Nvidia’s headliner in the CUDA space is Badaboom, the idiot-proof tool from Elemental Technologies that served to counter AMD’s hullabaloo with the ATI Avivo Video Converter. In a nutshell, you can import just about any input video type you could ask (even .m2ts from Blu-ray rips), pick your target device (from YouTube to the BlackBerry Bold), and out comes an optimized .mp4 file. It’s about as streamlined and simple as you could possibly make a transcoder, although that doesn’t mean dumbed down. Props go to Elemental and Nvidia for enabling multi-GPU functionality. You can’t span CUDA acceleration for one job across multiple GPUs, but you can run one instance of Badaboom 1.1 for each CUDA-enabled GPU in the system—handy stuff if you have to bang out a bunch of files in a hurry before skipping town.
If all you care about is transcoding and couldn’t give a rip about editing, then Badaboom remains our favorite pick of the day. Many other reviews have looked at the comparative quality of Badaboom’s transcoded visuals, and this isn’t the place to rehash such material. Suffice it to say that the end results look great, and Badaboom puts far less strain than most transcoders on the CPU. After all, most of us don’t have dedicated video systems, especially in our budget-conscious context here. In general, the higher the quality of the transcode, the more Badaboom seems to stress the GPU and leave the CPU to itself. So beyond the world of benchmark testing, this says a lot about the application as a real world solution. Odds are good that you’re going to want to transcode while doing other things, and you don’t want one task crippling all of the others.