Although Blu-Ray and HD-DVD are on the way, DVD videos remain the primary method of watching movies. Companies like NVIDIA and ATI have made video quality a key feature in their next generation products. It used to be that things like MPEG-2 acceleration would be described in just a bullet point, but now we have ATI AVIVO, NVIDIA PureVideo, and XGI TrueVideo. In this article, I will be using the HQV Benchmark DVD to evaluate mainstream GPUs: the ATI Radeon X800 XL ($270), the GeForce 6600GT ($170), and the XGI Volari 8300 (esp $50). As you can see from the difference in pricing, by mainstream, we're just talking about a GPU that's not a GeForce 7800 or Radeon X1800.
You may want to review this interview with NVIDIA
, and this interview with ATI
before we begin. We have reprinted the relevant parts of the text from our first look at DVD deinterlacing
Since we're just doing mainstream, I'll be using the HQV Benchmark DVD for my primary source. All of the tests were conducted using a 1280x1024 DVI connection. Since the DVD software plays a large role in video quality, we used the "best available" software for each platform. This meant NVIDIA PureVideo decoder for the GeForce, Cyberlink PowerDVD for the XGI, and ATI's own Multimedia Center (based off Cyberlink) for the Radeon. All of the GPUs were configured for the auto-detect mode. Forceware 81.95, Catalyst 5.12, and Reactor 3.03.03 drivers were used.
The screenshots we have used were taken with the Epiphan VGA2USB. Since we're doing a true analog capture of image quality, please be aware that differences in brightness, color, contrast, or even aspect ratio are a fault of the capture device and that the images are only designed to provide examples to go along with the text. Make sure you view the HIGH-RES version of each of the images.
Feel free to post any questions in our comments section if it's unclear whether there's a difference between image quality or if it's simply an artifact from the way we captured the video.