AMD 785G Chipset Launch: ASUS and Gigabyte

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IGP Multimedia Performance

Let's face it, though integrated graphics have come a ways in recent years, it's still not a viable option for a true gaming machine. While newer IGPs can handle modern games at acceptable frame rates for lite or casual gaming, you'll still have a hard time driving the latest first-person shooters on a high-res screen at high settings. However, IGPs of today also aren't completely useless outside of gaming. Far from it. More and more, alternative functions are being found for GPUs. One of the most popular non-gaming functions for GPUs is accelerating the encoding and decoding of video. In this day and age of HD video, IGPs have gained new purpose as video playback accelerators.

The 785G is equipped with an integrated Radeon HD 4200, a boost up from its predacessor the 780G, which was equipped with a HD 3200. Besides the obvious improvements like the integration of the newer HD 4000 series GPU engine, the HD 4200 also receives AMD's UVD 2 feature set which offers decode acceleration for MPEG2, H.264 and VC1. The UVD feature set also includes support for post processing effects such as de-interlacing, de-noise and pull down detection. Version 2 of UVD adds support for dynamic contrast, bicubic scaling, picture-in-picture acceleration as well as image quality enhancements like color vibrance and flesh tone enhancement.

 IGP Video Playback Performance
 Video Decoding with Radeon HD 4200
We put the 785G through a set of 1080P HD video tests and measured their CPU utilization levels to get a feel for how much of the heavy lifting the IGP is offloading from the CPU. We used two short video clips of less than 5 minutes in duration for this test. Each video clip was played 3 times on a loop while the CPU utilization was constantly monitored. The first clip is encoded with WMV and played back using Windows Media Player 11. The second clip is encoded with H.264 and played back using Apple Quicktime 7.6. In both cases the system was not running any other application.

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In the first test clip encoded in WMV, we saw low CPU utilization hovering between 15%-25%. The video was smooth at all times and we never noticed any stutter or image quality imperfections.

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In the second clip encoded in H.264, we see slightly higher CPU utilization rates since H.264 is a bit more robust in terms of encoding which also requires more processing power to decode. In this test, the Radeon HD 4200 still offloaded a fair amount of the decoding and CPU utilization hovered between 30%-45%. As with the WMV test clip, we didn't observe any video quality issues.

Overall, the Radeon HD 4200 provides a significant amount of video playback acceleration, certainly enough to handle general multimedia and HTPC playback duties with ease without the need for a discrete graphics card. This is makes the 785G a good choice for use in HTPCs where you won't necessarily have a discrete graphics card. The ability to handle HD video playback with the IGP means you can use the money saved on the graphics card for a DVR / TV tuner card, in the case of a HTPC.

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