Dual G5 running HD content

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by Appleboy1717, Mar 26, 2010.

  1. Appleboy1717 macrumors regular

    Dec 26, 2009

    So, I have two machines. A dual 1.8ghz G5 with 5gb ram. And a new 2.66ghz macbook pro with 4gb ram and 7200rpm drive. For everyday use, the Macbook is faster, but not by much and I prefer to just use the G5 because of the bigger screen. However, the G5 is mainly my media center (store all of my movies and TV shows on it). I really like HD and the Macbook will run 1080P without a problem, but the G5 will only run 720P, and only some at that. Some 720P videos it will skip with. It is a solid machine, (I know they are older, but it really is not bad, and is there anyway I can make it handle all 720P smoothly?
    For storage, searching the web, and watching movies, this computer is still great. But more and more things are in HD now and it is a bummer having some of them skip a few times when watching.
    Anyone else run HD??


  2. Bennieboy© macrumors 65816


    Jan 15, 2009
    i think your only option is a faster machine, or connect a HD tele to your macbook, i've got a 2Ghz G5 and it will run most 720P HD video, but i'm not sure about upgrading the processors,
  3. Appleboy1717 thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 26, 2009
    Yeah, well as I was saying it will also play most, but there are some it does not play and I didn't know if getting a better video card would take care of that or not.
  4. iamcheerful macrumors 6502


    Oct 3, 2008
    The details below are from Apple's QT Tech Specs Page.

    A simple suggestion before you embark on a journey of exploration (see below), try playback with PLEX ... (as I typed this, I suddenly recalled that PLEX (http://www.plexapp.com/) is intel only ...

    Also, if you are trying to play "flash-based HD videos" I am not aware of a workaround that will enable a smooth experience.

    With regards to the GPU/video card. It will most likely help if there's a video card compatible with the G5 that is able to assist with h264 decoding. If I'm not mistaken, even the latest Mac Pro doesn't have such an option as opposed to the macbooks and macbook pros fitted with the nvidia cards ... Someone else may be able to advise you more accurately on this matter.


    I'm not too familiar with the G5s lower than 2GHz, but if you have the time and don't mind experimenting. Explore the following ...

    1) Install a completely fresh OS X (choice of 10.4 or 10.5)
    2) Install VLC (PPC version)
    3) Try 1080p video with VLC, if frame rates are terrible, try 720p*
    *Apple does state that 720p with the 1.8GHz G5 suffice. What they failed to point out if a Dual 1.8Ghz G5 will suffice for 1080p.

    I suggested VLC because I notice that VLC typically uses less CPU than QT/QT X. If you require a player that uses multiple cores/cpus. Try PLEX. It may help in processing the HD video.
  5. Appleboy1717 thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 26, 2009

    Plex seems pretty cool. I will have to check it out.
    What were you saying about a macbook pro being better than the macpro because of the nvidia chipset??
  6. iamcheerful macrumors 6502


    Oct 3, 2008
    I've to disappoint you with the news on PLEX. By the way, the " s /s " tag doesn't work. it was supposed to do a strikethru', meaning it isn't a valid statement.

    As for the nvidia comment ... see this Apple Tech Specs page.
    My current understanding is that only this particular GPU offered by Apple has the needed drivers (i.e. only this hardware and software) to aid in hardware decoding of h264.

    There was a news post (if I'm not mistaken, based on a thread in MacRumors) that compared the CPU utilization when HD video was played on the mac. It unmistakably showed that the portable was using a lower %CPU as compared to the Mac Pro (which didn't have help from the GPU at all).

    I'll try to find that thread and news posting later.
  7. iamcheerful macrumors 6502


    Oct 3, 2008
    I found the links ...

    a) MGLXP's forum thread.
    b) MacRumors News Post (based on MGLXP's thread) (Click Here for the 9 pages of discussion.)

    Hope the above 2 discussion threads help you in finding a sweet spot for 720p / 1080p playback. I'll leave you to dig up the necessary information pertaining to your issue. Do provide an update to your findings too if possible. I'm interested and I'm sure many other G5 users are too.

  8. iamcheerful macrumors 6502


    Oct 3, 2008
    pardon my triple posts, decided it would be better to post per normal due to the lapse in time.

    Another tidbit I missed out from my original post. I recalled reading about this years ago but couldn't recall exactly where. Anyway, here's the info

    Source - http://www.apple.com/quicktime/technologies/h264/faq.html

    The phrase "dual Power Mac G5" sure does sound promising for your dual 1.8GHz G5. Let's hope with some exploration, it works out well for you and other dual G5 users. Don't place too much hopes for Flash content though. Also, while doing some searching, I came across this free tool which may aid in your adventure.

    One thing to note is that, those words were penned when G5s were the most advanced Apple Systems. I'm not too certain how much h264 has evolved since then. Besides, always take marketing jargons/comments with a pinch of salt.
  9. Appleboy1717 thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 26, 2009

    Those were all talking about the Macbooks and mac pros and airs...not the G5. Someone brought up a good point earlier, wondering if VLC used both processors when playing back video, or if it was only single core supported.
    Is VLC the best program to watch HD in? Is there a better one that would play smoother?
  10. Appleboy1717 thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 26, 2009
    So, I was playing around with Handbreak and I noticed you can convert things to mp4. So lets say I have a show that 7gb 720P in an mkv file, and I convert it to an mp4 file which is like 3-4gb. Is it going to take less power? Is there a better way to convert them or scale it down or whatever?
  11. iamcheerful macrumors 6502


    Oct 3, 2008
    Indeed, those links are/were talking about the portables and the mac pro. I gave you the links to show you that even the Mac Pros were kinda left out. We can easily imagine where the G5s stand ... (sad but true).

