For MPEG-2 playback tests, we ran The Matrix DVD, a personal favourite of mine on each system with hardware acceleration enabled to check for smoothness of playback as well as CPU usage during the test. The result was with 30 minutes of playback and the CPU utilization is the average.
MPEG-2 playback is flawless on the Atom and Nano platforms, thanks to the IGP's handling the decoding. The VIA CPU, however, was able to keep its usage lower than the Intel Atom.
Playback for MPEG-4 was again done with the Matrix, only encoded down to an MPEG-4 DivX 6.8 codec. 30 minutes was the time run. Smoothness of playback, audio sync and CPU usage are the keys here once again.
MPEG-4 playback on the two Atom platforms were nearly identical with both using a similar amount of CPU usage. However, the Atom's CPU usage was a lot higher than VIA's Nano since the CPU has to do all the decoding on the Atom while the Chrome9 IGP on the Nano handled DivX with no problems.
While the Atom still played back fine, when we tried to open up a webpage with Firefox we noticed lag and slowdowns; it seems that even HT isn't able to keep up.
HD 720p Playback
This is the big one for the platforms. We downloaded a random 720p video to test out using Media Player 11. Again, quality of video playback, audio sync and CPU usage are the big things to focus on here.
This is where Intel Atom really lacks; 720p playback was a non-event. The system stuttered and jumped and it was totally unwatchable on both the GIGABYTE and MSI boards. VIA gets the win thanks to the 720p decoding built into the Chrome9 IGP.
We decided to add another layer in our media playback and that is MP3 playback. If you're going to have a Car PC, it's usually to play movies and audio, so it's fitting to add this to the list. A personal favorite of mine, War of the Worlds, the musical is played back and the CPU usage is recorded. Winamp is used to play back the audio.
Here we see that all three platforms handle MP3 playback without breaking a sweat. The GIGABYTE board, however, shows itself to perform the task a little more efficiently than the MSI board this time around.