Articles: Graphics

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Entry-Level Graphics Cards

There’s no difference when it comes to DVDs: the GeForce 7300 GS and Radeon X1300 Pro do their job just as well as any other modern graphics card from AMD and Nvidia does. It’s somewhat less good with MPEG-2 1080i, but the peak CPU load isn’t higher than 30%, the average being 8-10%. It means these graphics cards are sufficiently fast to perform most of the work associated with decoding and playing back this format.

The Radeon X1300 Pro seems to suffer a big performance hit when it starts playing DivX SD, yet this results in a peak CPU load of only 13%. The average CPU load remains on the same level as with the more advanced solutions from AMD. The GeForce 7300 GS is about as successful as the Radeon X1300 Pro in this test.

When the DivX HD 1080p clip is being played on the GeForce 7300 GS, the peak CPU load reaches 50%. It would probably reach 100% and there would be dropped frames if we had a single-core CPU. The Radeon X1300 Pro has a more acceptable result – a peak CPU load of 43%.

It is when the 1920x1080 clip is being played that we see the CPU load exceed 50% for the first time. There is some driver-related problem with the Radeon X1000 series: the Radeon X1300 Pro has a higher CPU load than the S3 Chrome S27 which does not incorporate a hardware H.264 decoder. The GeForce 7300 GS, on the contrary, performs well and is no worse than any other model from the GeForce 7 series.

The Radeon X1300 Pro shows the same behavior when processing the VC-1 video clip, although the peak load is lower here than with the H.264 1080p content. The Nvidia GeForce 7300 GS is less confident here than in the previous test.

WMV HD uses a less resource-consuming profile than VC-1 and can be played successfully on the Radeon X1300 Pro, although the CPU load is much higher in the 1080p resolution than with more advanced Radeons.

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