Need for Speed:
November 19, 2007 11:44 AM   Subscribe

I need to optimize x264, VC-1, etc. playback. Forgive me if I'm missing the glaringly obvious, but I have been googling for over an hour and haven't found anything. Most of the guides I've found are more geared towards encoding. I'm looking for a conclusive source on how to configure my computer for the smoothest and least-CPU intensive playback of next-gen HD codecs (yes, even accepting small reductions in picture quality!).

I'm using my 2GHz Pentium M laptop as an ad-hoc HTPC. With a DVI>HDMI cable, I can playback 720p x264-encoded (mkv enclosed) videos pretty well. 1080p seems to be right outside the limit of my CPU, though. 1080p WMV seems even worse. For the x264 mkvs, I'm using CoreAVC with Haali splitter in media player classic, and ffdshow audio. WMVs with ffdshow and MPC. I'm running Windows Server 2003 (would a Linux solution be better?) with non-essential services disabled, and I make sure to switch the display to the HDTV, not to clone it. I don't think hardware optimization will work, though: my laptop has a GeForce Go 6800 Ultra, which I understand has broken hardware AVC optimization, which I understand is outpaced by software CoreAVC anyway.

Side question: What does "jitter" mean in video context? I'm not sure whether to use the Overlay Renderer or the Haali Renderer in MPC options - the Haali renderer seems to reduce "jitter" to 5ms and Overlay gives 15ms.

I'm looking for information (links to useful sites or helpful anecdotal information) on what codecs and filters are absolutely the fastest, and how I should configure each for optimizing speed and smoothness even with small reductions in quality. Sorry for the question overload, I'm at the awkward intermediate stage after audio/video newbie. Thanks, AxMe!
posted by nervestaple to Technology (4 answers total)
FFDShow takes some processor time to do the post processing, try turning that off. Also, have u tried setting the processor affinity for your movie player app to 'Above Normal' or 'High'?
posted by mphuie at 12:07 PM on November 19, 2007

Do you know about

They've got some modified drivers for laptop cards, incl. Geforce Go 6800, making use of which may be the best way to squeeze some more flops from your box. You may also find the forum useful.
posted by kickback at 12:29 PM on November 19, 2007

Response by poster: Yah, I've got the latest laptopvideo2go drivers and set MPC to above normal.
posted by nervestaple at 12:34 PM on November 19, 2007

To improve h.264 playback at the expense of picture quality, disable the in-loop deblocker during decoding. This is in the ffmpeg settings for VLC; I believe CoreAVC always has it off. Not sure where it is in ffdshow as I've never used it, but one would hope they'd expose that libavcodec option. To slightly improve playback, without reducing picture quality as much, only disable the in-loop filter for b-frames.
posted by jbrjake at 12:37 PM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

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