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Test Class 1: Video Conversion

Video Quality Tested: GeForce Vs. Radeon In HQV 2.0
By

This video conversion test class focuses on the video processor’s ability to take different varieties of video and play them back as smoothly as possible. Ideally, jagged edges and artifacts will be eliminated, while proper color reproduction should remain intact.

Chapter 1: Video Resolution tests

The first chapter of this class tests the hardware’s ability to display static and moving objects in the same interlaced scene with as little stepping (also referred to as “jaggies”) as possible. To achieve a good score, the video processor has to merge or interpolate between fields of video to create smooth edges where appropriate.

Test A: Dial

A straight line is rotated in the center of a circle. Interpolation becomes increasingly difficult at smaller angles, so an ideal score of five is achieved if the line appears smooth under 10 degrees from the horizon. Four points are awarded if jaggies are seen between 10 and 20 degrees, and two points if the jaggies disappear from 20 to 30 degrees. No points are given if the jaggies appear above 30 degrees.

This test can be difficult to judge, even though it should be entirely subjective. This is because the dial moves quickly and it’s hard to be 100% sure where the artifacting begins (if it starts close to 10 degrees).

Dial Test Results (out of 5)
Radeon HD 6850Radeon HD 5750Radeon HD 5670Radeon HD 5550Radeon HD 5450
5
5
5
4
4
GeForce GTX 470GeForce GTX 460GeForce 9800 GTGeForce GT 240GeForce GT 430GeForce 210
5
55
5
5
4


It’s important to note that some image quality enhancements can increase the result of some tests while lowering others. The dial test is an example of this. When the edge-enhancement feature is enabled, the jaggies can increase a little bit. This is why the GeForce 210 has a higher score than more expensive GeForce cards that have this feature enabled.

Test B: Dial with Static Pattern

This test appears similar to the previous one, with the same line rotating within the circle. The focus here is different, however, and is on the grid. If the video processor breaks or warps the grid while the line moves through it, points will be lost. Note that a halo effect around the line is acceptable as long as the grid isn’t being warped or broken. A perfect score with no grid artifacts is five points. Some degradation of the grid or slight artifacts lowers it to two points, and a flickering or obviously degraded grid decreases the score to zero.

While this test is somewhat subjective (as far as the amount of degradation is concerned), all of the graphics cards we’re testing appear to leave the grid intact. There’s a small halo effect, but that doesn’t prevent all of the cards from getting full marks.

Dial with Static Pattern Test Results (out of 5)
Radeon HD 6850Radeon HD 5750Radeon HD 5670Radeon HD 5550Radeon HD 5450
5
5
5
5
5
GeForce GTX 470GeForce GTX 460GeForce 9800 GTGeForce GT 240GeForce GT 430GeForce 210
5
55
5
5
5


Test C: Gray Bars

This test determines if the video processor’s de-interlacing capability performs consistently at all brightness levels. The focus here is not to see which bars have jaggies and which do not, but to see if all four shades of bars have the same de-interlacing without artifacting. Five points are awarded if all bars appear similar, three points if the darkest bars have artifacts, two points if the second darkest bars have artifacts, one point if the second-brightest bars have artifacts, and no points if all bars have artifacts.

The scoring criteria are objective, but the test relies on subjective observation. We can’t detect any differences between the levels of brightness on any test card, so we give all cards the full five points in this test.

Grey Bars Test Results (out of 5)
Radeon HD 6850Radeon HD 5750Radeon HD 5670Radeon HD 5550Radeon HD 5450
5
5
5
5
5
GeForce GTX 470GeForce GTX 460GeForce 9800 GTGeForce GT 240GeForce GT 430GeForce 210
5
55
5
5
5


Test D: Violin

This test simply appears to be some footage of a violin player. The violin strings are at low angles to the horizon and move around as the instrument is played. The full five points are awarded if the moving strings show no motion artifacts. The score is lowered to three points for small artifacts during motion transitions and zero points are awarded if there are notable artifacts during most of the video sequence.

Whether or not there are any artifacts should be fairly objective, but the amount of artifacting is subjective. All of the cards we tested achieved five points, according to our observations.

Violin Test Results (out of 5)
Radeon HD 6850Radeon HD 5750Radeon HD 5670Radeon HD 5550Radeon HD 5450
5
5
5
5
5
GeForce GTX 470GeForce GTX 460GeForce 9800 GTGeForce GT 240GeForce GT 430GeForce 210
5
55
5
5
5
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Top Comments
  • 14 Hide
    rootheday , February 2, 2011 3:18 AM
    Could you give the same evaluation to Sandy Bridge's Intel HD Graphics?.
Other Comments
  • 14 Hide
    rootheday , February 2, 2011 3:18 AM
    Could you give the same evaluation to Sandy Bridge's Intel HD Graphics?.
  • 4 Hide
    jimmysmitty , February 2, 2011 3:44 AM
    I second the test using SB HD graphics. It might be just an IGP but I would like to see the quality in case I want to make a HTPC and since SB has amazing encoding/decoding results compared to anything else out there (even $500+ GPUs) it would be nice to see if it can give decent picture quality.

