ATI Radeon 9000 Pro solve MKV playback issues in a Sawtooth?

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by asph, Mar 17, 2015.

  1. asph macrumors newbie

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    #1
    Hi all,

    I have a Sawtooth with upgraded 1.4 Ghz processor, 1.75 GB RAM, and a larger HDD. With the stock Rage Pro, however, I find that I cannot successfully play MKVs (using VLC), especially 1 GB+ ones, though AVIs of equal or even greater size generally play fine without any issues.

    I have the opportunity to buy another Sawtooth at a very good price with an ATI Radeon 9000 Pro already installed. Would moving that card to my own machine allow the smooth playback of MKV files (especially 1.5 to 3 GB ones, which are usually unplayable on my machine at present), or would other factors still prevent this?

    Thanks in advance for your comments!
     
  2. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

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    #2
    The limitation is not the video card (although it is a small part of it), it's mainly the CPU.

    I have a 1.2Ghz Quicksilver with 1.5GB ram and three video cards, one of which is a Radeon 9800 Pro. I still get terrible playback on large movies.

    Yes, moving the card will help you, but not like you think.

    You might want to take a look at Dronecatcher's thread here. It's very helpful.
     
  3. bunnspecial macrumors 603

    bunnspecial

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    #3
    I have a G5 with a 6800 Ultra(a BIG step up from the Radeon 9000) hooked up to my TV. I can use VLC player to watch 720P movies all day with that set up, but it chokes and sputters on 1080P movies. My lowly little Core2Duo 2007 Macbook handles the same movies without a hitch.

    As said above, you unfortunately can't get around the processor limitations with watch high-resolution movies.
     
  4. asph thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #4
    Thanks, eyoungren, for the link to that thread! I will certainly try giving that solution a shot. Most of the MKVs I would be trying to play are probably 720p, so no worries if my system still can't handle 1080 no matter what I do.

    So, while the Radeon card in that G4 probably won't help me out too much video-wise, I wonder if it might be worth getting the box anyway as something to vampirize should the need ever arise for spare Sawtooth parts. It's only $35... (though space here is at a premium!).

    An older Intel Mac Mini is definitely something to keep in mind, though.

    (I should add that I'm using a 21" flatscreen, which I long believed would not work with the Rage Pro, but when I tried it, it did.)
     
  5. Zotaccian macrumors 6502a

    Zotaccian

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    #5
    Better graphics card would help if it had hardware decoding functions for the format being played.

    My Macbook is unable to play Netflix properly when connected to a 1920 x 1080 TV but my Windows laptop handles it easily. There might be some optimizations etc. going on but since they are pretty close in their CPU power I suspect that the GPU has something do with, Macbook has X3100 while the Fujitsu laptop has 4500MHD which should also be able to decode Blu-Ray movies.

    Also my phone and tablet which have low end CPU's can easily play FullHD content simply because they have hardware decoding functions for such video formats. G4 era graphics cards don't so machines have to rely and raw CPU power.
     
  6. MagicBoy macrumors 68040

    MagicBoy

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    #6
    You're basically out of luck with a PowerPC for watching an MKV file unless they've been re-encoded to a lower resolution and quality MPEG-4.

    H.264 decode on the graphics card didn't arrive until late 2004. Some Geforce 6000's had it, didn't hit widestream adoption until the the AMD HD2000 series a couple of years later. Also Apple didn't open the frameworks up for third-party applications like Flash, VLC etc to use hardware acceleration until OS X 10.6, therefore it's Intel only and usually 2008 machines onwards. Older video cards will only decode MPEG-2 as used in DVDs, changing say a Radeon 7000 for a 9800 will make no noticeable difference video decode performance - it's CPU only.

    A Quad G5 might have a fighting chance at decoding a 720p MKV perhap if the decoder is well threaded, doubt any other PowerPC would.
     
  7. Dronecatcher, Mar 18, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2015

    Dronecatcher macrumors 68000

    Dronecatcher

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    #7
    Try the first MKV listed on this site dedicated to video performance:

    http://jell.yfish.us/

    Its 1080P, 3000 kbps MKV - plays smoothly in VLC on my G5 2.3DP on reduced processor setting.

    The same file wont budge on my Powerbook 1.25Ghz in VLC and becomes a slideshow in Quicktime...however, a 1080P MOV file, at 48000 kbps (that isn't a mistake) plays fine because it's encoded with the Apple Intermediate Codec.
     
  8. MagicBoy, Mar 18, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2015

    MagicBoy macrumors 68040

    MagicBoy

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    #8
    I'm aware of the Jellyfish site. The 3000 kbps is very low bitrate. My 2009 Mac mini will play the top end 120000 kbps purely on the nVidia graphics chip via Kodi.

    The typical download quality HD file is about 10000 kbps nowadays, plus digital audio on top. If I re-encode one of them to about 2500kbps and lower resolution MP4 then my PB G4 will play them via Quicktime. Same file via VLC is a slideshow - it just doesn't appear to be optimised for Altivec?
     
  9. Dronecatcher macrumors 68000

    Dronecatcher

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    #9
    I guess you can tell I've never owned (or intend to own) a monitor/screen larger than 23" then :)
    3000 kbps low bitrate?? I think the average bitrate of my movies in my collection is 1500 kbps.
     
