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nV News Home Page

Video 2000 Pro Preview

By: Neil Yates - February 13, 2000


Seeing Is Believing

This is MadOnion.com's motto for their new video diagnostic testing tool called Video2000. Unlike their latest package, 3DMark2000, which is designed to diagnose and report the performance of a video cards 2D, 3D, and special features such as Transform & Lighting (T&L) and Environment Bump Mapping - Video2000 was released to fill the gap with other tests that don't necessarily fit in with the average gamer.

Video2000 is the first benchmarking tool to evaluate cards based on their DVD playback and MPEG2 encoding measured against the total of the system in regards to AGP performance and CPU power. As such, this test will fit at home with power users who weigh greater importance on video cards and CPUs that can crunch digital video, vs. the gamer who can use a tool to report on a better system or game tweak job.

However, with an expected count of 10 million home and computer DVD player sales this year as well as the imminent arrival of 1GHz processors and 700+ MHz CeleronB sub-$1K systems, it makes perfect sense that MadOnion.com releases a diagnostic tool that also appeals to home users. Although we all wish that we owned Dolby Digital and DTS home theatre systems with 54" High-Definition TVs (HDTV) in our sunken and sound-proofed dens, the reality is that for a fraction of the cost, our current systems can do it nearly as well.

Video2000 will help all of us to tweak our systems and guide us with an online database - ensuring that we can achieve sync'ed and flicker-free digital video. Video2000 won't correct your video card, driver, or CPU/motherboard deficiencies, but it'll find them with overwhelming detail and accuracy.

Full size is 90K

Lastly, Video2000 will finally put to rest the growing review, newsgroup, and chatroom battles of "my software DVD player is better than your software DVD player."


Key Features

As I mentioned previously, Video2000 reports on an overwhelming amount of system detail. However, the drawback is that only the Pro version, for a small fee, can help to organize the data into a legible format. The non-Pro version will report the same data, but much like the non-Pro version of 3DMark2000 - in a Details button that gets spat out as a lengthy text log file. If you're an Excel king, than all the more to you, but purchasing the Pro version presents the data in a slick chart packed with a wealth of information.

Normally I don't like to include bullet-indented lists in my editorials, but it's the only real way of presenting data in a quick-read format. Here are the key features of Video2000:

  • Analyzes and tests your PC's ability to perform tasks such as Video editing, DVD playback, and MPEG encoding.
  • Created in cooperation with the major graphic accelerator and processor manufacturers.
  • Video2000 Pro also includes ResultBrowser2000, allowing you to collect your results and create your own databases of tests and results.
  • Developed with Faroudja, Inc. and over 25 IT industry manufacturers via MadOnion.com's beta program, in order to ensure the best possible testing methodology and compatibility.
  • Task-focused results for areas such as DVD, encoding & decoding MPEG-2, HDTV, Netmeeting and Home Theater.
  • Advanced image quality tests for analyzing the quality of video-playback in all situations.
  • Thorough video subsystem performance analysis.

  • A capability-check to evaluate the limitations and extra features the graphics subsystem offers.
  • A real-world MPEG-2 encoding test to assess the CPU-power available to perform software-based video-compression, effects and other tasks
  • Video Decoder Quality Tests to enable the user to gain knowledge regarding the accuracy and quality of the DVD-playback solution that is available on the system.
  • Runs under DirectX 7.0a and DirectShow.


The Systems

  • P3-500E FC-PGA (100 MHz FSB)
  • AOpen AX63 Pro (Via Apollo Pro 133 chipset)
  • 256 MB PC133 7.5 ns CAS3 SDRAM (2x 128)
  • Windows 98 SE 2222.A, DirectX 7.0A
  • Hercules Prophet 3D DDR-DVI (GeForce 256)
  • NVidia Reference Detonator driver 3.72
  • SoundBlaster Live! X-Gamer, Live!Ware 3.0
  • Quantum Fireball Plus KX 20 GB HDD, ATA/66
  • Kenwood TrueX 72x CD-ROM drive
  • Pioneer DVD-ROM 10x drive
  • Apple 20" Display (Trinitron tube)
  • Celeron-A 466 @ 525 PPGA-370 (75 MHz FSB)
  • Abit BE6 Rev1 (440BX chipset)
  • 96 MB PC100 8 ns CAS2 SDRAM
  • Windows 98 SE 2222.A, DirectX 7.0A
  • Guillemot Maxi Gamer Xentor 32 (TNT2 Ultra)
  • NVidia Reference Detonator driver 3.72
  • SoundBlaster Live! CT4830, Live!Ware 3.0
  • Quantum Fireball CR 13.6 GB HDD, ATA/66
  • Acer 50x CD-ROM CAV drive
  • Daewoo 511B 15" Display
  • Pentium-III 450 @ 504 Slot-1 (112 MHz FSB)
  • AOpen AX6BC Pro Gold (440BX chipset)
  • 192 MB PC100 8 ns CAS3 SDRAM
  • Windows 98 SE 2222.A, DirectX 7.0A
  • Skywell Magic TNT2 32 MB (TNT2-M64)
  • NVidia Reference Detonator driver 3.72
  • SoundBlaster Live! Value, Live!Ware 3.0
  • Quantum Fireball Plus KX 20 GB HDD
  • ATA/66 w/Promise PCI card
  • Creative Encore 6x DVD-ROM drive
  • Acer 56c 15" Display
  • The Software

