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HQV Benchmark 2.0 Analysis – ATi, nVidia and Intel

KitGuru knows that companies spend millions creating the best HD processing set up possible only to see the final image quality shattered by a weak component somewhere in the system. We spend many hours watching High Definition content and we never stop playing with our ATI and nVidia driver panels to get the quality as high as we can. All this fiddling might be fun, but can we add any science to the process of deciding on the best picture? HQV Benchmark 2.0 aims to do just that. Square-Eyed KitGurus investigate.

Hollywood Quality Video. You are setting yourself up with a name like that. Especially for a benchmark. But the guys at http://www.hqv.com/ did a cracking job when they launched their original benchmark back in 2007. It quickly won Wired Magazine’s Editor’s Pick as a ‘must have’ for setting up the best home cinema experience possible. The main advantage was that it could be used across a broad cross section of systems, PC and hi-fi to give a simple number which allowed you to compare image quality.

The point of the program is that it takes a series of ‘human’ tests (you look at it and score it) and lets you give that experience a number. The numbers given by a diverse audience are often quite close in scoring.

HQV Benchmark 2.0 is an updated version of the original tool and it consists of various video clips and test patterns which are designed to evalute motion correction, de-interlacing, decoding, noise reduction, detail enhancement and film cadence detection.

There are two versions of the program, standard definition on DVD and high definition on Bluray. As our audience will be concentrating on HD content so will we.

This has a total of 39 video tests which is increased from 23 in the original and the scoring is also up from a total of 130 to 210. As hardware and software gets more complicated, the software has been tuned to make sure we can thoroughly maximise our analysis.

We will be comparing ATi, nVidia and Intel graphics solutions with the HQV 2.0 Benchmark to see which company really delivers the best viewing experience. As a portion of the testing will be subjective, it is absolutely imperative that we use the best quality screen possible. Many HDTV’s have intensive processing which may artificially enhance the picture quality, but we need to omit this from the equation and concentrate totally on the graphics hardware and driver output. Our initial plans were to use a television such as the Panasonic Viera NeoPDP 600hz Plasma, but while we adore the picture there is a lot of processing going on behind the scenes, even with intelligent frame creation disabled.

For the purposes of this review we will be using one of the most expensive monitors on the planet, the LaCie 730, which retails around the £2,700 mark. This incorporates a 14-bit colour system (14-bit look up table and 14-bit per colour processing) which takes the 8-bit output of your graphics cards dual-link DVI port and modifies it into the monitor’s output using an overall palette which has 192 times more colour shades than the graphics card’s output. The colours displayed will more accurately reflect exactly what is being displayed. The colour gamut is also 23 per cent larger than that of Adobe RGB standard which is used in applications such as Photoshop.

This monitor has been carefully calibrated with LaCie’s Blue Eye Pro Proof Edition software. During our calibration we have configured blackpoint, colour temperature as well as adaptation and profile type. This screen also offers a native 1:1 1080p mode for perfect pixel reproduction.

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  • Death Dealer

    what a stunning article Zardon, im speechless.

  • Eric K

    I really dont know how you get time to do all these articles man, its highest quality journalism. seriously.

  • Tim

    Shit thats good info ! AMD for me next GFX I think 🙂

  • Frank

    Glad the site came back up there, I was reading this and I lost it !

    What an amazing read man, top job.

  • Stefan

    Amazing, absolutely bloody amazing. Surprised how well intel did actually considering.

  • Ray

    wow, ive been reading an hour and im not even half way through it, will check out the rest later, what detail ! love it guys.

  • Derek

    Yeah, the 480GTX did well too I think, nVidia were well known not to have great IQ in video, and this shows they are still lagging but catching up a bit.

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  • tom

    so much detail in this id need the weekend to really take it all in. Interesting to see the Catalyst 10.6 in this. when they arent even out yet !

