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Quirks, Frustrations, And Compliance Woes

Part 4: Avivo HD vs. PureVideo HD
By

One quirk on the Gigabyte 780G board is that during testing HCDP compliance didn’t seem to work over the DVI connection. Reader comments suggested that this is an isolated problem with our test configuration so we’re asking Gigabyte for clarification.

Thankfully, when HDCP compliance is having a problem, there are a few options. One option would be to shell out another $115 to Slysoft for its excellent AnyDVD HD app that is able to decrypt HDCP playback in software, so you don’t need an HDCP-compliant monitor or graphics card. This is a pretty hefty expense for folks who have a great high-resolution monitor with no HDMI connection (like myself) and it could have been avoided by simply making the DVI output on the motherboard HDCP-compliant.

Of course, there are much cheaper options. The issue can also be avoided by purchasing a cheap discrete card with DVI and HDMI output like the 2400 PRO.

The cheapest alternative is to use an HDMI cable with an HDMI-to-DVI converter on one end. We tried the DVI-to-HDMI converter bundled with a separate Radeon HD 4870 card, but we weren’t sure this would work. Its purpose is to convert the DVI output from the Radeon card into an HDMI cable format—the exact opposite of what we were doing. Luckily, using the HDMI output of the motherboard and attaching the DVI-to-HDMI converter directly to the monitor seemed to do the trick. HDCP compliance was achieved and the system had no trouble playing back protected Blu-ray disks.

The ECS GF8200A board avoids the issue by offering only an HDMI connection with an analog output instead. Of course, the analog output doesn’t support HDCP, and wouldn’t let us go higher than 1650x1080 for Blu-ray playback. Of course, using an HDMI-to-DVI converter is an option, as it is with the Gigabyte board.

Now, I can understand the argument that these boards are targeted at home-theater PC users who are much more likely to have an HDMI connection, but it still doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me that those with HDCP-capable DVI monitors are left looking for workarounds. What about students relying on their PCs for entertainment ?

Apart from this, everything went fairly smoothly with Blu-ray playback, but there were a few other issues. First of all, the most recent WHQL-compliant Nvidia 175.19 driver proved MUCH slower than the newest 177.92 beta drivers in our testing. People who assume WHQL is the way to go will experience much choppier Blu-ray playback than intrepid folks who install the beta software.

Also, a CrossFire test using the Catalyst 8.7 drivers seemed to muck up HD playback capabilities until the newer Catalyst 8.8 drivers were installed. Using the 780G platform, we did experience some rare quirks where PowerDVD would sometimes refuse to play back a disk. After running the Cyberlink Blu-ray compliance tester, which would show everything was okay, playback would work fine.

ECS GF8200A Motherboard And Stuttering Video

We encountered an irritating, but very easy-to-fix issue with our ECS GF8200A motherboard. It seems that in some cases, the board will default to a 200 MHZ HyperTransport speed. This low speed won’t really demonstrate itself in regular system operation and the machine will seem to work fine until any graphics power is required, such as a game or Blu-ray playback. If HyperTransport is left at 200 MHz, game and HD video will stutter like it’s running on a 15-year-old computer.

Happily, the only fix required is to go into the BIOS during start-up and set the HyperTransport speed to “Auto” instead of “200.” After that, the machine will run smooth as silk. It’s nice that the fix was this simple, but it was a real pain trying to diagnose the issue.

Display all 58 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    abzillah , September 29, 2008 7:31 AM
    Don't the 780G chips have hybrid technology? It would have been great to see what kind of performance difference it would make to add a discrete card with a 780G chip. Motherboards with integrated graphics cost about the same as those without integrated graphics, and so I would choose an integrated graphics + a discrete graphic card for hybrid performance.
  • 0 Hide
    liemfukliang , September 29, 2008 9:02 AM
    Wao, you should update this article part 5 in tuesday when NDA 9300 lift out. 9300 vs 790GX. Does this NVidia VGA also defect?
  • 3 Hide
    TheGreatGrapeApe , September 29, 2008 9:21 AM
    Nice job Don !
    Interesting seeing the theoretical HQV difference being a realistic nil due to playability (does image enhancement of a skipping image matter?)

    I'll be linking to this one again.

