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Drivers & Streaming Video Quality

Last response: in Windows XP
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July 19, 2010 4:12:35 PM

Do display drivers affect the performance of streaming videos?

I am using an older model laptop (HP Pavillion zd5617wm with Windows XP Professional) with RAEDON IGP 345m video card with ATI driver from HP's support website.

The ATI driver I currently have match my machine as listed on HP's driver download web site.

I use Netflix, and watch other programs from various web sites, and have attached this laptop to my television using an S-video cable.

I used to get excellent quality while streaming videos, however, I reformatted my machine and reinstalled the OS and all the drivers. Before I reformatted, I was running Windows XP Home Edition, and I am not certain of what display driver was being used.

After reformatting and installing Windows XP Pro, along with the drivers from HP's support web site that match my machine, the quality and performance of my streaming videos has degraded significantly.

My Internet connection has not changed or been modified in anyway. I am not having problems downloading streaming media. It always downloads faster than playback, however, the image is of very poor quality. It is much more blocky/pixelated, and horizontal lines fluctuate across the images.

The quality/performance of the video is the same on both the computer monitor as well as the television to which it is attached. I have tried various screen resolutions, and have experienced no improvements.

Does anyone have any idea what might have happened, or what I might have lost during the reformatting process to degrade my streaming video quality?

Thanks in advance!

pri3stess
July 19, 2010 4:59:34 PM

Information update:

I am using Internet Explorer 7, have SP3 installed, as well as Java 6 and Adobe Flash Player 10.1 (Active X Plugin).

I am running minimal background processes, with IE7 being the only application going out to the Internet. Nothing seems to be hogging up memory space.
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a b \ Driver
July 19, 2010 5:01:22 PM

there are constant and regular upgrades (sometimes monthly) to radeon video cards, and it can be confusing to find just the right driver, also you have to find out if the video card is compatible with direct X software.
So the next step is to find out what manufacturer actually made the video card, (HP did not make it) look in the hardware specs of the computer. Go to the card manufacturer's website, even though it's a radeon card, there are several makers of radeon cards, or look inside the laptop at the card label if you have to.
When you find the manufacturer, you can locate the latest drivers and updates, you can see if it needs a direct X software installation, and any other types of software (sometimes the catalyst control center software), yes, there may be 3 or 4 different things that need installation.
Then delete the current drivers before installing the new ones, turn off the antivirus while installing, restart and turn the antivirus back on.
Then there is one more thing. Look in the bios setup, a lot of times you hold down F2 while starting the computer, but that may vary according to the model.
In the bios, there can be a memory setting for the video card. Set that to the maximum available memory, because it usually defaults to the minimum setting when you load the operating system. Depends on the bios that is installed, some bios may not have a memory adjustment, but it won't hurt to look.
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July 19, 2010 5:12:55 PM

Thank you, soundgurguman. I will attempt this and post the outcome.
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a b \ Driver
July 19, 2010 5:35:06 PM

patience, patience. when you find the right drivers, save a copy for next time.
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July 19, 2010 5:52:12 PM

A few attempts:

First, I upgraded to IE8. No change in streaming performance.

I went into BIOS setup at startup and set the video memory to maximum. (128mb) No change.

After locating the video card manufacturer (ATI/AMD), their web site relocated me back to the distributor's support web site (HP), from where I originally downloaded the current driver. So it appears I already have the most updated driver for this adapter.

Does anyone know about video encoding/decoding for streaming media, and if this might have something to do with the poor quality of my streaming videos? Do video decoders even work for streaming media which is played in a web browser?

Thanks again!
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July 19, 2010 5:58:23 PM

Have you tried increasing the resolution of your monitor? (you might have, but... you never know)
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July 19, 2010 6:26:08 PM

Yes, I have attempted all possible screen resolutions/color combinations for both monitors. No change for either when either are running alone or simultaneously.
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July 19, 2010 6:30:31 PM

Does the graphics card driver/software have its own internal settings? Sometimes with Nvidia for example, you can right click on the desktop and adjust the graphic cards settings through the driver itself.
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July 19, 2010 6:41:16 PM

Yes. In the Advanced section of the Display properties, there are two tabs of advanced graphics settings: Direct3d and OpenGL. Both of these were, by default, set to "Optimal Quality," and I tried setting both of these to Best Performance and Best Quality. No chance in streaming media quality/performance was observed by changing the advanced display settings.
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July 19, 2010 6:44:12 PM

If you have the original driver disc that came with the computer, you might try uninstalling the current driver, and then reinstalling the original driver (from the disc) and see if that works. Or, you could check to see if there are any special drivers for external connections (S Video, USB, etc)
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July 19, 2010 6:55:52 PM

Alas... if only I had the original software! But, I do not.

If other drivers for external devices do exist, they are a factor since I am experiencing this problem on the laptop display itself.
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July 19, 2010 7:01:58 PM

True, is there an original driver available from the website?
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July 19, 2010 11:48:10 PM

Not that I am aware of, unless what I have is the original driver for the machine in question and the problem lies elsewhere. I am at a loss.
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a b \ Driver
July 20, 2010 12:02:31 AM

did you check on the AMD website for drivers?
Even though it's an ATI card, there are several manufacturers of ATI cards. Which manufacturer made the card, specifically?
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July 20, 2010 10:53:06 PM

Yes, I checked the AMD website for drivers. They re-routed me back to HP's support web site.

