Streaming video problems, Dell Latitude E4300
March 15, 2015 9:50 PM   Subscribe

My laptop is a Dell Latitude E4300, and it runs Windows 7 Professional. I have home wifi through Charter. Though my signal always tests strong, I have a lot of issues with video playback on Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, pretty much all streaming sites. The video gets slow or stutters or there are sync problems with audio/video. It doesn't matter which browser I use. I've tried lots of things, which I have listed below the cut, but none of them have really helped.

I frequently clear the cache and cookies. I've freed up more hard disk space. I've closed other open applications. Changed my playback speed in Netflix. Changed my display resolution. Tried a VPN. Refreshing the screen helps briefly but then the problems come back. I checked other threads here and saw that other folks with Latitudes had troubles, but didn't find any solutions there. Some other places I've used wifi have been better than at home, but some have been worse. (And where I live, Charter and U Verse are the only options.)
posted by mermaidcafe to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
Have you run a speed test to see how your internet connection is? There are tons of other variables, but it's one very easy thing to check. Streaming video actually needs less bandwidth than you might think, but if the connection is really bad (or inconsistent), it can definitely cause problems.

I don't know anything Dell- or Windows-specific, so I'll leave that to others...
posted by primethyme at 10:10 PM on March 15, 2015

Response by poster: Yes, that's what I meant re: the signal testing strong. I haven't found any reports of Charter throttling Netflix traffic either; I know that's been a problem with some ISPs.
posted by mermaidcafe at 10:17 PM on March 15, 2015

Oh, ok. "Strong signal" sounds more like how good the actual wifi signal is, rather than how fast your internet connection is. They're separate things so be sure you've checked both...
posted by primethyme at 10:40 PM on March 15, 2015

How fast does "a strong result" mean to you?
posted by aubilenon at 10:45 PM on March 15, 2015

Have you tried something different, like VLC vs. native?

Have you check your local WiFi condition with WiFI Analyzer (Android app) or something similar? Maybe you need to try a different WiFi channel, esp. for the 2.4 GHz side.
posted by kschang at 11:18 PM on March 15, 2015

Since no one else has said it yet, have you tried playing video from the same services in the same location in your house... on different device?
posted by emptythought at 11:23 PM on March 15, 2015

Best answer: The specs on that 7-year-old laptop are a little iffy for modern-day video streaming. I have a old desktop with comparable specs (AMD X2 5000 BE processor, 2GB RAM) and it's been chugging on web video in the last year or two.

(Also make sure your internet is working well, not just your wifi, with the link primethyme provided.)
posted by JauntyFedora at 11:41 PM on March 15, 2015

To get more specific, after looking this up(i, in just glancing at the model number, assumed this was a much more recent machine), i think the issue is the awful intel GPU. I'm typing this from a work machine that has the same GPU, and it stutters even on 720p youtube sometimes, gets out of sync like that, etc. Despite having an SSD, and a much more powerful desktop-grade CPU from the same era.

I've had to retire several machines in the past couple years, PC and mac, because of crappy intel graphics. Pretty much anything older than 2011(which is when intel suddenly put their pants on and started caring) with integrated graphics is struggling at this point.

No amount of tweaking or upgrading will route you around the fact that GPU sucks. It's just not strong enough for modern web streaming, which almost all relies on GPU acceleration(and the software rendered stuff i very rarely encounter anymore is iffy even on MUCH stronger machines, trust me).

This is part of the reason i originally suggested to try another device, to see if it was an issue with that machine. But the issue here is that intel GMA graphics of any stripe just don't cut it anymore.

The good news is that even the lowest end machines are shockingly good now. Even cheapo stuff like this steamrolls through anything that isn't gaming. The newest bottom of the barrel intel CPU/GPU combos can play 4k video without stuttering... with other stuff open and running. There's also a wide world of decent stuff in that price range on lenovo outlet for example. And that hp stream has been on sale for $150 more than once...
posted by emptythought at 2:30 PM on March 16, 2015

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