11.6" MBA - 1080p MKVs in Windows/OSX

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by m1kurubeam, Nov 23, 2010.

  1. m1kurubeam macrumors newbie

    Nov 23, 2010
    Hi everyone, thanks in advance for any help you can give me on this.
    I've never owned a Mac before, but have a couple of friends who love theirs. So when the stunning new Air came out, I decided I'd join them after using only Windows PCs for so many years. I am trying to decide between the 128GB base 11.6" Air and the base 13.3" one. I prefer the form factor of the 11.6", and ideally, I'd just go ahead and get it, because portability is high on my wishlist. However, my decision hinges on whether the 11.6" can play 1080p MKVs so I can output them to my TV when I'm not mobile.
    I've read elsewhere that the 11.6" with the 1.4GHz CPU struggles in OSX, but I'd be installing Windows 7 as well, my media player of choice being Media Player Classic. The reason for this is that it supports hardware acceleration of movie files with the GPU, so allows the CPU to be relatively unused, or assists a slow CPU in playing high bitrate/resolution movies.
    So, after the drawn out intro, I guess my questions are: Does the GeForce 320M in the Air support hardware acceleration (DXVA) in Media Player Classic in Windows? If yes, is it capable of playing 1080p MKVs smoothly (for example, a 24 minute show weighing in at roughly 1-1.5GB)?
    I would really, really appreciate it if some kind soul would be willing to try this out to help me make my buying decision. As I say, it would be my first Mac, so I'm really not sure when it comes to this kind of thing. And I do realise that what I'm asking is ridiculously specific, but I thought that if anyone could help me, it would be you guys.
    Thanks a lot!
  2. i7QuadCoreMania macrumors 6502

    Nov 10, 2009
    use a dedicated player like "Plex" that takes advantage of hardware acceleration in OSX,

    I would get the 4gb ram if you plan on running VM, windows in bootcamp should be fine however with 2gb.

    the macbook air has a mini display port you can buy an adapter to convert it to dvi, not sure if they sell one for HDMI.
  3. silverblack macrumors 68030


    Nov 27, 2007
    Yep, Plex is what you need. I have it in my 11"-2GB-128GB MBA, and it works nicely. VLC on the other hand makes the movie stutters.
  4. m1kurubeam, Nov 23, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2010

    m1kurubeam thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 23, 2010
    I plan on installing Windows in bootcamp, rather than using a VM or Parallels (which is a pretty impressive piece of software, I might add, having seen it running on my friend's MacBook). I figured the 2GB RAM wouldn't be too much of an issue, I have a fairly long-in-the-tooth gaming PC that runs Windows 7 just fine on 2GB.
    I will try Plex as well, but I really need to know if it'll playback those MKVs flawlessly before I put my money down!
    Thanks very much for your input.
    Does Plex support all the usual subtitle formats?
  5. The Viking macrumors member

    Jun 18, 2007
    Plex has full, extensive subtitle support for MKVs. Give it a shot. I use Plex as my main media center in an old 2.0GHz Mac Mini and it works fantastically.
  6. m1kurubeam thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 23, 2010
    Thanks guys. I took the plunge and bought the base 11.6 with 128GB storage.
    In Windows 7 with Media Player Classic and CoreAVC, it plays an 11GB 1080p Blu Ray rip with around 20-30% CPU usage, which is pretty impressive. Runs flawlessly, and looks great on the laptop's display.
    Strangely, though, I can't get Plex to work at all. I tried loading a modestly sized 720p MKV and it just got stuck at 'loading file'. I then thought I'd try VLC just to check, and it fared no better. Neither actually plays the video, and I need to Force Quit both. I thought the downloaded video might be bad, so I tried it in Windows - no problem.
    Pretty strange, and a little bit frustrating. I'll try installing Perian. I've no idea why I can't play my videos in OSX.
    Other than that, I'm really pleased with it. Looks great, perfect size, nice screen, loving the short boot times, and it has plenty of performance for what I'm doing on it. For anyone who's sitting on the fence, I have no trouble recommending the Air.
  7. taphil macrumors regular

    Jun 16, 2007
    Video playback of non-Quicktime files sucks in OS X and has since I started using Macs in 2003. Only recently has VLC been pretty decent with 8GB MKV files and multi-channel audio output. All the meanwhile, MPC with CCC in Windows has been flawless. The MBA specs are more than adequate.
  8. psirix macrumors member

    Aug 14, 2009
    Detroit, MI
    Apple does not manufacture a Mini DP to HDMI, but there are third-parties that offer it - http://store.apple.com/us/product/H1824ZM/A?mco=MTY3ODQ5OTY
  9. Andrmgic macrumors 6502a

    Jun 27, 2007
  10. ciaran00 macrumors 6502

    Mar 11, 2010
    Simply not true. Perian+Flip4Mac+VLC+built in QTX. Plays anything I throw at it. Doesn't do sound delays like CCC or crash the whole system.
  11. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    Feb 12, 2007
    Neander Valley, Germany; just outside Duesseldorf
    MPlayer OS X Extended is the best playback app for individual files. Certainly better than Quicktime, unless it's encoded in such a way to use the gpu. Even then, the audio options are much better than QT.

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