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HD Video Playback

The Turks GPU seems to be an advanced video playback solution that may be optimal for HTPCs. Let's check this out by evaluating the new cards’ playback quality in the HQV tests.

Testbed Configuration and Methodology

We are going to investigate the playback quality and performance of AMD Radeon HD 6670, HD 6570 and HD 6450 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);
  • AMD Catalyst 11.6 driver for AMD Radeon;
  • Nvidia ForceWare 275.33 driver for Nvidia GeForce;
  • CyberLink PowerDVD 10;
  • Microsoft Windows 7 64-bit;
  • Microsoft Windows Performance Monitor.

The following graphics cards took part in our tests:

  • AMD Radeon HD 6850
  • AMD Radeon HD 6670
  • AMD Radeon HD 6570
  • AMD Radeon HD 6450
  • ATI Radeon HD 5750
  • ATI Radeon HD 5670
  • ATI Radeon HD 5570
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 560 Ti
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 550 Ti
  • Nvidia GeForce GT 240
  • Nvidia GeForce GT 220

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

  • IDT/Silicon Optrix HQV Benchmark 2.0 DVD
  • IDT/Silicon Optrix 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 AMD Radeon HD graphics cards were set at the medium level (50-60%), which didn’t affect the multi-cadence tests results.

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.

Video Playback Quality

The HQV 2.0 tests help evaluate the performance of a number of video processing operations by a GPU. This benchmark is very detailed and focuses on comparing Blu-ray/DVD players based on specialized video processors, so GPUs do not always get high scores in it.

HQV 2.0 DVD

Since every modern TV-set and monitor supports HD resolutions of 720p or 1080p, the quality of DVD playback at the native DVD resolution is hardly interesting. It is more important that the video processor can effectively do such things as upscaling, motion correction, noise reduction, etc. Video clips in the HQV 2.0 DVD test reveal how good our GPUs are at each of these operations.

The numbers suggest that the AMD Radeon HD 6670, HD 6570 and HD 6450 provide a high, yet not ideal, quality of DVD playback on a full-HD display.

This result might have been expected since the Turks and Caicos GPUs use the UVD 3.0 video-processor borrowed from the Barts/Cayman GPUs.

HQV 2.0 Blu-Ray

This test is similar to HQV 2.0 DVD but covers higher resolutions.

The Radeon HD 5000/6800 series cards are better than their Nvidia-based counterparts and most of their failures (the tests where they score 0 points) refer to noncommercial content. Users who watch HD movies directly from Blu-ray discs rather than try to upscale iTunes videos will be satisfied with the image quality delivered by the Radeon HD 6000 series. Unfortunately, the new Radeons are inferior to the Radeon HD 5600/5700 series here due to insufficient driver optimizations.

By the way, when discussing the HQV results you should keep it mind that the scoring system is subjective and a small difference in scores shouldn’t be viewed as critical.

 
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