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best video card under $300.00  for internet streaming video

Posted on 2008-11-16
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I am looking for the best video card under $300.00 that will optimize my streaming video from sites such as Youtube, Hulu, etc.  I understand that my network connection plays a part in this and Internet bandwidth is a variable that is not fully under my control.  However, it seems to me that all that's needed is a fairly large buffer and some intelligent software that will basically not start the video until it's go a fairly large whack of stream to start and another 5 or 10 minutes in the spare tank. That way it can keep up a steady stream to the monitor even if the Internet stream is choppy. I've seen some software out there that claims to accelerate streaming video but when I tried it it didn't seem to make that much of a difference.  If I'm shooting in the wrong direction and it's more a PC CPU/RAM or codecs or some other issue I would appreciate having that pointed out to me.  
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Question by:lineonecorp
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andrew_aj1 earned 225 total points
ID: 22970855
You do not need a $300 video card to watch youtube videos. The card you most likely have should be plenty enough. Your Internet connection is the issue.
The information you heard about accelerating video is most likely related to HD content - offloading the job of rendering the video from the CPU the a modern GPU. This only helps with the video processing of these types of  video - it will not help with youtube.
You have two options to really solve your issue. The first one would be to upgrade your Internet connection. The second would be to left the video start, hit pause, and wait for it to fully download.
I know this is not the news you want, but it is the right answer. Sorry.
I hope this helps. Good luck.
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by:lineonecorp
ID: 22971479
You're right - this is not the answer I was looking for.   And I know about the 'pause' trick as well - and that works as far as I know because of the buffering.  And that makes me wonder why that concept can't be extended - either through software or a video card with more RAM, etc. or combinations thereof and be under my control.  So for instance I set aside 1 gig of video RAM/motherboard for a buffer and do the 'pause' so to speak in hardware.  Above and beyond that I also think the video card/system hardware/display handling still has a part to play especially when you go to full screen mode - e.g. loss of clarity when you go from 'little' pictures to the 'big' picture for instance on a 27" LCD.  Even controlling what 'full screen' means would be useful - e.g. I want full screen to be double the regular size not actually full screen so I can figure out the best tradeoff between size and picture quality. Also what about dedicated software players out there. I notice these exist for Youtube, Hulu, VEOH, etc. Or ways of tweaking Flash - are there higher 'paid' versions of Flash or alternatives that do a better job? That's the type of discussion I was looking for especially from people who've tweaked their systems.

If anybody out there has  played around with this in a dedicated fashion for a while I would appreciate their comments.
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by:andrew_aj1
ID: 22971499
Flash is free - there are no higher end paid versions.
You are limited by your bandwidth. No matter how awesome of a computer you have you will still have the exact same issue.
The quality of videos like youtube cannot be enhanced by better hardware on your comptuer. You get the quality that youtube and the author give you. So it  may look good in the small window, but you will notice the quality will you go full screen.
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by:lineonecorp
ID: 22971653
You seem to be missing the fact that I'm not talking about Youtube exclusively. There's also Hulu and VEOH, etc. that stream TV/Movie content - not amateur video of varying quality.  Also there's no real comment on the question of controlling the amount of buffer. If the pause business works to stop the 'stuttering' to some extent, are there no products/techniques that would extend that possibility? It doesn't seem that difficult to conceive of having a software control (and the underlying hardware) that allows me to have the ability to say to the system 'fill this buffer and stream when buffer is full'.  As far as Internet speed just assume I can get whatever is needed.

I don't seem to be getting a sense of what you yourself have done along any of these lines. I have already googled and picked up several tips e.g. turning off hardware acceleration, etc. that did make a difference. I turned to Experts-Exchange for a more thorough discussion from people who perhaps have spent a lot more dedicated time in this particular area than random Goople.  It seems you keep telling me it's not going to be like cable TV. I knew that coming in. I just want 'better' than what I have now and some specific tips from people who've tried 'this and that' - I don't want 'perfect'.

Anybody who's ever really gotten into streaming will inevitably try tweaking.  I'm assuming you're' really into streaming video and have tried a lot of this and that.  I would like to know specifically what you've tried whether it worked or not - it would eliminate me trying those same things.
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by:tenaj-207
tenaj-207 earned 150 total points
ID: 22973394
If you're shopping for a new video card then this is a great one, EVGA GeForce 9800 GT.
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/searchtools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=4117924&SRCCODE=YAHOODF&cm_mmc_o=QztBBCjCVRqCjCVRqCjCVRq

As far as RAM/CPU goes I recommend a minimum of 1 gig and at least an old fashion 2.0 GHz's proc.

Lastly before you go spending money on hardware I would suggest that you try http://www.videoaccelerator.com/.  Back when I had dialup (a long time ago) it seamed to help.  I haven't used it in a while though.  Here's a number of other great ideas, http://internet-tv-sites-review.toptenreviews.com/tired-of-waiting-several-methods-for-improving-streaming-speeds.html.

