How can i play HD video without it horribly stuttering?
March 14, 2013 5:15 PM   Subscribe

Any HD video files i try to play stutter horribly on my new computer, and just generally play inconsistently and in a not-smooth fashion. I've tried almost everything...

I have years of experience building and supporting computers, Windows/Mac(even classic!)/etc. i work in IT. I've googled the crap out of this every time i get a wild hair for weeks now, and tried almost everything i could find. Every video playing app, different codecs, VLC, using media player classic set up various ways or on the "default ffdshow" mode which some people said was the fastest for them. no dice. I've also asked every meatspace and online friend i have who would be knowledgeable about this type of thing. Lots of suggestions, nothing helped.

The computer itself is extremely fast. core i5 2500k, 8gb of fast ram, dual geforce gtx 460 1gb cards in SLI, vertex 4 ssd, etc. High end stuff. I really can't see anything being a problem there, and there's nothing else i've ever tried to do with it that it couldn't handle smoothly.

It's also worth noting that it gets even worse with higher resolution or larger files. A 1080p version of "Brave" caused it to stutter so intensely that the sound started to skip and crackle. It can usually handle SD/DVD resolution video fine, but even that sometimes stutters.

This is compounded by the fact that my several year old Mac blasts right through most, if not all of these files with absolute smoothness. And even the ones that it doesn't, it just needs 30 seconds or so to throw them in to RAM from it's slow HDD and start caching to play smoothly. So it's not related to the files.

Completely at my wits end with this, and I've basically burned google down looking for solutions. Any thoughts?
posted by emptythought to Computers & Internet (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Have you used a LiveCD or something to boot to a different operating system to see if the problem persists there, which would more definitively isolate it as a hardware problem as opposed to a software or OS configuration problem?
posted by XMLicious at 5:20 PM on March 14, 2013

Well my first thoughts would be: Try different video players, update your codecs, make sure you have enough RAM/fast enough CPU...

After that, I would recommend you update your drivers for your graphics card and see if that helps. Go directly to your graphics card manufacturer's website for that. For one of my sound cards a while back, I could not record anything and for whatever reason, had to try a few sets of drivers before I could get it to sound right. Then, if that doesn't work, I might check out dxdiag and see if there are some settings/hardware acceleration or something that needs to be tweaked.

With the system specs you say this computer has, it should absolutely handle HD video flawlessly. I assume there is just a communication error between hardware and software. But maybe you could try swapping that video card out and testing it to see if it's a hardware problem. I'd want to try looking at the easier software fixes first though.
posted by AppleTurnover at 5:32 PM on March 14, 2013

Do not waste time diagnosing this on your new computer - you're burning through your return policy window at breakneck speed.

Return this decrepit machine; this problem points to potentially hardware damage or software corruption. The energy you, a computer skilled individual, has spent should now be consolidated into a single, sweeping action: the return of this machine, a dishonorable discharge.
posted by Kruger5 at 5:38 PM on March 14, 2013 [3 favorites]

You've tried the first and second (maybe more!) tiers of obvious solutions. So, just for a laugh, have you tried removing one of the video cards? And I mean literally physically removing it, not just removing the power and SLI bridge (you are using one, I assume?) I have experience with both Crossfired AMD cards and SLI'd Nvidias, and I've found that weirdness is not uncommon with either. If you still get the problem, switch the cards and test the other one in isolation.

Another thought is that since the CPU you're using has video functionality built in, you might check your BIOS/UEFI to make sure there are no conflicting settings. Heck, if your motherboard has a video out you could even remove both of the 460s and connect to that to see if you get the same problem.

Finally, do you or a friend have a video card you could swap in to verify if the problem can be isolated that way?

Good luck!
posted by EKStickland at 5:48 PM on March 14, 2013

I tend to agree with Kruger5.

If you insist on persisting insolving this yourself: have you tried different versions of the video drivers? Have you tried pulling on of the video cards?

Does the motherboard have integrated video? Try pulling both cards and seeing how things work with the integrated video.
posted by Good Brain at 5:55 PM on March 14, 2013

You seem to have a weird mix of old stuff and new stuff. Aren't those 460's like two or three years old? Which MB is it running? How fast is that fast RAM? Definitely take one of those cards out for a sec, maybe it's something as simple as a bad SLI bridge. When was the last time you rebooted it?

You mention playing Brave at 1080p. Are you coming off of an internal BluRay Drive? An external BR drive? Are you playing an .mkv file from the ssd? Are you playing an .avi from an external drive? Internal 5400rpm drive? .mp4? All of them?

When you say the sound started to skip and crackle, I thought about sound drivers. Are you playing something incompatible with your sound setup? Dolby vs AAC vs whatever?

And if you're an IT guy, my guess is that you didn't buy this as a unit, and would have some problems returning the parts.

Sorry to inundate you with questions, If you were in the greater Minneapolis metroplex, I'd offer to drive over and check it out.
posted by Sphinx at 6:23 PM on March 14, 2013

Response by poster: I'd like to note that I can't return it, as all these parts were bought second hand or pulled from other systems I had around/etc. this wasnt a pre-assembled new system.

And even if I hadn't, the hardware is working flawlessly. I've tested the ram, video cards with burn in tests, CPU burn in, disk tests, etc.

I have tried different drivers, I think 5 versions at this point. The motherboard does not have integrated video.

I'll try disabling SLI and pulling a card, and the livecd suggestion. I hadn't tried that before because I assumed a livecd without video drivers would just bog down in a situation like this.

