Network Streaming Performance - YouTube

YouTube is one of the most popular video streaming services, and Google maintains a number of encodes for each stream. On platforms supporting Adobe Flash, FLV streams are available at resolutions ranging from 240p to 480p. HTML5 streams are either in WebM (for Firefox) or MP4 / H.264 (for Internet Explorer). WebM streams typically top out at 720p, while MP4 is the preferred format for 1080p. At higher resolutions, Adobe Flash also streams the MP4 version.

As expected, we get GPU acceleration when using Adobe Flash in Firefox on Windows 7. The debug OSD presents the requisite details.

HD YouTube Streaming using Adobe Flash in Mozilla Firefox on Windows 7

Windows 8 has an app for YouTube, 'YouTube Player' which allows for stream quality selection. Just like the Netflix app, there is no direct way to determine if GPU acceleration is being used.

HD YouTube Streaming using the YouTube Player App on Windows 8

We will rely on the power consumption at the wall to determine the efficiency of various ways to stream YouTube videos across different operating systems. Since the matrix of options is quite big, we present the graphs one at a time. All the graphs are on the same scale. Press the button below corresponding to the combination you want to compare the current graph against.

It can be seen that the Windows 8 YouTube Player App wins hands down. The stream being decoded is, in all probability, the 1080p H.264 version. Even when Adobe Flash is being used, Windows 8 seems to be more efficient compared to Windows 7. If you are on Windows, and prefer to use HTML5, it is better to avoid Mozilla Firefox because the WebM version consumes the most power at the wall (due to lack of hardware accelerated decode) while providing only a 720p stream. Once again, if YouTube forms a major part of your HTPC experience, an upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8 can be recommended.


Network Streaming Performance - Netflix Refresh Rate Handling


View All Comments

  • Hardcore69 - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    A lot of that GPU accelerated DirectX 11.1 stuff is used way more in the Modern UI than the deskto. And where were the power figures for the desktop version of the apps? Reply
  • ganeshts - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    Which apps are you talking about in particular?

    The Netflix app is the only 'Metro-specific' app that we installed. For comparison, we have power figures for Silverlight and Windows 8 too (if that is what you mean by desktop version of the Netflix app).

    Everything else was the desktop version.
  • mavere - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    Is it possible to analyze where the Windows 8 power savings are coming from? In a couple tests, the benefits were equal to the entire TDP of some systems, and you'd think Microsoft would have advertised that aspect of Win8 more.

    I think I speak for most enthusiasts here when I say that the why and how is often more interesting than the what. :D
  • ganeshts - Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - link

    I think a lot of that has to do with avoiding CPU loading (Silverlight), fully functional GPU accelerated decoding (again, not through Slverlight) and possibly DRM is handled through specialized CPU instructions instead of as a Silverlight component.

    The power differences seem to be non-existent in older systems as per other commenters, but, on modern CPUs / GPUs, it is very evident. So, I suspect a lot has to do with the updates made in the CPUs and GPUs in the last couple of years
  • Midgetsaw - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    This all very well and good but for me a htpc isn't any good without a tv tuner and windows 8 doesnt actually have media center. you have to contact ms to acquire it which is bs, all you have built is a glorified yt player, which you could have probably done with linux. Reply
  • lotharamious - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    Do you have Windows 8 Pro? I'd bet you do.

    Free upgrade from Windows 8 Pro to Windows 8 Pro with Media Center until January 31.

    Go here:

    Give them a valid email address and enter the key they give you. Done. Windows 8 with Media Center.

    So difficult to "contact ms", my ass. You just want an excuse to hate. I understand, many are like you.
  • Cygni - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    Ah yes, finally I can pay to upgrade my OS to a less usable HTPC version, then either jump through hoops (if its the next week and a half )or PAY EXTRA to restore completely un-upgraded functionality that came free with the version I upgraded from.

    Oh thank you Microsoft, you're truly a gleaming light.
  • euler007 - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    I guess free isn't good enough for you. Should they e-mail you a check to earn your anonumous forum support? Reply
  • Golgatha - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    My time spent "upgrading" isn't free. Nor do I wish to experiment with Windows 8 further after already being maddened by it's ridiculous (for the desktop anyway) UI. I did try it for a few days and then I imaged back to my Win7 install. I like it better and all my programs work with it without issue. Reply
  • lexluthermiester - Monday, January 21, 2013 - link

    There are a great many of us who feel your pain. I gave The Consumer Preview a shot and I kinda warmed up to it. The Release Preview ruined that warmth. And and fairness, I gave the retail release a solid month before washing my hands of it. I work for one of the few remaining brick and mortar tech shops in my area and we had a meeting with the owners a couple weeks ago. We were all prepared to tell them that we were unwilling to sell or support Windows 8 any further. To our joy they gave us those very instructions. You should have seen the smiles spreading around the room. And we are not the only ones snubbing 8. Three other shops in this area are doing the same. It was left to me to inform the MS reps of the news. Funny thing, when I did they weren't at all surprised. They didn't argue or try to talk us out of it. They simply said they'd be happy to continue supplying us with 7. I asked one of them why they didn't put up more of an objection. He answer said it all; "You're not the only company to take this position. We know that 8 is not well received or liked". When Microsoft's own reps are talking like that you just KNOW something's wrong. I think I'll leave it at that. Reply

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