Streaming Video A No Go
January 26, 2013 11:16 AM   Subscribe

When I stream video from almost any source, it gobbles up 100 percent of my CPU usage and becomes choppy and unwatchable. I've tried every trick in the book. Any suggestions?

So, streaming video. Eats 100 percent of CPU usage. I have:

Cleared the cache
Run malware and virus scans repeatedly
Re-installed Flash
Re-installed Chrome and Firefox
Banged my head against the wall.

Anyone have any suggestions that I haven't thought of? This issue makes Netflix, Hulu, HBOGo and most every other streaming video service unwatchable. HALP!
posted by ronofthedead to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Tells us about your computer: CPU, speed, memory, graphics chip, and so on. It could simply be that your computer is unsuitably slow for that application.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:23 AM on January 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you have a desktop, consider upgrading your video card. Many of them have onboard H.264 dedicated decompressors that ease the burden from your CPU.
posted by infinitewindow at 11:24 AM on January 26, 2013

Is this a new issue for this computer? Have you changed your video drivers lately, or upgraded Flash? Also, please, hardware details.
posted by WasabiFlux at 11:27 AM on January 26, 2013

This used to happen to my old laptop and I eventually realized it was overheating whenever the CPU was taxed, and throttling performance. So when it hit some threshold, all of a sudden it was slow as all hell. It was a pretty shitty laptop to begin with. But I raised it an inch off the desk by propping up the corners to allow better airflow, and that made the problem go away most of the time.
posted by PercussivePaul at 12:14 PM on January 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Sorry I skipped the hardware details. I knew I forgot something ...

I've got a Gateway gaming laptop with 4 GB of memory, an Intel Centrino 2 Dual Core Processor at 2.26 Ghz per core, 1 GB Nvidia 9800 GTM video card, and cable internet at 20 Mbps.

So, my system meets, even greatly exceeds, specs for the streaming video sites. This is a recent issue, having come up in the past two months or so. All drivers are up to date, including an Nvidia update some time ago. I can't say if the Nvidia update coincided time-wise with the issue, though.
posted by ronofthedead at 12:24 PM on January 26, 2013

How long has this been going on? Maybe it's a Flash problem?
posted by KokuRyu at 12:29 PM on January 26, 2013

Try Adobe's offical flash uninstaller before reinstalling. When I was still on Windows I used to have to do this quite a bit. When CPU goes up to 100%, be sure to check the Processes tab in Task Manager to see what is taking up the resources.
posted by rhizome at 12:30 PM on January 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

On Chrome I've been having issues with Flash recently, since I believe Chrome has its own Flash install, which can conflict with the Flash player other browsers use (this can be turned off).

However, probably not the problem you are having.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:33 PM on January 26, 2013

I think PercussivePaul might be on to something. There are utilities to show the current operating speed of your CPU. Does it go down when you are watching a streaming video?

Other questions: Does watching the video in full-screen mode make a difference?

Video decoding can be CPU intensive, but my wife's 5 year old MacBook Pro, which probably has similar specs, generally does fine with Hulu and Netflix. Combining video playback with the display of UI elements can also eat a lot of CPU if there are video driver or plugin problems, but again, it *should* work.

What happens if you deliberately choose lower-quality video streams?
posted by Good Brain at 12:59 PM on January 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm sure you already did this, but did you check to make sure you're not set on some kind of power-saving mode? I've had some real headslappers with that setting, like "why is this taking so long? OH."
posted by selfnoise at 2:17 PM on January 26, 2013

I would look at the overheating issue suggested by PercussivePaul. Gaming specs + small laptop case doesn't seem to be a match made in heaven (unless the laptop has good heat sinks).

If you watch a lot of Youtube, you could try their trial HTML5 player. Flash is notorious for eating up CPU but you're right, your specs indicate that this shouldn't be a problem for you.
posted by Currer Belfry at 2:19 PM on January 26, 2013

Thanks for all the suggestions. I've run a heat measurement utility, and it runs at or below 70c at all times. From what I've read, that's well within spec, though if anyone knows a better answer for operating temp, I'm open to ideas.

Lower quality settings don't make a difference. Not playing in full screen seems to help a little, but it will eventually crank up to 100 percent anyway. It's almost like the buffer gets full, and then it keeps trying to buffer anyway, or something.

Anyway, thanks again for the ideas, folks!
posted by ronofthedead at 2:59 PM on January 26, 2013

Try lifting it off the ground and blowing air across it with a fan. The internal temp sensors in my laptop didn't indicate a problem either. No idea why. Also, check if there is dust clogging the air vents. I actually took mine apart and cleaned out all the dust, which seemed to help.

A good diagnostic though, is whether you can play 3D video games or not. That used to have the same effect as streaming video. If gaming works fine, I doubt you're overheating. That would point to a software issue.
posted by PercussivePaul at 3:53 PM on January 26, 2013

It sounds like, for whatever reason, you are using software rendering.
posted by rr at 7:12 PM on January 26, 2013

In which case you should read this.
posted by flabdablet at 1:46 AM on January 27, 2013

« Older How to arrange family vacation with adult siblings...   |   Catfilter: Cat is urpy, vet is closed, how worried... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.