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Is there anything I can do to optimize my laptop's video playback and eliminate audio/video lag?

Posted on 2010-08-16
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Last Modified: 2013-11-08
I bought a new laptop, and couldn't afford anything with a real graphics card.  It only has the integrated Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 4500M.  But I didn't expect it to have any issues with video content on the internet.  I didn't expect issues there, because I have a five year old Windows XP desktop that doesn't struggle with video, and it doesn't have a fancy video card, either.  My main problem is that the video is occasionally choppy (intermittent starts/stops that are not buffering issues), and the audio is often out of sync with the video (particularly noticed when people are talking and their words don't match their mouth movements).  Netflix streaming is especially bad, but ESPN videos are bad, too.

What can I do?  I know I can't upgrade to a video card...my laptop doesn't allow for that.  I can add another 1 GB of RAM, but I think there is a limit to the memory that the integrated video can access, so that won't help.  I've already tweaked my video settings to use 16-bit color quality instead of 32-bit, and I also turned off most of the Windows 7 visual effects that slow down performance.  These two things have helped a bit, I think.  but is there anything else I can do?

Will a faster internet connection help?  I have 1.5 Mbps DSL.   I have another laptop with a better video card, and it seems to do relatively okay with the same internet connection, so I was assuming that isn't the main limiting factor.

Here is my system:
Operating System: Genuine Windows® 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Processor and Graphics
Intel® Pentium® Dual-Core processor T4400
2.2GHz, 1MB L2 Cache, 800MHz FSB
Mobile Intel® GL40 Express Chipset
Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator 4500M with 128MB-1341MB
dynamically allocated shared graphics memory
Memory: 3GB DDR3 800MHz (max 4GB)
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Question by:Tim86
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24 Comments
 
LVL 12

Expert Comment

by:Grant1842
ID: 33451450
I would go to www.drivereasy.com and download there free software and update all your drivers and that will help you alot  think.

Let us know if this works.
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Expert Comment

by:Parthasarathy
ID: 33451456
Hi,
I have come across this same problem once in my systems where I have a dedicated graphics card.
The problem is nothing to do with any hardware part.
Your hardware seems to be sufficient to watch videos on the web.

When I got the problem, I tried to download the video through the Firefox plugins and try running in the desktop.  It was fine running.
Then I cleared my cookies and offline files of the browser, again tried viewing the same video on the web directly. It worked fine..

Please let me know if that solves your problem
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Expert Comment

by:B H
ID: 33451471
honestly with an hp laptop - you're best bets are these:

1. update the video card driver if you can
2. get the latest version of java
3. get the latest flash player
4. use google chrome, smaller footprint than IE and firefox
5. most importantly, UNINSTALL all the junk hp put there that you never needed/wanted - in addition to anything else listed as being installed.

then delete all the temp files using this:
http://download.cnet.com/Temp-File-Cleaner/3000-2094_4-10628816.html?tag=recommendedDownloads

then, do a good registry cleanup with ccleaner
http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner/download/standard

then do a good defraggler run
http://www.piriform.com/defraggler/download/standard

if you have norton/symantec/mcafee, consider getting something better.  no reason to have those using 80% of your resources just to fail at blocking viruses.
www.avast.com - it works, it's free, and it's a small footprint on the resource chart

if all that doesn't get you going, consider a new laptop, anything but hp or gateway

be thankful you have the intel graphics - it seems like every consumer-level hp laptop that doesnt have intel graphics, burns up within the first 13 months.
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Expert Comment

by:authen-tech
ID: 33451478
Make sure nothing is running with a lot of processor strain like a virus scan or anything like that.  Then you can go to task manager and go to the process of your movie or netflix and increase the priority so it's not waiting on any other processes.  You can set your power options to maximum performance because laptops often downgrade themselves to save battery...especially when not plugged in when you first turn them on.  The other option is to use VLC for movies and just make sure they are buffered well ahead of where you are watching before you hit play.  This will prevent you from catching up to the part you haven't downloaded yet when streaming live video content.  

Hope these help!  If it's a brand new computer you can also contact support.  They will probably make sure you have the latest network and video card drivers as well.

