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Testbed Configuration and Methodology

We are going to investigate the decoding performance and playback quality of our today’s testing participants on the following platform:

  • Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 CPU (3.16GHz, 6MB cache, 1333MHz PSB);
  • Gigabyte EG45M-DS2H mainboard (Intel G45 chipset);
  • OCZ Technology PC2-8500 memory (2x1GB, 1066MHz, 5-5-5-15, 2T);
  • Western Digital HDD (640GB, SATA-150, 16MB buffer);
  • Antec Fusion 430W chassis;
  • Samsung 244T monitor (24”, 1920x1200@60Hz max resolution);
  • LG GGC-H20L optical drive (Blu-ray, HD DVD, DVD);
  • ATI Catalyst 10.6 driver for ATI Radeon;
  • Nvidia ForceWare 197.45 driver for Nvidia GeForce;
  • CyberLink PowerDVD 9.3 Ultra;
  • Microsoft Windows 7 64-bit;
  • Microsoft Windows Performance Monitor.

The following graphics cards took part in our tests:

  • ATI Radeon HD 5750
  • ATI Radeon HD 5670
  • ATI Radeon HD 5570
  • ATI Radeon HD 5450
  • ATI Radeon HD 4850
  • ATI Radeon HD 4770
  • ATI Radeon HD 4670
  • Nvidia GeForce 9800 GT/GTS 240
  • Nvidia GeForce GT 240
  • Nvidia GeForce GT 220
  • Nvidia GeForce 210

We used the following tools to estimate the video playback quality in standard (SD) and high-definition (HD) resolutions:

  • IDT HQV Benchmark 2.0 DVD
  • IDT HQV Benchmark 2.0 Blu-ray

The driver settings remained the same. However, according to the HQV suite requirements, the noise suppression and detail levels for Nvidia GeForce and ATI Radeon HD graphics cards were set higher, but not to the maximums, in order to avoid artifacts in case of extremely high level of detail combined with aggressive noise suppression.

Since the owners of high-end sound systems will be extremely interested in the results of lossless threads playback, we also used DTS-HD Master Audio and/or Dolby Digital TrueHD (where available) audio tracks in order to increase the CPU load in all played movie fragments.

Keeping in mind that all tests are run under Windows 7 without disabling background services, the CPU utilization peaks shouldn’t be regarded as critical. It is much more important how much time it takes the CPU on average to complete the task. Note that the CPU utilization may vary. Therefore, 1-2% difference is not indicative of any advantage of a certain graphics accelerator over the competitor.

To estimate the CPU utilization during full-HD video playback (1920x1080) and full-HD video with enabled “picture-in-picture” (PiP) or Bonus View (according to Blu-ray disc Association classification) feature, we used the following movies:

  • Alien Vs. Predator: MPEG2 HD, chapter 18
  • Constantine: VC1, picture-in-picture, chapter 25
  • Dark Knight: VC1, chapter 1 (credits not included into the test sequence)
  • Death Race: MPEG4-AVC/H.264, picture-in-picture, chapter 14
  • The Day After Tomorrow: MPEG4-AVC/H264, chapter 14

We did not use free content for our tests.

 
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