Can Athlon XP 1900-2200+ stream 480p-720p H.264 without lags?

Hello, everyone.

I have an old PC which has Athlon XP 1900+ (1600 MHz) CPU and an even terribly older video card Nvidia Riva TNT2 M64 32 Mb on it. This configuration results in low fps video in 2 cases:

1) Watching H.264 Flash videos from sites like Youtube in resolution larger than 360p or in 360p full-screen (the problem persists if I wait to download a video completely and watch it afterwards, so it's not a network problem)
2) Receiving video during a Skype call
2a) Even using a directly connected webcam to watch it locally in real-time results in low fps for resolution larger than 360p

For example, on this youtube H.264 video I have the following:
a) Viewing small screen in 360p: 25 fps, Flash plugin (Firefox "plugin-container" process) takes CPU 60%
b) Viewing full screen in 360p: 13 fps, Flash plugin takes 95% (Firefox takes 2% more and other processes take the rest)
c) Viewing full screen in 480p: 10 fps, Flash plugin takes 95% (Firefox takes 2% more and other processes take the rest)

Full screen is on 1280x1024 display.

The main question is will this Athlon XP 1900+ (1600 MHz) perform better (e.g., in 25 fps on 360p/480p full screen) if I install a better video card? That is, since video takes almost 100% CPU, can a better video card offload some processing from CPU or this CPU is a bottleneck?

This motherboard supports AGP 4x, so I may get a latest video card which support AGP 4x (obviously, a used one), in particular: ATI Radeon 9xxx series AGP (e.g., Radeon 9600/9700) or Nvidia GeForce4 series AGP (e.g., MX 440 or GeForce4 Ti 4600/4800).

I may also install the fastest CPU this motherboard supports which is Athlon XP 2200+ (1800 MHz) but I doubt that this would improve the situation significantly.

If anyone has had experience with Athlon XP 1800-2200+ processors, please comment on your experience with streaming videos and tell which video card you have used.

Full specs:
CPU: Athlon XP 1900+ (1600 MHz), 256 KB L2 cache, FSB 266 MHz
Video: Nvidia Riva TNT2 M64 32 Mb
Motherboard: Epox EP-8khal+ (VIA KT266A chipset), AGP 4x, supports Athlon XP up to 2200+
RAM: DDR-266 512 Mb
Internet Connection: 10 mbit/s

Windows XP SP3
Adobe Flash Player (newest)
Browser: Firefox 3.6.18
Skype 5.5 (newest)
DirectX 9.0c (last for XP)
Video Drivers: Nvidia TNT2 Drivers 61.77 (last for TNT2, from July 27 2004)
5 answers Last reply
More about athlon 1900 2200 stream 480p 720p lags
  1. Don't take this personal, but the cost of the video card is probaly worth more than the whole PC. Yes the TNT is pretty damn aweful and a good ATI 9800 or NV 6600GT would be a vast improvement,, but then you have to think about upgrading the ram to a minimum of 2GB, will the power supply handle a video card upgrade, will the CPU get bottlenecked or can you give it a little overlcock with good cooling. Upgrade Firefox to v5.

    So there you have it, may cost you a few more pounds that you where expecting for better FPS. Think about living with the PC and save up for a nice little prebuilt system powered by an AMD using integered HD video, that will take a dump on anyhting your currect setup can do, plus will make you internet experience far better.
  2. I have an old HTPC built around an Athlon XP-M 2600+ just sitting in a closet. I can't even give it away.

    HD video really needs a dual core CPU because it takes a lot of processing power to decode compared to simple AVI files. A more recent video card like the HD 4650 for around $60 can help offload some the decoding process from the CPU. But a dual core CPU would eliminate video stuttering.

    The old Radeon 9xxx series does not offer HD video decoding capabilities. At best they have MPEG-2 decoding which is the DVD format. I don't think Radeons had the ability to decode HD video until the release of the Radeon X1xxx series (like the X1600).

    The above recommended nVidia GeForce 6600GT does have H.264 HD video decoding capabilities.
  3. Thank you for your replies.

    Yes, it seems that a new system may be even cheaper than a good video card, and a good CPU will be more useful than a video, especially since I don't need to play computer games.

    I've also made more research on the Internet, and CPUs Athlon XP up to 2600+ with good videos won't play 720p Flash videos without stuttering, and even full-screen 480p may be a problem.

    Concerning the need for a dual core CPU - I have a single core Celeron 2.2 GHz on my laptop and it plays 720p Flash just fine.
  4. Ooooh!

    You could consider an AGP HD 4650 Pro.

    I love my Athlon XP 2400+ so much *cuddles ancient hardware*
  5. trying-to-be-faster said:

    Concerning the need for a dual core CPU - I have a single core Celeron 2.2 GHz on my laptop and it plays 720p Flash just fine.

    There's a huge difference between 720p Flash and 1080p HD video encoded with H.264 or from a Blu-Ray disc.
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