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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  • jhoff80 - Sunday, June 02, 2013 - link

    This article and the power consumption stats just make me wish that Intel would just make it easier to get a hold of their -T chips for end users. A 35W or 45W chip would be great for me, but the only thing that has full retail availability is the 65W one. (And it's not because it's so early in launch, it's always been way too difficult to get -T versions.) Reply
  • EnzoFX - Sunday, June 02, 2013 - link

    Not to mention expensive! You get the same results by undervolting/underclocking, typically. Reply
  • Laststop311 - Monday, June 03, 2013 - link

    You are correct in a way but you could undervolt the T series as well and get better thermal performance then the 65 watt version. atleast that is my experience. If i was making an HTPC i would use the i7-4770t or the i7-4650t if thats the equivalent of the i7-3770t this year. The power consumption is amazing and proper 24hz is great for 1080p24 playback. upgrade to the htpc just isn't in my budget right now and ivy bridge + gt 660 isnt a bad htpc. MY PC budget is going to an ultrabook upgrade this year. The increased battery life and performance is insane. i7-980x desktop still does not have a large enough upgrade to make it worth it. Ivy bridge-E is not THAT much faster and I dont think even haswell-e next year will be enough to upgrade the desktop. Reply
  • Death666Angel - Tuesday, June 04, 2013 - link

    "but you could undervolt the T series as well and get better thermal performance then the 65 watt version."
    Not to the same extent. The T series will already be driving much tighter voltages than normal SKUs. While you may save 15% power consumption by undervolting normal SKUs, undervolting already power efficient SKUs would result in sub 5% probably.
    Reply
  • vnangia - Sunday, June 02, 2013 - link

    Well, it helps that there are 35W parts this time around - at least on the timeline. IVB didn't get any 35W parts, so the HTPC is still on SNB, and yeah, I could definitely use the incremental improvements to QuickSync. Reply
  • jhoff80 - Sunday, June 02, 2013 - link

    Yes, but I'm not talking about only 35W specific chips. The i7-3770T was just as difficult to get as any other -T series chip, because they don't sell them to end-users directly. Reply
  • vnangia - Sunday, June 02, 2013 - link

    I'm agreeing with you! What I was trying to say is, Intel did announce low-TDP SNB parts and delivered: SNB had a bunch of -T versions available to end-users at both low (G4xx, G5xxT, 2100T, 2120T) and high end (2390, 2500T). I bought my 2100T at Microcenter B&M for instance.

    By contrast, Intel didn't announce any end-user -T (and just a handful of -S) parts and we saw that IVB had virtually no -T parts available. I'm optimistic that now they've announced a few -T parts at the high end, we might actually see these materialize in the retail chain and hopefully it bodes well for -T parts at the low end.

    Fortunately (*knocks on wood*) the current SNB-based HTPC is still going strong, so I don't feel the need to upgrade. If and when I do, though, I expect that it won't be so clear cut - I may end up going with AMD's lineup, despite the relative paucity of AMD ITX boards.
    Reply
  • jhoff80 - Monday, June 03, 2013 - link

    Sorry, I must've misunderstood. Reply
  • Krysto - Monday, June 03, 2013 - link

    This is insane. Why use a $400 Intel Haswell media box for 4k video, when you can use the much cheaper and much more efficient Mali T622-based media boxes that should be appearing next year?

    http://blogs.arm.com/multimedia/977-a-new-branch-f...
    Reply
  • NirXY - Monday, June 03, 2013 - link

    "should be appearing next year" Reply

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