Not tryinna threadsit though, so I'll just clarify that stuff and let the suggestions keep coming.
posted by emptythought at 6:24 PM on March 14, 2013

How is your hard drive IO speed?
posted by dunkadunc at 6:38 PM on March 14, 2013

You didn't mention which version of Windows you are running (I'm assuming 7). But I've "solved" similar problems by turning the Hardware Acceleration off.
posted by zinon at 6:44 PM on March 14, 2013

Check for BIOS updates?
posted by Sebmojo at 6:48 PM on March 14, 2013

It sounds like you're using CCCP on Win 7. I've had better luck using Shark007 codecs.

I'm running Win7-64 and I have the 64-bit extensions installed.

(Be sure and uninstall all other codecs before you install the Shark007 package.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:26 PM on March 14, 2013

A different idea: I had this problem on my previous machine. It turned out that the cooling was weak, and when I tried to play 1080p video the CPU load, and thus the CPU temperature, shot way up. And in self defense, the BIOS cranked back the CPU clock rate massively, in order to keep the CPU from burning up.

Does your computer seem to be running very hot when you try this?

(I bought a new computer, which happens to have extremely good cooling. When I play 1080p video on it, it doesn't even become warm to the touch.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:35 PM on March 14, 2013

as all these parts were bought second hand

There's your problem. Something doesn't work. I'd start with the video card(s) and possibly the motherboard. You need to figure out what's getting held up. Running perfmon while it's playing video might show you something. You should also look at something like cpu-z to make sure the CPU is running at the speed it is supposed to. Then run memtest86+ on your RAM if you haven't already.

I can play 1080p on a celeron 430 in a stock Intel motherboard with onboard video. Something is very wrong if VLC can't play the files. Have you tried the exact same files on the Mac?
posted by gjc at 8:21 PM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: How is your hard drive IO speed?

million billion infinity schminity. seriously, i've seen 450-500MBps in real life copy situations until whatever i'm copying too/the ram gets saturated. I usually play video off of my 7200rpm 1tb hard drive, but that goes from 80-120 or so as well as it's a nice one. And yes, i've tried copying some of the files to the SSD and playing from there to see if it makes a difference. I doubted this one would do anything though, as my mac has a 5400rpm awful laptop drive and half the ram, and still has no issues.

Does your computer seem to be running very hot when you try this?

It doesn't even get lukewarm doing handbrake conversions at 95-100% on all four cores. i have a great cooling setup with 200mm fans, a giant heatsink, artic silver, all the good stuff. the temps are lukewarm no matter what you do. Nothing including strenuous gaming(I.E. metro 2033) has caused the temps or fan speed to rise above "meh". i don't even think i've hit 60c on the CPU even running prime95, and the GPUs don't even hit 80.

and possibly the motherboard.

I should have clarified better. the motherboard is brand new, sealed in the box from newegg. so is the ram and SSD. the video cards and hard drive are from previous systems i owned. only the CPU was a craigslist buy, and a few other things that aren't relevant to this. I meant most components were used in that they were from previous systems i'd owned.

You should also look at something like cpu-z to make sure the CPU is running at the speed it is supposed to.

I feel like this was tried with that intel turbo monitor widget when this was first happening. that, and as demonstrated by other tests(prime95, handbrake, etc) shows no throttling. i'll try CPU-z specifically though.

And yes, i tried the exact same files on the mac. I even opened up an 11gb super high quality 1080p file to see if it would bog down and the mac just glided right through. it's an older core2duo mac too, which makes it even more depressing. The mac is even having to push the video at 1920x1200 and doing fine. The desktop struggles at 1280x720 to my HDTV. i bet that file would drop down to 10fps or less randomly on this desktop :(

I'd also like to add, on the bios comment, that the bios is the latest version. Every driver(especially video) and update like that has been updated to the latest version, and that's been tried several times over the few months this has been happening. I also did a clean install when i got the SSD, but the problem was already occurring beforehand.
posted by emptythought at 9:22 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

In the Control Panel, open up "Performance information" and run it.

To give you an idea, here are my numbers:

Processor == 7.6
RAM == 7.6
Graphics == 7.4
Gaming graphics== 7.4
Hard disk == 5.9

If any of your numbers are considerably lower than mine, that gives you a hint.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:28 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Check the refresh rate setting in your nvidia driver, it might be playing back at a non-native refresh.
posted by hamsterdam at 10:13 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Try fiddling with vsync settings on the card. It sometimes just doesn't work well.
posted by Yavsy at 6:08 AM on March 15, 2013

What's the CPU usage while trying to play HD video? I'm wondering if for some weird reason your system has decided that it doesn't have a video card with native video acceleration and is putting it all on the CPU.
posted by Zed at 4:52 PM on March 15, 2013

Response by poster: For those wondering if i ever solved this, i did.

I noted before that i had updated the drivers. Well with the previous drivers SLI was on and this problem was happening. One of the driver updates, or a windows update or something must have disabled SLI.

I finally decided to really sit down and muck around with it for hours and try everything in this thread, and noticed SLI was off. Quit every running app, enabled it, and bam, 9000fps no matter what i'm doing.

I'm actually curious now as to what about SLI being disabled would cause this problem(maybe it's that the bridge was connected but it was off? if the bridge is connected does it disable the on-board video accel on the GPU? i'd love to know), but i'm really not in a mood to look gift horses in mouths. Especially since it's playing now smoother than it ever has on this system, or really any non-mac system i've ever owned.

So yea, mission accomplished.

Also, zed, the CPU usage was under 20% and possibly even in the single digits. And to the people suggesting vsync/refresh, that has no options to fiddle with when this display is connected. One refresh rate, vsync is either greyed out on or off(i forget, and it's not a normal HDTV, but one of those "professional display plasmas" they use in airports and such)
posted by emptythought at 11:00 PM on April 3, 2013

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