  10. MagicBoy macrumors 68040

    MagicBoy

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    #10
    I'm a bit picky about my movie quality.

    I've got a NAS that stores DVD/1080p movies, played via Kodi(previously XBMC) on the Mac mini through a Plasma/Home cinema setup. Optical media just takes up too much storage space, so they've been exiled!
     
  11. Dronecatcher macrumors 68000

    Dronecatcher

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    #11
    What your average file size of a 90 min movie then? That's always been a consideration for me - I'm used to films taking between 700 - 900 Mb.
     
  12. MagicBoy macrumors 68040

    MagicBoy

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    #12
    10Gb.

    Before you ask - 12TB in the NAS server. ;)
     
  13. asph thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #13
    Same here, though I have been finding, more and more, file sizes of 1.5 GB and more (which, by the standards of the increasing number of people in MagicBoy's position, would be tiny indeed). Fine when it's an AVI, not so great when it's an MKV. Wouldn't be much of an issue if it was a matter of Hollywood films for which multiple encode are usually available, but I like 70s Euro films for which there is often only one encode available.
     
  14. Dronecatcher macrumors 68000

    Dronecatcher

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    #14
    Another solution might be to buy a Raspberry PI and stream your movies through it? It's low cost and has HD video hardware as standard.
     
  15. asph, Mar 18, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2015

    asph thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #15
    Something I'd never considered and, frankly, have no idea how it would work. Would it require a wifi network (which I do not currently have set up; I just use a wired connection between G4 and modem)? What would be the form of connection between media (MKV file), Raspberry PI, monitor, and G4 (if any)?
     
  16. Dronecatcher macrumors 68000

    Dronecatcher

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    #16
    I don't one have myself but looking at the specs I'd imagine your setup could be: Pi connects to HDMI screen (or monitor), controlled with remote/keyboard/mouse via bluetooth, media connected via either ethernet or wireless to your G4 or an external hard drive (USB or NAS).
     
  17. MagicBoy macrumors 68040

    MagicBoy

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    #17
    The Pi has 100Mbps Ethernet built in, but no wireless or bluetooth. You'd have to add them via USB. I've got a launch model somewhere, they only have two USB ports, later ones have four I believe.
     
  18. Cox Orange macrumors 68000

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    #18
    10GB!!! What file size is that? Why not use h.264/x.264 (even with high bitrates of 3000kbps you will have smaller file size, at still an extreme good quality)
     
  19. asph thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #19
    I may as well go ahead and ask in this thread since it just occurred to me: would that Radeon 9000 card allow me to connect a 24" or 27" flat screen monitor to my Sawtooth?

    I have a 21" hooked up now using the stock Rage128Pro (though I'd been told that 19" was the maximum flat screen size that would work with that card) and works fine apart from the fact that I cannot change the startup disk by holding down the Option key at boot (it's been quite some time since I last tried, and I can't remember what the result was -- simply a blank screen at startup, perhaps? -- but I know that switching back to my Apple Studio CRT allowed me to do so once again). Is anyone here with a Radeon card in a G4 *not* able to change the startup disk at boot by holding down the Option key?
     
  20. Cox Orange macrumors 68000

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    #20
    As far as I remember one port is ADC (apple display port). If no one else answers, try searching the Quicksilver or Mirrored Drive Doors PowerMac G4 that shipped with it on everymac.com they have info on the capability of the card in the profile.
     
  21. bunnspecial macrumors 603

    bunnspecial

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    #21
    All the R9000s I've seen have 1 ADC+1 DVI.

    Since the ADC port is actually a DVI port with extra "stuff" on it, you need a(relatively) inexpensive passive adapter to turn it into a DVI port.

    I've had no issues with an R9000 being able to "talk" directly to Open Firmware so Boot Manager and open firmware are perfectly useable. Other cards that I've used-such as the 9600XT in my Quicksilver-don't actually show anything until the OS starts to load, so you can't do anything that requires Open Firmware(including boot manager by holding down the option key) with them.

    I expect you would be okay with a single 24", and probably with a 27." BTW, the physical size of the display is somewhat irrelevant-what matters is the number of pixels. Apple claims, just for example, that the Rage 128 will drive the 22" Cinema Display(I've done it, and it does work) but not the 20." The 20" Cinema is newer than the 22", and is actually higher resolution(1680x1050 vs 1600x1024 for the 22").
     
  22. MagicBoy macrumors 68040

    MagicBoy

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    #22
    It's less the physical size and more the resolution. Single-link DVI is good up to 1920x1200@60Hz.

    I've had a Mac Radeon 9000 (the retail boxed upgrade card) in a GigE G4 working at that res no worries. The Rage 128 it shipped with was a no go at that resolution.
     
  23. Cox Orange macrumors 68000

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    #23
    Oh, one more. If it doesn't have the ADC port, then it is a flashed Card. The ATI 9000 is known for hardware acceleration problems (easily recognized under OS 9, when you play games), when being a flashed PC card. Maybe it has different problems as well (when flashed) The rick is to resolder some resistors. The guide can be found here http://themacelite.wikidot.com/radeon-9000np-conversion
    There is also a small orange switch that has to be changed (see last sentence) http://themacelite.wikidot.com/radeon-9000bfg

    A Mac 9000 I used a long time ago worked in my Sawtooth without problems, as far as I can tell.
     

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