    Next round HD4K vs GTX vs GF9 integrated, complete with dual view decoding. >B~)
  • 0 Hide
    kingraven , September 29, 2008 9:57 AM
    Great article, specially liked the decrypted video benchmarks as I was indeed expecting a much higher difference.

    Also was expecting that the single core handled it better as I use a old laptop with pentium M 1500mhz & ATI 9600 as a HTPC and it plays nearly all HD media I trow at it smoothly (Including 1080P) trough ffdshow. Notice the files are usually Matroska or AVI and the codecs vary but usually are H264.

    I admit since its an old PC without blueray or HD-DVD I have no idea how the "real deal" would perform, probably as bad or worse as the article says :p 
  • 0 Hide
    modtech , September 29, 2008 10:39 AM
    A refreshingly informative article. Well done.
  • -6 Hide
    Anonymous , September 29, 2008 10:51 AM
    I have a gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H m/b (780G)
    I just bought a Samsung LE46A656 TV and I have the following problem:

    When I connect the TV with standard VGA (D-SUB) cable,
    I can use Full HD (1920 X 1080) correctly.

    If I use the HDMI or DVI (with DVI-> HDMI adaptor) I can not use 1920 X 1080 correctly.
    The screen has black borders on all sides (about 3cm) and the picture is weird, like the monitor was not driven in its native resolution, but the 1920 X 1080 signal was compressed to the resolution that was visible on my TV.

    I also tried my old laptop (also ATI, x700) and had the same problem.
    I thought that my TV was defective but then I tried an old NVIDIA card I had and everything worked perfect!!!
    Full 1920 X 1080 with my HDMI input (with DVI-> HDMI adaptor).

    I don't know if this is a ATI driver problem or a general ATI hardware limitation,
    but I WILL NEVER BUY ATI AGAIN.
    They claim HDMI with full HD support. Well they are lying!
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , September 29, 2008 11:24 AM
    That's funny, bit-tech had some rather different numbers for HQV tests for the 780g board.

    http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/2008/03/04/amd_780g_integrated_graphics_chipset/10

    What's going on here? I assume bit-tech tweaked player settings to improve results, and you guys left everything at default?
  • 0 Hide
    puet , September 29, 2008 11:39 AM
    What about the image enhacements in the HQV test posible with a 780G and a Phenom procesor?, would this mix stand up in front of the discrete solution chosen?.
    This one could be an interesting part V in the articles series.
  • 8 Hide
    genored , September 29, 2008 12:12 PM
    azraelI have a gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H m/b (780G)I just bought a Samsung LE46A656 TV and I have the following problem:When I connect the TV with standard VGA (D-SUB) cable, I can use Full HD (1920 X 1080) correctly.If I use the HDMI or DVI (with DVI-> HDMI adaptor) I can not use 1920 X 1080 correctly. The screen has black borders on all sides (about 3cm) and the picture is weird, like the monitor was not driven in its native resolution, but the 1920 X 1080 signal was compressed to the resolution that was visible on my TV.I also tried my old laptop (also ATI, x700) and had the same problem.I thought that my TV was defective but then I tried an old NVIDIA card I had and everything worked perfect!!!Full 1920 X 1080 with my HDMI input (with DVI-> HDMI adaptor).I don't know if this is a ATI driver problem or a general ATI hardware limitation, but I WILL NEVER BUY ATI AGAIN.They claim HDMI with full HD support. Well they are lying!


    LEARN TO DOWNLOAD DRIVERS
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , September 29, 2008 1:45 PM
    Guys...I own this Gigabyte board. HDCP works over DVI because that's what I use at home. Albeit I go from DVI from the motherboard to HDMI on the TV (don't ask why, it's just the cable I had). I don't have ANYDVD so, I know that it works.

    As for the guy having issues with HDMI with the ATI 3200 onboard, dude, there were some problems with the initial BIOS. Update them, update your drivers and you won't have a problem. My brother has the same board too and he uses HDMI and it works just fine. Noob...
  • 0 Hide
    pogsnet , September 29, 2008 2:18 PM
    Yes I own GeForce 8300 IGP... I can confirm it does frame skips in just normal high quality DVD, i hate it... watching some stops... I test using ATI HD2600 external, wow it moves flawlessly and more vibrant, I regret my mobo, I should have bought ATI
  • 0 Hide
    Joe_The_Dragon , September 29, 2008 2:21 PM
    Why did not test the 780g and 790gx boards with side port ram?
  • 0 Hide
    cleeve , September 29, 2008 2:32 PM
    remixmeThat's funny, bit-tech had some rather different numbers for HQV tests for the 780g board.http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/2 [...]


