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HD Video playback
With HD DVD essentially dead, we confined our video playback tests to Blu-ray movies with the highest bitrates we could find for each of the format's three encoding types. For MPEG2 encoding, we settled on Nature's Journey, which is packed with ridiculously gorgeous loops of nature scenes. On the AVC front (otherwise known as H.264), the highest bitrates we could get our hands on came with the fast zombie flick 28 Days Later. We had to scrape the bottom of the barrel for VC-1, eventually settling on Click. For whatever reason, an Adam Sandler comedy is encoded with a higher bitrate than other VC-1 movies.

We used PowerDVD 7.3 for playback and enabled hardware acceleration within the application. CPU utilization was logged for 60 seconds of playback with each movie, and the results were averaged. Movies were played back in fullscreen mode with the desktop resolution set to 1920x1440 to make things as difficult as possible for the IGPs.

In addition to providing results for the 780G and G35 Express, we've also thrown in some numbers from a Radeon HD 3450 running on the 780G platform. That should give us a good idea of how integrated solutions compare to a discrete graphics card with full decode capabilities.

Between our integrated graphics platforms, the 780G exhibits much lower CPU utilization than the G35 Express. More importantly, the AMD chipset's playback was buttery smooth throughout. The same can't be said for the G35 Express, whose playback of MPEG2 and AVC movies was choppy enough to be unwatchable. We only observed smooth video playback on the G35 with VC-1 content, which not-so-coincidentally also delivered the lowest CPU utilization for the Intel platform.

While the 780G's playback prowess is no doubt impressive, we actually expected lower CPU utilization—something along the lines of what we saw with the Radeon HD 3450. Swapping in a Phenom reduced CPU utilization by a little more than half, but that's to be expected since Phenom also doubles the number of processor cores.

HQV video quality
The HQV benchmark is a DVD designed to test the image quality of televisions, monitors, and DVD players with a series of specific feature tests. It can also be a handy tool to evaluate how a graphic's card's video processor handles tasks like de-interlacing, motion correction, antialiasing, and film cadence detection. We tested the standard definition version of HQV using PowerDVD 7.3.

AMD scores a perfect 130 here, nailing each and every one of the HQV tests. The G35 Express doesn't fare as well, managing a score of only 70. I'm not entirely happy with how that score reflects the G35's actual performance, though. HQV's tests rely on arbitrarily subjective scoring, and in many of its tests, flickering problems on the G35 that degraded the overall viewing experience didn't actually meet the criteria for a lower score.