  • tri color

    staggering level of work in this chaps. most impressed


    Well I would be lying if I said I understand even half of it, but what I do get is AMD ROCKS 🙂

  • francois lebon

    Catalyst 10.6, I must have it. now!

  • breaker

    Nice writeup. good info and id like to try this myself, how much does it cost? is it out yet?

  • Trev mang

    Amazing editorial piece, best ive read all year by a long shot. Cant even imagine the work load in this.

  • Dax

    43 pages, eh? is this for real. shit. I just read the conclusion, sorry ! but ill read more later. Intel did well didnt they? i thought they would end up with 5 points.

  • fluffychicken

    I don’t really even know what to say after reading that. how long did this take to test? 3 weeks? insane testing and very useful to get information about driver quality. I am sure nvidia will release a set shortly to target this benchmark which is good as it will assuredly improve IQ real world for everyone.

  • brad

    lol. really, lol 🙂 I gave up after page 10, information overload. but I get the point from the conclusion which is all I need, ATi seem to have trhe edge.

  • tech head

    simply staggering detail and what a great idea for a benchmark. Lets use OUR OWN EYES and not have some coder tell us what is better. and then we get fake results when they can optimise drivers. real world testing FTW.

  • dauth maul

    Well I really do love this article. why? as someone said earlier, its not sythethic crap. its real world to the core. I am sure different people might get slightly different results, but ive known Zardon long enough on Driverheaven over the years to know he is pretty expert on video stuff.

  • Jim oldtimer

    Brilliant to read and actually understand. great the way all the tests MEAN something and a great benchmark idea from HQV. ill get myself a copy and hopefully a 5550 shortly too 🙂

  • Joseph F

    Amazing reading. im not a fan of futuremark style tests. what does a score of 25,000 really mean? apart from epenis on the forums. This is what I wanted to see for a long time. I think nvidia will add some new features to their drivers also. soon.

  • geek master

    Good to see ATI dont win ALL the tests ! seems nvidia have a bit of driver work to do. In 6 months I bet both companies are over 200 points each, battling to max out the scores.

  • i love porn movies

    Great testing and I liked the use of a reference monitor, rather than a processed loaded TV which would alter the raw settings anyway

  • dark knight

    Id like that monitor myself, any chance I could trade it for my 24 inch Dell? its a good deal, really.

  • Mark Ramistin

    Intel did pretty well didnt they for not really spending much time doing this kind of work? very impressed with their results in some of those tests. That said, AMD here I come 🙂

  • Skin Force

    that was a wicked read over lunch here. have to take it all in again later then get the new drivers and maybe order the benchmark, how much is it ?

  • Stefan

    I think its only $25 on their store.

  • Fred

    great read, but it seems a bit biased to me for ATI!

  • Gareth Cringle.

    lol, always one idiot isnt there 🙂 I would think you should get a copy and try it out yourself man.

  • horrace

    im sold, I want these drivers, cant get them on ATIs site yet ;(

  • Eric k

    I have been refreshing to try and get them, nothing yet 🙁

  • Tunick

    What a fucking brilliant editorial KG. I nkow you get a bit of stick for your news sometimes, but the reviews are top drawer.

  • Rob Max

    I ordered the bluray disc, need to check this out for myself 🙂

  • me

    10/10. Thank you for the work. bookmarked it as a reference.when I order the bluray myself.

  • Trey Kool

    I would like to just pass on my regards for spending all this time for something so informative and educational. This is a credit to the website and will be bookmarked by thousands I feel for a reference. I hope in 3 months time you can follow up with new drivers from all companies and measure the changes

  • Melachonly Freebie taker

    Posted this on the wrong article ! urgh. Thanks for the article, its the most indepth ive seen online. very helpful, even if I struggled to keep up with some of the tests.

