My Experience with Nvidia 6600 and Pure video

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jrfuda
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My Experience with Nvidia 6600 and Pure video

Postby jrfuda » Fri Feb 03, 2006 10:27 am

Guys,

I've been using an old ATI Radeon 7500 and PowerDVD5 Codecs for playback via DVDLobby/ZoomPlayer for just about a year. I've always had some performance issues with this setup on my Athlon XP 2600+ 1GB RAM system.

When ZoomPlayer played video, it consumed about 80% of my processor on average (per windows performance monitor ran on a networked PC) and often spiked to 100%, causing pretty much everything else on the PC (HomeSeer scripts, Text-to-speech announcements, etc.) to crawl.

Keep in mind that this PC "idles" at about 14% given that HomeSeer, MLServer, Girder, StramZap PC Remote, Outlook Express, and Norton AV are running in the background.

Oh, and I play video at my TV's native resolution 1280x720, AKA 720p.

The Radeon only had DVI, VGA, and Svideo output and was not compatible with ATI's DVI-to-Component dongle, which complicated switching since my other components were component video and my TV lacked discrete input commands (requiring slow macro workarounds for input selection). So I started looking for a replacement card with component video output.

I've been out of the "know" about video cards since waaay back when the Radeon 7500 was state of the art, so I did not have much knowledge about them. I ended-up purchasing a Gigabyte GV-N66256DP based on the review here: http://www.htpcnews.com/main.php?id=6600agp_1 and some user reviews at the AVS Forum. It was also one of the few powerful AGP solutions still out there since everything's moving to PCIe.

I got the card last week and installed it on Wednesday. I had to cut a blowhole in the top of My Antec Overture case to accommodate the card's heat pipe cooler, which protruded about 1-2 cm above the top of the case - but that was not a big deal and will probably improve the cooling of the case anyway.

Well, I initially installed the cards latest drivers and the complimentary copy of PowerDVD6 that came with the card, upgrading my PowerDVD5 installation.

I tweaked the PowerDVD6 codecs and ZoomPlayer for VRMR 9 renderless mode, which I understood would maximize use of the GPU instead of my CPU (I could be wrong, though, I'm still re-entering this whole graphic card world). The results, were very nice... about 40% usage with the occasional jump to 80% during DVD playback - oh, and the picture looked smoother via component than it did over DVI - the DVI output - at least with the old Radeon - gave a lot of jagged edges to everything. Of course, text and stuff looked better over DVI, but I don't use this PC for reading text unless I'm configuring it, and I usually configure it via RDP.

Well, I was happy, but greedy and wanted more! I did some checking around and discovered that all that Pure Video stuff nVidia advertises was not included in the particular bundle I purchased, so I down-loaded a 30-day trial.

I installed the codecs and tweaked them for VMR9 renderless exclusive mode in ZoomPlayer with all of the Codecs highest quality settings set.

I played some HDD DVDs again. Now I was getting 30% CPU usage with the occasional peak at 63% (I ran performance monitor for about 5 minutes with various amounts of action on the screen). I also tasked HomeSeer and MLServer while the video was playing to further tax the system. I got several 80% spikes and one or two 100% spikes, but my average use still hovered around 30%. Text to speech playback was fluid as well (has always been played back through a separate audio device from Zoom and JRMedia Center), whereas it used to be delayed and stuttering. All lights and other actions occurred as if HomeSeer and MLServer were running alone. After seeing this, I immediately went and plunked down the $19.95 for the codec to turn-off the 30-day clock.

I highly recommend this card and codec combo to anyone wanting to enhance video playback on a 1-2-year-old PC. Heck, I may even try some FFDShow enhancements now, whereas I'd only been using it as a codec in the past with all its enhancements off.

MurrayW
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Postby MurrayW » Fri Feb 03, 2006 11:26 am

John,
I have a similar setup to you (I think I am using an Athlon 2800 or 3000). About 1 year ago I went from an ATI 7500 to an NVidia 6600GT and I am very happy with the upgrade. I am using TheaterTek instead of ZoomPlayer.

A 720P clip works great, but I haven't been able to get a 1080P clip to play very well. My TV's native resolution is 1080P. From TT, the picture is fine, but the sound is "unlistenable". Using Windows media player, the sound is OK, but the picture studders. I think that I may just have to do some tweaking, but haven't played around with it enough to know if it is some settings that I could change or if my HTPC just needs a faster processor.

But all in all, the 6600GT was money well spent.

Murray

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Postby jrfuda » Fri Feb 03, 2006 11:47 am

Murray, do you have the Pure Video Codec installed? Are you using VMR9 renderlles? I think those both shift the burden from the CPU to the GPU, though I haven't tried anything over 720p due to my sets resolution.

Maybe I'll get a 1080p set in 5 years or so when this one is ready for retirement...

MurrayW
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Postby MurrayW » Fri Feb 03, 2006 12:00 pm

jrfuda wrote:Murray, do you have the Pure Video Codec installed?
I think so...I'll check this weekend.
jrfuda wrote:Are you using VMR9 renderlles?
Yes
jrfuda wrote:I think those both shift the burden from the CPU to the GPU, though I haven't tried anything over 720p due to my sets resolution.

Maybe I'll get a 1080p set in 5 years or so when this one is ready for retirement...
As I mentioned, I really didn't do much more than download the clips and try playing them...so I probably have some room for improvement in my settings.

Murray


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