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Benchmark Results: Video Playback

Updated: Tuning C'n'Q: Maximize Power And Performance, Part 2
By

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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Top Comments
  • 10 Hide
    nzprogamer , November 19, 2009 5:33 AM
    GO AMD go
    i am telling you my next build AMD/ATI
    """I WILL BE BACK"""
Other Comments
  • 10 Hide
    nzprogamer , November 19, 2009 5:33 AM
    GO AMD go
    i am telling you my next build AMD/ATI
    """I WILL BE BACK"""
  • 5 Hide
    jedimasterben , November 19, 2009 11:29 AM
    I'd be interested to see the tests performed on Windows 7 to see what the effect of reducing thread "jumping" would be.
  • -9 Hide
    cnox , November 19, 2009 11:54 AM
    Dammit...how can this part 2 article be posted before the Building the Balanced PC Part 2?

    Cumon....
  • 4 Hide
    melangex3 , November 19, 2009 12:55 PM
    Great Stuff. Keep up the good work. This is the type of review that will keep me coming back. How about throwing in the ever popular 720 BE and the new 620 or 630 just for giggles?
  • 0 Hide
    Ryun , November 19, 2009 1:45 PM
    jedimasterbenI'd be interested to see the tests performed on Windows 7 to see what the effect of reducing thread "jumping" would be.


    I was thinking the same thing as well.

    Also, were the BIOSs all updated? The asynchronous clocks problem you're experiencing with Athlon II X2 was supposed to be fixed with updated CPU microcode.
  • 1 Hide
    Summer Leigh Castle , November 19, 2009 2:58 PM
    620 and 720? :D 
  • 0 Hide
    redgarl , November 19, 2009 5:27 PM
    I must admit that lately AMD is impressive. I got a PII X3 720 BE unleashed at PII X4 20 fully stable with an Asus M4A78T-E latest BIOS. Let simply add that my 2 radeon 4850 OC in Crossfire are running as fast as 2 stock 4870...

    If you take into account that the 2 cards only cost 82$ each for a total of 165$ for the two... I can hardly believe that so little money can give so much results.
  • 2 Hide
    JimmiG , November 19, 2009 6:55 PM
    With my Phenom X4 9650, I found Cool n Quiet to be pretty much worthless without tweaks. There were huge performance drops across the board, especially with tasks that didn't use all four cores, or only loaded cores partially. Videos and games would stutter and skip every couple of frames, compressing files would take longer etc. I basically had a 1.1 GHz CPU that would sometimes run at 2.3 GHz, if it felt like it. Too bad there was no tweak guide available then. I just disabled CnQ which solved all problems but made the system use more power and run hotter.

    With my 955BE, I haven't really had a need to tweak CnQ. It might cause a slight performance hit in some rare cases, but generally when I need a 3.2 GHz CPU, that's what it delivers.
  • 0 Hide
    tacoslave , November 19, 2009 8:46 PM
    Nice, amd owns in the graphics department now with that $1.2 billion im sure amd is heading to pwn BOTH markets.
  • 0 Hide
    saint19 , November 21, 2009 2:48 PM
    Good!!!, I have my 955 to 3.8GHz at 1.5V....
  • -2 Hide
    marraco , November 21, 2009 11:09 PM
    Quote:
    For this test, we've selected a 616MB folder full of files (the installer for Adobe Photoshop CS4)

    Bad choice. You are "compressing" already compressed files.
    A better choice would be to copy 600 MB from windows "program files" folder, and play with it.
  • 0 Hide
    eyemaster , November 30, 2009 6:20 PM
    marracoBad choice. You are "compressing" already compressed files.A better choice would be to copy 600 MB from windows "program files" folder, and play with it.


    Bad choice if you're trying to compress file, but not a bad choice if you're just trying to stress a CPU. It will still have to do a whole lot of calculations regardless of the files.
  • 2 Hide
    b23h , December 3, 2009 4:20 AM
    Thank you very much for this article. It came at the perfect time for me. I’ve just upgraded from a 65 watt AMD Athlon 64 X2 4600 to the AMD Phemon II X3 720. Since I’m running a fanless CPU heatsink (ZEROtherm BTF95) I was concerned that the 95 watts of power of the 720 would be too much for the BTF95. I was planning on underclocking the CPU in order to approximate what I thought the heatsink could handle. However with the help of the article I don’t need to underclock it at all. Using the chart of the 710 I estimated some beginning settings for the 720. While I may be able to further lower the voltages I’ve stressed test my current settings by running a program called the Intel Burn Test plus an immoderate amount of Borderlands.

    The 720 seems to have four p-states. The defaults were 1.25/1.15/1.05/.95 I am currently running the CPU at 1.15/1.125/1.0250/.9 I really haven’t thoroughly stress tested all the possibilities so I expect I may still be able to optimize further P-states one through three.

    The timing of this article was excellent for me and I appreciate all the information I’ve gotten at Tom’s Hardware Guide all these years.
  • 0 Hide
    volks1470 , March 25, 2010 6:30 AM
    Typo! Phenom II X3-X4 720-965 only have 6MB of L3 cache, not 8MB. Not a big deal but for a second there I though the 955 had more L3 cache than my 965.
  • 0 Hide
    4ILY45 , March 25, 2010 7:48 AM
    melangex3Great Stuff. Keep up the good work. This is the type of review that will keep me coming back. How about throwing in the ever popular 720 BE and the new 620 or 630 just for giggles?


    YES PLEASE!!!! :) 
  • 1 Hide
    shreeharsha , March 25, 2010 8:29 AM
    I still need to sell my intel Pentium 660 system to build a AMD system. I am a AMD fan (converted) stuck with intel processor system.
  • 0 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , March 25, 2010 11:45 AM
    Thanks for a very informative article that helps put things in perspective.
  • -1 Hide
    chaitanya_mkin , March 25, 2010 6:18 PM
    Im Telling u AMD wll be the king in HISTORY theres no other name than AMD.
    Quote:
    AMD the BEST
  • -1 Hide
    chaitanya_mkin , March 25, 2010 6:21 PM
    And this comparision is great for amd users, ofcourse for me tooooo cause im using AMD since 6 years.(my brain is AMD ATHLON X2 6000+ WINDSOR 3.02GHz)
  • 0 Hide
    arnawa_widagda , March 25, 2010 11:27 PM
    Hello,

    We've updated this article (and the first part) with results from an AM3 motherboard and an Athlon II X4 620. The p-state settings we tested with the Athlon II X4 620 can be found in the first part (along with some power consumption numbers).
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