    But as for the results, I am not that suprised. Even when their GPUs might not perform the same as nVidia, ATI has always had great image quality enhancements, even before CCC. Thats an area of focus that nVidia might not see as important when it is. I want my Blu-Ray and DVDs to look great, not just ok.
  • 1 Hide
    compton , February 2, 2011 4:10 AM
    Great article. I had wondered what the testing criteria was about, and Lo! Tom's to the rescue. I have 4 primary devices that I use to watch Netflix's streaming service. Each is radically different in terms of hardware. They all look pretty good. But they all work differently. Using my 47" LG LED TV I did an informal comparison of each.

    My desktop, which uses a 460 really suffers from the lack of noise reduction options.
    My Samsung BD player looks less spectacular that the others.
    My Xbox looks a little better than the BD player.
    My PS3 actually looks the best to me, no matter what display I use.

    I'm not sure why, but it's the only one I could pick out just based on it's image quality. Netflix streaming is basically all I use my PS3 for. Compared to it, my desktop looks good and has several options to tweak but doesn't come close. I don't know how the PS3 stacks up, but I'm thinking about giving the test suite a spin.

    Thanks for the awesome article.
  • 4 Hide
    cleeve , February 2, 2011 4:17 AM
    Quote:
    Could you give the same evaluation to Sandy Bridge's Intel HD Graphics?.


    That's Definitely on our to-do list!

    Trying to organize that one now.
  • 1 Hide
    lucuis , February 2, 2011 4:58 AM
    Too bad this stuff usually makes things look worse. I tried out the full array of settings on my GTX 470 in multiple BD Rips of varying quality, most very good.

    Noise reduction did next to nothing. And in many cases causes blockiness.

    Dynamic Contrast in many cases does make things look better, but in some it revealed tons of noise in the greyscale which the noise reduction doesn't remove...not even a little.

    Color correction seemed to make anything blueish bluer, even purples.

    Edge correction seems to sharpen some details, but introduces noise after about 20%.

    All in all, bunch of worthless settings.
  • 0 Hide
    killerclick , February 2, 2011 5:13 AM
    jimmysmittyEven when their GPUs might not perform the same as nVidia, ATI has always had great image quality enhancements


    ATI/AMD is demolishing nVidia in all price segments on performance and power efficiency... and image quality.
  • -2 Hide
    alidan , February 2, 2011 5:34 AM
    killerclickATI/AMD is demolishing nVidia in all price segments on performance and power efficiency... and image quality.


    i thought they were loosing, not by enough to call it a loss, but not as good and the latest nvidia refreshes. but i got a 5770 due to its power consumption, i didn't have to swap out my psu to put it in and that was the deciding factor for me.
  • 3 Hide
    haplo602 , February 2, 2011 5:40 AM
    this made me lol ...

    1. cadence tests ... why do you marginalise the 2:2 cadence ? these cards are not US exclusive. The rest of the world has the same requirements for picture quality.

    2. skin tone correction: I see this as an error on the part of the card to even include this. why are you correcting something that the video creator wanted to be as it is ? I mean the movie is checked by video profesionals for anything they don't want there. not completely correct skin tones are part of the product by design. this test should not even exist.

    3. dynamic contrast: cannot help it, but the example scene with the cats had blown higlights on my laptopt LCD in the "correct" part. how can you judge that if the constraint is the display device and not the GPU itself ? after all you can output on a 6-bit LCD or on a 10-bit LCD. the card does not have to know that ...
  • 4 Hide
    mitch074 , February 2, 2011 5:43 AM
    "obscure" cadence detection? Oh, of course... Nevermind that a few countries do use PAL and its 50Hz cadence on movies, and that it's frustrating to those few people who watch movies outside of the Pacific zone... As in, Europe, Africa, and parts of Asia up to and including mainland China.

    It's only worth more than half the world population, after all.
  • 1 Hide
    cleeve , February 2, 2011 5:54 AM
    mitch074"obscure" cadence detection? Oh, of course... Nevermind that a few countries do use PAL and its 50Hz cadence on movies...


    You misunderstand the text, I think.

    To clear it up: I wasn't talking about 2:2 when I said that, I was talking about the Multi-Cadence Tests: 8 FPS animation, etc.
  • 0 Hide
    caeden , February 2, 2011 5:58 AM
    Now I am not sure how the radions stack up, but using these settings on my 9800GT made my video quality noticeably worse than normal. Especially around text (white over black background was painful) where noise was added. After messing with it a little I found that using the video defaults under the image settings was best. And checking the dynamic contrast under color settings helped the contrast a little, but not much, and I think it is adding noise, so I am going back to defaults on this as well.

