What started off being a quick article to show off CyberLink’s MediaShow Espresso video converter application and how it can take advantage of the power of a graphics card turned into something a little more interesting. It seems that the processor still plays a critical role in transcoding performance, and depending on your specific system you might not want to run hardware acceleration as it could hurt performance.
The NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GTX+ was found to use more of the CPU during conversion, but depending on the processor that can either help or hurt you. With an older processor like the AMD Athlon X2 4850e the GeForce 9800 GTX+ was slower than the Radeon HD 4770 HD since the processor was unable to handle the stream of data coming at it. On the other hand when the processor isn’t being fully used the GeForce 9800 GTX+ performs better than the Radeon HD 4770 HD as shown on the Intel Core i7-965 test system. The exact opposite of this is true when using the Radeon HD 4770 HD as it hardly uses any of the CPU as the majority of the workload has been offloaded to the video card. In situations where you have a slow or dual-core processor this offloading is ideal, but if you have the processing muscle of a CPU like the Core i7-965 it will actually hurt performance!
Both solutions have their strong points, so if GPU compute power matters in your purchasing decision, then you have a tough choice to make. The ATI Radeon HD 4770 may not be the fastest, but it offloads more of the workload to the GPU, which frees up the CPU to be used for other tasks. The GeForce 9800 GTX+ clearly won the benchmarks when run on the Intel Core 7 platform, but used 100% of the CPU when converting multiple files. The question now is how to divide the work to be done between the GPU/CPU, but that is something the software makers and AMD/NVIDIA need to determine. For now this is the performance you can expect to see in the real world.
Legit Bottom Line: By doing this article it reinforces the significance of building a balanced computer system and that you shouldn’t invest all your money in one thing.