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Nvidia GeForce GTS 450: Multimedia Functionality

At the press conference concerning the GeForce GTS 450 Nvidia told us that the new card would be as good as the GeForce GTX 460 in terms of video playback. Thus, it offers full multimedia functionality at a low price. Let’s see if this is indeed true.

Like its predecessor, the GF106 chip supports Protected Audio Path and can bit-stream Dolby Digital TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio for decoding on an external receiver. Of course, it can also transfer ordinary 7.1 audio formats (192 kHz/ 24 bits per sample) with a bit rate up to 6.144 Mbps over HDMI 1.4. These are AC3, DTS, Dolby Digital, DTS HD, LPCM (Linear Pulse Code Modulation), etc. Besides, it supports stereo-3D Blu-ray movies if you can find them. CyberLink and Nvidia have implemented full audio-over-HDMI support for users to enjoy this feature out of the box without resorting to third-party software.

The GF106 inherited its graphics engine from the GeForce GTX 460. The single difference is in the drivers and the GPU clock rate. Thus, the GF106 has a dual full-HD video decoder that supports MPEG4-MVC and allows watching Blu-ray 3D and other 3D-stereo content by means of a TV-set or monitor with a refresh rate of 120 Hz and a pair of special glasses. Like the rest of modern GPUs, the GF106 provides hardware acceleration for decoding of MPEG2, MPEG4, MPEG4-AVC/H.264, VC-1, WMV-HD, Adobe Flash 10.1 and other formats.

Considering the new card's power consumption of 95 watts, we hope there will also be GF106-based cards with passive cooling. They would make a perfect choice for a quiet HTPC capable of running modern 3D games as well as GPGPU applications.

Video Playback Benchmarking Testbed and Methods

We are going to investigate the decoding performance and playback quality of Nvidia GeForce GTS 450 and other 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 10.6/10.9 driver for ATI Radeon;
  • Nvidia ForceWare 197.45/258.96/260.63 for Nvidia GeForce
  • CyberLink PowerDVD 10
  • CyberLink PowerDVD 10 for GeForce GTX 460
  • Microsoft Windows Performance Monitor
  • Microsoft Windows 7 64-bit

The following graphics cards and integrated graphics processors took part in our tests:

  • Nvidia GeForce GTS 450
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 460
  • Nvidia GeForce 9800 GT/GTS 240
  • Nvidia GeForce GT 240
  • Nvidia GeForce GT 220
  • ATI Radeon HD 5750
  • ATI Radeon HD 5670
  • ATI Radeon HD 5570
  • ATI Radeon HD 4850
  • ATI Radeon HD 4770

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

  • IDT/Silicon Optix HQV 2.0 DVD
  • IDT/Silicon Optix HQV2.0 Blu-ray

The driver settings remained the same. However, according to the HQV suite requirements, the noise suppression and detail levels in the drivers were increased to medium (50%-60%), which, however, didn’t affect the results in multi-cadence tests.

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

Keeping in mind that all tests are run under Windows 7 OS 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 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 didn’t use any free content for this test session.

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