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Chapter 24. DirectX and Windows 98 Video > Tips for Top Video Performance

Tips for Top Video Performance

Of all the mainstream applications you use, digital video probably puts the most strain on your system's resources. The constant stream of pixels and sounds, and the need to decompress both types of media simultaneously and on-the-fly, can bring even the most powerful system to its knees. To help, here are a few tips that enable your machine to achieve peak video performance:

  • Except for MPEG, the codecs used by most video clips don't require a killer machine. However, most codecs do have a minimum system requirement, usually a 33MHz 486. Obviously, anything over this minimum system will improve playback quality.

  • Local bus graphics make a huge difference when displaying individual bitmaps, so you can imagine that they're a must for video clips that in effect display anywhere from 15 to 30 bitmaps a second.

  • Memory is like manna from heaven for any application, but it's crucial for video. The more memory you have, the greater the portion of a huge video file that can be loaded into RAM. Consider 32MB the absolute minimum for any kind of serious video work.

  • Speaking of memory, you should, if possible, max out your graphics adapter's on-board memory. An adapter with 4MB or even 8MB of video memory will sail through a typical video clip.

  • Adjust your display settings so that you're using 24-bit color depth. And, to reduce the burden on the graphics adapter, drop the resolution down to 640×480. This will not only speed things up, but it will also make videos that run in smaller windows (320×240, for example) appear larger.

  • Videos place an enormous burden on your CPU at the best of times, so you can imagine that they don't react well to sharing the CPU with other applications. Your clips will play at their best rate if no other applications are running.

  • Keep your hard disk defragmented. Video files run fastest when they're stored (and therefore accessed) contiguously.

  • Keep the drivers for your graphics adapter and codecs up-to-date. The latest drivers are usually the fastest ones, so you get an easy speed boost this way.

  • If you'll be working with a lot of video clips, consider investing in a video accelerator card. These cards have special video circuitry that will let you view your clips at larger sizes and greater color depths.



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