Blu-ray Done Right: How Does Your Integrated GPU Stack Up?

Power-Usage Benchmarks

Now for a good look at the power-usage numbers:


While the Intel G45 and Nvidia 9300 are showing similar results on the LGA 775 platform, the AMD power usage is showing quite a bit more variance.

Of course, the Phenom II X2 550 runs at a much higher clock speed than the Core 2 Duo E7200, so we expect a higher power draw from the AMD platforms. But what's interesting is that the 785G and 790GX boards are using so much more juice than the GeForce 8200.

Between the older 790GX and newer 785G boards, there is a power drop, which is likely because the newer 785G has a 200 MHz-lower IGP clock speed than the 790GX. In addition, AMD claims to offer better power management in the new 785G.

We do admit that the Phenom II X2 550 might be a tad overkill for a dedicated HTPC that is only going to see HD playback tasks, and we wanted to show that AMD isn't a bad alternative for power-conscious customers if fitted with a miserly CPU. The top result on the chart is from an Athlon II 250, and while it might sip a little more power than the E7200-equipped platforms, it's definitely in the same league. The Athlon II even has some respectable specs with its 3 GHz clock rate, so it's not going to fall on its face.

To put this power usage into perspective, I went over something similar in our recent 785G review, but if you missed it you might find it interesting.

I'm all for environmentally friendliness, but all too often I think the bottom-line cost for an end-user is overlooked. So let's examine the power savings of the E7200 compared to the Phenom II X2 550.

At idle, the Phenom II X2 is drawing the highest H.264 playback power draw: 110W on the 790GX motherboard. In contrast, the E7200 is drawing a low 78W on the most efficient platform, Nvidia's GeForce 9300. It looks big on the chart, but it's a difference of 32W.

In the most populated coastal cities of the United States, electricity costs are the highest in the country at about 15 cents per kilowatt/hour. With this information, we can calculate the cost to use the Phenom II X2 550 compared to the Core 2 Duo E7200.

Let's compare the worst-case scenario (a PC with a Phenom II X2 550 and a 790GX motherboard), to the best-case scenario (a machine with a Core 2 Duo E7200 paired with an Nvidia GeForce 9300 motherboard). If you turned on your HTPC and watched a two-hour Blu-ray disc every day with the Phenom II X2 550/790GX-equipped PC, and then turned your HTPC off when you were done, you would be billed $1.64 more compared to the E7200/G45 in electricity costs for the entire calendar year.

For the home user, that shouldn't be as much of a concern. I'd recommend the faster processor so that the strength is there when you need it. As for environmental concerns, Mother Earth is far better served by turning the PC off when you're not using it, as leaving it on when it isn't being used is much more wasteful.

There are two lessons to be learned here: 1) if you really care about the environment, turn your PC off (or at least configure it to enter sleep mode) when you're not using it, and 2) don't be afraid of purchasing a better processor for an HTPC based on the fear that it will cost you big money in power use.

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    Top Comments
  • HalfHuman
    i don't get it why a home theater would use a 1200w power source. at the same time i don't get why would someone evaluate the power efficency using this kind of power sorce. if you ask me i'd make this crazy ass power supplies illegal. a normal hometheater should not use more than 50w at idle and 100-150w at load. seems that this is what these actually consume. factor in the less than 5% load on the power supply and you get a masterfull 50-60% power efficency. i'd love to see some proper power supply test.
    14
  • HalfHuman
    http://www.pcper.com/article.php?aid=417&type=expert&pid=6
    the 1200w power supply is green as in blue-green mould green.
    this is in fact an excellent power supply... if you use it. at 100watts load it has a "cool" 76% efficency. if the intel pc uses less than 82watts in load and 66watts in idle you can only imagine the efficency a power supply has at below 5% load. the site suggest around 65% so instead of having a proper power supply using 40watts or less when idle, you get this "green" efficient hummer who swollows 66w. i really like you articles guys but this kind of testing is not the way to go.
    11
  • Other Comments
  • Proximon
    Great article. I think maybe the 4650 is a bit overkill, but that's just nitpicking.

    As long as you are talking about HTPC builds though, you might want to mention temps... aren't the 9300/9400 boards very hot?
    2
  • epsiloneri
    Power draw is not interesting because of the electricity bill, it is the generated heat needed to be dissipated with the associated noise levels due to cooling that is critical for an HTPC.
    0
  • HalfHuman
    i don't get it why a home theater would use a 1200w power source. at the same time i don't get why would someone evaluate the power efficency using this kind of power sorce. if you ask me i'd make this crazy ass power supplies illegal. a normal hometheater should not use more than 50w at idle and 100-150w at load. seems that this is what these actually consume. factor in the less than 5% load on the power supply and you get a masterfull 50-60% power efficency. i'd love to see some proper power supply test.
    14
  • falchard
    BUT CAN IT PLAY CRYSIS!
    -22
  • falchard
    BTW, I would like to see a "Can it play Crysis" article in the future that runs down every video card and IGP, then determines if it can possibly play Crysis and at what settings.
    -14
  • HalfHuman
    http://www.pcper.com/article.php?aid=417&type=expert&pid=6
    the 1200w power supply is green as in blue-green mould green.
    this is in fact an excellent power supply... if you use it. at 100watts load it has a "cool" 76% efficency. if the intel pc uses less than 82watts in load and 66watts in idle you can only imagine the efficency a power supply has at below 5% load. the site suggest around 65% so instead of having a proper power supply using 40watts or less when idle, you get this "green" efficient hummer who swollows 66w. i really like you articles guys but this kind of testing is not the way to go.
    11
  • Anonymous
    Efficiency isn't even tested below 20% load i believe But it should still be around 70-80% it is a Thermaltake Toughpower 1200w and all of them(3 listed on their site) are standard 80% eff rated or bronze. Ture a more modest Delta,Seasonic 250w or 300w would be much more appropriate for a htpc.
    1
  • HalfHuman
    20% for this would be 240watts and efficency would still be reasonable.
    i posted some link but i see it's been removed. that review said something about 65% minimum.
    -4
  • drew_a
    Uh, guys... you might want to edit this article...
    "For the last CPU utilization test, we will check the capability of these graphic chipsets to accelerate picture-in-picture (PIP) video streams. To do this, we will use the Blu-ray dick Sunshine, which utilizes the H.264 codec and features PIP commentary during playback."

