Gigabyte GV-N66256DP + Pure Video = WOW!


Active Member
This is a dupliate post I made at the Cinemar forum, but figured some of y'all that aren't members there might benefit from it too...

I've been using an old ATI Radeon 7500 and PowerDVD5 Codecs for playback via DVDLobby/ZoomPlayer for just about a year. I've always had some performance issues with this setup on my Athlon XP 2600+ 1GB RAM system.

When ZoomPlayer played video, it consumed about 80% of my processor on average (per windows performance monitor ran on a networked PC) and often spiked to 100%, causing pretty much everything else on the PC (HomeSeer scripts, Text-to-speech announcements, etc.) to crawl.

Keep in mind that this PC "idles" at about 14% given that HomeSeer, MLServer, Girder, StramZap PC Remote, Outlook Express, and Norton AV are running in the background.

Oh, and I play video at my TV's native resolution 1280x720, AKA 720p.

The Radeon only had DVI, VGA, and Svideo output and was not compatible with ATI's DVI-to-Component dongle, which complicated switching since my other components were component video and my TV lacked discrete input commands (requiring slow macro workarounds for input selection). So I started looking for a replacement card with component video output.

I've been out of the "know" about video cards since waaay back when the Radeon 7500 was state of the art, so I did not have much knowledge about them. I ended-up purchasing a Gigabyte GV-N66256DP based on the review here: and some user reviews at the AVS Forum. It was also one of the few powerful AGP solutions still out there since everything's moving to PCIe.

I got the card last week and installed it on Wednesday. I had to cut a blowhole in the top of My Antec Overture case to accommodate the card's heat pipe cooler, which protruded about 1-2 cm above the top of the case - but that was not a big deal and will probably improve the cooling of the case anyway.

Well, I initially installed the cards latest drivers and the complimentary copy of PowerDVD6 that came with the card, upgrading my PowerDVD5 installation.

I tweaked the PowerDVD6 codecs and ZoomPlayer for VRMR 9 renderless mode, which I understood would maximize use of the GPU instead of my CPU (I could be wrong, though, I'm still re-entering this whole graphic card world). The results, were very nice... about 40% usage with the occasional jump to 80% during DVD playback - oh, and the picture looked smoother via component than it did over DVI - the DVI output - at least with the old Radeon - gave a lot of jagged edges to everything. Of course, text and stuff looked better over DVI, but I don't use this PC for reading text unless I'm configuring it, and I usually configure it via RDP.

Well, I was happy, but greedy and wanted more! I did some checking around and discovered that all that Pure Video stuff nVidia advertises was not included in the particular bundle I purchased, so I down-loaded a 30-day trial.

I installed the codecs and tweaked them for VMR9 renderless exclusive mode in ZoomPlayer with all of the Codecs highest quality settings set.

I played some HDD DVDs again. Now I was getting 30% CPU usage with the occasional peak at 63% (I ran performance monitor for about 5 minutes with various amounts of action on the screen). I also tasked HomeSeer and MLServer while the video was playing to further tax the system. I got several 80% spikes and one or two 100% spikes, but my average use still hovered around 30%. Text to speech playback was fluid as well (has always been played back through a separate audio device from Zoom and JRMedia Center), whereas it used to be delayed and stuttering. All lights and other actions occurred as if HomeSeer and MLServer were running alone. After seeing this, I immediately went and plunked down the $19.95 for the codec to turn-off the 30-day clock.

I highly recommend this card and codec combo to anyone wanting to enhance video playback on a 1-2-year-old PC. Heck, I may even try some FFDShow enhancements now, whereas I'd only been using it as a codec in the past with all its enhancements off.
I'm running a 2.6G P4 for MCE and a FX5200 for video. My output is SVideo to a 10 year old rear projection TV. I have only a handfull of xAP application running on the same computer and my primary use of MCE is PVR functionality. I have not been to concerned about CPU utilization but when I observe it when recording and viewing on the two tuners the utilization is typically around 30%. I do observe some delays every once in awhile when using the remote, but I would attribute these to disk paging rather than video-related procesing. Given this scenario is there any end-user experience differences that one would expect between the FX5200 vs 6600?
Hmm, I'm not sure about that one - like I said before, I've been out of the GPU biz for a while so I don't know much of a diff from one to the other.

I recommend posting the same question at HTPCNews.