Part of what makes the GeForce GT 220 interesting is that it is one of the first NVIDIA cards to support MPEG-4 ASP video decoding through VDPAU. The GeForce G210, G210M, GT 220, GT 230M, GT 240M, GTS 250M, and GTS 260M are the only NVIDIA graphics cards that currently support PureVideo VP4, which is the first generation to support this format. In other words, these graphics cards offer the best video playback support on Linux with the most advanced feature set.
For our first test we just monitored the CPU usage while playing back a 1080p H.264 video sample through the Phoronix Test Suite. To compare the ATI graphics cards here too, we just used the X-Video interface. As you can see though, all nine graphics cards had about the same CPU usage. With the Core i7 870 system the CPU usage never even hit 20% during this HD video playback.
When looking at the 1080p H.264 video playback with MPlayer while using VDPAU on the NVIDIA graphics cards, the CPU usage for all of the graphics cards were at zero virtually the entire time. With the GeForce 8500GT there was a small jump in the CPU load temporarily, but it quickly recessed. As earlier benchmarks have shown, even HD video playback with a $20 CPU and $30 GPU is possible under Linux when using VDPAU.