Watching choppy video playback is like sailing choppy waters: rough, frightening, and may lead to nausea. While modern hardware can handle most tasks you can throw at it, every so often you’ll encounter an issue. Choppy video playback, whether through a DVD or online, happens. Here’s how to fix it!
The Skinny on Video Playback
Smooth video playback boils down to a few hardware and software choices. These choices affect offline and online video playback differently. Here’s what can negatively affect video playback:
- An outdated media player.
- A low-performance PC which would stifle high-quality Blu-ray playback.
- A souped up PC, but a bad internet connection.
Whatever the case, smooth video playback is within your sights.
Offline Video Playback
Choppy offline video playback concerns playing video from video files or DVDs. This is different from online video playback, due to network connection.
Take certain steps to ensure your playback is smooth. First, update your media player. It may be VLC or some other popular media player software. Head to the company’s website and download the latest software version.
Second, ensure that all video and audio codecs are properly installed. Codecs, to put it simply, process audio and video data. Sometimes certain video formats are not playable on your PC. This is because the appropriate video codec is not installed. In conventional PC use, codecs are sometimes damaged or corrupted. This may lead to jarring playback. To fix, download and install codec packs. Microsoft has an official codec pack for these exact purposes.
Third, ensure that your PC is within the hardware range necessary to play back these videos. Different video comes with different qualities, which determine their ease of playback. For example, a 1080p video playing at 30 FPS (frames per second) will require slightly less performance than the same video at 60 FPS. The different grows when comparing 1080p video with 4K or 5K video.
The same goes for video rendering. While video playback consumes less performance than video rendering, both involve PC performance. There is no exact rule of thumb for minimum hardware required for smooth video playback. That said, there are some cutoff points. For 1080p playback at 30 FPS, the following is necessary for playback.
- Processor: 2.4 Ghz Dual Core Processor.
- Graphics Card: 256 MB VRAM, 600Mhz Core Clock
- RAM: 4 GB
For smooth playback, you will need better hardware. It’s safe to assume double our minimum requirements will assure smooth playback. That means, instead of dual core, get a quad core, instead of 256 MB VRAM, try 512 MB VRAM, and so on. Upgrading your hardware to match these requirements should be fairly inexpensive.
Considering the hardware mentioned is outdated, even low end devices by today’s standards will yield good results. For 4K video and beyond, you will need fairly recent hardware. However, any CPU and GPU released within the past two years (2014-2017) should fit within the requirements.
Fourth, and finally, ensure that recent chipset and GPU drivers are installed. More particularly, update your GPU drivers. These two drivers will allow for maximum output of your hardware. As the CPU and GPU are often the main indicators of PC performance, updating their drivers will ensure video playback
Online Video Playback
Smooth online video playback often come with the same requirements as offline video playback. Yet, there are a few additional parameters to look out for.
First, ensure that you are not clogging your network with data-hungry programs. You can do this by right-clicking on your Taskbar and selecting Task Manager. You will see the Processes tab of your Task Manager. Click on Network tab (and percentage number indicating network usage) to see which programs — other than your browser — are hogging up data.
That also goes for RAM usage. Remember, smooth online playback requires optimal hardware. Click on the Memory tab to order your selection from most usage to least. Right-click any program not necessary for video playback (that is also not essential to your PC use) and select End task. This will free up some performance power.
Second, download the latest version of Flash Player. Some major websites have made the transition from Flash Player to HTML5 video. Other browser versions still require Flash Player to play video. Download the latest version of Flash and install it on your computer.
Third, disable hardware acceleration. Hardware acceleration allows browsers to hand off certain tasks to certain hardware parts. While your CPU can render, say, 3D models, it’s better that a specialized hardware component — the GPU — render that model because it can do so more quickly. Sometimes this process can lead to playback issues. This is a common issue, and the following official Flash resource explains how to do so.
Fourth, and finally, update your web browser. Current browser versions can handle high-quality video playback, as more video repository sites like YouTube allow for higher quality footage uploads. Old browser versions, or bugged browser versions, may limit video playback.
Don’t Rock the Boat
To sum up, if you have video playback problems, check for the following points:
- Are you using the most recent version of your media player?
- Do you have the codecs required to watch that video format?
- Is your hardware powerful enough?
- Do you have the latest drivers installed?
- Does something clog up your network or consume your RAM or CPU capacity?
- Have you disabled your browser’s hardware acceleration?
- Is your web browser up-to-date?
Fortunately, ensuring smooth video playback is a simple and non-invasive procedure.
Do you have smooth playback issues? Have you tried everything, and playback is still choppy? Let us know in the comments below!
Image Credit: Dmitriy Kozhanov via Shutterstock.com