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CPU Utilization during Blu-ray Playback

Now let’s see how good the entry-level Radeon 6000 series cards are at offloading the CPU when processing HD video.

The new cards do not differ much from the previous generation when playing Dark Knight and Constantine. The CPU load is very low overall, so you can hardly feel the difference between the Radeon HD 6450 and the leader of this test, GeForce GTX 560 Ti, for example.

When playing our MPEG4-AVC movies, the entry-level Radeon HD 6000 series cards differ no more than by 10% in terms of the CPU load. So you can enjoy such movies with any of the cards.

Thanks to optimized MPEG2/MPEG2 HD hardware decoding support, the Turks and Caicos GPUs are better than the rest of the Radeons as well as the GeForce series products when processing such videos.

Summary

Just like the entry-level products of the previous generation, AMD’s Radeon HD 6450, 6570 and 6670 are an excellent choice for an HTPC thanks to their rich multimedia functionality, modest power consumption and compact design.

These Caicos- and Turks-based cards offer hardware video decoding support for DivX/XviD, MPEG2-HD, MPEG4-AVC, MPEG4-MVC, WMV-HD, VC-1, Adobe Flash 10.1 and other formats. Besides, the new GPUs feature advanced post-processors for SD and HD video and can bitstream all popular audio formats via HDMI 1.4a.

According to the HQV 2.0 tests, the new AMD cards are somewhat better than Nvidia’s solutions in terms of Blu-ray playback but the latter are superior in terms of DVD upscaling. Well, today’s GPUs are overall very good at video playback, except for but a few exceptions. We can also note that, unlike in the previous Evergreen generation where the junior Cedar chip had a cut-down version of the Avivo/UVD processor, the Caicos has the same video processing capabilities as its senior cousin.

As for AMD's stereoscopic imaging technology called HD3D, it can be used to output Blu-ray 3D movies to a wide range of TV-sets and projectors without purchasing extra software (except for a Blu-ray 3D player like CyberLink PowerDVD Deluxe). When it comes to the competing 3D Vision technology, you need to buy a special driver/middleware from Nvidia.

Unfortunately, the more advanced Turks and the weaker Caicos both consume more power than their predecessors. This downside is not serious in itself but its consequence in the way of higher heat dissipation may lead to a higher level of noise from the cooling fan. And if the graphics card maker installs a larger cooler, the graphics card is likely to cost you more.

 
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