To test CPU Utilization during Blu-Ray playback I used PowerDVD 8 Ultra (build 2021.50) and enabled hardware acceleration within the application (as seen above). This time around hardware acceleration remained enabled on both test platforms. CPU utilization was logged for 90 seconds of playback with each movie, and the results were taken. Movies were played back in full screen mode with the desktop resolution set to 1920×1080, or 1080p.
The first movie to be tested was Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. This title is MPEG-4 (H.264) and has Dobly True HD 5.1 handling the audio side of things. As you can see the Intel DG45ID motherboard with X4500HD onboard graphics needed to use the CPU more during playback as it averaged 35% CPU usage to play the movie, but with the new BIOS and hardware acceleration working the processor usage dropped to just 12%. This is a 66% reduction in CPU usage thanks to the new BIOS update. With the Radeon HD 4830 graphics card installed in the system the average CPU usage lowered to just 8%, which is a 33% reduction in CPU usage than Blu-Ray playback on the Intel DG45ID motherboard. As you can tell having the proper video card BIOS and system BIOS makes a difference for Blu-Ray playback performance.
Many Blu-Ray movies use VC-1 and Shoot ‘Em Up just happens to be one of those titles and it has DTS-HD MasterAudio 7.1 for audio. The Intel DG45ID motherboard with X4500HD onboard graphics averaged 29% CPU usage with the broken BIOS and 14% with the fixed BIOS installed on the system. The ATI Radeon HD 4830 graphics card had on average 11% CPU usage, which is 22% less than the integrated graphics.
Final Thoughts and Conclusions:
It looks like Intel was right and that my initial findings were not a reflection on the actual product capabilities. With BIOS version 0085 installed on the Intel DG45ID motherboard the Blu-Ray playback performance was found to exceptional and the stutters that we saw in H.264 title Iron Man were no longer present. The Intel X4500HD integrated graphics seems to be able to do Blu-Ray playback now, which is nice to see.
Confident that I have the proper performance numbers now the difference between the Intel DG45ID motherboard with X4500HD integrated graphics and the AMD Radeon HD 4830 were too close to call a winner. The AMD Radeon HD 4830 obviously has lower CPU usage, but it also has a more advanced graphical user interface that allows you to quickly get your HDTV up and running at the right resolution. At 1920×1080 both configurations were simple to use, but using an older 720p monitor we found it impossible to get the picture lined up correctly on the TV with the Intel setup utility. If you are running a 1080p television though, this won’t be an issue though.
The Intel DG45ID motherboard retails for $109.99 and now that the BIOS kinks have been worked out, it seems like a solid platform to use for a HTPC. If you purchase one of these boards just be sure to have the correct BIOS installed and you’ll be good to go. The AMD Radeon HD 4830 costs $119.99, which is obviously a fair amount more than just the Intel DG45ID motherboard. The added benefit to the discrete graphics card is the fact that you can also play modern game titles on it.
Legit Bottom Line: The Intel X4500HD onboard graphics on the DG45ID motherboard offers smooth Blu-Ray playback, but discrete graphics is still the ultimate way to go in terms of performance and ease of setup for those that want to spend the extra money.