Graphics cards have predominantly been used for gaming since that's their sole purpose in a system. The only reason you would make this investment is to play 3D games with all the bells and whistles turned on, something an on board card can never do.
The idea of using the GPU for other purposes has been toyed with for quite sometime now. Nvidia went all out with their GPGPU applications a couple years ago when they announced their CUDA development platform. With that we also saw PhysX, which used the graphics card for physics calculations instead of the CPU. Badaboom, which is a video encoding application, uses the Nvidia graphics card to accelerate the encoding process.
This year we had ATI follow suit with their Stream technology that enabled users to use their 4xxx series graphics cards to quicken the encoding process, which ATI unlocked in their 8.12 Catalyst driver suite. But behind all the competition between the two companies, they had a common message - you no longer needed a faster CPU for a speedier encoding process. This meant it doesn't matter whether you have a quad core or a dual core anymore, as the graphics card is supposed to do all the work leaving your CPU free for other tasks. Well, today we are going to verify if the GPU does indeed help boost encoding performance and also if using a dual core CPU or a quad core CPU makes any difference. In order to keep the results fair we needed a converter that supports both ATI and Nvidia, and currently we have just one application that can do it, Cyberlink's MediaShow Espresso video converter. The beauty of this one is that it supports Nvidia and ATI cards and you can even turn off the acceleration so that it uses the CPU. So let's assemble our test systems and see what kind of results we get.