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CPU efficiency when playing video on an older system if using Linux or Unix


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#1 peterk312

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 03:55 PM

On another forum, I had asked a question about playing streaming video content on the Internet at websites like Youtube:

"Can I get better playback of YouTube videos on my PC or is this hopeless?
I'm only using the 360p setting to watch videos on youtube. I use the small player at YouTube and the CPU is at 50-60%. I switch to the large player and CPU goes to 80-90%. You try to go full screen with the player and the CPU hits 100% and the video won't play without glitches. I know this is the result of either a) low CPU availability (I have a single Pentium 4 CPU, 2.4 GHz), B) only having an integrated graphics controller instead of a video card (it's an Intel 82845G), or having only 2 GB RAM total. What I want to know is if it is hopelessly going to be like this or can one of these components be either tweaked or changed to get me playback that allows for full screen? Which of these components is most important in this case:

1. CPU
2. video card
3. available RAM"

--someone responded to this Q by saying I should try using Linux because Windows XP (my current OS) was likely making it harder to use my CPU efficiently. Over the years I have shut down many Windows services to reduce CPU and RAM usage so that now (including svchosts) I've only got 20 running processes that show up on task manager. There were 38 more processes running at one time all competing for CPU and Ram!

I had already thought about Windows XP causing some of the problem with video playback limitations on my computer, but all operating systems  will use a share of the CPU and RAM. You think I could set up a partition on the hard drive to boot the computer in Linux and then use it only for the Internet and for watching video on YouTube? Will it get me significant improvement? Or, given the hardware itself is going to be the weakest link, it won't matter much? Here's some info on my system:

 

CPU Intel® Pentium® 4 CPU 2.40GHz
Family P4
Model P4 (0.13 μm)
CPU Socket XU1 PROCESSOR

 

Graphics Card
Adapter Name Intel® 82845G/GL/GE/PE/GV Graphics Controller
Video RAM 64 MB

Driver Version 6.14.10.4342

 

Network Adapters
Ethernet Intel® PRO/100 VE Network Connection - Packet Scheduler Miniport

Total Memory (RAM) installed in this PC 2,040 MB
Memory Used 37 %
Total Page File Memory 3,938 MB
Available Page File Memory 3,345 MB

 

 

 

Thanks for any advice you can give (other than telling me to buy a new system).

 

 



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#2 zingo156

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 04:15 PM

I personally would try a small linux bootable distro if you have a dvd drive or cd drive or even a bootable flash drive. There are some that easily fit on a regular cd such as puppy linux or D**n small linux. You can boot directly from the disc and could test youtube. The specs of the system are not that bad. The only issue I see is the video card. Due to the age of the card it may not support certain hardware acceleration intructions to play certain videos, thus the cpu ends up doing the rendering and cpus are terrible with video. You have more than enough ram at 2gb to easily run a full distro of linux from a bootable if you chose something like linux mint or ubuntu which have more features to start with. If you still have slow video playback, I would look into buying a cheap addon video card that has at least 256mb of ram and is relatively new. I am not sure if your pc has pci-e or agp. If it has agp it is a bit more difficult and more expensive to get decent cards.Good Luck!


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#3 peterk312

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 05:19 PM

Zingo: Thanks for a response.

 

I checked out Puppy Linux at a YouTube video for how to boot from a USB drive. It looks promising.

 

But you say that you would buy a "cheap" video card for upgrade over the Intel Graphics Controller. The motherboard for my system has two more available PCI slots, but I don't think they are PCIe. I don't remember the difference - PCI vs PCIe (I know the "e" means "express" but I can't recall how to check if my system is compatible). What's an example of a "cheap" video card that might get me better video performance despite the above mentioned CPU limitations?

 

Also, I hear that video cards require a lot of power. How do I know if my computer can power it?


Edited by peterk312, 10 January 2014 - 05:21 PM.


#4 jonuk76

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 07:31 PM

It definitely will not have PCIe slots.  The Intel 845G chipset that your computer has came out in 2002 which pre-dates PCIe being invented.  The chipset supports a 4x AGP slot for a graphics card (that doesn't necessarily mean that all motherboards implemented this though).  This slot (there is only ever one, if present at all) can be identified as it's usually brown plastic and is set back further than the PCI slots.  This interface is now obsolete but it is faster than PCI slots (which are the worst option for graphics) and you will still find AGP cards on eBay etc, and perhaps the odd one in retailers.

 

Some graphics cards use a lot of power, but these are mostly modern gaming cards.  Most of these old AGP/PCI cards do not.


