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Upgrade RAM or HD Decoder for Netbook?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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July 29, 2010 5:07:12 PM

Okay, so I just bought an Acer Aspire One AO532h-2588 netbook for $50 under my budget. I will be travelling non-stop for about 4 months starting September. So far, everything I want to run on it runs great, and it's super portable, which is why I bought it.

HOWEVER:
I can't play 720p video without it being choppy, and if I video chat on Skype or Ooovoo my processor usage goes up to 100% and stays there, and the video is choppy.

Should I spend $50 and upgrade:

1.) to 2 GB of RAM
2.) get a Broadcom Crystal HD decoder card


Which is the better buy? Would either of these help my video playback/webcam AT ALL? If not, maybe I should spend a little more, lose some portability, and get a regular laptop?

My current specs are stock + Readyboost (Does readyboost even do anything?):
Windows 7 Professional (x86)
1.66 GHz Intel Atom N450 Processor (Single core, 2 threads)
1GB DDR2 Memory (WITH a 2GB 150X SD CARD IN THE READER SLOT DOING READYBOOST)
Intel GMA 3150 Graphics
160GB SATA Hard Drive (5400RPM)
802.11 b/g/n

Thanks ya'll!
a c 153 U Graphics card
July 30, 2010 12:23:03 AM

I think the main problem your seeing is just that you know you have a netbook, they aren't meant to do power applications and the such. The problem stems from the graphics card in netbooks the Intel GMA 3150, I think. I'm not an expert on the subject but I just looked up your problem and netbooks in general and that seems to be the general consensus.

But let me suggest one thing, can you plug your netbook into the router wired? See if a wired connection doesn't help your problem. (Not sure if those 720p video you are talking about are streaming from the internet or not).

I also heard disabling readyboost can help you with choppy playback.

Here is somethings I found;

"Don't have a netbook, but you aren't using an SD card and Window's Ready Boost are you? If so, turn it off. Quicktime doesn't like it."

"It's the integrated Intel graphics chipset that is the problem for HD content. That and the appauling Flash HD video codec."

"If you are using a wireless connection, expect the video to be laggy. It WILL get worse the farther from your wireless router too."
July 30, 2010 5:45:46 AM

Helltech said:
I think the main problem your seeing is just that you know you have a netbook, they aren't meant to do power applications and the such. The problem stems from the graphics card in netbooks the Intel GMA 3150, I think. I'm not an expert on the subject but I just looked up your problem and netbooks in general and that seems to be the general consensus.

But let me suggest one thing, can you plug your netbook into the router wired? See if a wired connection doesn't help your problem. (Not sure if those 720p video you are talking about are streaming from the internet or not).

I also heard disabling readyboost can help you with choppy playback.

Here is somethings I found;

"Don't have a netbook, but you aren't using an SD card and Window's Ready Boost are you? If so, turn it off. Quicktime doesn't like it."

"It's the integrated Intel graphics chipset that is the problem for HD content. That and the appauling Flash HD video codec."

"If you are using a wireless connection, expect the video to be laggy. It WILL get worse the farther from your wireless router too."



Hey Helltech! Thanks for your response.

This is my 2nd netbook, and you are correct: The problem is the integrated graphics. There are many who have been successful in getting HD video to play on their netbooks running Atom 450 with Broadcom chips. From what I have read though, most of them have upgraded their RAM WITH a card. As I said earlier, it runs almost everything I want it to run so far smoothly EXCEPT for playing back video. So...I just wanted to know if the Broadcom card alone will help take some computing burden off of my CPU, and if not, if expanding my RAM would be money better spent. Since I can run most of the other things I want to run fine, is it even worth upgrading the RAM at all? As in, will it make what I deem to be fine..better?

Also, I don't think Skype uses H.246 decoder...so i'm not sure that the broadcom chip would help in that area...not sure, though



My 2 main concerns come up with video conferencing with Skype/Oovoo and trying to play HD content on youtube/hulu. I just noticed right now that the resolution on my netbook is 1024x600, which is less than 720p, so I guess it doesn't really matter that much for 720p video from Youtube/Hulu...

For streaming video, I plugged in my netbook to the router, waited until the whole video loaded, but it didnt help streaming video. I did notice that my RAM usage was 85%, and my CPU was at 100%. I disabled Readyboost, but it made no difference.

For regular video playback, I used VLC to play a 2.3GB 720p video, and it was choppy. RAM usage was 75%, and CPU was around 100% for one thread, 60% for the other.

In Skype, its CPU @ 100% and RAM at 75% on wired LAN and no readyboost.
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a c 153 U Graphics card
July 30, 2010 5:50:59 AM
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Well I'm no expert, but I think the Broadcom would be much more beneficial in that case. (I'm not sure on the price and all that, and if its even worth it). You may need to upgrade both, but it sounds like starting with a Broadcom chip would be the best bet if you can only do one.
August 6, 2010 1:23:17 AM

Helltech said:
Well I'm no expert, but I think the Broadcom would be much more beneficial in that case. (I'm not sure on the price and all that, and if its even worth it). You may need to upgrade both, but it sounds like starting with a Broadcom chip would be the best bet if you can only do one.



theyre both around $40-50 each.

thanks for your input =)
August 13, 2010 4:23:06 AM

So i got the broadcom chip.

There is a misconception that adding RAM will automatically make your computer "faster". Adding RAM will give more space for windows vista and 7 to precache/prefetch commonly used programs, and thus make htem start up faster. However, for the actual running of your programs, adding RAM will definitely make your programs run way faster ONLY IF the programs you use need mroe than 100% of your physical memory. When you go past 100% of your available RAM, your computer starts borrowing your hard drive as virtual RAM, and this slows it down a LOT. Since in my case i never use up my 1GB capacity, upgrading to 2GB will only help my prefetch caching, and will not make an appreciable difference in running my programs after startup.

The Broadcom chip helps decode H.264 and other encoding formats. This is used by Youtube and Hulu, as well as some media players like VLC by VideoLAN and Windows Media Home Cinema Classic. This would enable me to watch HD content on youtube and hulu.

Skype and Oovoo, however, use different encoding. They use On2, which is not supported by the Broadcom Crystal HD chip, so adding the chip will NOT help my laggy video conferencing at all.

So in my application where I am not using up all my RAM and would like a little better HD video playback, the Broadcom chip is the way to go, even tho it doesnt help my Skype and Oovoo video. Oh well..can't win em all, i guess.
August 20, 2010 5:53:01 AM

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