HD Video Playback
It has become common that miniature mainboards are primarily used for HTPC systems these days. Therefore, HD video playback becomes a typical type of load falling on Mini-ITX platforms. In fact, contemporary processors are powerful enough to playback any HD content. Nevertheless, the developers of integrated chipsets add hardware video decoding support into their graphics cores taking most of the playback load off the CPU. The major advantages of this approach are the lowering power consumption as well as the possibility of lowering the system cost by using “simpler” CPUs.
Both mainboards discussed today are based on chipsets supporting hardware HD video decoding. Nvidia GeForce 9300 features PureVideo HD engine, while Intel G45 Express – Clear Video Technology engine. Although these technologies have different names, they have absolutely identical functionality providing full hardware video decoding for MPEG-2, VC-1 and H.264 (AVC) formats currently used for HD video content. Therefore, Zotac GeForce 9300-ITX WiFi as well as Intel DG45FC suit quite well for computer media centers.
When we studied the integrated GPU performance during video playback, we measured CPU utilization during H.264, VC-1 and MPEG-2 movie playback in 1080p. We used Cyberlink PowerDVD 8.0 player, however, you can obtain the same results with any other video player of your choice that supports DXVA (DirectX Video Acceleration). The results are summed up in the following table:
The numbers differ very slightly that is why it is impossible to determine your preferences in favor of this or that platform basing only on these results. Both tested mainboards working as part of an HTPC ensure low CPU utilization and acceptable image quality in this application.