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Conclusion: Encoding Performance Per Dollar

The WinFast PxVC1100 Video Transcoding Card: Worth The Price?
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The performance and power usage might be impressive, but is the WinFast PxVC1100 worth your hard-earned dollars? Or should it be skipped over in favor of a more powerful CPU?

To make a meaningful recommendation, we have to envision a viable scenario. First of all, we need to assume that video encoding is a major reason that your next PC is being built. If video encoding is a very small part of your PC's life, then there is no way that encoding-exclusive hardware like the WinFast PxVC1100 should be in your system. But that's pretty much common sense, and if you've read this far, there's a good chance you actually do some encoding work.

Secondly, for the purposes of this review specifically, we have to assume that TMPGEnc 4.0 XPress is your encoder of choice and that you would have purchased it anyway. If the $100 toward TMPGEnc is factored in, then the cost of the WinFast PxVC1100 card is about $190. If TMPGEnc isn't your cup of tea, then there is a version available with a different software bundle for $185. Either way, the card is going to have a similar ~$190 impact on your budget.

With these two pieces of information in mind, we charted out a relative price/performance ratio. The blue bars represent the price/performance ratio of the CPU only. The green bars represent the price/performance ratio of the CPU in conjunction with the WinFast PxVC1100 card:

The results are surprising to me in that the WinFast PxVC1100 card seems to justify its price with relative ease. It bucks an almost universal trend: value usually suffers when expensive specialty equipment is purchased. The blue bars representing CPU-only performance show this typical high-price/low-value trend really well. See how the performance per dollar drops off as the CPUs get faster? The increase in price tends to outweigh the increase in performance. That's what we're used to seeing.

However, when the WinFast PxVC1100 is added to the mix, we actually see an increase in value over the lone CPU. In fact, adding the PxVC1100 to an Athlon II X4 620 actually yields a better price/performance ratio than a single Athlon II X2 250. The most cost-effective setup for this kind of application is probably a combination of an Athlon II X4 620 and the SpursEngine card. While a single Athlon II X4 620 offers the best price/performance ratio overall, its price/performance ratio drops only slightly (while encoding time is reduced drastically) when this CPU is paired with the WinFast PxVC1100.

Granted, this is a limited application scenario as I mentioned previously, but the results still speak to the power of the SpursEngine processor to perform video encoding tasks. However, if encoding video isn't something you do on a regular basis, you will definitely be better served by applying your cash to the most powerful CPU you can afford (or, if you're a gamer, re-purposing some of that cash toward a more potent graphics card).

Having said that, if the primary use of your PC is to encode video, the WinFast PxVC1100 card will likely offer value, save you time, and, perhaps most importantly, give your host processor back enough resources to be useful, even during an intense transcoding task. If you encode a lot of video and only have one PC, this alone might be worth the price of admission, regardless of the performance increase.

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Top Comments
  • 24 Hide
    SpadeM , January 28, 2010 6:15 AM
    These miscellaneous type of articles is what brightens up my day. Good to know that there aren't many products that launch and slip between the cracks of processor/graphics wars. Great job, nice article!
  • 23 Hide
    Anonymous , January 28, 2010 6:19 AM
    how does this compare to using ATI AVIVO to encode, with a $200 dollar card?
  • 16 Hide
    paxiam , January 28, 2010 5:32 AM
    I think for someone who does use their PC for encoding on a regular basis, this would certainly be a welcome addition, but otherwise, forget it.
Other Comments
  • 16 Hide
    paxiam , January 28, 2010 5:32 AM
    I think for someone who does use their PC for encoding on a regular basis, this would certainly be a welcome addition, but otherwise, forget it.
  • 24 Hide
    SpadeM , January 28, 2010 6:15 AM
    These miscellaneous type of articles is what brightens up my day. Good to know that there aren't many products that launch and slip between the cracks of processor/graphics wars. Great job, nice article!
  • 23 Hide
    Anonymous , January 28, 2010 6:19 AM
    how does this compare to using ATI AVIVO to encode, with a $200 dollar card?
  • 4 Hide
    kumaiti , January 28, 2010 6:41 AM
    Any info on future software support for this card? This card would be extremely useful if plug-ins for other video editor could be made.
  • 2 Hide
    4745454b , January 28, 2010 6:43 AM
    Considering AMD has all but abandoned AVIVOm, the better question to ask is how this compares to CUDA. From what I've seen there aren't any problems with the output file. $200 is a bit much but at least it comes with the software. For those that have the $$$ to spare and do the encoding work, this is a big time saver. You could get the 620, mobo, and the card for probably about the same price as the 920 and a good Mobo. The difference is this setup will encode faster, and you can use the computer to do other things while encoding. I don't remember 100% for sure about it, but I think it will use less power as well.
  • -4 Hide
    JofaMang , January 28, 2010 7:05 AM
    Want.
  • 11 Hide
    apache_lives , January 28, 2010 7:11 AM
    hmmm get the feeling this will go the way of the dedicated physx (only) cards...

