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Video Playback

Video Playback Benchmarking Testbed and Methods

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);
  • Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit;
  • ATI Catalyst 9.4/ATI Catalyst beta 4.17.2009 for ATI Radeon;
  • Nvidia ForceWare 181.22 for Nvidia GeForce;
  • CyberLink PowerDVD 7.3;
  • Microsoft Windows Vista Performance Monitor.

The following graphics cards took part in our tests:

  • ATI Radeon HD 4770
  • ATI Radeon HD 4850
  • ATI Radeon HD 4670
  • Nvidia GeForce 9800 GT
  • Nvidia GeForce 9600 GT

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

  • Silicon Optix HQV Benchmark
  • Silicon Optix HQV HD Benchmark

The driver settings remained the same. However, according to the HQV HD suite requirements, the noise suppression and detail levels for Nvidia GeForce graphics cards were set to the maximums.

Keeping in mind that all tests are run under Windows Vista 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 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) feature, we used the following movies:

  • Beowulf (Director’s Cut): MPEG4-AVC/H.264, picture-in-picture, chapter 14
  • The Day After Tomorrow: MPEG4-AVC/H264, chapter 14
  • The Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift: VC1, picture-in-picture, chapter 2
  • Troy (Director’s Cut): VC1, chapter 23
  • Alien Vs. Predator: MPEG2 HD, chapter 18

We decided to give up tests with free online media content, because of an ongoing discussion as to whether this sort of performance analysis is justified and credible. As an excuse we can also say that a pretty popular Matroska (.mkv) container is currently not supported by existing commercial software.

 
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