  • MadOnion.com Video2000 Pro
  • ResultBrowser2000 (build 300)
  • CyberLink PowerDVD v2.55, registered
  • InterVideo WinDVD 2000 v2.0, registered
  • The Tests

    Although MadOnion.com's 3DMark2000 performs all tests without the need of user supervision, Video2000 requires a fair amount of babysitting to complete the suite of diagnostics. If I was to judge this package, as I seldom do, this would be a definite negative point towards them. Also, it would have been a real added bonus if Video2000 could perform tests on your DVD-ROM drive, such as throughput, utilization, DMA tests, firmware reporting etc. However, these are minor issues and do not detract from the whole.

    The tests for Video2000 are broken-up into three main sections: Quality, Performance, and Features. The three scores are added together to form the basis of the VideoMark - the final score. Within the Quality tests, Video2000 performs a series of Upscaling, Downscaling, DVD Playback, and Color Space Conversion diagnostics. These are done to test for blitter scaling errors, overlay problems, video tearing and de-interlacing visual artifacting, and the standard battery of YUV to RGB conversion comparisons.

    Blitter Quality Test

    Full size is 115K

    As for Performance diagnostics, Video2000 performs tests based on AGP data transfer tests which tests for reading/writing to and from local memory, non-local memory, and system memory. DVD Playback is tested for CPU Load (otherwise known as CPU Utilisation %) and a series of default and reference tests for playback (MPEG2 decode) at different bit rates.

    The Performance suite also diagnoses your CPU and bus by performing a short MPEG2 encode - one of the more brutal processor intensive tests imaginable. Last but not least, Video2000 will perform a Features suite and test your video card adapter for supported and supported digital video features such as overlay, blitter, and video port.

    VideoMark Results

    Full size is 90K

    As I was writing this preview, I came across a revelation that although Video2000 uses its own reference software DVD player, it also performs tests on whatever software DVD player you have installed at the time. The main pre-testing window shows what default DVD filters are installed in your test system. Likewise, the System Information button lists standard info such as CPU, cache, video card driver version etc - but it also shows what DVD features are supported as well as the DirectMedia version. In my P3E system, I had 65 DirectShow filters, but in my Celeron system I had 68.


    The Test Results

    WinDVD 2000 Version 2.0

    PowerDVD Version 2.55

    As the charts indicate (side-by-side comparison), the Celeron 525 with the TNT2 Ultra performs exceedingly well compared to the much more powerful P3-500E and GeForce DDR. What is equally stunning is that the C525/TNT2U w/WinDVD 2000 nearly matches point-for-point with the P3E/G256DDR w/PowerDVD and it's motion compensation.

    Lastly, as our local news junkie Halcyon discovered, PowerDVD does in fact have a much lower CPU utilization percentage than other players such as WinDVD 2000. Although I could ramble on about a thousand other comparative elements in regards to the tests, this article is not a "PowerDVD vs. WinDVD 2000" shoot-out. The two packages were tested to illustrate that one software DVD player will perform radically different than another, and that you don't need to spend a small fortune to get decent digital video.


    Conclusion

    Video2000 offers a world of new and exciting diagnostics for the power-user, and benchmarks and eyecandy for the power-gamer. With 3DMark200, we could test and diagnose our systems and make them multiplayer battle-ready. With Video2000, we can prep our systems to be equally good at the coming digital video age.

    Although this article is a Preview on the imminent release of Video2000, over the next few weeks, this Preview will be updated with newer content, tests, and screenshots; It's status will be bumped up to "Review". We'll also perform tests on a hardware decoder to see whether Video2000 uses it.


    Last Updated on February 13, 2000

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