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I need some way of determining if a given graphics card can play SD, HD (720) or full HD (1080), etc. video content. I'm not sure if that fact it supports 1920x1080 monitor resolution means it would be fine playing 1920x1080 video content at 30fps?

Are there some specs for each graphics card/chipset that can be used to give a good indication of what video playback it could support?

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Often this is not the case, especially for low end cards.

The performance of video playback is largely dependent on the video accelerators present.

Let's say you want to buy a dirt cheap GeForce 8400 GS. Take a look at the specifications:

NVIDIA® PureVideo™ HD Technology: The combination of high-definition video decode acceleration and post-processing that delivers unprecedented picture clarity, smooth video, accurate color, and precise image scaling for movies and video. Feature requires supported video software. Features may vary by product.

Discrete, Programmable Video Processor: NVIDIA PureVideo is a discrete programmable processing core in NVIDIA GPUs that provides superb picture quality and ultra-smooth movies with low CPU utilization and power.

Hardware Decode Acceleration: Provides ultra-smooth playback of H.264, VC-1, WMV and MPEG-2 HD and SD movies.

HDCP Capable: Designed to meet the output protection management (HDCP) and security specifications of the Blu-ray Disc and HD DVD formats, allowing the playback of encrypted movie content on PCs when connected to HDCP-compliant displays. Requires other HDCP-compatible components.

Spatial-Temporal De-Interlacing: Sharpens HD and standard definition interlaced content on progressive displays, delivering a crisp, clear picture that rivals high-end home-theater systems.

High-Quality Scaling: Enlarges lower resolution movies and videos to HDTV resolutions, up to 1080i, while maintaining a clear, clean image. Also provides downscaling of videos, including high-definition, while preserving image detail.

Inverse Telecine (3:2 & 2:2 Pulldown Correction): Recovers original film images from films-converted-to-video, providing more accurate movie playback and superior picture quality.

Bad Edit Correction: When videos are edited after they have been converted from 24 to 25 or 30 frames, the edits can disrupt the normal 3:2 or 2:2 pulldown cadence. PureVideo uses advanced processing techniques to detect poor edits, recover the original content, and display perfect picture detail frame after frame for smooth, natural looking video.

Noise Reduction: Improves movie image quality by removing unwanted artifacts.

Edge Enhancement: Sharpens movie images by providing higher contrast around lines and objects.

This card may support higher resolutions, but can only play back videos of the later formats (which covers most of the ones you want) at 1080p.

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In this case they're highlighting specifically the video playback resolutions supported. I was hoping for some guidelines when no mention of video playback is made and we just have the specs. –  DaveO Nov 1 '12 at 5:11
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