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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  • eio - Sunday, June 23, 2013 - link

    great example! very interesting.
    I agree with Montage that for most snapshots, HD4600 is significantly better than HD4000 for retaining much more texture, even for this frame 4 in 1080p.
    but in 720p HD4600 shows its trade off of keep more fine grained texture: looks like HD4600 are regressed in low contrast, large scale structral infomation.
    as you said, this type of regression can be more evident in video than snapshots.
    Reply
  • eio - Sunday, June 23, 2013 - link

    another thing that surprises me is: x264 is a clear loser in this test. I don't understand why, what are the specific params that handbrake used to call x264? Reply
  • nevcairiel - Monday, June 03, 2013 - link

    @ganeshts

    I'm curious, what did you use for DXVA2N testing of VC-1?
    LAV Video doesn't support VC-1 DXVA2 on Intel, at least on Ivy Bridge, and i doubt Haswell changed much (although it would be a nice surprise, i'll see for myself in a few days)
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Monday, June 03, 2013 - link

    Hendrik,

    I made a note that DXVA2N for interlaced VC-1 has software fallback.

    That issue is still not fixed in Haswell. That is why you see QuickSync consuming lower power compared to DXVA2N for the interlaced VC-1 sample.
    Reply
  • zilexa - Monday, June 03, 2013 - link

    To be honest, now that I have a near-perfect Raspberry setup, I would never buy a Core ix/AMD Ax HTPC anymore. Huge waiste of money for almost un-noticable image quality improvement.
    The Raspberry Pi will use max 6.5w, usually much lower. Speed in XBMC is no issue anymore, and it plays back all my movies just fine (Batman imax x264 rip 7-15MBps). I play mostly downloaded tv shows, streams and occasionally a movie. It also takes care of the whole download process in the background. So I don't even have a computer anymore at home. I sold my old AMD 780G based Silverstone M2 HTPC for €170 and it was the best decision ever.

    Still cool to read about the high end possibilities of HTPC/MadVR or actually just video playback and encoding, cos thats what this is really about. But I would never buy a system to be able to support this. HTPC in my opinion is to be in a lazy mode and able to playback your shows/movies/watch your photos and streams in good HD quality and audio.

    If you need HTPC, in my opinion there is no need for such an investment in a computer system which is meant for a huge variety of computing tasks.
    Reply
  • jwcalla - Monday, June 03, 2013 - link

    It's going to depend on individual needs of course, and I think your Raspberry Pi is on the other end of the extreme, but otherwise I kind of have the same reaction. This has got to be an $800+ build here for an HTPC and then I begin to wonder if this is a practical approach.

    Owing to the fact that Intel's entire marketing strategy is to oversell to the consumer (i.e., sell him much more than he really needs), it seems that sometimes these reviews follow the strategy too closely. For an HTPC? Core i3 at the max. And even that's being generous. If one needs certain workloads like transcoding and such then maybe a higher end box is needed. But then I question if that kind of stuff is appropriate for an HTPC.
    Reply
  • superjim - Monday, June 03, 2013 - link

    Playback a raw M2TS 1080p 60fps file on your Pi and get back to me. Reply
  • phoenix_rizzen - Monday, June 03, 2013 - link

    How did you get around the "interface is not accelerated" issue on the RPi? I found it completely useless when trying to navigate the XBMC interface itself (you know, to select the show to watch). Sure, once the video was loaded, and processing moved over to the hardware decoder, things ran smooth as silk.

    I sold my RPi two weeks after receiving it due to this issue. Just wasn't worth the headaches. Since moved to a quad-core AthlonII running off an SSD with a fanless nVidia dGPU. So much nicer to work with.
    Reply
  • vlado08 - Monday, June 03, 2013 - link

    What about Frame Rate Conversion (FRC) capability? Reply
  • ericgl21 - Monday, June 03, 2013 - link

    Ganesh,

    Let's assume you have two 4K/60p video files playing in a loop at the same time for a duration of 3 hours.
    Is it possible that Iris or Iris Pro could play those two video streams at the same time, without dropping frames and without the processor throttling throughout the entire movie playback ?
    I mean, connecting two 4K TVs, one to the HDMI port and the other to the DisplayPort, and outputting each video to each TV. Would you say the Iris / Iris Pro is up to this task? Could you test this scenario?
    Reply

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