    More important than your driver would be calibrating your monitor. PC monitors are very different than HDTVs (higher brightness and lower contrast, square pix to optimize text over video, and most of us have tn screens which are very limited on color range), but in spite of their shortcomings, if properly adjusted they can still look quite good.

    A note to those who are putting your DVDs on your computer, there is a very powerful program called AVS which can do much of this cleanup for you during the ripping process. This allows for smaller file size with good compressors (h264 for storage, Lagarith for editing), as well as making upscaling less of a problem. It is not a particularly intuitive tool, but there are many good tutorials out there on it. This is especially handy with old DVDs that were not encoded well in the first place, or super long DVDs (lord of the rings) where it was encoded poorly in order to fit the content on the disc.
    As for blue-Ray content, the quality you get will depend mostly on the software you are using. The driver options (at least for my card) hinder more than help, so it then depends on the software you are using.
    For HD content in general you will notice a huge difference between that nicely encoded music video you download vs Netflix HD streaming. Part of this is because Netflix is (for the most part) only 720p, and 2ndly because they have an automated process which will work better for some movies than others. It would seem their biggest flaw is color banding. This is still worlds better than cable, and other web services, but you are just not going to get that BD quality.
  • 1 Hide
    cleeve , February 2, 2011 6:03 AM
    haplo602 cadence tests ... why do you marginalise the 2:2 cadence ? these cards are not US exclusive. The rest of the world has the same requirements for picture quality.


    True enough, although I'm a US writer primarily tasked to write for the US audience. I do think readers from PAL countries can understand the implications, however.

    haplo602 2. skin tone correction: I see this as an error on the part of the card to even include this. why are you correcting something that the video creator wanted to be as it is ? I mean the movie is checked by video profesionals for anything they don't want there. not completely correct skin tones are part of the product by design. this test should not even exist.


    I understand the argument, and frankly the fact that user is free to turn it off is good enough for me. Regardless of whether or not we agree with its inclusion, it is something that's included in some high-end video processors and is therefore a point of comparison.

    haplo602 3. dynamic contrast: cannot help it, but the example scene with the cats had blown higlights on my laptopt LCD in the "correct" part. how can you judge that if the constraint is the display device and not the GPU itself ? after all you can output on a 6-bit LCD or on a 10-bit LCD. the card does not have to know that ...


    For me it was sufficient to use a good-quality display for testing the different graphics hardware. Frankly, the HQV test can be used for displays, too. But with our test display capable of differentiating contrast enhancement without overexposure I think that's the best way to test the video processor. Whether other folks have worse displays is kind of outside the scope of the test.
  • 3 Hide
    spac18 , February 2, 2011 6:42 AM
    @shinobi
    where did you get that stat from? your all american wet dream?
  • 3 Hide
    intelx , February 2, 2011 6:47 AM
    shin0bi272but 85% of the worlds computers are in the US and so your countries dont really matter.


    can you prove your statement?
  • 4 Hide
    andrewcutter , February 2, 2011 7:45 AM
    shin0bi272but 85% of the worlds computers are in the US and so your countries dont really matter.


    why am i not suprised by this statement. i hope you are not representative of your whole country
  • 4 Hide
    aldaia , February 2, 2011 8:46 AM
    shin0bi272but 85% of the worlds computers are in the US and so your countries dont really matter.


    I'm not sure if he is a troll or simply a dumb ass (probably both). The opposite is actually closer to reality, that is 85% of personal computers are outside of the US. In 2005-2004 only 28.4% of the world computers where in the US. Since then, countries like China or India have grown significantly faster than western countries where the market was already saturated 5 years ago. By the way the countries with more computers (per capita) are Switzerland: 864.584 per 1 million people, San Marino: 857.143 per 1 million people & Sweden: 763.012 per 1 million people.
  • 3 Hide
    haplo602 , February 2, 2011 9:32 AM
    CleeveTrue enough, although I'm a US writer primarily tasked to write for the US audience. I do think readers from PAL countries can understand the implications, however.


    I do not dispute the results as they speak clearly. I do have a problem with you downplaying an Nvidia disadvantage just because you are a US resident. The tone of the comment was not neutral (i.e. just to highlight that one cadence is used for 60Hz and the other for 50Hz).

    Nvidia does not issue non-US driver versions or non-US cards, so they should be blamed for the lack of features in this case.

    I just want to make you aware that some of your comments might not come across as correct to non-US residents. After all, Internet knows no borders :-)
  • -1 Hide
    marraco , February 2, 2011 9:52 AM
    It's useless without a video player capable of applying all those enhancements to different video formats.
  • 2 Hide
    hardcore_gamer , February 2, 2011 10:24 AM
    CleeveThat's Definitely on our to-do list!Trying to organize that one now.

    Please add gtx5xx series cards too
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