High Definition Playback
Blu-Ray Playback: Waterworld, Chapter 2. Waterworld is encoded in High Definition 1080p format using MPEG4 AVC compression (rather than Mpeg 2 which is used on older Blu-Ray’s) and comes on a dual layer(50GB) disc. The aspect ratio of 1.85:1 is used with letterbox bars at the top and bottom of the 16:9 image. This portion of the movie has an average video bitrate of around 33Mbps and regularly peaks above this making it one of the most demanding Blu-Rays on the market. For comparison, a movie such as Casino Royale has a bitrate of 24Mbps.
MKV Playback: Our test file was a 1080p .mkv file which was taken from a 1080p source and converted into this format.
Blu-Ray playback is a relatively simple affair on ATI and Nvidia hardware, just install the latest drivers. Tweak the display settings to the preferred level and then run PowerDVD 10 which features Pure-Video and Avivo acceleration. Through these technologies the graphics cards are able to take the video workload away from the CPU leaving it free to perform other tasks.
As the results show, both manufacturers have this feature performing very well and while the average and minimum results are identical ATI offer slightly better performance on maximum CPU use.
MKV playback is a little more complicated. To gain video acceleration on this format with ATI cards we need to perform some configuration on Media Player Classic. With the tweaks in place the CPU usage statistic is on average less than 1%. The NVIDIA side of MKV playback is a little easier to use. Through purchasing CoreCodec we are able to play back MKV content in numerous different players by simply ticking a box in the codec options. In addition to being easier and more flexible the performance is also better on Nvidia with the CPU use never rising above 1.2%.