    what we need is a more GENERALISED co-processor card/device for this type of workload and many other uses, Intel's Larrabee had a good *idea* going - easily programmable, multi-purpose etc
  • 1 Hide
    g00ey , January 28, 2010 7:37 AM
    I was rather thinking that this hardware could be useful in portable media players where it is designed to consume less power and allow playback of all video formats out there.

    Moreover, this could also be useful in HD video cameras that are either stand-alone HD video cams or fitted into mobile phones (such as the Samsung Omnia HD) or digital snapshot cameras.

    I'm also thinking about its capabilities to be used in Live video applications that is streamed over the internet, either professional or teleconference applications such as SkypeHD.
  • 11 Hide
    haplo602 , January 28, 2010 7:41 AM
    compare to CUDA/UVD2 assisted encoding please. that's what matters.
  • 0 Hide
    shubham1401 , January 28, 2010 8:55 AM
    Nice lil piece of hardware!!

    Encoders Happy B'Day!!
  • 3 Hide
    cmartin011 , January 28, 2010 11:01 AM
    We need charts with encoding on all types of video card's AMD or Nvidia. Then how they preform against this stand alone device.
  • 0 Hide
    TheDuke , January 28, 2010 11:11 AM
    looks pretty amazing
  • 2 Hide
    agawtrip , January 28, 2010 11:35 AM
    compare this to CUDA....
  • 3 Hide
    ecmjr , January 28, 2010 11:38 AM
    I have an ATI 5750 and the AVIVO can't even transcode AVCHD to MPEG2. I find this card very useful (as an videographer, not a gamer). The key is will this card be compatible with Nonlinear Editing software like Sony Vegas Video or Edius Neo 2?
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , January 28, 2010 12:21 PM
    It would be nice to see "objective" quality comparisons. I know that CUDA H264 encoding has been shown to be not even close to the quality of, say, an x264 encode well done. The question of whether or not this encoder is good enough in great part depends on whether it the quality really is good or not. This type of result can be seen "objectively" using a tool like MSU Video Quality Measurement tool.
  • 0 Hide
    cknobman , January 28, 2010 12:38 PM
    So if I constantly rip DVD's into 2gb Avi files will this board be a good option for me? I currently use a Athlon II X4 620 and a combonation of dvddecrypter and AutoGK or if those dont work(depending on encryption) I will use DVDFab(always works). And from what I read if I buy the board does that mean I wont be able to use the current software if I want to get the benefit of the board?
  • 7 Hide
    cleeve , January 28, 2010 12:38 PM
    haplo602compare to CUDA/UVD2 assisted encoding please. that's what matters.


    I wanted to, but we can't! Please read page 4:

    "Note that we chose to benchmark the system with a GeForce GTX 260 graphics card installed. This is because we had originally hoped to compare the GeForce's CUDA abilities to the CPU and PxVC1100. Unfortunately, we learned that the CUDA enhancements in TMPGEnc. 4.0 Xpress are limited to video filters and cannot simply be employed to accelerate format-to-format video transcoding. Because if this, we left CUDA filter acceleration out of our testing as we're interested in focusing on hardware transcoding value."
  • -1 Hide
    Parsian , January 28, 2010 1:55 PM
    I think their Super Resolution algorithm is just not good. I use Video Enhancer which runs on CPU (supports multi thread) and the artifacts are rarely visible... However, i am desperate for a GPU based Super Resolution that actually works for all video size unlike vReveal which only supports SR on videos >= 320 (or maybe less) :S
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