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#5 peterk312

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Posted 11 January 2014 - 01:35 PM

It definitely will not have PCIe slots.  The Intel 845G chipset that your computer has came out in 2002 which pre-dates PCIe being invented.  The chipset supports a 4x AGP slot for a graphics card (that doesn't necessarily mean that all motherboards implemented this though).  This slot (there is only ever one, if present at all) can be identified as it's usually brown plastic and is set back further than the PCI slots...

 

I can see on the motherboard there's what looks like an AGP slot (in fact, the letters "AGP" are imprinted on the PC board right next to it). I can't find system info on it, so I don't know if it's 1x AGP or 2x AGP or 4x AGP. Does it matter?

 

I'm reading that AGP graphics cards are tough to find these days. Is this true? Besides Ebay, anyone know a vendor?

 

*Edit: Actually, I can see Newegg has an AGP video card here:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA3SD1922180

But these 2 things trouble me in the specs:

1. Bus interface: AGP 8X
If I'v only got 1x or 2x AGP, this isn't going to work?

2. Maximum Resolutions: 1024x768
When I go to my Display options > settings, my current screen resolution is 1440 by 900 pixels. Won'tt I be losing resolution with a card that does a maximum of 1024x768?


Is the following card a better option?-though it's also an AGP 8X:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814187180

 

 

Am I not understanding that the best I can do is get an AGP video card that has specs indicating it's 4X? Or, will the 8X still work but it will be degraded?


Edited by peterk312, 11 January 2014 - 02:27 PM.


#6 jonuk76

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Posted 11 January 2014 - 03:24 PM

I would guess it's going to be a AGP 2.0 1.5v 4x slot which would be consistent with the chipset.  Have a read of this - http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/printpage/AGP-Bus-Tutorial/155 (also note the diagrams).  The chipset does not support AGP 8x.

 

If you use an 8x card in a 4x slot it will run at the lower speed.  The only thing to watch out for with AGP is that there is some compatibility issues with 3.3v (AGP 1.0) and 1.5v (AGP 2.0~) cards.  Keys in the slot *should* prevent any damage due to this as mentioned in the linked article.  It's only really an issue I would think if you were trying to use an ancient 3.3v card (AGP 1x/2x card), which pre-dated the 1.5v slot type.

 

As for the resolution question, it's odd they state that.  I was using higher resolutions than that years ago on my old CRT monitor.  I can't give any more information, but I would suggest that the maximum resolution of 1024 x 768 stated is probably wrong, and the driver will probably let you select the correct resolution for your monitor.  Can't guarantee it though...


Edited by jonuk76, 11 January 2014 - 03:27 PM.

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#7 peterk312

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Posted 11 January 2014 - 06:43 PM

jonuk: Thanks for your help. I will have a look at the link you posted.

 

But even if I find a compatible AGP video card, will it still improve video playback despite the potential of a "bottleneck" that the Pentium 4  2.40 GHz processor might create?

 

 

This is Interesting, too. Here's someone who was asking the same question about the same system I have (Compaq EVO D310):

http://www.techspot.com/community/topics/compaq-evo-d310-and-a-better-video-card.63811/

At first the OP is told the computer doesn't have an AGP slot, but then after a look at the motherboard tells the person giving the answers that the computer does indeed have one, and it's apparently 4X.

Note that in ref to a XFX GeForce 6200 256MB AGP 8x Video Card, the person with more expertise says, "That card should work properly. AGP 8X cards are backwards compatible with AGP4X slots."

 

The link at techspot above also provided a link to the full specs of the EVO D310 at HP here: http://h18002.www1.hp.com/products/quickspecs/productbulletin.html#spectype=worldwide&type=html&docid=11348 and it says that all EVO D310 system come standard with an AGP 4X slot.


Edited by peterk312, 11 January 2014 - 07:28 PM.


#8 jonuk76

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Posted 11 January 2014 - 07:32 PM

Most newer video cards support hardware acceleration of video playback, through Direct X Video Acceleration (in Windows) and VDPAU in Linux.  You are restricted by the AGP bus to Nvidia GPU's up to (I think) the Geforce 7xxx series.  In AMD's range I think a select few Radeon HD 3xxx and 4xxx series AGP cards were made.

 

This link shows the hardware video acceleration capabilities of a selection of Nvidia GPU's - http://www.nvidia.com/docs/CP/11036/PureVideo_Product_Comparison.pdf


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#9 peterk312

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Posted 12 January 2014 - 02:13 PM

I'm looking at this video card, which says it's AGP 4x compatible:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814139028R

 

Manufacturer's website:

http://www.jaton.com/VGA/graphics_card_detail.php?pid=30

 

 

It has a NVIDIA chipset with GEForce 6200 GPU and memory size of 256MB. It says the memory interface is 64-bit, but I read that this doesn't matter if you're running an x86 32-bit system.

