Since nettops are also positioned as home PCs, many users will definitely try playing videos on them. Therefore, we decided to check if Atom and Nano will prove powerful enough to play HD videos with acceptable quality.
In this test we measured the fps rate during 720p and 1080p playback of H.264/AVC and WMV3 videos. If we see 24 fps, it means no frames are lost and the CPU copes with the workload successfully. Otherwise, we can estimate how much power the processor is lacking for quality video playback. We used “Dark Knight” movie trailer as an example of HD media content. We used ffdshow codec as one of the fastest and most widely spread codecs.
Before we move on to the results, I would like to add that graphics cores integrated into Intel 945GC and VIA CN896 chipsets do not support hardware acceleration of HD video decoding. Therefore, it is the CPU that has to do all the work.
Well, looks like Intel Atom and VIA Nano are not fast enough to ensure quality playback of HD video content. However, I have to make a few clarifications to this uncompromising verdict. Nettop platforms only fail to cope with 1080p videos. 720p format is displayed perfectly fine with any CPU, even a single-core VIA Nano L2100 work just fine here, not to mention Atom 230. The CPU utilization graph below was taken on a system with Intel Atom 230 during H.264/AVC movie playback at 720p resolution:
If we do not take into account both Celeron processors that cope almost impeccably with HD video playback, then the winner will be Atom 330. This result proves once again that multi-threading is indeed very useful for video decoding tasks. Therefore, Atom 230 outperforms VIA Nano L2100 that theoretically has more progressive microarchitecture.