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HD video on P4 system

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February 13, 2013 11:40:17 AM

I recently got an old P4 system that I want to use as a media center. I now have it hooked up through a VGA cable but eventually I will be running it through HDMI with a VGA to HDMI converter. Anyway what my problem is when I want to run a video from my external drive it is quite choppy and the computer can't keep up. There is a GIG of RAM in it at the moment. Now I was wondering if it was just the processor being too slow or could it be it still has USB 1.1 ports on it. I ordered a device that allows to use a SATA drive with ESATA cables so I might throw in the drive from the enclosure into the PC and see if that makes a difference. For me I honestly think the processor is just too slow but I didn't know if anyone else had any other ideas on what it might be. Some of the videos are higher definition so maybe it just can't keep up.


Any suggestions?

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February 13, 2013 11:54:24 AM

a P4 machine is probably not going to be able to stream HD video. The external drive could also be an issue but I doubt it will fix it.

You cannot adapt VGA to HDMI, analog and digital are not compatible. If you bought an expensive convertor you would not see any difference in quality, all your doing is changing the type of wire the signal travels through. If you want digital the source and destination must both be digital.
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February 13, 2013 11:56:04 AM

its both the cpu and gpu..also with vga to hdmi you are only getting 720p and not 1080p as vga does not support full hd
save up money and build a new htpc system..you can re use the case but thats about it as its really really really old. look into amd fm2 processors they are cheap you can get a quad core with amd 7xxx series video integrated into it so you dont have to buy dedicated graphics and it will handle the 1080p
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February 13, 2013 12:00:20 PM

Usb 1 transfer rate is approximately 183 Kbytes.

720p recording in avi is approx 500Kbytes/sec to play smoothly. It will be the usb v1 bandwidth limitations unable to cope and is causing the pauses while trying to keep up.
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February 13, 2013 12:06:25 PM

Thanks for the replies. It is an older PC that my buddy had left over so I thought I would give it a try. I will mess around with it a little more but probably won't do too much.

Thanks again
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February 13, 2013 12:11:23 PM

Copy over the video file onto the main drive to see whether its the cpu or usb1 letting you down.
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February 13, 2013 12:18:42 PM

Also you mentioned you want it as a media centre, do you mean other devices, tablets, consoles, other computers are going to be connected to it?

An older system like your P4 should be capable of network transfer rates of up to 10MB/sec, depending on the hdd of course. Even half that, is more than enough to stream 1080p movies. 1GB memory should be enough for 1 or 2 simultaneous streams, but if you'd want to do something on the P4 while multiple people are streaming movies off the computer you'd might want to look into adding some more memory.
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February 13, 2013 12:54:19 PM

The CPU is not fast enough to decode modern AVI or video streams. It should work ok with the internet or things like youtube. If the sites have an option to use low res videos that will help take some work off the CPU.

Your problem is not the VGA cable. VGA can run HD, it has a max resolution of 2048x1156. A new video card or HDMI-dvi adapter will not help because most media players like VLC or silverlight, or Windows media center, can not leverage the added power of the gpu very effectively.

The problem is not the USB bus. Usb 1.1 is good for 12mbps which is much higher than the average DSL or cable internet in the USA which is around 3-9mbps. A faster bus won't really help the video decoding.

I would not spend any money trying to make this a better HTPC because the only thing that will help is a new CPU, and even then the best P4s that are easily attainable like a 3.2 will still struggle.
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February 13, 2013 12:54:53 PM

I had a P4 2.8 media center with 2 gigs of 400mhz ram and a AMD HD3450 for like 5 years. I tried to keep it running as long as possible, becuase I only needed it for prime and netflix. I noticed the CPU usage was at 100% and tthe videos were choppy. About a year ago I had to retire it.
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February 13, 2013 1:10:27 PM

Yeah I am not really investing too much more into it. I usually stream movies from my other PC to my PS3 but it wasn't always reliable seeing I had it set up through wireless. As I said I was given this computer so I just wanted to play around with it and see what I could do. If I ever want to an actual Media Center I will get the necessary parts to do it myself.
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