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Benchmark Results: Video Playback

Updated: Tuning C'n'Q: Maximize Power And Performance, Part 2
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Now it’s time to see the power consumption of these processors when they’re doing very little work. These are the scenarios where most of us will spend a majority of our time. After all, not everyone runs benchmarks and games 24x7.

In these tests, we’re going to use the same H.264 video as before--Nine Inch Nails’ Beside You In Time (1080p trailer). Playback will also be executed through different codecs like DivX and WMV (not VC1). Why the extra tests? This should give us an idea of power consumption levels with and without hardware acceleration.

We’re also going to use not one, but several applications to view these videos. For H.264, we’re using Cyberlink’s PowerDVD and Media Player Classic--Homecinema. For DivX, we’re using Media Player Classic--Homecinema, and lastly, for WMV we’ll be using Microsoft’s Windows Media Player.

We can see how much hardware acceleration really helps reduce power consumption by letting the processor remain idle more often. Both PowerDVD and MPC-HC processor utilization are well below 20% (more precisely, 14%). WMV seems to be the most resource-intensive codec, hovering around the 75% mark, while DivX is slightly more frugal (55 to 75%).

Since this is video playback, performance is not the focus here. Suffice to say, all processors were able to play the test video smoothly at 30 fps, with and without power management.

Let’s see which processor consumes the least power when playing back video.

H.264--With Hardware Acceleration

First, let’s talk about PowerDVD. Even with default Cool'n'Quiet settings, the Athlon II X2 250 consumes the least amount of power. Average and total power consumption results are not that different, mostly because the load and time spent are the same. Having more cores translates to an additional 8 to 12 watts power consumption, even with lowered voltages. The difference is higher with default Cool'n'Quiet settings, and even more without power management. The situation is practically the same if you’re using Media Player Classic--Homecinema as your player of choice.

Even if you don’t tweak the voltages, our results are evidence enough of just how much these processors can save power when performing less strenuous tasks. Tweaking voltages extends the savings you’ll realize with power management features enabled.

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