  • henry

    I used to think I could be a reviewer/writer for a tech site, until I read something like this and realise I would just jump out the window or shoot myself in the head.

    work overload 🙂

  • nerd sucker

    fabulous reading and it shows that drivers do make a massive difference. ATI have came a long way in 4 years. I remember when their drivers were a disaster.

  • long jumper

    stunning work guys, I have to read this more later.

  • Flo

    Interesting to see termingology for things ive seen with my HD movies but never understood. invaluable.

  • Terrance M.

    Great to see such an indepth analysis for an important subject matter.

  • faith

    ATI winning another video quality shoot out is not a surprise, we agree.
    nVidia’s improvement was good to see, but for me the biggest story here
    is just how much Intel has come on. If they ever manage to get a discrete
    graphics solution to market, these boys will be dangerous.

  • Rick

    I am so annoyed I bought a GT220 for media after reading this. should have went for a 5550 🙁

  • Ron

    Glad I went for a HD5850 ! worth the cost. I think lol

  • Trix

    I wonder do ATI do trade in deals for HD4 series cards anywhere? id like a 5 series but just cant afford it

  • Stuy Lewis and the news

    I agree, Intel did very well, I wasnt expecting that at all.

  • Vivian

    Very very interesting. Wasnt expecting intel to outperform one of the nvidia boards. that g210 really is a piece of shit.

  • Flung hard

    Intel scoring so hard blew my mind, I thought their onboard solutions sucked ass.

  • Wez

    Zardon I love you. Really. glad to see you back and kicking ass with this level of article.

  • Garry

    speechless. ill come back later when I can digest a third of it 🙂

  • Tim Smalls

    Wow just what I wanted, im sick seeing game benchmarks, which mean nothing to me.

  • Stereophonic

    Amazing detail of testing there fella. cant imagine how long that took. thank you.

  • Raymond Ticklestick

    well that was quite the ride and very informative to someone who knows very little about IQ.

  • Hairy Beast

    That really got me worked up KitGuru. very good article, I shall b e back.

  • Paul Sheers

    While it was important you used a reference panel, I think people should know this is subjective testing and as such errors can creep in depending on the user.

  • Paul Sheers

    Why not use a TV, no one will have a panel that expensive.

  • Death Dealer

    @ Paul sheers. read the pages, explains why. you can’t test something if TV processing and enhancements are between the driver/hardware and viewer. We need to see quailty of the raw image to the panel, not work out what is being processed by the panel to improve on things.

  • Harry

    Brilliant. Top job – shall use this as a guide in college

  • francois lebon

    Wow ive been trying to read this thoroughly all night and the site has been up and down. problems? Great article, still cant get seeing it all yet as I cant load some pages, but ill try later.

  • Freak show

    SO useful this in my thinking about a future card. can nvidia catch up though with their drivers or could it be more hardware related?

  • Dereke

    Have had a real hard time getting here tonight. traffic issues? I am surprised intel did so well really compared to some of the discrete solutions, but its impressive for them. I think.

  • Fortitude (RF)

    This is exactly why ive always bought AMD, even when I know nvidia often make better gamign cards. I watch A LOT OF HD content and it verifies my own findings.

  • faith


    Zardon’s HQV 2 article has generated a wave of traffic the like of which we’ve never seen before

    Our dedicated server just could not cope as traffic spiked >8x normal!

    Fear not, we have a solution coming in the next day or so, which will change KitGuru’s capability massively

    In the meantime, please bare with us

  • Ricky Holding

    I dont normally post comments on sites, but I wanted to lay down a thanks for this work. its really benefited me in the decision for a card.

  • Harding R.

    I really rated HQV 1 and bought it, and will buy HQV2. This is a killer article however and ive noticed it linked a lot tonight. Will really help you get attention from the media audience.

  • Trial by fire

    Finally got to read this after 3 hours of trying ! you trying to create false demand by taking the site down ?

    ITs an overrated review, not much work at all in it.

