Refresh Rate Handling - 23.976 Hz Works!

Readers following our HTPC reviews know by now that Intel's 23 Hz issue was left unresolved in Ivy Bridge. It is definitely better than the Clarkdale days, as users no longer get 24 Hz when setting the display refresh rate to 23 Hz (23.976 Hz intended). However, the accuracy is not enough to prevent a frame drop every 4 minutes or so (the 23 Hz setting results in a display refresh rate of 23.972 Hz in Ivy Bridge). One of the first things I checked after building the Haswell HTPC was the 23 Hz setting. The good news is that the display refresh rate accuracy is excellent.

Even better news is that the set of display refresh rates obtained with the Haswell system is more accurate than anything I had obtained before with AMD or NVIDIA cards. The gallery below presents some of the other refresh rates that we tested out. madVR reports frame drops / repeats only once every 6 hours or more in the quiescent state.

Unfortunately, Intel still doesn't provide a way to easily configure custom resolutions (in fact, the latest driver release seems to have removed that option completely. Update: A reader pointed out that the feature is still available as CustomModeApp.exe in the drivers folder, but long time users still miss access to it from the main control panel). I know for a fact that my Sony display (KDL46EX720) does support 25 Hz and 50 Hz refresh rates, but Intel doesn't allow those to be configured. We are willing to cut Intel some slack this time around because they have finally resolved a bug that was reported way back in 2008.

Video Post Processing and HTPC Configuration Options Decoding and Rendering Benchmarks
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  • meacupla - Monday, June 03, 2013 - link

    there's like... exactly one mITX FM2 mobo even worth considering out of a grand total of two. One of them catches on fire and neither of them have bluetooth or wifi.

    LGA1155 and LGA1150 have at least four each.
    Reply
  • TomWomack - Monday, June 03, 2013 - link

    The mITX FM2 motherboard that I bought last week has bluetooth and wifi; they're slightly kludged in (they are USB modules apparently glued into extra USB ports that they've added), but I don't care.

    The Haswell mITX boards aren't available from my preferred supplier yet, so I've gone for micro-ATX for that machine.
    Reply
  • BMNify - Monday, June 03, 2013 - link

    I know you're trolling but the fact is more people are content with converting their 5 year old C2D cookie cutter desktop into an HTPC ($50 video card + case + IR receiver = job done) than buying all new kit.
    We reached the age of "good enough" years ago. Money is tight and with all the available gadgets on the market (and more to come) people are looking to make it go as far as possible. Intel is going to find it harder and harder to get their high margin silicon into the homes of the average family. Good enough ARM mobile + good enough x86 allows people to own more devices and still pay the bills. It looks like AMD has accepted this, they've taking their lumps and are moving forward in this "new world". I'm not sure what Intels long term strategy is but I'm a bit concerned.
    Reply
  • Veroxious - Tuesday, June 04, 2013 - link

    Agreed 100%. I am using an old Dell SFF with an E2140 LGA775 CPU running XBMCbuntu. It works like a charm. I can watch movies while simultaneously adding content. That PC is near silent. What incentive do I have for upgrading to a Haswell based system? None whatsoever. Reply
  • kallogan - Monday, June 03, 2013 - link

    2.0 ghz seriously ??? The core 45W Sandy i5-2500T was at 2,3 ghz and 3,3 ghz turbo. LOL at this useless cpu gen. Reply
  • kallogan - Monday, June 03, 2013 - link

    Forget my comment didn't see it was a i7 with 8 threads. 35W tdp is not bad either. But the 45W core i7-3770T would still smoke this. Reply
  • Montago - Monday, June 03, 2013 - link

    I must be blind... i don't see the regression you are talking about.

    HD4000 QSV usually get smudgy and blocky.. and that i don't see in HD4600 ... so i think you are wrong in your statements.

    comparing the frames, there is little difference, and none i would ever notice while watching the movie on a handheld device like an tablet or Smartphone.

    The biggest problem with QSV is not the quality, but the filesize :-(
    QSV is usually 2x larger than x264
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, June 03, 2013 - link

    Montago,

    Just one example of the many that can be unearthed from the galleries:

    Look at Frame 4 in the 720p encodes in full size here:

    HD4600: http://images.anandtech.com/galleries/2836/QSV-720...
    HD4000: http://images.anandtech.com/galleries/2839/QSV-HD4...

    Look at the horns of the cattle in the background to the right of the horse. The HD4000 version is sharper and more faithful to the original compared to the HD4600 version, even though the target bitrate is the same.

    In general, when looking at the video being played back, these differences added up to a very evident quality loss.

    Objectively, even the FPS took a beating with the HD4600 compared to the HD4000. There is some driver issue managing the new QuickSync Haswell modes definitely.
    Reply
  • nevcairiel - Monday, June 03, 2013 - link

    The main Haswell performance test from Anand at least showed improved QuickSync performance over Ivy, as well as something called the "Better Quality" mode (which was slower than Ivy, but never specified what it really meant) Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, June 03, 2013 - link

    Anand used MediaEspresso (CyberLink's commercial app), while I used HandBrake. As far as I remember, MediaEspresso doesn't allow specification of target bitrate (at least from the time that I used it a year or so back), just better quality or better performance. Handbrake allows setting of target bitrate, so the modes that are being used by the Handbrake app might be completely different from those used by MediaEspresso.

    As we theorize, some new Haswell modes which are probably not being used by MediaEspresso are making the transcodes longer and worse quality.
    Reply

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