCbCr / RGB setting is under the Display settings. It would make sense to have both settings under one category as users usually modify both when trying to calibrate and ensure that their setup is working optimally.

As I found out when trying to calibrate using Spears & Munsil's HD Benchmark, the mixture of settings in the control panel makes it very difficult to calibrate the correct output color space (amongst other things). For example, there is no way to choose YCbCr 4:2:2 / YCbCr 4:4:4 / Limited RGB / Full RGB. This is just one of the missing features in the configuration utility. I hope Intel's engineers try to calibrate a few displays by driving them using an Intel GPU and using the HD Benchmark 2nd Edition calibration disk (just to understand how badly the layout of the control panel is designed).

Andrew at Missing Remote also brings out the fact that clipping issues still exist. In addition, the current control panel completely removes the ability to create custom resolutions (in any case, the previous feature was also not very user friendly compared to NVIDIA's solution). The drivers and UI / UX still need work, but Intel hasn't been as responsive as we would like (partly due to the fact that casual HTPC users don't really care about these issues).

Note of Thanks:

Thanks to Spears & Munsil / Oppo Digital for providing us with an evaluation version of the HD Benchmark 2nd Edition Blu-ray

Testbed and Software Setup Refresh Rate Handling - 23.976 Hz Works!
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  • heffeque - Monday, June 03, 2013 - link

    Well... the AMD A4-5000 seems to be perfect for HTPC and I don't see in this comparison.
    Why not try comparing what the AMD A4-5000 can do (4k, 23Hz, etc) versus this Haswell system?
    The CPU isn't that good, but there's no need for much CPU on HTPC systems, and also... the price, just look at the price.
    Reply
  • meacupla - Monday, June 03, 2013 - link

    when you playback hi10 or silverlight content, having a fast cpu helps immensely, since those formats don't have dxva support. Reply
  • halbhh2 - Tuesday, June 04, 2013 - link

    Consider prices, at $122 suggested, the new A10 6700 is going to be interesting as the real competition to this Intel chip. Reply
  • majorleague - Wednesday, June 05, 2013 - link

    Here is a youtube link showing 3dmark11 and windows index rating for the 4770k 3.5ghz Haswell. Not overclocked.
    This is apparently around 10-20fps slower than the 6800k in most games. And almost twice the price!!
    Youtube link:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7Yo2A__1Xw
    Reply
  • JDG1980 - Monday, June 03, 2013 - link

    You can't use madVR on ARM. And most ARM platforms are highly locked down so you may be stuck with sub-par playback software from whoever the final vendor is. Reply
  • HisDivineOrder - Tuesday, June 04, 2013 - link

    Because we don't live in next year, Doc Brown? Reply
  • BMNify - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    for the same reason that QS isn't being used far more today, that being Intel and arm devs talk the talk but don't listen to or even stay in contact with the number one video quality partners ,that being the x264 and ffmpeg devs and provide their arm patches for review and official inclusion in these two key Cecil app code bases to actually use the arm/intel Low Level video encode/decode API's Reply
  • MrSpadge - Monday, June 03, 2013 - link

    Use an i5 and the price almost drops in half. Then undervolt it a bit and each regular CPU will only draw 40 - 50 W under sustained load. Which media playback doesn't create anyway. Reply
  • Mayuyu - Sunday, June 02, 2013 - link

    2-Pass encodes do not offer any improvements in compression efficiency in x264. The only time you would want to use a 2-Pass encode is to hit a certain file size.

    Quicksync is irrelevant because their h264 encodes are inferior in quality to xvid (which has been outdated for a long time now).
    Reply
  • raulizahi - Thursday, August 29, 2013 - link

    @Mayuyu, 2-pass x264 encodes using VBR do offer improvements in compression efficiency at the same video quality. I have proven it many times. An example: target 720p50 at 3Mbps VBR, first pass I get a certain quality, second pass I get noticeably better quality. Reply

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