Audio/video stuttering
July 12, 2006 5:13 PM   Subscribe

Audio and video has recently started stuttering on my computer. It might have something to do with the installation of new hard drive on Monday. It seems to be worse in some applications than others. Any ideas?

The stats: Intel Pentium 4, 1700 MHz, 768 MB of RAM. Windows XP SP2. Started with an 80 gig hard drive.

The story: I installed a Serial ATA card and a 320-gig SATA internal hard drive on Monday. Since then, when I play audio or video in most applications, I'm getting this super-annoying stutter; every few seconds or so, the sound/video is catching slightly.

Audio/video performance is slightly better (though still somewhat unwatchable) in the moments after a boot-up, which makes me believe it might be a matter of not enough RAM. I'm using FreeRam XP, but that doesn't seem to be helping one bit. And it's slow.

The problem also seems to be somewhat diminished when I use the VLC player versus using, say, WinAmp, iTunes or Windows Media Player.

Other than that, the new HD and SATA card are working out great. My memory tells me I was beginning to see blips of this problem even before I installed the hard drive, but I don't exactly trust that. And at any rate, it's much worse now, and the hard drive/SATA card are the only variables I can think of that changed in the interim.

I increased my paging file from 250 to 1150 megs. Hasn't helped.

Short of uninstalling the new HD, should I try purchasing more RAM? (I think my card will accommodate up to 1 gig.) Or are there other things I can try first?
posted by grrarrgh00 to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
I should mention also that this is more of a problem with video than with audio. Audio's mostly fine, with some of the stuttering occasionally showing up in WinAmp, even more occasionally in iTunes.
posted by grrarrgh00 at 5:21 PM on July 12, 2006

Start>run>msconfig and choose Diagnostic Startup. Reboot. Compare/contrast with the performance of a normal bootup. If it's considerably better, start eliminating programs that load at startup until you find the culprit. If it's no better, XP can ALWAYS utilize more RAM.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:13 PM on July 12, 2006

More memory always helps but it shouldn't be the problem in this case. If you closed every application but the player 256 MB should be more than enough to play any multimedia file.

I can't tell if you still have the 80 GB IDE hard drive installed, but if so make sure that it (and all IDE devices for that matter) is not stuck in PIO mode -- you want Ultra-DMA. I don't think this distinction applies to SATA controllers but if so check that too.

FWIW, I would ditch any third party "RAM Optimizer" junk. Mark Russinovich of claims that all such programs are hoaxes/snake oil and that the kernel's memory management will do the right thing.
posted by Rhomboid at 8:06 PM on July 12, 2006 [1 favorite]

I posted this question a while ago, hopefully it can help you.
posted by Sonic_Molson at 8:43 PM on July 12, 2006 [1 favorite]

Make sure the driver is actually using DMA to access the drive. On linux hdparm(8) will do this; I don't know the windows equivalent.
posted by spasm at 9:27 PM on July 12, 2006 [1 favorite]

Thanks for your suggestions, everyone, I'll check on all these things. Sonic_Molson, what ultimately did you find was causing the problem on your system?
posted by grrarrgh00 at 5:04 AM on July 13, 2006

By the way, 6 months later, I realize I never posted an update on this. Spasm's comment ended up winning the day; I did a little Googling, ran across this guide to switching IDE channels from PIO only to DMA, and now my computer's working swimmingly.
posted by grrarrgh00 at 11:01 AM on January 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

(I also got an extra set of RAM; I now have 1.5 GB.)
posted by grrarrgh00 at 11:02 AM on January 1, 2007

OK - ask metafilter rocks. gracias.
posted by specialk420 at 11:04 AM on March 2, 2007

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