HTPC enthusiasts are often concerned about the quality of pictures output by the system. While this is a very subjective metric, we have decided to take as much of an objective approach as possible. We have been using the HQV 2.0 benchmark in our HTPC reviews to identify the GPUs' video post processing capabilities. The HQV benchmarking procedure has been heavily promoted by AMD, and Intel also seems to be putting its weight behind that. The control panel for the Sandy Bridge GPU has an additional skin tone enhancement option which the Clarkdale drivers used to lack.

HQV scores need to be taken with a grain of salt. In particular, one must check the tests where the GPU lost out points. In case those tests don't reflect the reader's usage scenario, the handicap can probably be ignored. So, it is essential that the scores for each test be compared, rather than just the total value.

The HQV 2.0 test suite consists of 39 different streams divided into 4 different classes. In our HTPC(s), we use Cyberlink PowerDVD 11 with TrueTheater disabled and hardware acceleration enabled for playing back the HQV streams. The playback device is assigned scores for each, depending on how well it plays the stream. Each test was repeated multiple times to ensure that the correct score was assigned. The scoring details are available in the testing guide from HQV.

Blu-rays are usually mastered very carefully. Any video post processing (other than deinterlacing) which needs to be done is handled before burning it in. In this context, we don't think it is a great idea to run the HQV benchmark videos off the disc. Instead, we play the streams after copying them over to the hard disk. As we noted in the previous section, the capabilities of the APU vary between Blu-ray and local file playback. How much difference does that cause in the HQV scores? How do the scores look when compared to the HD3000?

In the table below, we indicate the maximum score possible for each test, and how much each GPU was able to get. The HD3000 is from the Core i5-2520M with the Intel drivers. The Lynx was tested with Catalyst 11.6, driver version 8.862 RC1

HQV 2.0 Benchmark
Test Class Chapter Tests Max. Score Intel HD3000 AMD 6550D (Blu-ray) AMD 6550D (Local file) Sapphire 6570
Video Conversion Video Resolution Dial 5 5 4 4 5
Dial with Static Pattern 5 5 5 5 5
Gray Bars 5 5 5 5 5
Violin 5 5 5 5 5
Film Resolution Stadium 2:2 5 5 5 5 5
Stadium 3:2 5 5 5 5 5
Overlay On Film Horizontal Text Scroll 5 3 5 5 5
Vertical Text Scroll 5 5 5 5 5
Cadence Response Time Transition to 3:2 Lock 5 5 5 5 5
Transition to 2:2 Lock 5 5 5 5 5
Multi-Cadence 2:2:2:4 24 FPS DVCam Video 5 5 5 5 5
2:3:3:2 24 FPS DVCam Video 5 5 5 5 5
3:2:3:2:2 24 FPS Vari-Speed 5 5 5 5 5
5:5 12 FPS Animation 5 5 5 5 5
6:4 12 FPS Animation 5 5 5 5 5
8:7 8 FPS Animation 5 5 5 5 5
Color Upsampling Errors Interlace Chroma Problem (ICP) 5 2 5 2 5
Chroma Upsampling Error (CUE) 5 2 5 2 5
Noise and Artifact Reduction Random Noise SailBoat 5 5 5 5 5
Flower 5 5 5 5 5
Sunrise 5 5 5 5 5
Harbour Night 5 5 5 5 5
Compression Artifacts Scrolling Text 5 3 3 3 5
Roller Coaster 5 3 3 3 5
Ferris Wheel 5 3 3 3 5
Bridge Traffic 5 3 3 3 3
Upscaled Compression Artifacts Text Pattern 5 3 3 3 3
Roller Coaster 5 3 3 3 3
Ferris Wheel 5 3 3 3 3
Bridge Traffic 5 3 3 3 3
Image Scaling and Enhancements Scaling and Filtering Luminance Frequency Bands 5 5 5 5 5
Chrominance Frequency Bands 5 5 5 5 5
Vanishing Text 5 5 5 5 5
Resolution Enhancement Brook, Mountain, Flower, Hair, Wood 15 15 15 15 15
Video Conversion Contrast Enhancement Theme Park 5 5 5 5 5
Driftwood 5 5 5 5 5
Beach at Dusk 5 2 5 5 5
White and Black Cats 5 5 5 5 5
Skin Tone Correction Skin Tones 10 0 7 7 7
    Total Score 210 173 190 184 197

A look at the above table reveals that Intel has caught up with the competition in terms of HQV scores. There is not much to choose betwee 173 and 184. But, does it pass the video quality stress streams? How does the Llano fare in that? We will see in the next few sections. But, first, we will look at the discrepancy between the Blu-ray and local file playback with respect to chroma upsampling.

Lynx HTPC Testbed Setup Lynx: Chroma Upsampling Errors


View All Comments

  • Galcobar - Friday, July 01, 2011 - link

    Well, if Anandtech is so deeply in Intel's pocket, Intel might want their money back if the corporation were to read all the accusations of bias against Intel SSDs when Anandtech reviews an OCZ drive and concludes it's faster if less reliable.

    Well, as my journalism profs said, if everyone's angry at you, you're doing your job.
  • Musafir_86 - Friday, July 01, 2011 - link

    Hi Ganesh,

    -Thanks for the article. As per your reply to me in the preceding article (by Anand), besides video quality, where are the comparison for gaming? Or am I wrong to expect image quality (IQ) comparison for 3D games here?

    Thanks again.
  • ganeshts - Friday, July 01, 2011 - link

    I misunderstood your original request for IQ testing. I thought it was for video playback.

    As for 3D games, I am not the right person since I don't play any games at all (except for running benchmarks). Let me ping a few people in our team and see if we can get that done and posted in a follow-up.
  • Musafir_86 - Friday, July 01, 2011 - link

    -Okay, I will be waiting for it then. :D

  • jabber - Saturday, July 02, 2011 - link

    A tip re. integrated graphics. All the PCs and laptops I get in with such setups all have The Sims installed.

    Can we have a Sims benchmark. Just saying as it would actually be a benchmark relevant to folks that actually use such machines.

    I dont need to know it will only do 6fps with Crysis. I kinda know that.
  • mindbomb - Saturday, July 02, 2011 - link

    i think the bug you are experiencing is related to the evr cp renderer. If you use an updated build, this should go away. Reply
  • ganeshts - Saturday, July 02, 2011 - link

    Yes, I did find that on the MPC-HC IRC channel. But, the difference between BD-ISO and M2TS using TMT itself remains unexplained. The driver does lots of 'invisible' post processing when using EVR, so there is no reason why AMD didn't do that in this case. Reply
  • puretech - Saturday, July 02, 2011 - link

    I truly hope that software developers takes the Fusion platform at this CPU performance level seriously. For many years now higher performance CPUs has not been needed by 99.5% of the consumers. It's not even possible anymore to to get the kids of today to understand what actually was possible to do already with a 486 based system 20 years ago, and the major problems even back then were slow disk I/O and poor graphics performance, not the CPU itself. Since then software development has only been for the highest CPU performance leading to sloppy programming and non-existent optimization, forcing people to upgrade the hardware to stay on "contemporary" operating systems. This review says more about the operating system and the application developers than the Fusion platform. Reply
  • ganeshts - Saturday, July 02, 2011 - link

    I think the problem is more with the drivers rather than the Fusion GPU itself. But, that said, the drivers are themselves a part of the Fusion platform. Reply
  • Dobs - Saturday, July 09, 2011 - link

    Since every other site is finding these hum with more memory & bandwidth, please retest with 8GB of 1866 Ram.
    And can the default GFX memory of 512 MB be increased to 1024 or 2048? What happens to the benchmarks then?


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