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Help needed - Systems slows while watching DVDs

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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June 14, 2008 10:29:49 AM

I am seeking a suggestion to my problem. Here's the situation. I enjoy watching movies played on my DVD player while I work on my system, especially while using such sites as Ebay. Problem is, while the DVD player is going the page refresh for either Firefox or IE slows to a crawl and the DVD "stutters" as it is playing. I had recently upgraded my system to try to compensate for the division of system resources between the two but it is still unacceptable. I am running a Win2k SP4 (I prefer Win2k) 2.7Ghz system with 1Gig memory and an NVIDIA Geforce FX 5500 video card with 256Mb. Is there any way to smoothe out the DVD play while speeding up the browser refresh? Would throwing more memory at either the video card or
the system help? This is frustrating. Thanks.
Gary
June 14, 2008 3:46:53 PM

Sounds like bad drivers. Ive seen that graphics card before and i think it may be too slow. Not sure tho.
June 14, 2008 4:10:54 PM

I would first ensure that DMA is switched on for the drives, both optical and storage. Sometimes Windows gets it wrong and sticks them in PIO mode, slow and sucks up massive chunks of cpu time.

Karl
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June 14, 2008 4:21:04 PM

u need 2gb ram, and a video card that decodes ur video for u. like a 9600gt or 8800gt. some low end cards do it too, that would be ur best choice, see ur cpu usage when u watch a dvd, most likely u run out of ram too, idk. video card upgrade first.
June 14, 2008 4:41:26 PM

Check your DVD playing software to ensure that Hardware acceleration is on. This may help to smooth it out.

A little more info, are you running dual screens then? i can do some tests, i know most games do not run as well with DVD's playing(loads screens and what not, but its been a long time since i tried.)

You may also try VLC, it seems to run better when a system is more loaded(used to do this to watch video while playing games, but i think load screens did have an effect)

EDIT, ohh yeah try to increase the priority of the video player one notch too.
June 14, 2008 4:51:25 PM

I watch DVDs all the time on my old computer. 3.0 GHz P4 530 1 GB DDR2 @400 MHz, and a 6800 GT. U should be able to watch movies with onboard, according to xbit http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/chipsets/display/i915g... u can even watch DVDs with onboard Intel 915 and 865. I dunno if the Geforce FX 5500 blows major chuncks or what cause I multitask all the time when running dvds. You could have a problem with your driver but I would first try using a different DVD player. I'm using VLC (not the greatest but its free). If you are using that player then just search for an Open Source DVD player.
June 14, 2008 9:48:18 PM

Thanks for the replies. Here's a little more info. I am using some older DVD software - WinDVD 4 (yes, 4!). So, I don't know if there have been major changes to the software to help ease this problem or not. Maybe I should look for a more recent version.

I am not using dual screens although I had thought about trying that. But, I don't see how that would improve the performance.

It's funny as thought that upgrading to the 256mb card would do the trick. I guess not. :o 

I will look into the 9600 and 8800.



June 14, 2008 11:09:53 PM

Your video ram should not be a limiting factor for watching a DVD(generally the cpu can decode it, the video card doing it is better, but the cpu should still work.). I used to watch DVD's with my 1ghz system and a Geforce 2 MX. I have seen it done with a 16meg TNT2 as well. I think its priority or cpu power

1. Try to increase the priority of the video player. This makes allows it to get what it needs before other apps.

-Open the player
-CTRL+ALT+DEL
-Right click the player in the "Applications" list and select "goto process"
-WinDVD should not be slected in the Processes list
-Right click it and select "Set Priority" and select Above Normal(say yes to windows).
-Go play your DVD and see if its better

2. Try VLC
-Goto http://www.videolan.org/vlc/ to get it
-Install it(uncheck options you do not use. ActiveX plugin ect)
-Try you DVD now.
-You can try to increase the priority of it as well if you wish.
June 15, 2008 11:13:44 AM

Watching the DVDs is not the problem. I sell a lot of stuff on Ebay and like to watch movies played on the DVD while I do my listing. As Ebay's listing script runs, the DVD gets choppy. And, the script takes a very long time to run. if I pause the DVD while the script runs, the script runs very quickly. And, I like to get through the listing process quickly but without having to pause the DVD while doing it.

When I upgraded my system to the 2.7Ghz / 1G ram that it is now, I figured that this issue would be settled. It has improved but not to the point that I am happy with it yet. So, would it be better to throw more RAM at it, upgrade the CPU or upgrade the video card? Or, upgrade a combination of these? My system uses an Asus P4VBX-X MB so I am not sure how much more memory I can install and what the max CPU speed it can handle.

I will try VLC and see if this improves the performance any. Thanks for the recommendation.

June 15, 2008 4:51:09 PM

you should bring up the task manager and see if the cpu is in fact getting maxed(sounds like it if both items are getting slowed down). if it is you need more cpu power. I doubt ram would be an issue even power DVD(fairly ram hungry player) only takes about 83megs when playing a DVD.

I just did a test with VLC and its peak ram usage is under 15megs(and it cpu usage is about 1/3rd that of power DVD). Will that extra cpu power left over help e-bay? You will have to tell me.

If you are cpu limited you options are kind of limited too, the board is old. If you can find a cheap P4 with HT it would be the best bet. If you have the money a new system based around a core2(Or athlon64 X2) cpu would be best.

What else do you do with the computer? any games?
June 15, 2008 10:12:45 PM

No, I do not play games. I run my business on this system but like to watch movies on DVD as I work.
And, I typically buy parts that are several generations old to build my own machines as they are cheaper but still generally provide enough performance for what I need to do. I do not need latest greatest stuff as nothing I do on the system requires it. And, being an old-school WinNT guy, I have found Win2k to be very stable so I continue to use it and it serves me well.

If I upgrade the mb again, that means I have to re-install again which is a major pain for me. So, I am looking for the most expedient way out of my predicament.
June 16, 2008 12:16:42 AM

well, check the cpu use. if its maxed we can take it from there. is vlc any better?

XP is so close to 2000, i would take that instead since it works better with new hardware(its also very stable, 100days plus full load with no issues).

There are boards with ATI chipsets(on board video) that will do ALL the work for DVD's(with the right software), so that may be an option(be it an AMD option).
June 16, 2008 12:31:57 AM

I ran a quick test of CPU use and, yes, when both the DVD player is running (whether in WinDVD or VLC) and Ebay is refreshing its screen, System Idle time is 0. So, it does appear that the CPU doesn't have the horses to do what I need done efficiently. Well, I will check to see what the top end CPU is for this board. If it's already maxed I will have to consider the next upgrade if I want to improve the performance. Thanks for your help.
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