Though I am not sure of the manufactuer.

I don't think it's an encoding problem, due to the results of an experiment: Using Wireshark on two machines on my network (one being the machine in question), I streamed media from Netflix. I logged the packet exchanges for both and compared them, and found that both logs of the same process were virtually identical.

According to Netflix, video quality is determined by the user's Internet connection speed, however, I am having this problem with all other streaming media web sites, such as YouTube, however the packet exchange information to the machine in question is identical with another machine on the same network. Therefore, it cannot be an Internet connectivity issue. I even swapped out patch cables in case one of them was damaged. Same results with multiple cables.

I have ruled out hardware problems because prior to reformatting, streaming media quality was excellent. The hardware on the machine in question has not been changed.

However, I don't think the display driver is what's effecting the performance/quality of my streaming media on the Internet. All other visual themes/videos (such as DVD's) appear flawless, indicating to me that the display driver is fine.

My only conclusion is that the degredation of quality in my streaming media after reformatting and the reinstallation of the OS is attributed to third party software. Perhaps it's a web browser plugin I don't have (or have, for that matter).

I've made sure all 3rd party software on the machine in question is identical to my other machine which streams just fine on the same network... but I've run out of ideas.
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July 21, 2010 5:04:29 PM

What web browser do you use? Is it, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, Flock... etc? Lastly, does Netflix use Adobe Flash Player?
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July 23, 2010 9:54:48 PM

I use IE7. And no, Netflix doesn't use Adobe Flash Player, however, I downloaded it anyway to test the quality of other web sites (YouTube, for example), and I am experiencing the same issue, regardless of what website I visit.

Do any differences between Windows XP Home Edition and XP Pro come to mind that could potentially cause the change in streaming media quality?
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July 23, 2010 10:08:44 PM

Update: I tried increasing the size of the paging file (virtual memory) to see if that would improve anything. No luck there.
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July 23, 2010 10:12:01 PM

Update: Since I'm using a laptop, I also tried turning off power management settings: Switched to the "Always On" scheme, as I know any other power saving settings can affect video quality. However, after trying this, there is still no change in streaming media quality.

>.<
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July 23, 2010 10:13:01 PM

so, everything but Video looks the same, regardless of what it is. Video from multiple places looks poor compared to what you used to see?
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July 24, 2010 6:31:54 PM

If by places you mean web sites,... Correct lazyperson. All streaming media, regardless of what web site, is crappy... where it used to be excellent, prior to reformatting and reinstallation of the OS.

All other types of video (such as display themes, video games, DVD's...) all look excellent.

Only streaming media sucks now, regardless of what web browser I use. I've used Mozilla, Opera, Google Chrome, and IE7 and 8. (I'm sticking with IE7 since it uses MUCH less memory than any of those other web browers I listed.)

No changes have been made to my Internet connection. I have other machines on the same network that streams videos from the Internet, and they look just fine--like the machine in question USED to look before I reformatted.

It's not a cable problem, because I've tried multiple cables that I've used on my other machines. No changes.

It's not a switch/routing problem because all machines are branching off the same switch, which connects directly into my external DSL modem. Neither is it a bad port , because I've tried it on multiple switch ports.

As I said before, I used Wireshark and compared the machine-in-question's packet exchange with packet exchange logs from my other machines, and they all appear to be virtually identical.

I am 100% stumped.
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July 24, 2010 7:20:55 PM

OK, i might have an idea. I appologize for the trial and error, but considering that it is ONLY when you stream from the internet. and your connection hasnt changed, it leaves me to consider one of two things. The Ethernet Cables, OR the network Driver for your laptop. Try finding an update for your network driver and see if that helps. (or uninstall your current one and reinstall it). I dont know if this is the problem, but it seems to be a problem between the modem and the graphics card. (which the graphics card is obviously working. and the only thing left in between is the actual connection point for the network cable)
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July 24, 2010 9:47:38 PM

That was one of the first things I tried... alas, to no avail.
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a b \ Driver
a b α HP
July 24, 2010 9:57:19 PM

In your previous installation did you have Microsoft Silverlight installed?
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July 25, 2010 12:24:36 AM

Yes. I have Microsoft Silverlight installed now, as well. Netflix requires it.
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a b \ Driver
July 25, 2010 1:25:45 AM

pri3stess said:
Do display drivers affect the performance of streaming videos?

I am using an older model laptop (HP Pavillion zd5617wm with Windows XP Professional) with RAEDON IGP 345m video card with ATI driver from HP's support website.

<snip>



Do you have the ATI Catalyst® Control Center installed?

If so, open it and go through it's settings. Most of them will show an example of the effect you are adjusting.

The 3D settings will have a profound effect as they deal with such things as anti-aliasing, filters, mipmap details and more.

I went to the ATI support pages, and they do not recognize your card due to the "345m" portion of your card model number. You can go here to verify the model...

http://support.amd.com/us/kbarticles/Pages/Howtoidentif...

With information obtained, you may be able to get a better driver.
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July 25, 2010 2:11:37 AM

Thanks a bunch, Tigsounds. I'll give this a try tomorrow and see if there's any change.

I'll post an update after.
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August 4, 2010 1:57:20 AM

Unresolved.
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!