Skip to main content

Part 4: Avivo HD vs. PureVideo HD

Conclusion

Before we talk about the good stuff, let’s start with our only notable complaint about the GF8200A board: the lack of a DVI output. I went to a local electronics juggernaut and couldn’t help but notice it was almost impossible to find an LCD PC monitor with an HDMI input. All of them had DVI inputs, though. In this author’s opinion, motherboard manufacturers would much better serve their customers by offering an HDCP enabled DVI output with a DVI-to-HDMI adapter, instead of HDMI outputs. Enough said about that — now it’s on to the good stuff.

We’ve learned a great deal in the process of testing these motherboards. Both the integrated GeForce 8200 in the Nvidia MCP78S chipset and the integrated Radeon HD 3200 in the AMD 780G chipset are worlds beyond what people have come to expect from integrated graphics.

Our first conclusion is that if we were considering the purchase of one of these boards for an HTPC, we would strongly lean toward the AMD 780G/Radeon 3200. The board served up 1080p video without the stuttering issues we saw on the Nvidia MCP78S/GeForce 8200 motherboard playing back the demanding H.264 encoded Blu-ray disk. By our reckoning, this is a deal-breaker. While it’s true that the GeForce 8200 has some better audio playback options, they don’t count for much when the video can’t be played back without stuttering on a dual-core Athlon X2 4800+ CPU. The 780G was even able to muster HD playback with the VC1 and MPEG2 codecs with a lowly single-core Sempron 3200 at 1.8 GHz. Don’t get us wrong—the MCP78S is no slouch by any consideration and it’s a great value chipset with really strong graphics capabilities and compelling features like Hybrid Power not found in its 780G competition. But when buying specifically for HD video playback, the 780G is simply the better choice.

Having said that, our second conclusion is that since discrete video cards like the Radeon 4650 are so easily found in the $70 range, a "purist" HD video enthusiast doesn’t need to consider one of these motherboards for HD playback. An add-in card like the Radeon 4650 will offer less CPU utilization, the option of playing back eight-channel uncompressed LPCM digital audio over HDMI, and massive image quality enhancements, like noise reduction. Because of these points, our recommendation for HD video enthusiasts is to concentrate on the discrete card solutions.

There is, however, a type of HTPC for which these motherboards would be ideal: very small-form-factor HTPC cases where discrete video cards might be difficult or impossible to install. In these cases the heat generation from a separate video card might also be a detriment and the power supply would necessarily be small and low-output. For this type of machine, we have no reservations recommending a motherboard based on the AMD 780G chipset, as it would have low power requirements and heat generation versus a system with a separate video card. And since there are a number of very small HTPC cases out there and many home theater buffs would rather not have a massive HTPC case in their living room, we can imagine there would be a lot of demand for these types of motherboards from home theater buyers who want a balance between size, performance, heat generation, and power usage.

  • abzillah
    Don't the 780G chips have hybrid technology? It would have been great to see what kind of performance difference it would make to add a discrete card with a 780G chip. Motherboards with integrated graphics cost about the same as those without integrated graphics, and so I would choose an integrated graphics + a discrete graphic card for hybrid performance.
    Reply
  • liemfukliang
    Wao, you should update this article part 5 in tuesday when NDA 9300 lift out. 9300 vs 790GX. Does this NVidia VGA also defect?
    Reply
  • TheGreatGrapeApe
    Nice job Don !
    Interesting seeing the theoretical HQV difference being a realistic nil due to playability (does image enhancement of a skipping image matter?)

    I'll be linking to this one again.

    Next round HD4K vs GTX vs GF9 integrated, complete with dual view decoding. >B~)
    Reply
  • kingraven
    Great article, specially liked the decrypted video benchmarks as I was indeed expecting a much higher difference.

    Also was expecting that the single core handled it better as I use a old laptop with pentium M 1500mhz & ATI 9600 as a HTPC and it plays nearly all HD media I trow at it smoothly (Including 1080P) trough ffdshow. Notice the files are usually Matroska or AVI and the codecs vary but usually are H264.

    I admit since its an old PC without blueray or HD-DVD I have no idea how the "real deal" would perform, probably as bad or worse as the article says :P
    Reply
  • modtech
    A refreshingly informative article. Well done.
    Reply
  • I have a gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H m/b (780G)
    I just bought a Samsung LE46A656 TV and I have the following problem:

    When I connect the TV with standard VGA (D-SUB) cable,
    I can use Full HD (1920 X 1080) correctly.

    If I use the HDMI or DVI (with DVI-> HDMI adaptor) I can not use 1920 X 1080 correctly.
    The screen has black borders on all sides (about 3cm) and the picture is weird, like the monitor was not driven in its native resolution, but the 1920 X 1080 signal was compressed to the resolution that was visible on my TV.

    I also tried my old laptop (also ATI, x700) and had the same problem.
    I thought that my TV was defective but then I tried an old NVIDIA card I had and everything worked perfect!!!
    Full 1920 X 1080 with my HDMI input (with DVI-> HDMI adaptor).

    I don't know if this is a ATI driver problem or a general ATI hardware limitation,
    but I WILL NEVER BUY ATI AGAIN.
    They claim HDMI with full HD support. Well they are lying!
    Reply
  • That's funny, bit-tech had some rather different numbers for HQV tests for the 780g board.

    http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/2008/03/04/amd_780g_integrated_graphics_chipset/10

    What's going on here? I assume bit-tech tweaked player settings to improve results, and you guys left everything at default?
    Reply
  • puet
    What about the image enhacements in the HQV test posible with a 780G and a Phenom procesor?, would this mix stand up in front of the discrete solution chosen?.
    This one could be an interesting part V in the articles series.
    Reply
  • genored
    azraelI have a gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H m/b (780G)I just bought a Samsung LE46A656 TV and I have the following problem:When I connect the TV with standard VGA (D-SUB) cable, I can use Full HD (1920 X 1080) correctly.If I use the HDMI or DVI (with DVI-> HDMI adaptor) I can not use 1920 X 1080 correctly. The screen has black borders on all sides (about 3cm) and the picture is weird, like the monitor was not driven in its native resolution, but the 1920 X 1080 signal was compressed to the resolution that was visible on my TV.I also tried my old laptop (also ATI, x700) and had the same problem.I thought that my TV was defective but then I tried an old NVIDIA card I had and everything worked perfect!!!Full 1920 X 1080 with my HDMI input (with DVI-> HDMI adaptor).I don't know if this is a ATI driver problem or a general ATI hardware limitation, but I WILL NEVER BUY ATI AGAIN.They claim HDMI with full HD support. Well they are lying!
    LEARN TO DOWNLOAD DRIVERS
    Reply
  • Guys...I own this Gigabyte board. HDCP works over DVI because that's what I use at home. Albeit I go from DVI from the motherboard to HDMI on the TV (don't ask why, it's just the cable I had). I don't have ANYDVD so, I know that it works.

    As for the guy having issues with HDMI with the ATI 3200 onboard, dude, there were some problems with the initial BIOS. Update them, update your drivers and you won't have a problem. My brother has the same board too and he uses HDMI and it works just fine. Noob...
    Reply