    HQV is, unfortunately, somewhat subjective - but I don't know how they could have gotten these scores. Ati told me directly that their low-end cards won't provide any HD enhancements. That was some time ago, and bit-tech aren't a bunch of incompetents, so it's hard to say exactly what's causing the diffrence here.
  • 0 Hide
    cleeve , September 29, 2008 2:35 PM
    puetWhat about the image enhacements in the HQV test posible with a 780G and a Phenom procesor?, would this mix stand up in front of the discrete solution chosen?.This one could be an interesting part V in the articles series.


    I don't believe the quality will change with faster processors - I tested a Phenom 9500 and didn't see any diffrence. But I'll run a proper test and let you know.
  • 1 Hide
    yottabit , September 29, 2008 2:38 PM
    "In this author’s opinion, motherboard manufacturers would much better serve their customers by offering an HDCP enabled DVI output with a DVI-to-HDMI adapter, instead of HDMI outputs."

    Wow. You seem to be REALLY missing the point here. The whole point of this is for HTCPs, and the nice thing about HDMI is that it can send both video and audio to your tv over the cable. If they had a DVI port on the motherboard and you had to use an HDMI adapter, you would have no sound. Doing it the other way around though ensures that people who use it for an HTCP like it is intended get their sound, and those who want to use a monitor buy a DVI adapter. You didn't even seem to mention or test the capabilities of sending audio over HDMI!

    I don't complain about my laptop not having a DVI out, and when I want to hook it up to my friends 32" HDTV all I have to do is plug in a simple HDMI cable. If I wanted to run and LCD at home I'd buy an adapter.
  • 0 Hide
    cleeve , September 29, 2008 2:49 PM
    kingravenGreat article, specially liked the decrypted video benchmarks as I was indeed expecting a much higher difference.Also was expecting that the single core handled it better as I use a old laptop with pentium M 1500mhz & ATI 9600 as a HTPC and it plays nearly all HD media I trow at it smoothly (Including 1080P)


    I have found that even slow CPUs can playback H.264 AVI files; something's going on when playing back a blu-ray, probably the encryption. I was hoping the AnyDVD HD benchmarks would expose this but that's not what we saw. I'll be digging into it further in a future review for sure.
  • 0 Hide
    cleeve , September 29, 2008 2:56 PM
    byusinger84Guys...I own this Gigabyte board. HDCP works over DVI because that's what I use at home. Albeit I go from DVI from the motherboard to HDMI on the TV (don't ask why, it's just the cable I had). I don't have ANYDVD so, I know that it works.


    That is really bizarre... are you sure it works? Have you played back protected Blu-ray or HD DVD's over the DVI cable?

    During my testing it didn't work at all, and then when I checked around I was led to understand HDCP wasn't supported on the DVI out of that board.
  • 0 Hide
    cleeve , September 29, 2008 3:00 PM
    yottabitWow. You seem to be REALLY missing the point here. The whole point of this is for HTCPs, and the nice thing about HDMI is that it can send both video and audio to your tv over the cable. If they had a DVI port on the motherboard and you had to use an HDMI adapter, you would have no sound.


    Well, I'll disagree with you that these boards will ONLY be used for HTPCs, as I've stated I believe that these value-priced boards would be attractive to a whole lot of people with decent monitors who would like HD playback.

    As for sound, you can certainly play it back over the integrated sound chip instead of HDMI, so I don't think "you would have no sound." is an accurate discription.
  • 0 Hide
    Nossy , September 29, 2008 3:36 PM
    Would've been nice to see Intel's X1300HD included.
  • 0 Hide
    chaohsiangchen , September 29, 2008 4:09 PM
    CnQ on? Why not test 8450e as well? 8200 doesn't work well with Athlon 64 X2, but it seems to work better with Phenom. I don't have blu-ray so I can't confirm how it perform with Phenoms.
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