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Old 08-06-2010, 12:31 PM   #1
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Which video codec for low CPU playback?


I started using HandBrake to transcode my DVDs into the H.264 format. I noticed that compared to other video files (XviD, MPEG etc.) it uses a lot more of my CPU when playing back the file.

These videos are for playback on my netbook so minimal CPU usage is crucial to maximise battery life.

What codec uses the least CPU for playback? (I don't mind how long it takes to transcode). What software is best to transcode into your recommended format? I'd probably be happier using something like ffmpeg or mencoder as long as it's easy to use a DVD input source (from a folder, not directly from the DVD itself).


Last edited by jsteel; 08-06-2010 at 12:36 PM.
Old 08-06-2010, 06:35 PM   #2
David the H.
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There are so many options available in multimedia encoding that it's almost impossible to say anything clear-cut about it.

But in general, the greater the compression, the more cpu power needed to decode it. H264 is one of the newest of the modern high-compression-high cpu formats, so it's natural for a low-powered system to have trouble with it. You'll probably want to look into some of the older codecs, the ones available 5-10 years ago. My first thought for a low-burden codec is mpeg1, but you really need to just experiment with various codecs and see for yourself what works best. If you're lucky xvid or theora do a good enough job. Of course, lower compression means larger file sizes, so there's a trade-off involved.

Reducing the frame size, frame-rate, and bitrate can also have a large effect. The less data in the file, the easier it is to process. But of course this also means reduced image quality, so again, it's a trade-off.

Last edited by David the H.; 08-06-2010 at 06:38 PM.


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