VLC has taken the important first step towards enabling GPU acceleration for various codecs commonly used in high definition videos. However, they have been crippled by their application structure, resulting in the fact that they are unable to provide the same amount of acceleration as other methods like DXVA using MPC-HC / Windows Media Player. While the untested Arrandale provided around 5% CPU usage improvement for VC-1 decode, PureVideo VP2 had speed-ups of around 60% for H264 and 20% for VC1. PureVideo VP4 turned out to be the best of the lot when GPU acceleration is enabled. CPU usage was lesser by a factor more than 65% for H264 and 36% for VC1.

Are these numbers good enough for the occasional HD video watcher? I would say, yes, as soon as the GPU vendors fix their drivers for the remaining minor issues. But, for the HD enthusiast with terabytes of Blu-Ray backups, I would still advise sticking with MPC-HC / Windows Media Player / favourite software Blu-Ray player.

GPU vendors should get their act together and work with the VLC developers to ensure smooth interaction between their drivers and VLC. This has already been done between the MPC-HC / mplayer - VDPAU developers and Nvidia / Intel. VLC, being much more popular, should not have much trouble in this respect (as indicated by how long it took CatalystMaker to tweet regarding Catalyst support for VLC). The vendors and developers should also look into ways to further the performance gains that have been realized with this first release. It will probably not be long before all GPU vendors support this type of acceleration at the basic level. That would be time for the VLC developers to enable GPU acceleration by default, and take away the experimental tag associated with it.

On other HD media aspects related to VLC, it is heartening to note support for WMAPro audio in the past few releases. Would it be wishful thinking to see audio passthrough / HD audio bitstreaming implemented internally in VLC? Hopefully not! Anandtech takes this opportunity to thank the VLC developers for creating and supporting one of the best open source softwares of all time.

Note: Don't forget to check out the update section on the next page, where I have tried to address some comments from readers (both here, and also in private communication)

Playback Performance Update Section: VLC, MPC-HC & Miscellaneous Notes


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  • Boofster - Friday, June 25, 2010 - link

    Not sure if it was mentioned but the K-Lite pack is by far the best I've used. It handles everything and is updated to the latest patches.

    I've also had great results with ffdshow from afterdawn but that ended with Windows 7.

    CCCP + VLC was also just fine. No hardware GPU love for us ATI 5xxx traitors.

    But K-Lite from http://www.codecguide.com/download_kl.htm with MPC-HC definitely trumps all.
  • larson0699 - Saturday, June 26, 2010 - link

    Thank you. I've used KLCP+MPC since its inception with no trouble whatsoever, whether as a RunOnceEx-initiated install on a fresh OS or clients' existing junk configs (common sense -- look for, uninstall, and reg-clean the previous 1 or 2 codecs first). I'd experimented with other codec packs (Nimo was a common one years back) and VLC and always came back to the tried and true.

    The later versions of the pack are so dependent on ffdshow (in default install), however, that I'm considering using just ffdshow herein.
  • Stuka87 - Friday, June 25, 2010 - link

    Hopefully they get a Mac port with the support out. As I use a Mac Mini as my HTPC. Although it would also need to support ATI or an Intel GMA (I have an old G4 Mini and an Intel).

    But its certainly a step in the right direction getting it working at all.
  • knowom - Friday, June 25, 2010 - link

    This is why Nvidia has a better reputation from a driver and software standpoint over the competition it's like trying to compare x86 to ARM there's a reason x86 is preferable from a performance and usability standpoint. Reply
  • 0roo0roo - Friday, June 25, 2010 - link

    if you time stretch videos for some reason the vlc implementation of audio pitch adjustment is just not as clear as say gomplayers. it does cost a few dollars but coreavc's gpu acceleration works without a hitch right now, and with gom you can speed crank videos at your pleasure, using gpu accel on or off. vlc's problems are that its half baked in so many ways that its just a fall back player for me. it plays dvds well, i'll give it that. Reply
  • ganeshts - Friday, June 25, 2010 - link

    True, it takes a jack of all trades master of none approach. Seems to have worked well so far, except that they now have some serious catching up to do with the rest of the media players :) Reply
  • mojtabaalemi - Saturday, June 26, 2010 - link

    no idea about GPU Accelerarion on VLC but in CPU decode its one of lightest softwares i have seen ever . i could play some video files containing DVDRIPs and even 1080i mpeg videos on a vaio p serie with a poor z520 1.33GHz intel atom while any other player and codecs but coreavc were unable .
    so except for h264i will go for VLC on atom .
  • Rsaeire - Saturday, June 26, 2010 - link

    I've been using MPC-HC, and MPC before that, for years now. MPC-HC is easily the best media player currently available as it plays DVD, mkv, DivX, Xvid, Blu-ray etc without the need for additional codecs. In addition, it even plays HD DVD, albeit with a little codec assistance. As such, it plays pretty much all the main media containers and codecs with ease and supports full GPU hardware acceleration of all HD codecs.

    As for the several users commenting on deinterlacing which such gems as it being a "legacy concept" or that "DVDs and Blu-Ray are not interlaced", I guess they need to do a bit more research regarding both video formats, as there is still content stored on both formats that is interlaced. If there wasn't, then why is deinterlacing such a big topic? You just need to check out the numerous posts on AVSForums or have a look at ATI's CCC to see the numerous deinterlacing options available, e.g. Weave, Bob, Adaptive, Motion adaptive, Vector Adaptive. I doubt that ATI would waste any time on providing so many different deinterlacing options for something that is "not important in the modern world".
  • vfigueira - Saturday, June 26, 2010 - link

    I have an Asus 1201N.
    The inicial install of windows 7, came with arcsoft, wich reads hd content smoth and with low cpu usage.
    The problem with that player are using srt subtitles and usability.
    I`m using "Gomplayer" with "K-lite 5.7.5 Full" codecs, means that i`m not using built in codecs. I`ve been using previous versions of both, and the experience is pleasant, except for view dvd. Don`t recomend for dvd`s.

    While reading this article i instaled both vlc and mcp-hc.

    I made several tests using "trailer_720p.mov" form Avatar.

    CPU USAGE during playback min and max;
    Gomplayer - 17/49 average 32
    Arcsoft - 09/36 average 14
    vlc without hardware aceleration - 16/33 average 25
    vlc with hardware aceleration - 13/28 average 16
    windows media player - reads with 50 to 80 % of cpu usage, but is not smoth. not viewable
    wmp classic hc - not smoth, high cpu usage

    So, vlc is not bad, but i will stick with gomplayer using k-lite full

    Sorry my english
  • mojtabaalemi - Sunday, June 27, 2010 - link

    as you have 1201N?
    is it satisfying?
    how long is battery life?
    dual core atom 330 power?
    and about mpc-hc : try a new version .

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