Blu-ray Performance

First of all, I’m glad to be a registered member of such a knowledgeable community, and hopefully once I get this figured out I can give others some pointers :slight_smile:

My problem:

I’m a college student and pressed for space, but I love hi-def content and finally broke down and bought this USB Blu-ray drive for my laptop. I have a 20", 1680x1050, 60 Hz Acer monitor that I play all of my movies and games on.

My specs:
Dell Inspiron E1705
Intel Core 2 Duo T7200 @2 Ghz
GeForce Go 7900 GS (256 Mb) with lastest NVidia non-beta drivers (175.32)
2 GB RAM @667 MHz
Vista Home Premium 32-bit

I installed the bundled PowerDVD 7.3 and applied all patches. I also installed AnyDVD HD because it strips the HDCP - my monitor is not HDCP-compliant and I use a DVI connection.

The first Blu-ray I attempted to play was The Dark Knight. I guess this was a good test Blu-ray: it alternates between sections of 2.4:1 and 1.78:1 aspect ratios, because the 1.78:1 action sequences were taken from the IMAX version. For the 2.4:1 (narrow) the movie runs perfectly, but when it opens up to 1.78:1 for the action sequences, there is minor but noticeable slowdown. It looks like it may be dropping 5%-ish of the frames.

Closing all open applications DOES seem to increase performance very slightly. Additionally, playing the movie on my laptop display, I closed AnyDVD, which also increased performance slightly. Still, it doesn’t run as well as a BR player or a PS3. I monitored my processor usage during playback and it seemed that PowerDVD was using 30-50% of my CPU according to task manager. Both of my cores seemed to move between 30 and 50% on my sidebar display. I then set the processor affinity to just one of the cores, and this single core ran between 70% and 100% (with the most noticeable slowdown happening at 100, obviously). My RAM usage seemed fine, with PowerDVD using about 500 MB, leaving my OS with about 1 GB free.

I’m trying to figure out how to increase my performance. I was thinking that perhaps PowerDVD 7 doesn’t handle dual-core processors as well as it should, considering my processor seems like the bottleneck even though PowerDVD does not fully utilize it. Would a later version of PowerDVD help or is there other software you would recommend? Does it seems like I should be having performance issues based on my specs? What should I upgrade?

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide!

We have a dedicated Blu-ray hardware/software forum here; so I’ve moved this query there.

Your video card with 256mb is a bit weak. I’d suggest getting one with 1GB of VRAM.

Here is a suggestion for a low-cost one that will work well:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814130395

I’m running this card, and I get superb 1080p playback with the The Dark Knight.

Dalen, The OP has a laptop so I’m sure that card from newegg won’t fit. :wink:

I have PowerDVD 7, 8 and 9 installed in my Core2Quad and they all showing 10-20% CPU usage when playing The Dark Night.

Sorry I cannot offer any solution for now…

Oh, sorry – missed the laptop in the specs above… I guess, “Dude, you’re getting a new Dell laptop” - hopefully with better specs this time. :wink:

Yeah swapping out my laptop GPU will be a bit tricky, although I’d definitely be willing to give it a shot. I haven’t ever opened the case on this PC, but I’m out of warranty so why not.

In the meantime, do you know of any utility I could use to monitor my GPU during playback to confirm it’s the bottleneck?

I used a heat-monitoring utility during playback today. My card idles at 52 C and heated up to 54-55 when playing The Dark Knight. I don’t think this indicates significant usage of the GPU. Don’t they usually get up as high as 80 or 90?