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

Test Systems And Benchmarks

We'll be performing three types of Blu-ray-based benchmarks: playback image quality, CPU usage, and power usage.

As usual, we’ll use Silicon Optix’s HQV Blu-ray test disc in order to judge the high-definition playback quality of our various contenders. This benchmark consists of a series of tests that scrutinize image quality enhancement features, each of which is assigned a number of points.  When all of the tests are completed, the playback image quality of each graphics chipset is represented by the sum of all of the points it scored. The best possible total score is 100 points, and the worst possible score is zero.

To judge CPU usage, we will play back a Blu-ray disk for three minutes and record the CPU usage during this time. Since there are three different codecs (compression-decompression algorithms) used on Blu-ray disks (and each codec requires a different amount of processing power to decode) we must test each codec separately. We will use the Blu-ray disk 300 to test the VC-1 codec, the Blu-ray disk Tomb Raider to test the MPEG-2 codec, and the Blu-ray disk The Fifth Element to test the H.264 codec.

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 disk Sunshine, which utilizes the H.264 codec and features PIP commentary during playback.

Finally, we will test total system power usage at the wall to see how much power H.264 playback requires compared to the PC's idle state.

Here are the particulars of the test systems we ran:

Test System Configuration
CPUAMD: Phenom II X2 550 BE (3.1 GHz, 6.0 MB Cache)Intel: Core 2 Duo E7200 (2.53 GHz, 3.0 MB Cache)
MotherboardsAMD 785G: Asus M4A785TD-M EVOAMD 790GX: Asus M4A78T-EGeForce 8200: ECS GF8200AGeForce 9300: Asus P5N7A-VNIntel G45: Asus P5Q-EM
RAMDDR2: A-Data AD2800E002GOU (2 x 2 GB) DDR2-800 at DDR2-800 CAS 5-5-5-18 2TDDR3: G.Skill F3-10666CL7-2GBPK (2 x 2 GB)DDR3-1333 @ DDR3-1338 CAS 9-9-9-24-33-1T
GraphicsRadeon HD 4200 (785G) - 500 MHz GPURadeon HD 3200 (780G)  - 500 MHz GPU (simulated using underclocked 790GX)Radeon HD 3300 (790GX) - 700 MHz GPUGeForce 8200 - 500 MHz GPU, 1.2 GHz shaderGeForce 9400 - 540 MHz GPU, 1.4 GHz shader (simulated using overclocked 9300)Intel G45 - 800 MHz GPU
Hard DriveWestern Digital Caviar Black 640 GB 7,200 RPM, 32 MB Cache SATA 3.0 Gb/s
SoundIntegrated HD Audio
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit Networking
PowerThermaltake Toughpower 1,200 W, ATX12V v2.2, EPS12V
OSMicrosoft Windows Vista Home Premium x64 SP1
GraphicsGeForce 8200/9300: Nvidia GeForce 190.38 WHQLAMD 790GX: Catalyst 9.7AMD 785G: 8.632-090626a-083962E Beta