Why do Netflix videos run poorly on my PC?

Cristián T July 8, 2013

I’m having issues watching videos on Netflix. When I watch one of the movies, the audio is delayed and the framerate is really laggy. I’m watching it while my computer is connected to a monitor and I’m extending the screen. I tried closing programs and making the computer project solely on the monitor as opposed to its screen. I’m not sure why I’m experiencing these problems, as I have no idea what’s going on. Help would be much appreciateed.

  1. Dalsan M
    July 10, 2013 at 3:45 am

    I would also like to note that the browser could be causing some of the issues as well. I have a Firefox variant browser (Comodo Ice Dragon) and a Google Chrome variant browser (Comodo Dragon), and I notice that Firefox loads pages and videos much slower than Chrome, and even scrolling down website pages causes stuttering, which is not seen in Chrome. I have a lowly netbook running a dual core 1 GHz AMD APU. What saves my netbook from the crappy processor speed is the integrated 6290 Radeon graphics with 256MB shared memory, and I have 8GB memory installed. Memory, processor speed, graphics processing type, and even hard drive speed, fragmentation, and how full the hard drive is can affect the video streaming quality. Other than the aforementioned, internet speed and quality usually has a lot to do with the issues you are mentioning. Giving your computer specifications and/or computer model would help greatly in trying to give you better suggestions. Guessing by your other posts, if I'm not mistaken, you have Verizon FIOS internet, which shouldn't give you the issues you are having if there aren't any issues from the internet provider. If you haven't, clean your computer using CCleaner or IOBit Advanced System Care. You could try TCP Optimizer from http://www.speedguide.net/downloads.php to see if it helps some, but I don't think it would make as much difference as most modern Windows operating systems do not require tweaking in this way (there are a few exceptions). Disable some of the unecessary extensions and add-ons to see if can help as well. Go to http://www.speedtest.net to test the speed and quality of your internet access. If you post the results here, we should be able to see if the speed and quality is sufficient enough for streaming videos. There are plenty of other suggestions that can be made, but knowing your system specs would be help us narrow things down.

  2. Oron J
    July 9, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    I agree with Bruce. The first hurdle is usually the internet connection speed. While it may be enough for downloading ordinary pages, or even a Youtube clip, getting a steady stream of data at the necessary speed for Netflix can be a real problem. Secondly, it could be a performance issue with the PC, graphics (GPU) speed, memory or processor speed could all be bottlenecks. Graphics drivers are a particularly common cause of poor performance, so you could try updating yours.
    You can test the PC (up to a point) by playing a DVD and seeing if it plays smoothly. However, even if it does, it does not mean that it has the additional power needed for decoding H.253 or high resolution (HD) video.

  3. Hovsep A
    July 9, 2013 at 8:44 am
  4. Bruce E
    July 9, 2013 at 12:46 am

    How's your Internet connection? What kind of processor is in your system? How much RAM? What video card are you using and what is the driver version? Are you streaming hi-def or standard def movies?

    Any (or all) of these items can be causing your issue.

    A poor or slow internet connection will result in dropped packets which will cause both audio and video issues when streaming. Increasing the size of the buffer can help with this but will not normally eliminate all of it (a registry edit in most cases).

    Hi-def movies must transfer more data the standard def, so switching to SD may help you out since there is less likelihood of dropped packets on the network and other congestion issues. Remember streaming video uses UDP not TCP packets in almost all cases so there is no guaranteed delivery of data packets.

    You may be hitting the limits of your GPU capability, so your video card may be the bottleneck or there could be an issue with the drivers you are using. The latest Nvidia drivers have been generating reports of issues in games such as Bioshock Infinite and BF3 regarding artifacts (and in a few rare cases, damaged GPUs). Rolling back to the previous version or updating to the latest (stable) version may help.

    There are 2 areas where RAM could be the issue. First is onboard video RAM. A dedicated video card with at least 256MB of RAM is recommended, but in this case, more tends to be better. The system RAM could also affect this by not being able to provide a large enough buffer space for network traffic along with all of the memory required by other running processes. If you are using onboard video, there can aslo be issues with shared system RAM. Because of this, it is better to use a discrete video card.

    You may want to run Resource Monitor to watch how your CPU usage, RAM usage, number of context switches per second, number of paging operations per second, overall swapfile usage, TCP/IP statistics (especially dropped packets), and disk I/O operations are performing overall. These will tend to lead you to the location of the bottleneck you need to resolve.

    A high number of paging operations per second means your system is RAM starved. A high CPU usage means your processor is extremely busy. See about killing any other unnecessary processes while you are streaming. A high number of dropped packets means you have network issues. If your swapfile usage is high, your disk I/O is high and you are not already using a fixed size swapfile, you should change it to a fixed size (otherwise Windows will keep resizing it in an apparently whimsical manner). If your swapfile usage is high, you will still benefit from more RAM to reduce its overall usage since RAM is faster then your mechanical disk. A high number of context switches means that there may be too many background processes still running on the system.