Whether playing HD DVD and Blu-ray discs from a drive, or files obtained or stored via other means
, you'll need plenty of horsepower
to keep the HD flowing smoothly. Hardware Zone took a look at NVIDIA
and ATI's competing platforms for hardware acceleration of h.264 and VC-1 decoding on PCs. They tested a few 1080i h.264-encoded movies from Japan and found neither solution was able reduce CPU load by more than 20-30% on their Core 2 Duo equipped test machine, with similar reductions on less CPU-intensive VC-1 discs. Overall they like the NVIDIA's PureVideo
GeForce 7600 GT over the comparably priced ATI Radeon X1650 XT with Avivo
, but check out the head to head for all the numbers before deciding which videocard goes in your next Media PC.