Video Playback Quality And 3D Blu-ray Performance
First, let’s talk about video quality, specifically when it comes to high-definition playback. This go 'round, we’re using the second-generation HQV Benchmark, a test suite that is far more comprehensive than the original. This new benchmark analyzes many aspects of video playback quality that the previous version didn't touch, such as scrolling text, multi-cadence, color upsampling errors, compression artifacts, scaling and filtering, contrast enhancement, and skin-tone correction.
As usual, many video quality enhancements aren’t enabled by default in the GeForce driver. Before the tests were performed, we enabled inverse telecine, dynamic contrast, color enhancement, we set edge enhancement to 60%, and set noise reduction to 70%.
This benchmark is quite involved, so we’re not going to detail the individual tests here or compare graphics cards against one another—we’re saving that for an upcoming video quality comparison review. Instead, here are the results we achieved with the GeForce GT 430 using the HQV Benchmark:
|TEST CLASS 1: VIDEO CONVERSION|
|Chapter 1: Video Resolution||15/20|
|Chapter 2: Film Resolution||5/20|
|Chapter 3: Overlay on Film||5/10|
|Chapter 4: Response Time||0/10|
|Chapter 5: Multi-Cadence||0/30|
|Chapter 6: Color Upsampling Errors||5/10|
|TEST CLASS 2: NOISE AND ARTIFACT REDUCTION|
|Chapter 1: Random Noise||20/20|
|Chapter 2: Compression Artifacts||0/20|
|Chapter 3: Upscaled Compression Artifacts||0/20|
|TEST CLASS 3: IMAGE SCALING AND ENHANCEMENTS|
|Chapter 1: Scaling and Filtering||15/15|
|Chapter 2: Resolution Enhancement||15/15|
|TEST CLASS 4: ADAPTIVE PROCESSING|
|Chapter 1: Contrast Enhancement||20/20|
|Chapter 2: Skin Tone Correction:||0/10|
In general, the GeForce GT 430 performed very well, despite the impression left by the 95/210 final score. Video resolution, film resolution, noise, scaling, resolution enhancement, and contrast enhancement are very well executed.
The card mostly lost points for multi-cadence incompatibilities and compression artifacts. Losing points for some of the obscure multi-cadence tests, like 12 FPS animation, isn’t much of a concern for most folks I think. And while it’d be nice to have the graphics card fix compression artifacts, this is only a problem with poorly encoded or low-resolution source material. Neither of these issues is going to affect an HTPC user who wants to watch movies on Blu-ray.
Let’s move on to 3D Blu-ray now. We know that these sub-$100 GeForce cards can accelerate 3D Blu-ray decoding, but is there a performance difference? Will one card do a better job than another at taking the load off the CPU?
Apparently, it doesn’t make much difference if you’re rocking a GeForce GT 220, GT 240, or GT 430—all of these cards will do a similar job of taking the load off of the CPU during 3D Blu-ray playback. It's interesting to note, though, that the latest iteration of Nvidia's PureVideo engine (VP4) is capable of accelerating playback of the MVC codec used on 3D Blu-ray discs. Prior-generation engines like the GeForce GTX 260's VP2 fixed-function logic are incapable of assisting the CPU with this task.