Sorry to hear that your internet connection is slow, that sucks.

Good luck,
tenaj.
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by:lineonecorp
ID: 22978546
Thanks for the video card advice. I've tried Speedbit didn't make much difference.   As far as that site for tips and tricks - it was long on theory and short on actual facts. It was good however for listing some streaming TV/movie sites I had not heard of before.

As far as my Internet connection - There's no problem that way My download speeds are 3 meg or better on most days.  It's strictly streaming videos that are the issue and I am looking for some 'intelligence' in dealing with them which I thought would be a relatively easy technique - get a big buffer somewhere, fill it  and then play from the buffer while it's being filled. At the end of the day that's all downloading to a hard drive and playing back is because in fact the hard drive is a huge buffer and then whey you play from it it just grabs chunks and sends it to RAM/adapter/monitor in small chunks but smoothly.   What I thought was that it was possible for some video card/video card software/specialized app to allow the stream to fill in a large buffer, let's call it A -  and then start playing from the buffer while buffer B is being filled in and then when it's done switch to buffer B, etc.  Playing from this RAM buffer should be as smooth as playing from the hard drive - it in fact eliminates a step of saving to the hard drive.  Or the software could download to the hard drive, get a sufficiently large chunk, let's say 5% of the video and then start playing back while the rest of the video was still downloading - I've seen that with various file sharing programs.  I came across a service called Graboid that seems to do that - when you go to stream a file, let's say a 30 minute TV episode, you can get a message and a progress bar  about buffering for a few minutes while it grabs 10 or 15 per cent of the file. So far however I've encountered some techical difficulties with Graboid - I can download their files and play back but I can't seem to stream. I've got a question into tech support for that. I will wait a bit for some more info from yourself or others while I gather more info from some of the sites before closing this off.
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by:andrew_aj1
ID: 22979035
Your internet browser and plugins will download video to your hard disk and play it back. Video from sites like youtube and hulu playback much slower than your link from your hard drive to your display.
File sharing programs work differently. What you are most likely describeing is that you downloaded part of a show and was able to start watching the part that you have alerady downloaded. This is what websites try to do, but it is not always perfect.
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by:lineonecorp
ID: 22981116
Sorry I don't understand what you are saying - it doesn't seem related to what I have asked.  I wasn't asking how things worked - I understand that. I was asking how I could adjust the way they work.  So for instance when I stream from Youtube bits of the stream are put in a buffer and played back. I want to increase the size of the buffer and control when playback starts e.g. when a certain portion of the buffer is full for instance.  That way it should be as smooth as playing from my hard drive.
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by:andrew_aj1
ID: 22981209
It does it as fast as it can. The only way I can think of having it buffer faster would be to have multiple connections buffering the video, but that will still limit you to your available bandwidth. This feature must then be offered by the hosting site and available on the plugin they use (ex. flash, sliverlight, etc)
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by:igor-1965
ID: 22982643
Have you ever considered to use software that allows you to record streamed video?
http://www.videohelp.com/tools/sections/video-streaming-recording

Why waste time playing with the buffer size? It will vary depending on the site, network load etc. Just got whole video and play it from your hard drive.
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Author Comment

by:lineonecorp
ID: 22983060
Igor-1965,

Yes, I've considered that possibility and have looked into packages that do that but it isn't what I want here. I want to click on a video and have it play - maybe a few minutes after I click on it so it can buffer enough so it won't stutter - e.g. the TV experience/playing a DVD experience not the download and play experience.  Are there any video streaming capture utilities that you know that let you play as you download once you get a decent chunk on your hard drive e.g. 5 minutes worth or even let me customize buffer size and playback time?
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by:andrew_aj1
ID: 22985037
Why don't you try downloading videos and then playing them. This link should let you download video from many sites:
http://keepvid.com/
There are also may other sites like this that support different streaming sites. Once you have it downloaded you can have your DVD experience.
Good luck.
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Author Comment

by:lineonecorp
ID: 22988512
I understand about downloading - I have done that.  However, here I was asking specifically about streaming.  If you have had a lot of experience trying to stream and can tell me definitively that nothing will work the way I want it to,  that's fine, please tell me.  I feel I may not have exhausted all avenues for making streaming work better and if you and others have gone down the road and can tell me your trials and tribulations that would help me feel I've given the idea a fair shot.
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by:tenaj-207
ID: 22988731
Tenaj's Trial and Tribulation's (get out your hankies)

Once upon a time I lived out in the country and had to use dial-up.  Everyday after work I would come home and try to watch movies on youtube and Hulu, but to no avail, my connection was to slow.  At night I would cry myself to sleep just thinking about my decrepit internet connection.  Then on spring morning I moved into the city and got high speed and lived happily ever after (MTYPO).

Hope that makes you feel better,
tenaj
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