The WinFast PxVC1100 Video Transcoding Card: Worth The Price?

Test Systems And Benchmarks

We chose a number of CPUs, from sub-$100 dual-core models to Intel's top-of-the-line Core i7. We benchmarked these CPUs with and without the WinFast PxVC1100 card in order to collect enough data for a thorough price/performance evaluation. We wanted to be able to conclusively prove whether or not the WinFast card is worth the asking price. We'd also like to see if the SpursEngine-equipped card requires a certain level of CPU prowess to perform at its best.

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.

As mentioned earlier, we couldn't get the WinFast card to work with our ASRock X58-based motherboard. On the bright side, the Core i7-920 CPU we're using represents the top-tier CPU, and still makes for a good comparison to show us if it will provide good value compared to a cheaper CPU paired with the SpursEngine.

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Header Cell - Column 0 AMD Test SystemIntel Test System AIntel Test System B
CPUAthlon II X2 250(3.0 GHz, No Shared Cache)Athlon II X4 620 (2.6 GHz, No Shared Cache)Phenom II X4 965(3.4 GHz, 6MB L3 Cache)Intel Core i5-750 2.66 GHz Quad-core, 8MB L3 CacheIntel Core i7-920 2.66 GHzQuad-core, 4.2 GT/s QPI, 8MB L3 Cache
MotherboardAsus M4A785TD-M EVO AMD 785G, BIOS 0910Gigabyte P55-UD4P LGA-1156 Intel P55-Express, BIOS F5ASRock X58 SuperComputer Intel X58, BIOS P1.90
MemoryMushkin PC3-10700  2x 2GB (4 GB Total)CL 9-9-9-242 x A-Data 2.0GB DDR3-1333 Kit 2 x 2GB (4 GB Total)CL 9-9-9-24Kingston PC3-10700 3 x 1GB (3 GB Total)CL 9-9-9-22
GraphicsGeForce GTX 260 Asus ENGTX260, 796MB DDR3 PCIe
Hard DriveWestern Digital Caviar Black 640GB 7,200 RPM, 32MB Cache SATA 3.0 Gb/s
PowerePower EP-1200P10-T21,200W, ATX 12V, EPS 12v
Software and Drivers
Operating SystemMicrosoft Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bitMicrosoft Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit 6.0.6001, SP1
DirectX versionDirectX 11
Graphics DriversForceWare 195.62
Encoding SoftwareTMPGEnc. 4.0 Xpress Version 10 - Cell 2
SpursEngine Driver1.5.2.5Row 11 - Cell 2
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Benchmark Configuration
Standard EncodingMPEG 4 AVC, 720x480 Resolution, 23.976 FPSAspect ratio: 4:3, MPEG4 AAC Low Complexity 160 Kb/s Audio, GOP: 18 frames, Video Entropy Setting: CAVLC, Bitrate: 505.654 Kb/s
HD Upscale EncodingMPEG 4 AVC, 1920x1080 Resolution, 29.97 FPS Aspect ratio: 16:9, Dolby Digital 256 Kb/s Audio, GOP: 18 frames, Bitrate: 32,000 Kb/s
  • paxiam
    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.
  • paxiam
    I think for someone who does use their PC for video encoding on a regular basis, this would certainly be a welcome addition (the price is reasonable), but otherwise, forget it.
  • paxiam
  • SpadeM
    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!
  • how does this compare to using ATI AVIVO to encode, with a $200 dollar card?
  • kumaiti
    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.
  • 4745454b
    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.
  • JofaMang
  • apache_lives
    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
  • g00ey
    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.