minimum hardware for watching movies

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hi all,

i just found my old pentium2 - 300 mhz. and would like to use it for
listening mp3s and watch some movies, when
my girlfriend is using my real pc for "working/ learning" (whatever).

mp3 works fine, but watching avi's is more or less like watching a
slideshow :).

so im thinking: throw away the old agp graphics card and put in a
newer old one, mabey it will work.
but i dont know what the computers uses most for decoding mpeg movies.
cpu, graphic card, memory?
anybody has a clue? what do you think? ( i know- you are thinking:
"throw it out of a 10-story building", but first i want to check some


Re: minimum hardware for watching movies

A new video card will not help. Video codecs are processor intensive. If I
recall correctly the minimum processor speed for MPEG decoding is about 400 Mhz.
You might improve performance by using a lower screen resolution. wrote:
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Re: minimum hardware for watching movies

On Nov 12, 5:45 am, wrote:

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I used a similar machine for years to watch movies.  How much memory
is in it?  Hopefully 512mb or something.  256mb would probably be the

In any event, you need to reduce the number of running processes on
your machine to a minimum.  I noticed that even things like Norton
antivirus would be enough to give you choppy video.  I'd also play
around with a couple different codecs too, because some are more
resource hungry than others.  The last thing I would suggest is that
you bump your task/process priority to "above normal."  Ignore the
warning.  Note that it isn't always the executable name(usually isnt)
that you'll want to adjust the priority on --- look for the task in
task manager(ctrl-shift-escape in most Windows) by the percentage of
CPU utilization, and whichever one is consuming the most, bump that

You are on the fringe edge of necessary CPU power..... So uninstall/
disable any unnecessary apps.

If you can find uncompressed video to play, ala mpeg1, then this will
help the situation as well.

While this goes without saying,

is a new computer for like $350.00 without monitor.  You probably
already have a monitor.  The specs are actually pretty decent on the
machine, given the price.



Re: minimum hardware for watching movies

On Mon, 12 Nov 2007 02:45:04 -0800, wrote:

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While "movies" is a general category, there is much
variation in how much processing /decoding is required
depending on the codec, resolution, and these for audio as
well as video (audio in the AVI file).

You'll have to determine what the upper limit is in the most
demanding video, to find the minimal hardware that can do
it.  Even systems a mere 2 years old can choke on highly
compressed HD video, but most people aren't watching HD
video so...

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It depends on what the old and new are, whether this will
help.  Very old cards didn't have much if any MPEG
acceleration and so a card as old as a P2-300 might not, you
might get significant benefit but even with a brand new
video card you may find you still can't watch all video at
correct framerates.

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Watching video does not require much memory.  While it would
be ill advised for general (Windows?) OS use and having to
wait for paging, you could play a video acceptibly on an
system with a mere 64MB memory if only it's other
performance variables were fast enough, but reasonably
speaking a more comfortable minimal amount of memory would
be 128-256MB, depending on how much you have running in the
background simultaneously.

As for the video card, something with MPEG acceleration if
the present one doesn't have that.  The processor is the
biggest variable as the aforementioned issues of video codec
and size matter so much.  If your videos are only MPEG1 or 2
and under 640x480 resolution, you might be able to use
roughly Pentium 2 or 3, 400+ MHz processor.  For 320x240
res. MPEG your system might be close to fast enough already.

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IMO, it is better not to try and shoot for bare minimum in
performance level but instead to have some breathing room.
At a minimum this would mean replacing motherboard for
support of a faster CPU, and CPU of course, then proceed
from there checking whether the videos you want to watch
will play ok.

I would consider a Celeron 800 or P3 700 to be a good
minimum target, but there are plenty of clips these won't
play acceptibly, for example either would struggle with a
MPEG4/2 or Divx 640x480 and couldn't handle MPEG4/10, H.264
codec at that resolution.  If your board will support faster
than 533MHz CPU, you might try upgrading the CPU to the
fastest it will support simply because these old CPUs are
quite cheap today, there is minimal money lost if it still
isn't fast enough, and maybe with the faster processor the
system is more usable for some other purpose.

You might also try using a different video player like Media
Player Classic.  In it there are some settings that might
help like using a hardware overlay (overlay mixer setting in
it's configuration menu) (if the video card and it's driver
support it, update the video card driver if it won't), and
if you watch the video fullscreen, set it to use a modest
resolution like 640x480, so it doesn't have to do realtime
resampling to reach the higher screen resolution, or at
least not as much work when doing so.

There are also a few other factors making it difficult to
nail down a minimal hardware spec you need, like the
motherboard chipset's memory bandwidth as it often varied a
lot in that era.  440LX was fair, 440BX was good, Via 693
was bad, Via 694 was a hair under 440BX on average.

Re: minimum hardware for watching movies

Your CPU, RAM, video card, etc. are all too slow to be able to handle
movies.  Time for a newer system.


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Re: minimum hardware for watching movies

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Yes I had a cyyrix MII 300 a few years ago, I think it would play some
avi's but .wmp files killed it. As you said it's like a slide show, it
looked like
the processor would need to be ten times faster to play it properly, at
I thought about a new graphics card but I never tried it. I thought of more
but it seemed to be CPU bound, not memory bound.
I think you could use a 450 mhz cpu but that would seem to be a slightly
faster slide show,
unless it has some other performance advantage.
One thing which did work was to use a program to convert the file to an mpg,
however this does take a very long time, longer than to watch the slide show

Anyway in the end I bought a machine with an Sempron 3000, which was about
10-30 times faster :O)

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