    No, im kidding, awesome, just messing around with you faith 🙂

  • Garabic

    Hey man, if you ever need work, let me know, ive a magazine will employ you in an instant 🙂

  • Trebor Mints, love em

    Had to post a thanks for this Kitguru, a considerable read by any definition of the words.

  • Rocksteady Crew

    Linked to this from our site,and thought id pop on and say congrats on the work, very definitive.

  • Anand

    polished, indepth and educational. Good read.

  • Fadilickier

    Hello there, very informative and useful. I like the idea of a real world ‘benchmark’ rather than a prescripted figured based thing.

  • Haditbutlostit

    yeah, nice work, HQV rocks and this is a showcase of how damn good it is. we need more tests like these on the market. Actually relating directly to how we enjoy movies and theater.

  • Robert Truhihol

    Hello from Spain! read this earlier then the site went down and my friends couldn’t see it.

    Many thanks from us, this is very useful. HD5850 ordered 🙂

  • Lativia Horriscopic

    Tres Bien KG. I can now get the card I need thanks to these test results. I am so picky about hardware and HD playback. I know what I want now.


  • Palas Yankovic

    We like this for news and for breath of informative nature. useful in circumstances to get hardware needed.

  • Klaus Distorm

    HD5850 is the king of all cards, for the money its impossible to beat. nothing has changed. HQV V 2.0 is impressive.

  • Steve Read

    I like the style of testing they use, as it covers all forms of artificating and issues we experience with less than perfect configurations. Once they make a 52 inch version of the LaCie 730 screen so I can watch my movies I will be happy. and quite possibly broke.

  • Lucy Terbonne

    Thank you, I almost bought a G210 last month, I just ordered a 5450.

  • Darkness involves love

    Good test procedures, as the reference monitor has no filtering or interlacing. Clean image out means clearer to see the importance of the driver coding and quality throughput of hardware. 10/10

  • Grass is greener

    I love this writing and testing is very useful. I was surprised to see the GTX480 being outclassed by lesser powerful ATI solutions, however ATI I tink have many new driver features in 10.6 maybe nvidia will copy them and get the standard higher.

  • Gary Walker

    This site is now my homepage. I never knew it existed, and its almost criminal I didn’t I just read 10 reviews. KEEP IT UP PLEASE ! (ex tomshardware fan).

  • Hans Zimmer

    This article has helped me work out the wheat from the chaff. Decided to order a 5750 for my media center. It can also play games if I need on the TV> anything lower is fine, but not good for gaming. Thanks kitguru for an education read, I feel so much more capable in picking my hardware this time around for what I need (HD and bluray first, gaming next)

  • Gets out

    very overjoyed to read this. excuse english, informative good. Figures interesting. result helped buy card. HD5850. thank you.

  • Paul

    Fuck it, just ordered two 5850s for my system. I hate this site now 🙂

  • Pepe

    J’aimerais vous remercier les gens pour l’écriture ceci. J’ai voulu une bonne base de données pour mesurer l’exécution dans les secteurs clés, comme la cadence. Ceci a aidé me choisit la solution vidéo juste pour mes besoins très heureux.

  • Michael

    Vad ett stort jobb och kvaliteten av skrift är översta skåra. Vi tackas som för tiden och ansträngning att hjälpa oss att köpa kort.

  • Jurgen

    Vielen Dank für das Helfen von mir mit einem Kauf des HD5850 für meine Medien zentriert. und für ein Gaming auch(sorry bad english)

  • Brian

    Well above and beyond the call Z man. well done.

  • Fruitiger Condensed

    Quite surprised when I saw text links to 43. then saw it was actually 43 pages.

    I would hate this job, but I appreciate the work for everyone. Not often you get a man nuts enough to write 43 to help for a video card purchase. bookmarked for later.

  • AMD really do rock my world

    nvidia doubters take note. if you want IQ and gaming performance, you dont buy green.

  • Stefan

    wow quite a few new faces here.

