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How to Play DVD Movies Without Stutter!

Software decoders and CPU requirements

In the past, when computers were less powerful, decoding MPEG2 movies in real-time required specialized hardware. Watching DVD movies on your pc was expensive and complicated. With modern processors, however, this is no longer the case. Today, all you need is a DVD-drive, a decent CPU and good DVD software. Does this sound to good to be true? It is.

The source of the problem

While a dedicated hardware decoder only has to do one thing, decoding movies, your CPU is involved in almost everything going on inside your computer. Even though modern CPUs are fast, they can't do everything at once. The solution is called multitasking. By rapidly switching between different tasks, the operating system gives you the illusion of doing many things at the same time. Each running task gets a small slice of CPU time before the CPU is handed over to the next task. If your DVD decoding software doesn't get enough of those slices, it won't have time to decode all the frames in your DVD movie at high quality. The result, as you probably know, is dropped frames, stutter and other annoying artifacts.

The solution

What can I do to prevent DVD decoding software from running out of CPU time? There are a few things you should always do before watching DVD movies on your computer:

1. Reboot the computer before you begin to make sure the operating system is completely stable.

2. Terminate all programs that aren't absolutely necessary (Ideally everything except the DVD software and some system processes). Use WinTasks to terminate as many processes as possible (Using WinTasks, you can terminate many background processes that don't show up in the CTRL+ALT+DEL dialog, as long as these are not system processes or anti-virus programs they can usually be stopped as well for even better results). When you have terminated all unnecessary processes, save the current process configuration to a preset (available in WinTasks 4.00 or later), this way you can simply click the preset button to stop and start the right processes before playing DVDs.

3. Make sure you have the latest version of DirectX and DX Media.

4. Try increasing the priority of the DVD software. You may have to try a few different settings before you find the optimal priority for your system. Priority settings can also be saved to a WinTasks preset (version 4.00 or later).

5. Make sure you have the latest drivers for your DVD drive.

6. Lower you screen resolution and color depth to 800x600 and 16 bit color when playing DVDs (32 bit color may be preferable on some graphics cards).

Written by Emil Malmberg, Senior Software Developer for LIUtilities

WinTasks 5 Professional

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