HD playback on macbook & some final questions

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by athenaesword, Jun 13, 2008.

  1. athenaesword macrumors newbie

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    Jun 13, 2008
    #1
    got a coupla questions i hope can be answered before i make my purchase. thanks for the help in advance.

    1) what's the max resolution that the integrated graphic card on the Macbook can go up to if connected to an external screen? I intend to use it to connect via dvi to hdmi to my 50" hdtv to watch HD encodes. not sure if the Macbook would be able to handle that. Most of the decoding power should be coming from the CPU, but I'm not sure if it would be bottlenecked on the resolution side.

    2) what connections would i need in order for the audio to turn out on external speakers together with the HD video output

    3) regarding music. is lame compatible with mac? any kind of audio encoding prog can make use of lame for mac? also, wat kind of mediaplayers are there besides itunes/quicktime. refering to music here, I know for videos there arent much choices beside osxbmc and vlc.
     
  2. astudentis macrumors regular

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    Oct 7, 2007
    #2
    "Extended desktop and video mirroring: Simultaneously supports full native resolution on the built-in display and up to 1920 by 1200 pixels on an external display, both at millions of colors"

    "Mini-DVI port
    Pure digital video output


    DVI output using mini-DVI to DVI adapter (optional)

    VGA output using mini-DVI to VGA adapter (optional)

    Composite output using mini-DVI to video adapter (optional)

    S-video output using mini-DVI to video adapter (optional)
    "

    from apple.com
     
  3. athenaesword thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #3
    is that info valid for all macbooks or only for mbps? i'm surprised that the integrated graphic card is able to support up to full HD resolutions.
     
  4. bigandy macrumors G3

    bigandy

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    #4
    That's MacBooks. MacBook Pros allow higher resolutions (i.e. for driving 30" Displays).
     
  5. timestoby macrumors 6502

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    north devon,uk
    #5
    and what works best while playn mkvs on a mac. ive herd people say vlc is best,but im still a pc user and vlc sometime doesnt play some mkvs and with other media players the ones that dont play on vlc work on other media players.

    currently using media player classic with core avc codecs,are these both mac compatible.

    and has anyone done 1080p mkvs on a mac
     
  6. jackiecanev2 macrumors 65816

    jackiecanev2

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    #6
    I use VLC for my .mkv playback. Perian (google it) is a great little plugin that supports .mkv playback as well as .avi, etc. but I find that VLC is much smoother, especially at 1080 resolutions. The only thing I've seen VLC choke on is .mpg files. Flip4mac is a useful plugin, too, but more for web browsing. That should cover all of your playback compatibility needs.
     
  7. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #7
    The issue isn't the codec, the issue is the bit rate. The MB gpu has hardware acceleration for MPEG-2, but no one uses that except for DVD Video. The cpu does the brunt of the work for most other formats, including MPEG-4. The MB can easily handle 5000 mbps H.264 720HD video and pass along both AC3 5.1 Dolby Digital (optical) or AAC analog (optical or analog) audio. None of this is handled by the gpu because the cpus in the current MacBooks are plenty powerful. They can also do 1080HD H.264, provided it's encoded in a moderate bit rate. It would handle just about any non-H.264 1080 without any problems (i.e., vanilla MPEG-4).
     
  8. eXan macrumors 601

    eXan

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    #8
    In OSX, even MPEG2 decoding is done by the CPU.

    Also, my old MacBook rev.B handled h.264 1080p trailers from Apple.com very well - using only ~50% of CPU, so I'm sure newer models do even better.
     
  9. timestoby macrumors 6502

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    #9
    okay then,what do you do about the mkvs being over 4gb. i thought mac couldnt read files over 4gb and most mkvs are just over 4gb. this was one reason why i havnt gone with mac yet. id like to beable to download the large files and then beable to play them aswell without having to use pc.

    sorry if off topic
     
  10. priller macrumors regular

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    Dec 15, 2007
    #10
    I've never had a problem with files over 4gb on my macbook.
     
