Video decoding on a MacBook

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by captan, May 31, 2006.

  1. captan macrumors member

    May 11, 2005
    Those who wish to skim - read the bold text.

    This is a MacBook topic - I hope this is orginal enough to warrant a new topic. If not, I apologize. I didn't see any topics which addressed my angle to the "should I buy a macbook-question".

    My current mac, which I bought brand spanking new back in 2001, is a Power Mac G4 867Mhz (quicksilver), with 1GB ram and a 128MB Radeon 9800pro, which runs 2 screens @ 1600x1200. I use it mainly for the following tasks:

    * Photoshop (painting 50Mpixel images with lots of layers)
    * Software development (fifth year at college)
    * Watching div-X encoded porn
    + other everyday tasks not woth mentioning

    And it has served me well indeed for 5 years now. However lately, I'm starting to see more and more video on the net that I download starting to feature much larger sizes (HD as they call it) and new encoding shemes such as x264, and my mac is starting to have difficulties playing these videos full screen so I have to fall-back on my pc (!) to play them.

    I assembled my pc last summer as a "cheap-ass computer to hold down the fort until the new intel macs arrive next year". (and because I needed a WinXP environment for my school work)

    PC main specs:
    AMD Sempron3000+ running at 1.8Ghz
    128MB Radeon 9800pro
    400Mhz FSB

    So now I'm finally looking at getting a new mac - and this time I want a portable. I want it to perform at least equally well at the 3 main tasks I use my desktops today and I want it to be able to playback HD-resolution video repectably aswell.

    And so I'm looking at my options: the MacBook - my only option - since I think the MacBookPros are too expensive and too big to be portable. So my question is:

    Assuming maxed out ram. Is the MacBook able to playback HD-video (720p or 1080p or simply 1600x1200) in full screen mode on an external monitor (such as a tv or LCD) respectably (ie - no lag) when decoding something like x264? Or in other words: how does it compare to my pc in terms of raw video-decoding power?

    Also: if you answer the question, I want to know how you know, ie - have you seen a macbook in action doing what I ask for or have you seen an older mac with poorer specs do it or are you just speculating based on the specs of the machine? As my mac is 5 years old I'm very out-of-date as to how much macs these days can perform.

    Sorry that I got a little lenghty. Thanx in advance for your help! :D
  2. realityisterror macrumors 65816


    Aug 30, 2003
    Snellville, GA
    I stopped reading after
    I mean come on man... :rolleyes:
    Just tell us you watch lots of videos with your computer.

    I did skim the rest of your post, and I imagine the MB should be able to play 720p fairly easily, but I can't say about 1080p. That's definitely a grueling task.

    edit: Here's Apple's recommendations, thought it doesn't specifically mention anything about Integrated Video. Either way, you'll be able to play 720p fairly cleanly...
  3. captan thread starter macrumors member

    May 11, 2005
    Humor doesn't come acress to well over the internet... :rolleyes:

    Thanx for the link very informative
  4. afornander macrumors 6502

    Apr 5, 2006

    For 1920x1080 (1080p) video at 24 frames per second:

    QuickTime 7 for Mac OS X:
    Dual 2.0 GHz PowerMac G5 or faster Macintosh computer; 2.0 GHz Intel Core Duo or faster
    At least 512MB of RAM
    128MB or greater video card

    QuickTime 7 for Windows:
    3.0 Ghz Intel Pentium D (dual-core) or faster processor
    At least 1GB of RAM
    64MB or greater video card
    Windows 2000 or XP

    i new that macs could run a lot better than pc's but...WOW
  5. FleurDuMal macrumors 68000


    May 31, 2006
    London Town
    I'm also quite interested in this topic (and no, I didn't find it by searching for 'porn' in the forum search tool :p ).

    Where it says "128MB or greater video card", does that mean that if I souped up a Macbook to 2gb RAM, it would satisfy this requirement as the Macbook GM940 (or whatever its called) shares with the system memory? Or have I got this sharing of system memory all wrong?!
  6. captan thread starter macrumors member

    May 11, 2005
    Yeah that's what the topic is about allright. My own research comes up with this:


    So the GMA950 uses up to 224MB of memory? The real question then is: How does that compare to 128MB on-board dedicated memory on a "real" graphics card?

    Wierd that it says minimum is 80MB and not 64MB...
  7. DarkFlame macrumors regular

    Dec 21, 2007
    So, what is the conclusion to this? Has anyone tried it? I am in the same boat and the only reason I would pay more money (and give up me my 2nd most important feature (portability)) would be to watch x264 hi definition downloads on a an HDTV with adequate sound. Does the 128mb video card make or break this? I def plan on maxing out my macbooks ram regardless, and it would be a brand new black 2.2ghz with leopard.
  8. MrXiro macrumors 68040


    Nov 2, 2007
    Los Angeles
    I've Downloaded 1080 Quicktime files on They output to my HDTV just fine it's a Samsung 1080i/720p CRT from a few years back. Hope that helps. I set the resolution as high as I could as well.

    Oh and yeah I maxed out my RAM
  9. Techguy172 macrumors 68000

    Feb 2, 2007
    Ontario Canada
    Yes the Macbook can play High Definition Content and it does it quite well.
  10. jasonliu macrumors newbie

    Dec 18, 2007
    i've regularly piped h.264 encoded, 720p content from my black macbook to my 1366x768 hdtv at 30 fps with no problems. the fans do spin up when i do this though.

    i think i've also done 1080p content but can't be sure. I don't imagine it'll be a problem, especially since my macbook is the last revision. One way for you to know for sure, put some 1080p stuff on a thumb drive, go to an apple store and play it in quicktime and watch the movie info window.
  11. DarkFlame macrumors regular

    Dec 21, 2007
    Thanks, I guess 720p will work. If anyone has played 1080p content thru dvi-hdmi with no skipping please let me know, and I am concerned with sound but I am sure that is dependant on the x264 file.

    Anyway I guess its better to wait until macworld anyway, I dream everyday about a macbook pro thats 13 inches and thin. I hope they don't cut a lot of its horsepower. I don't care if it costs 2 and half gs, if they can put a powerbook in a macbooks (or smaller) body I would LOVE IT.
  12. daneoni macrumors G4


    Mar 24, 2006
    Yeah 1080p plays just fine. no dropped framerates for me

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