    on page 6
    2
  • icepick314
    "If you are an audiophile, you should know that out of these remaining options, only the GeForce 9300/9400 can handle uncompressed eight-channel LPCM audio over HDMI 1.3."

    i did NOT know this...

    i thought only way to listen to uncompressed audio on blu-ray was using Asus Xonar HDAV 1.3 audio card to bitstream to your receiver...

    it's nice to know that IGP has enough power to handle 1080p while streaming HD audio codec....
    1
  • raptor550
    "To do this, we will use the Blu-ray dick Sunshine"
    I hate Blu-Ray dicks!

    Otherwise nice article. How about throwing in a GTX260 or other high powered card just for shits and giggles?
    0
  • videoxprt
    I've tried the HD version of HQV a few weeks ago on my G45 based HTPC (Asus P5Q-EM), with slightly different results.
    The Film Resolution Loss test actually works, almost perfectly. There is just a minor glitch at the beginning of each scene, that you can see only if you know what to look for.
    In fact, if the "Film Mode Detection" control is toggled in the middle of playback, I can see a significant improvement in image quality at runtime.
    I would actually give 90 points to G45, for the simply reason that the denoise is not as good as the GeForce - but still one of the best HTPCs in the market.
    0
  • Anonymous
    I find this review to be problematic on several fronts.

    First of all, there is way too much emphasis given to de-interlacing tests. This is mostly an issue with standard-definition DVDs and with some HDTV channels. The VAST majority of Blu-Ray content is stored in 24p format (23.976 frames per second, progressive). It does not need to be de-interlaced at all because it originated on film. This is even true of many newer TV shows, which are often shot on film, not video.

    Rather than wasting time with obsolete de-interlacing tests, you should have tested stutter-free 24p playback with compatible TV sets. Most new LCD flat panels that run at a 120Hz refresh rate are capable of supporting smooth 24p playback with 5:5 pulldown. However, not all chipsets can send this out properly. There have been reports of problems with the Intel G45 and some other chipsets - stuttering on 24p playback has been an issue in the past. I would be interested to know if this has been fixed. Also, you should have tested whether the HDMI repeater function (needed for hooking up through an A/V receiver) works properly with all chipsets.
    2
  • burnley14
    I'd love to see an update in this after the release of the integrated GPUs on the upcoming Clarkdale chips.
    0
  • philosofool
    I'm not really sure why anyone would even both spending money to build an HTPC and not spend the $40 for a Radeon 4350 or a 9400GT. They're passively cooled solutions that will easily outperform anything reviewed here today. It could even save you money because it would allow you to get a less expensive motherboard. Anyway, if you are serious about building an HTPC, it seems to me that one of these cards is just a no brainer. Why would you even risk blu ray stutter or graininess in your home theater?

    Anyway, I would really like to see a review of the 9400gt and hd 4350 as far as their effectiveness in video play back.
    0
  • Anonymous
    I did not see any mention of what software was used to playback the blu-ray disks. I would like to see an article comparing various software options against a couple dedicated Blu-ray players.
    0
  • Anonymous
    It would be nice next to the graphics card roundup, to see some articles about integrated graphics!

    Most people buy a mobo or laptop with integrated graphics card, and don't even bother to see how their performance could differ between AMD, intel, or an NVidia graphics powered mobo.

    I think it could really help the people who want to buy a new computer,eg: for work purposes, but would like to casually game on it, without suffering too horrible resolutions or lagging framerates.
    Ofcourse everyone serious about gaming would buy an additional graphics card to play their crysis, and I don't expect IGP's to run that game.
    But perhaps they are good for games like Tycoon, Formula 1, some basic 3rd and 1st person shooter games, etc...
    0
  • cangelini
    icepick314"If you are an audiophile, you should know that out of these remaining options, only the GeForce 9300/9400 can handle uncompressed eight-channel LPCM audio over HDMI 1.3."i did NOT know this...i thought only way to listen to uncompressed audio on blu-ray was using Asus Xonar HDAV 1.3 audio card to bitstream to your receiver...it's nice to know that IGP has enough power to handle 1080p while streaming HD audio codec....


    Actually, the ASUS card is used to bitstream those high-def audio codecs to your receiver, where they can be decoded (giving you 24-bit 192kHz, if the content offers it). If you're happy decoding the audio locally on the HTPC and sending the uncompressed LPCM (16-bit 48kHz) to your receiver, Nvidia's GeFOrce 9300 will do the trick!
    Regards,
    Chris
    -1
  • cleeve
    HalfHumani don't get it why a home theater would use a 1200w power source.


    It wouldn't... It's a testbed. I don't think there's any recommendation for a 1200w PSU in the article.
    2
  • Major7up
    I still prefer the discrete card solution, I just feel better about my systems with em.
    0