 

Only thing is it says the system is required to have a minimum 250 Watt power supply. My system's power supply says it's 220 Watts. I'm screwed?


Edited by peterk312, 12 January 2014 - 05:28 PM.


#10 zingo156

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Posted 13 January 2014 - 10:54 AM

If your power supply is 220 watts I might recommend a lower wattage card... Also the retailer says it requires a 250 watt psu but this is not always correct. Using what I believe to be an accurate representation of your hardware, cpu 2.4ghz socket 478 northwood (could not find xu1), that jaton 6200 video card, 1 hard drive ide 7200rpm, 2gb of ram 2*1gb sticks, and 3 80mm fans, pci modem, pci nic, I got a reading of 217 total watts used from this site here: http://www.extreme.outervision.com/PSUEngine (You may want to go to that site and enter all of the info you know of). I was assuming this was a stock computer with no other addons such as tv tuner card etc...

 

With those specs, you would be stressing your psu and that extra load could cause failure especially due to the age of the system. I suspect that it would power it for a little while but it may be best to upgrade the psu as well. 350-400 watt psu's can be found for very little. The only thing is that some computers had proprietary connectors which then would raise the cost.

 

The cheapest solution is to find a card that has slower clock speeds and that would reduce the power draw. Something like this perhaps: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814187180 or even something a little lower in vram 128mb version will still beat your onboard video card.

 

If you have a bestec psu I would be very cautious pushing it to it's limit, as I have seen countless bestecs fail and when they do many times they kill other hardware as well.

 

Also if I were in this situation I would definitely try a linux distro first from bootable cd or flash drive and test youtube there as it could very well be an issue with windows. The video card does appear to be the weakest link as far as video playback is concerned.


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#11 peterk312

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Posted 13 January 2014 - 05:18 PM

I have another dilemma now anyway. The Jaton video card I link to above is not going to do what I need it to. I'm trying to send the signal out of my PC to go to both my 19" LCD computer monitor and also to my 26" LCD TV. In order to get the best quality on my LCD TV I should be connecting to the PC with an HDMI or DVI cable. I could still use a VGA connector for the computer monitor because it looks fine to me, but the monitor does have a HDMI input. The video card I need must have dual output and at least one of the connections needs to be HDMI or DVI (my TV only has HDMI but I know they make a cable with an HDMI connector on one end and DVI connector on the other).

 

Is there a card like the GEforce 6200 that can do this and still not need to be on a power supply unit more than 220 - 250 watts?



#12 peterk312

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Posted 13 January 2014 - 05:29 PM

If your power supply is 220 watts I might recommend a lower wattage card... Also the retailer says it requires a 250 watt psu but this is not always correct...With those specs, you would be stressing your psu and that extra load could cause failure especially due to the age of the system. I suspect that it would power it for a little while but it may be best to upgrade the psu as well. The only thing is that some computers had proprietary connectors which then would raise the cost...

 

 

I have not mentioned yet that the system I'm trying to upgrade is an old Compaq EVO D-310.

 

Someone at another forum had a good point though: Why would the motherboard for my Compaq EVO D310 system come with 3 PCI slots and an AGP slot and a 220 Watt power supply unit if the only way you can use the PCI and AGP slots is to have to remove the psu and replace it with a higher wattage unit? This system was available at one time with the following after-market cards being offered to run on it: NVIDIA GeForce2 MX400 32-MB DDRAM AGP, NVIDIA GeForce2 MX200 64-MB with DVI-I, and NVIDIA GeForce2 MX420 64-MB DDRAM with VGA and Svideo. See detailed specs for the EVO D310 here: http://h18002.www1.hp.com/products/quickspecs/productbulletin.html#spectype=worldwide&type=html&docid=11348

 

Someone at an HP forum seems to think the 220 watt power supply unit is not an issue in my case:  http://h30434.www3.hp.com/t5/Desktop-Hardware/Upgrading-old-82845G-Graphics-Controller-with-compatible/td-p/3351313

 

I also asked about the power supply issue at this forum and got mixed answers: http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/t/520610/video-card-indicates-250-watt-min-requirement-ive-got-220-watts-enough/ However, you do see someone says: "There wouldn't be an AGP slot if the original PSU couldn't handle a low-power video card like that GeForce 6200. It should be able to handle any card that gets power through the AGP slot instead of a separate power connector."


Edited by peterk312, 13 January 2014 - 05:31 PM.