  11. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #11
    I've heard this before, but have never seen concrete evidence to support it; can you provide substantiation for it?
     
  12. Mernak macrumors 6502

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    #12
    They work fine, I think the problem was with the AppleTV not accepting video files >4GB, but normal macs are fine with them.

    Also AVC1 Decoder helps with 1080p movies for me (~14fps - ~23-24 fps) and seems to use less CPU overall.
     
  13. bankshot macrumors 65816

    bankshot

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    #13
    To answer some of the original questions more specifically:

    All MacBooks, past and present, can do up to 1920x1200 on an external display connected via DVI. If your TV has a DVI input, then you need a regular DVI-D cable and the Apple mini-DVI to DVI adapter. If your TV has HDMI inputs, then you'll need a DVI to HDMI cable in addition to the Apple adapter.

    Basically:

    TV with DVI input
    Or

    TV with HDMI input
    In both cases you'll need the Apple adapter. The site I linked to for cables has been great for me (I'm just a happy customer) with good quality cables and low prices. They have tons of other cable lengths if you need something longer.

    Depends on whether those speakers have an analog or digital input, as well as whether they're on the TV or external (like a home theater receiver). I'll give a few examples:

    If the speakers are analog with RCA inputs, you'll want a cable like this one to plug into your MacBook's headphone output.

    If the speakers have a digital optical input, you'll probably want a cable like this one, again connected to your headphone output.

    And if it's TV speakers with HDMI and you want to get fancy and run the audio through the same HDMI cable as the video, you can get all of this (though it's a little more pricey with the converter box; replaces the video options above):

    LAME is compatible, though it doesn't appear that there's a single, definitive place to get the latest and greatest version. Search Google for "lame osx" and you'll find a number of links, some of which are pretty outdated. It's part of DarwinPorts if you're familiar with Unix stuff and want to go that route.

    As for non-iTunes music players, I'm sure there are some but it's usually just easier for me to use iTunes, so I don't really know. ;) I will say that years ago I used LAME on FreeBSD for encoding, and my own custom scripts for playback. I resisted switching to iTunes for a long time, but finally did. After getting through the pain of changing how I thought about managing music, I must say that iTunes made it much easier. Once I gave up a little bit of control (file naming, directory structure, etc), I could allow iTunes to worry about that and I focused on managing playlists (and Smart Playlists). Much easier now, and feels much less like fighting the computer. :D

    Hope this helps!
     
  14. athenaesword thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jun 13, 2008
    #14
    You mean the versions for LAME for mac is different from windows? I could live with encoding on XP with bootcamp using the encoders I use now, or just use my home PC to do it since my PC gets everything first, before it goes onto the laptop anyway. It's not that much a biggie compared to the HD playback I'm skeptic about, which is more of a hardware limitation than software, and hardware costs $$$, and is not as easily worked around as software.

    it's still a boon if i were able to do everything on OSX though. afterall, that's the point of switching OS isn't it. I think I for one would be trying to resist it as much as possible as well, seeing as how I have around 10k songs, I'm pretty anal about organisation, labelling etc. If it gets out of hand, it might be abit hard to get in order later.

    and sure yu and all the guys have been a great help. No snide comments or "can't you use the search function" remarks at all. looks like I'm gonna be visiting this place a whole lot more often.

    great. I don't think I'll need higher than the 1920 x 1200 that was mentioned since full HD is only 1920x 1080.

    media player classic does not run on osx. only way to run it on a mac would be parallels or bootcamp.

    I'm surprised noone's mentioned osxbmc. On a HD forum that I frequent, this has been mentioned multiple times as a great alternative to VLC, which seems to choke on some higher bitrate H264 files, compared with say mediaplayerclassic on windows. It has been said though that the audio from osxbmc isn't fantastic though.

    some of my HD files go well over the 10k mark. I'm still deciding if I should get a MBP or MB, because I dont intend to game, but the MBP might have slightly more CPU power for HD. however, I would attribute most of the additional cast of the MBP to the dedicated GPU, which I won't really need if the only reason i'm gettin the MBP is to play HD out on my HDTV. pricewise, it doesn't sound like a wise move to get the MBP for that sole reason and at the minimal increase in performance, but I'm afraid the MB might not be able to handle it. Going by this, I might be forced to stick with windows, although I've been very much looking forward to switching to macs, cus i used them a coupla years ago and liked them.
     
