Blu-ray Done Right: How Does Your Integrated GPU Stack Up?

A Trouble-Free PC Blu-ray Playback Experience? Maybe In 2010

This is the fifth PC video playback article I've written, and I keep expecting things to go smoothly. But while the problems this time around were mostly transparent, it took me until after I had completed all of the testing to realize that there were some real issues.

Nvidia Drivers: Blu-ray IQ Enhancements Have Been Broken Since 182.5

This was a surprise. When we contacted Nvidia to confirm our image-quality results after our tests were completed, representatives there told us we weren't seeing what we should. Further investigation revealed that drivers newer than 182.5 have a bug that doesn't allow for jaggy reduction (diagonal filtering) in the GeForce 9300/9400 and turns off film-mode detection in the GeForce 8200.

After we learned about the bug, we re-tested with the 182.5 drivers and "voila," the image quality improved. We therefore tested the Nvidia chipsets using the 182.5 drivers, and now that Nvidia is aware of the problem, it is working on a solution for future driver releases. All will be well soon enough.

A final complaint about the Nvidia drivers: noise reduction still doesn't seem to be enabled by default. I assume this is because slower systems might take a notable performance hit with this feature enabled, but it would be nice if the driver would detect the CPU and automatically enable the feature if there was enough horsepower to handle it.

Update: Since this article was written, Nvidia has released a new 190.62 driver. We haven't had time to test it to see if this bug has been fixed, but Nvidia doesn't seem to have mentioned it as a resolved issue in the driver release notes.

Intel's G45: Film-Mode Detection Should Work, But That's Not Always the Case

In the G45's driver options, there's a specific checkbox that's turned on by default called Enable Film Mode Detection. That box indicates that the Intel folks have specifically added support for inverse telecine in the G45. The problem is that we couldn't get it to work.

We tried the newest Intel drivers and patching PowerDVD 8 and even used PowerDVD 9 for newer builds after our testing was completed, but we still didn't have any luck. The G45 board we tested seemed to use motion-adaptive processing instead of applying the proper inverse cadence.

We will try options such as alternate software players and update this article with information as we learn more about this problem. In the meantime, Intel asserts the feature works, even though certain players might not completely support it.

Update:We did finally manage to get Film Detection Mode to work with the G45 chipset using both PowerDVD Ultra, versions 8 and 9. The problem lies in PowerDVD's default hardware de-interlacing setting of 'Bob.' When this is set to 'Default' (which, strangely enough, wasn't selected by default), the hardware de-interlacing feature works.

We also applied the newest patch we could find to Corel's WinDVD software, version DXVA B14.091, and film detection mode seems to work with that playback software as well.

With this information in hand, we have edited the image quality scoring and conclusion accordingly.

  • Proximon
    Great article. I think maybe the 4650 is a bit overkill, but that's just nitpicking.

    As long as you are talking about HTPC builds though, you might want to mention temps... aren't the 9300/9400 boards very hot?
  • epsiloneri
    Power draw is not interesting because of the electricity bill, it is the generated heat needed to be dissipated with the associated noise levels due to cooling that is critical for an HTPC.
  • HalfHuman
    i don't get it why a home theater would use a 1200w power source. at the same time i don't get why would someone evaluate the power efficency using this kind of power sorce. if you ask me i'd make this crazy ass power supplies illegal. a normal hometheater should not use more than 50w at idle and 100-150w at load. seems that this is what these actually consume. factor in the less than 5% load on the power supply and you get a masterfull 50-60% power efficency. i'd love to see some proper power supply test.
  • falchard
  • falchard
    BTW, I would like to see a "Can it play Crysis" article in the future that runs down every video card and IGP, then determines if it can possibly play Crysis and at what settings.
  • HalfHuman
    the 1200w power supply is green as in blue-green mould green.
    this is in fact an excellent power supply... if you use it. at 100watts load it has a "cool" 76% efficency. if the intel pc uses less than 82watts in load and 66watts in idle you can only imagine the efficency a power supply has at below 5% load. the site suggest around 65% so instead of having a proper power supply using 40watts or less when idle, you get this "green" efficient hummer who swollows 66w. i really like you articles guys but this kind of testing is not the way to go.
  • Efficiency isn't even tested below 20% load i believe But it should still be around 70-80% it is a Thermaltake Toughpower 1200w and all of them(3 listed on their site) are standard 80% eff rated or bronze. Ture a more modest Delta,Seasonic 250w or 300w would be much more appropriate for a htpc.
  • HalfHuman
    20% for this would be 240watts and efficency would still be reasonable.
    i posted some link but i see it's been removed. that review said something about 65% minimum.
  • drew_a
    Uh, guys... you might want to edit this article...
    "For the last CPU utilization test, we will check the capability of these graphic chipsets to accelerate picture-in-picture (PIP) video streams. To do this, we will use the Blu-ray dick Sunshine, which utilizes the H.264 codec and features PIP commentary during playback."

    on page 6
  • icepick314
    "If you are an audiophile, you should know that out of these remaining options, only the GeForce 9300/9400 can handle uncompressed eight-channel LPCM audio over HDMI 1.3."

    i did NOT know this...

    i thought only way to listen to uncompressed audio on blu-ray was using Asus Xonar HDAV 1.3 audio card to bitstream to your receiver...

    it's nice to know that IGP has enough power to handle 1080p while streaming HD audio codec....