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.
Intel's CPU usage at the MPEG-2 level is almost non-existent, whereas VIA hits double figures. However, both platforms are able to multi-task just fine when playing back the movie.
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 doesn't even make Intel move beyond the single figures either, but both platforms are able to perform a multi-task, no worries.
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.
During HD movie playback we see that the Intel board manages a very low CPU usage once again, into the low 30's which still allows it to multi-task, whereas VIA would sometimes cause lag in the video.
We decided to add another layer into our media playback tests and that is MP3 playback. If you're going to have a Car PC it's usually for the purpose of playing 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.
MP3 playback on both systems is identical; MP3 simply is no challenge for today's CPU's.