  15. eXan macrumors 601

    eXan

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    #15
    Check your CPU activity during playback of mpeg2 for proof.

    And what is your evidence that GPU actually helps decoding in OSX?

    Why not use iTunes for encoding? :confused:

    Resistance in this regard is pointless. iTunes does a great job at organizing your music and video collection. Just learn how it works, give it a chance.

    I've just played a 1080p h.264 trailer with 10.18 MBit/sec bitrate and it was fine. Full 24 FPS, using only 50-94% CPU (Mind you the total CPU capacity is 200%, because I have 2 cores)
     
  16. athenaesword thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jun 13, 2008
    #16
    because lame has a superior encoding algorithm than itunes has.

    the movie should not be taking up only 1 core...if u have only 1 core showing 50%-94% and the other showing 0%, yet yu're assuming 200%, it will start to block once you hit 100% on the first core. HD playback should utilise both cores equally.
     
  17. eXan macrumors 601

    eXan

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    #17
    You can still use the OS X version of LAME if you really want, but I never encode MP3s because I find AAC to be higher quality and iTunes has a very nice AAC encoder.

    It splits the load between 2 cores. Every task in OSX, even if it is single-threaded is being split between all available cores, so no core is 100% loaded while others are idling.
     
  18. athenaesword thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #18

    edit: i dont' even understand what i wrote.
     
  19. eXan macrumors 601

    eXan

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    #19
    I guess a picture is worth a thousand words... ;)

    Here's a screenshot of Activity Monitor app during the playback of 10 MBit/sec H.264 1080p video in QuickTime on my MacBook Core 2 Duo 2 GHz.
     

    Attached Files:

  20. athenaesword thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #20
    okay pardon me cus I'm just not really familiar with activity monitor for mac. so what your pictures shows, is that while you're playing the 10mbit file, total load on CPU is only about 42%? wow that's almost as good as my 3.7Ghz rig. is that even possible?

    I have a question about video quality. would the image quality from the MB to a HDTV be poorer than that of the MBP, due to the lack of a dedicated graphic card?
     
  21. zioxide macrumors 603

    zioxide

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    #21
    no.
     
  22. eXan macrumors 601

    eXan

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    #22
    Oh, I'll explain:

    In the center of the window is the list of currently active processes, with QuickTime Player using the most of CPU's power.

    The column called "CPU" shows the usage of CPU by every process, BUT this column thinks 1 core = 100%, so when I run a process that uses both cores to the max it will show a number close to 200%. Or if this happens on an 8-core Mac Pro, it will show a number close to 800% (because it has 8 cores). "Close to" means that there are other system and user processes taking a few CPU % to keep the system running or to run some app like web browser or iTunes.

    The graph on the lower right graphically shows the load of both cores over a span of a few minutes. The description of the graph is on the lower left. These numbers think that all cores combined = 100%

    Hope this makes sense :eek:

    Megahertz myth...

    And no, the video quality on the external display is not better with a dedicated graphics card.
     
  23. athenaesword thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #23
    ah thanks alot for the explanation mate. btw what resolution are you using for the test in that picture. no doubt 1920 x 1200 will place more load on the CPU.

    i'll take your word for it then. how issit though, that it's been widely said that ATI cards have better image quality than Nvidia cards, while Nvidia cards have more brute quality?
     
  24. eXan macrumors 601

    eXan

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    #24
    I was running only built-in monitor, so 1280x800. Higher resolution does not affect the CPU in any way.

    Never heard about that. Source?
     
  25. athenaesword thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #25
    no single source. but there're lots of image quality comparisons on the net. the general consensus is that ATI wins out in pure image quality, and Nvidia does better in FPS. with video playback though, it's obvious which is of the higher importance.
     

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