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HQV’s High Definition Video Quality Benchmark

Part 4: Avivo HD vs. PureVideo HD
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Before running video quality tests, the user should make sure that "pulldown detection" is enabled in the Radeon’s Catalyst drivers, and that "inverse telecine" is enabled in the GeForce drivers. The newest versions of the drivers seem to enable these options by default. In the past, this wasn’t the case.

For reference, we’ll compare the integrated motherboard solutions to the low-end discrete cards offered by their respective manufacturers, the GeForce 8400 and Radeon 2400 PRO. We didn’t have a Radeon 3450 on hand, but performance should be very close to that of the 2400 PRO as the 3450 is a die shrink of the 2400 with a slightly increased core clock speed.

We’ve used Silicon Optix’s HQV HD-DVD benchmark in our last Avivo HD vs. PureVideo HD comparison. Last time, in all of those tests, the discrete GeForce 8400 GS and Radeon 2400 PRO scored a total of zero points in the HQV benchmark. We anticipate that the integrated graphics on the motherboards we’re testing will show similar results, but who knows? Maybe AMD or Nvidia have a trick or two up their respective sleeves.

We chose to run the tests only on the Windows Vista operating system this time around, as XP is being phased out. We should note that in our past reviews, the GeForce drivers would not enable any image quality enhancements whatsoever under XP, so if that’s your operating system, a Radeon solution might be a better choice for you.

HD Noise Reduction Test: Out Of 25 Points

This test shows scenes that are plagued with noise artifacts. Good noise reduction erases most of these artifacts and makes it appear more natural and much less grainy. The trick is to make the noise reduction work without losing detail.

HD NOISE REDUCTION TEST
Graphics Processor Score
Integrated Radeon HD 3200 0
Integrated GeForce 8200 0
Radeon 2400 PRO 0
GeForce 8400 GS 0

This first test is telling of what we can expect as far as image quality enhancements from integrated solutions go: in short, not much. Even the low-end discrete cards don’t have the power to provide any real image-quality enhancements and it takes everything they’ve got just to play HD content.

It’s not included on the chart, but we will note that more powerful cards like the Radeon 2600/3650/4650 series and GeForce 8600/9500 series will offer powerful video quality enhancements and perform a lot better in the HD noise reduction test. For a true HTPC enthusiast, these cards are probably a better choice and it’s worth spending the extra money. More on that later, though. Let’s look at the next image-quality benchmark: the HD Video Resolution Loss test.

HD Video Resolution Loss Test: Out Of 20 Points

This test simply shows a pattern of lines and color bars. If the DVD player can show the smallest lines without flickering, it is successfully de-interlacing the image.

VIDEO RESOLUTION LOSS TEST
Graphics Processor Score
Integrated Radeon HD 3200 0
Integrated GeForce 8200 0
Radeon 2400 PRO 0
GeForce 8400 GS 20

One again, the integrated solutions completely fall on their face. Out of the discrete cards, the GeForce 8400 GS manages to provide some image-quality enhancements, but it should be noted that the HQV Blu-ray disk seemed to stutter playback on that card.

HD Video Reconstruction (Jaggies) Test: Out Of 20 Points

This test simply shows a few rotating lines in a circle. As the angle changes, interlacing makes the lines appear to become stepped. Successful de-interlacing will remove this stepping.

HD VIDEO RECONSTRUCTION TEST
Graphics Processor Score
Integrated Radeon HD 3200 0
Integrated GeForce 8200 0
Radeon 2400 PRO 0
GeForce 8400 GS 0

Once again, all contenders are unsuccessful at providing anything other than barebones Blu-ray playback; no image quality enhancements are present.

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