Todd
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by:B H
ID: 33451483
oh it goes without saying, when you install ANYTHING, watch closely for all the "optional" checkmarks - you don't need any toolbars or other nonsense getting installed... always watch for these checkmarks during installs.

even after whatever new thing just got installed, you should still go into that new program and turn off any auto-updaters... particularly java and adobe.  there's no good reason to have auto-updaters running 24x7

in your list of programs, 90% of anything that starts with HP can probably go away, so look into each one really well and determine if it's junk to you or not
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Expert Comment

by:csalaski
ID: 33451495
Did you disable any unnecessary start up programs? I personally hate to suggest this, but disable Anti-Virus software during playback? We don't want the AV app to be scanning the download as we are watching the movie.

Do a selective startup loading only the most essential services in order to watch your video, but switching back before doing anything else such as surfing the internet.

Make sure you update all the drivers from the laptop manufacturers site.

You mentioned graphics memory. Take a look in Bios settings to see if it's possible to allocate more ram to the video card. This may or may not help, it'll be limited as much by the GPU as it will by the ram but your graphics chip will support up to 1.7GB of memory.

The GPU is rated as being ok to game with and ok to watch video with and also supposedly has lip synching abilities which you are not seeing.

Go back to 32 bit quality. No sense in watching in 16 bit.

Reference card for your chipset is here:  http://software.intel.com/en-us/articles/quick-reference-guide-to-intel-integrated-graphics/

You seem to have the 4500M video card which is lower rated because of lower clock speed at 400MHz compared to the 640Mhz of the 4500MHD.

 For a review of the chipset look here:  http://www.notebookcheck.net/Intel-Graphics-Media-Accelerator-4500MHD-GMA-X4500MHD.9883.0.html

For possible tweaks you might try, go here: http://forums.techarena.in/monitor-video-cards/1199247.htm
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Author Comment

by:Tim86
ID: 33451559
Not sure why several people think I have an HP.  It is a Toshiba Satellite laptop.  
csalaski - is there no performance gain from going to 16-bit?  I honestly can't see the difference visually, so I assumed 16-bit would perform better.
Also, the link you provided for possible tweaks suggested this: "try setting the Driver Memory Footprint option to "High". This can even help to increase your graphics performance."  Any idea where/how to do that?
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Accepted Solution

by:
B H earned 250 total points
ID: 33451680
wow i can't believe i fell for that - the other guy said hp so i just assumed.  the stats are pretty close to most lower end hp's anyway... my steps above are all perfectly valid

16bit would be faster on pictures, but on video the adapter would have to work a little harder to scale it down to 16bit

i think he might mean setting your graphics acceleration to full - under right-click the desktop, properties, settings, advanced, adapter, troubleshooting... but it's full by default.  anything less than full will just slow you down more

you can pretty much rule out network/hardware (other than the intel graphics being what it is), your slowness is coming from too much software eating all the memory.

your video card shares memory with everything else, it doesn't have its own... so when there's little to no memory, you have to use the swap file, which is the hard drive, which is spinning metal and magnets, which is infinetely slower than ram.

free up the ram and you'll be ok
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Expert Comment

by:nwtechdesk
ID: 33451837
I'm with authen-tech.  Windows media player can't cut it VLC Video Lan plays movies smoothly.  I first saw this on a thinkpad when vista was new. I thought MS would finally get dvd playback right but no, they did not.  VLC is free and provides a great experience.
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Expert Comment

by:csalaski
ID: 33451878
Regarding the 16 vs 32 bit. I couldn't see an advantage performance wise, bryone44035v3 mentions it. The adapter would have to decide when given a value for a specific shade to choose another close shade which is additional overhead for the GPU. I also thought that movie video with it's infinite shades might be degraded with only 65536 colors versus millions of colors.

Since the chip has none of it's own memory it has to take it from the system. If you minimize running apps, you will minimize memory having to use the hard drive swap file because of the buffering that must happen in order to watch video.

If you can allocate more memory to graphics in Bios, not sure if it's possible, that should help also.
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Expert Comment

by:supports
ID: 33451993
you can try downloading and installing k lite codec pack..... it helped me ...or u can try VLC
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Expert Comment

by:ekincam
ID: 33452024
What type of video are sluggish?

While your video chip has some hardware decoding capability it is not fast enough for 1080p decoding but it's worth trying.