    Given that 10.6.3 has just been released, the situation may differ. One other thing to note is that QT X native (i.e. w/o Perian plugin) apparently does give a little aid to h264 clips. Most Mac Pro users do not really bother with such nitty gritty as they generally have more than enough CPU power to handle the processing.

    Anyway, back to the points ...
    1) VLC doesn't scale well with multiple CPUs/cores. Transcoding/Encoding using VLC probably makes use of multiple CPUs/cores but from my understand, decoding h264 doesn't. To my knowledge, only PLEX does it (but PLEX is only for Intel Macs)

    2) Converting the videos will likely reduce the frame dropping etc kind of issues. Explore what settings work best for your machine. At the back of my mind, I'm thinking divx hd. The reason is because divx typically plays quite well even on an aging G4 400MHz, divx hd may require a bit more power though. A quick link for your convenience.

    Here's a quote from a user who commented on cnet:

    Unfortunately, pretty much everything is coded and optimized for intel macs ...
  12. Appleboy1717 thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 26, 2009

    Divx looks good, but it would not convert mkv files, which are the files which I would like to convert.
    Any other ideas, or programs that would utilize the processors better.
    Anything would be nice. The G5 is a great little machine to have, and works great for storage and everyday use, and I really like using it as my media center, but not being able to watch 720P is killing me, but if there was a way to convert it, but at least keep some of the quality would work for me.
  13. Appleboy1717 thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 26, 2009
    So pretty much there is no way to watch 720P movies on this computer....without it being jumpy....
  14. Appleboy1717 thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 26, 2009
    Ok, last question.
    Is there is way to scale down a 720P video to where it would play on a G5, but still be better quality then normal video. Find a happy median?
  15. iamcheerful macrumors 6502


    Oct 3, 2008

    1) See post 4. Specifically ...

    2) Experiment and explore (again, this is suggested in post 4, see the comments immediately below the specs image). Instead of reformatting, you can always use an external hdd to boot the G5 (assuming you have a spare external)

    As you've stated in post 10 - using Handbrake to process the video. There're users who are very pleased with the iPod Touch preset in 0.9.4 (update the presets after you download Handbrake). You can also try Apple TV preset. This is more demanding than the iPod Touch but it may work out well on your dual G5.

    As always, you've to experiment a bit as I don't have a G5 anymore to play around with. I may be getting a G5 again as the prices are very attractive. When/If I do, I'll be glad to explore together.
  16. Appleboy1717 thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 26, 2009

    How does using the external drive help with playing HD content?
    I would like to hear about that, and will try it.
  17. iamcheerful macrumors 6502


    Oct 3, 2008
    it doesn't necessarily help in playing HD content.
    I suggested external because I was thinking you may not want to format your current hdd to reinstall the OS just to try playing the HD content.

    I am merely wanting you to explore playback of HD content on your G5 using a FRESH install of OS X because according to Apple (see previous posts), your system IS ABLE to handle 720p content efficiently.

    A suggested procedure ...
    1) Use the restore DVD(s) or CDs to revert your G5 to factory settings
    2) Before performing any software updates, go to Apple QT HD page and try playback of 1080p and 720p video clips
    3) Run Apple's Software Update
    4) Try again on the same video clips
    5) Try playback with VLC

    See if it makes any difference.

    p.s. if you can, restore the entire system onto your internal hdd. (i think restore discs only work on internal drives, so you probably may not be able to restore to an external hdd even if you wanted to. well, there're ways to do it but never mind that).
  18. Appleboy1717 thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 26, 2009
  19. iamcheerful macrumors 6502


    Oct 3, 2008
    In short, it appears to reduce the quality, thus requiring less CPU power to process.

    Some users had different mileage but found alternatives such as ...
    1) http://mplayerosx.sttz.ch/ (this version apparently is multithread-aware)
    2) http://xbmc.org/
    3) PLEX
    4) external hdd (7200 rpm)

    Just happy that whatever works for us.
  20. 666sheep macrumors 68040


    Dec 7, 2009
    xmbc and PLEX are Intel only, so will be worthless for OP ;)

    OP, thx for linking this chipmunkninja site. I will test this VLC trick with my PB 1.67 which is "little" laggy with 720p.
  21. quantum003 macrumors 6502a


    Apr 27, 2009
    Just use Handbrake dude... there's a check box in the basic settings where you can tell it to "optimize to a certain size"... then ratchet it way, way, down... I usually tell it to shoot for 300-400MB for a full length length film. Maybe I'm just not picky with my video quality, but that works perfectly well for me.
  22. Appleboy1717 thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 26, 2009

    Well, thats the point. I am pretty picky. And 300-400 is pretty bad. The HD is about 4-8gb per movie. lol. With the vlc trick it plays everything totally smooth but one movie I have which probably just had some wack settings or something. I am pretty happy using it as my entertainment center.
    Anyone else using a G5 as an entertainment center??
  23. bzollinger macrumors 6502a


    Aug 1, 2005
    Yep, I've been using my dual 2.0 G5 for a media center for since I bought it! I too have some issues with video playback. I'll take a look at that link you posted.
  24. Appleboy1717 thread starter macrumors regular

    Dec 26, 2009
    Yeah, check it out. It actually works really well.

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