Video Quality and Performance
We also did some quick testing of the GeForce GTX 280's video processing engine, in terms of both image quality and CPU utilization with some HQV and H.264 playback tests.
HQV is comprised of a sampling of SD video clips and test patterns that have been specifically designed to evaluate a variety of interlaced video signal processing tasks, including decoding, de-interlacing, motion correction, noise reduction, film cadence detection, and detail enhancement. As each clip is played, the viewer is required to "score" the image based on a predetermined set of criteria. The numbers listed below are the sum of the scores for each section. We played the HQV DVD using the latest version of Cyberlink's PowerDVD HD, with hardware acceleration for AMD AVIVO HD and NVIDIA PureVideo HD extensions enabled.
Both ATI's and NVIDIA's latest GPUs have no trouble with SD video playback. All three of the cards put up near perfect scores in the HQV test. In case you're not familiar with HQV, 130 points is the maximum score attainable. At 128 points, a PC equipped with either of these graphics cards plays back DVD video at quality levels better than the vast majority of set-top DVD players on the market. We should note, however, the GTX 280 produced noticeably better results in the Jaggies 1 test and somewhat better results in the Jaggies 2 test than the others, but it wasn't enough of a difference to affect the scoring due to HQV recommended scoring system.
Next we conducted a test using an H.264 encoded movie trailer clip for "Beowulf" which is available for download on Apple's QuickTime HD website. The CPU utilization data gathered during these tests was taken from Windows Vista's built-in Performance Monitor. The graphs show the CPU utilization for a GeForce 9800 GX2 and a Radeon HD 3870 X2 using PowerDVD HD to playback the QuickTime clip.
GeForce 9800 GX2
Radeon HD 3870 X2
GeForce GTX 280
With a fast quad-core processor powering our test system and an unencrypted HD video clip being played back, all of the cards we tested had low CPU utilization in this test. The GTX 280 didn't fair quite as well as the GX2, however, which is confusing because they both sport the same video engine. Perhaps with future drivers, the GTX 280's performance here will improve a bit. We should note that with hardware acceleration disabled, playing this video clip results in about 12% - 15% average CPU utilization, so there is a marked improvement with both PureVideo HD and UVD. Also note that with encoded content, like an off the shelf Blu-Ray disc for example, CPU utilization will be measurably higher that what you see here. However, both platforms should have no trouble playing back high def digital video.