To try it, use Media Player Classic to playback the videos because it can do hardware decoding.  You GPU has some hardware decoding capability that you can take advantage to remove load from your CPU.  On my C2D E7500, it reduced CPU consumption from 65% to about 10% for H.264  playback.

Follow the instructions on this page, but also disable anything that says FFMPEG
http://wiki.vuze.com/w/HD_Video_Playback_with_Hardware_H.264_Decoding

VLC uses FFMPEG which is pure CPU decoding and while your CPU should be capable of decoding the videos, it is more efficient.
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Expert Comment

by:ekincam
ID: 33452036
Just read the post again and it says Netflix.  Whoops...

I am not familiar with these systems.  Are they Flash based?  Flash only recently started supporting hardware decoding and is otherwise very CPU intensive.  

Ensure you have the latest version of Flash, 10.1.  When playing a Flash content, right click and choose settings.  Ensure hardware acceleration is enabled.
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Author Comment

by:Tim86
ID: 33453825
Couple more questions...I see several suggestions for various media players such as VLC...but how does that help for internet-streamed videos?  Does IE8 actually play the videos differently if I have installed a different video player?
Also, on the suggestion for changing the Driver Memory Footprint.  I'm not sure how to interpret the suggestions on the intel website...should I set it to high or low to improve performance?  http://www.intel.com/support/graphics/sb/cs-030506.htm#7
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Expert Comment

by:B H
ID: 33465425
IE/firefox/browsers will stream files differently, usually by flash or java, sometimes with calls to windows media player

3rd party programs like VLC will integrate into the browsers and intercept the streaming links and usually work better, but they don't do flash or java

your issues are caused by your machine doing other things in the background, you need to start looking at freeing up some memory by uninstalling things you dont use or need
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Author Comment

by:Tim86
ID: 33481920
I don't think it is a memory issue.  I'm running a video right now from FoxNews, and it looks horrible.  But only 1.4 Gb of memory is being used out of 2.87 available.  And both CPU's are being pegged at less than 25%.
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Author Comment

by:Tim86
ID: 33482082
Couple more questions.  Are there any websites with standardized video streams that I can use for repeatable testing of my streaming performance?  Also, how do I integrate VLC into IE8?  I installed VLC media player, but I totally do not understand how to set it up.  It is way over my head.
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Author Comment

by:Tim86
ID: 33484449
I also checked the drivers...they are up-to-date.  This is only a 2-month-old laptop.
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Expert Comment

by:authen-tech
ID: 33484991
VLC was for DVD or local video playback, it does not integrate into IE that I am aware of.  Do you have a bunch of toolbars or plugins on your IE8?  Have you tried an alternate browser like Firefox or Google Chrome?  I would just check to see whether you have problems with either of those before going further since it may be a plugin on your IE that is slowing you down.  
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Assisted Solution

by:rafaperez3d
rafaperez3d earned 250 total points
ID: 33494369
Hi Tim96

As you commented in your other question, your computers specs will limit your maximum resolution that you'll be able to watch videos from internet. If you are getting almost 95% cpu utilization in 1080p videos, playback can be choppy. Sticks with 720p, it is already a very good quality and will provides a smooth playback for your videos.

Dont worry, I cant playback this 4k video in my home computer too!. In my job, where I uses a Core I7, no problem, but for my Athlon X2 its too much.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0m1XmvBey8

As others experts commented, watching local media its usually a different experience, you can try different decoders to improve the playback. But for streaming content, you have to rely usually on Flash or others softwares that can be not so optimized code.

But let me try just 2 things:
First,open your task manager and look for something stealing your computer cpu.
Second, download this software here, called Process Explorer. It is just a more complete task manager.
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb896653.aspx
Click View -> Select Columns... -> Process Performance Tab and check I/O Read Bytes and I/O Write Bytes

Now looks for anything reading or writing too much in your computer, and if you found something too high, killed them. Now try playback again.

And dont forget, try to see your videos in Google Chrome, not in IE8.

Let me know if you get any improvement.
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Author Comment

by:Tim86
ID: 33532698
I am upgrading to a 15 Mbps broadband connection next week, so I will revisit this soon after that.
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Author Comment

by:Tim86
ID: 33859822
No solution has been found.  I still don't get it, because multiple people have told me the specs on my laptop are sufficient that the playback should not be choppy.  I'll let this question expire.
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