#13 zingo156

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Posted 14 January 2014 - 08:47 AM

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814187181 Take a look at that card it has nView Multi-Display Technology and both vga and dvi connections. In new egg if you type in search agp video card you should find many options. There may be better options but it really depends on your budget.


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#14 peterk312

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Posted 14 January 2014 - 12:06 PM

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814187181 Take a look at that card it has nView Multi-Display Technology and both vga and dvi connections. In new egg if you type in search agp video card you should find many options. There may be better options but it really depends on your budget.

I just want to summarize a few things for the sake of where I'm at here.

 

I had a question about backwards compatibility when a video card says it's AGP 8x but you only have a 4x AGP slot. One issue was about power supply and the other was about the card performance.

 

Like Jonuk said above, as long as my system is using AGP 2.0, I can use an 8X card and still get the 1.5V required for the video card. I assume the performance of the card will still be 4x (and my system specs says it's an AGP 4X slot), but the power supply should be correct. Only the oldest systems have AGP 1, which uses 3.3V. See here:  http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/printpage/AGP-Bus-Tutorial/155

 

So, I'm trying to investigate several cards that have these specs:

 

1. For my system (AGP 4X compatible) must be an AGP 4x or 8x card (given 8x is backwards compatible and will still work but only at 4x)

 

2. At least 1 DVI port to send VIDEO (not audio) out to an LCD TV

 

3. At least one other port for a computer mointor (can be VGA, HDMI, or DVI. I have read that graphics actually still work best with a VGA connector for a computer monitor rather than HDMI).

 

4. Needs to be capable of "dual" monitor connection, not just having choice of connectors. There seems to be some disagreement whether all video cards that have several different connectors available (VGA, HDMI and DVI) can be connected to two monitors.

 

5. onboard RAM of at least 256 MB

 

6. the card should have specs indicating no more than a recommended power supply unit of about 300 watts (and this one I am still very unclear about, especially given a.) the AGP slot is pulling power from the motherboard, and b.) the full power of the video card is not likely to be as high as 250 - 300 watts so  it's unclear how they are estimating this "minimum" power supply.

 

Here's a couple that I think may fit the above needs:

 

nVIDIA GeForce FX 5500 256 MB 256MB AGP 4X 8X Video Card
http://www.amazon.com/nVIDIA-GeForce-256MB-Video-Adapter/dp/B003S766DW

EVGA GeForce 6200 LE 512 MB DDR2 AGP 8X VGA/DVI-I/S-Video Graphics Card, 512-A8-N403-LR (I believe this one is 4x and 8x compatible)
http://www.amazon.com/EVGA-GeForce-S-Video-Graphics-512-A8-N403-LR/dp/B001QMM6NU

HIS H435F512HA Radeon HD 4350 512MB 64-bit DDR3 AGP 4X/8X HDCP Ready Low Profile Ready Video Card
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814161318

 

and I believe this one too, suggested by zingo, would be okay:

SPARKLE 700018 GeForce FX 5200 256MB 128-bit DDR AGP 8X Video Card
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814187181

I don't know if one of these has any advantage over the other, but the Radeon is the most expensive ($60).

Regarding power consumption, despite manufacturer recommended minimum power consumption requirements, there's an article that states the Radeon video card (recommended to be run in a system with a minimum of 300 watt power supply) actually draws no more than 20 watts. See here: http://www.easyecoblog.com/479/low-power-consumption-computer-video-card-ati-radeon-hd-4350/ I suspect this is the case with most video cards (except the most expensive ones), so it's very unclear to me why the recommended minimum watts for the power supply unit is so much higher than what the card actually needs.
 


Edited by peterk312, 14 January 2014 - 12:48 PM.


#15 zingo156

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Posted 14 January 2014 - 12:35 PM

Any of those cards should work in 4x. I still question your psu as it is pretty dated, also more vram means higher power consumption (though very little). I can not say for certain what each of those video cards draws especially under full load. My opinion would be to buy a card that does what you need at a low cost in case your psu decides to fail shortly after the increased load. You do have a proprietary size psu, which means if it does fail it will be more difficult to find and more expensive for higher wattage versions. As far as the 8x and 4x agp slots go, I do not think any of those cards would be maxing out what a 4x slot can handle so you likely would see no loss of performance. The 4x can do 1066mb/s and even that radeon hd 4350 says 4x/8x compatible. That 4350 suggests a 300w minimum psu and I would follow that guideline. With the 220 watts you have, if you used the card at full load you may experience crashes, sudden power losses, reboots, or power supply failure which may damage other components.


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