  • Stefan R

    Ik maakte een geïnformeerde beslissing om een 5 seriekaart te krijgen bedankt naar dit artikel. Ik kijk hoofdzakelijk MKV bestanden en Bluray. Slechts wat ik wilde lezen. Dank u kitguru

  • Tony

    This is way too much to read. but thank you, you do need therapy for writing all that however

  • Max

    I wonder why ATI did so bad in a few of the tests. they seem quite important ones too. anyone else notice it ?

  • Death dealer

    @ MAX – yes 2:2 lock – wondered why they failed that so badly when nvidia did so well.

  • Eric K

    2:2 lock can be important in some situations, but I think ATI might have it fixed by the time driver 11 is out.

  • Death Dealer

    I dont understand the specific test though, what would it affect in real movie terms, fast moving multicolored objects moving across axis?

  • eric k

    “When the globe is moving through the right side of the screen, it is displayed with a 3:2 cadence, while on the left, the cadence is 2:2. A scoring guide is provided on the screen, with a green zone that begins right at the cadence boundary, a yellow zone which starts a half-second later, and a red zone that begins one second into the cadence zone.”

    It seems to be more a transitional state between areas and brightly coloured boundaries which could mean the cards have a slight delay in locking onto them for processing reasons. Maybe Terry Makedon would have info?

  • death dealer

    Zardon, dont know if you read these, but can you ask Terry about that test? and if they can get a score on it? transitition locks seem a rather important processing element.

  • Stefan

    Takes more than one second to transition from 3:2 to 2:2- Scores 0

    Sounds like a processing glitch when moving from primary coloured areas to another ?

  • Bob

    wow. what an article. would take me a week to read it all.

  • Kimil

    thank you for all the testing, most helpful!

  • Terrance

    Definitive. if the site goes down at some stage, this will be the article to remember kitguru by!

  • Doorknocker

    Not sure how to really say it with feeling, but ill try.

    Maximum headshot! nailed IQ. nailed the testing. we want MORE!

  • Charles

    I have been following Zardon since he was a moderator on Rage3d and was actually probably one of their best too. When he started DriverHeaven I loved the reviews. Now KitGuru. One of the most unashamedly talented technology writers on the planet and doesnt get half the credit he should. This is an epic piece of work. Mucho gracias.

  • Brent

    He was a moderator on Rage3d? didnt know that. but yeah … what charles said. where ever he goes, ill find him !

  • Tom Beatty

    I just ordered the ASUS bluray online, that is such a sexy little drive. had to have it.

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  • Iluvatar

    Zardon , you may rule Middle Earth, you are wothy!!!

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  • BigN

    The people that make HQV must be impressed. Every search engine ranks Zardon’s article as the best on benchmarking video. Maybe they should hire him 🙂

  • gabs

    STunning, but maybe more pictures of the tests?

  • DavidC1

    Why do you guys use the antiquitated drivers for Intel while the competitors use the nearly/latest drivers? One might say that’s called a “bias”.

    There has been at least 6 driver versions since 1952.

  • Actually there is nothing biased about it at all. Due to an administration error the wrong intel driver was listed. it was V15.​17.​4.​2119

  • Dragos

    Zardon can you please tell us what where the settings used in Catalyst Control Center, I mean besides the ones that you already wrote about (like Brither Whites, EE ?)



    No shots for denoising\sharpening?! That’s REALLY bad! 😉

    I always prefer to check such things myself, just because too often I see something like “great resolution enhancement algo in nvidia Purevideo” etc., but when I try to compare… well, it’s just “cheap and fast” version of unsharp mask, and it kill too much real details and adds too much galos\noise to make sharp edges.

    This conclusion is based on my old (2007) tests and may be absolutely wrong now. But I have no need for deeply re-evaluate DXVA decoding… I choose software decoding with ffdshow, because it’s sharpening\upsampling\denoising capabilities are just outstanding. 🙂