Live TV PQ on my HTPC is inferior to PQ on my cable box - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 34 Old 07-03-2014, 07:35 AM - Thread Starter
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Live TV PQ on my HTPC is inferior to PQ on my cable box

Hardware list -
UN65HU9000 4K TV
HD Homerun Prime with cablecard
HTPC w/ i3 3.0Ghz & geforce 750ti
comcast dvr

Please help me understand this. I am on the verge of dumping my cable card and going back to my crummy comcast box. I have been using the cablecard exclusively for the last month. I have tried EVERYTHING to get the PQ to match or exceed what I was getting on the cable box for live TV. I've used wmc, xbmc (mythtv backend), and jriver media player with mad vr rendering. Even with mad vr, the picture looks more "processed" than it does on my cable box. The cable box just looks cleaner.

Also, color pops more on the box than it does on my HTPC. There is a noticeable "muddiness" to the color from the HTPC. Most wouldn't notice it right away, until you compare the cable box picture side-by-side.

Anyone else come to this conclusion?

I wonder if it has to do with the 4K up-conversion on my TV. Anyone have any tips I could try? I want to get rid of the comcast box if I can, but I don't want to watch TV with inferior PQ on my $4,500 TV.

Thanks!

edit: this is resolved through a combination of settings, most important of which is at the bottom of page 2.

Last edited by Hisma; 08-03-2014 at 10:46 PM.
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post #2 of 34 Old 07-03-2014, 08:14 AM
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I too went from Tivo Elite to WMC and was disappointing even on my 55in 1080p Sony HX800. I had slightly different symptoms (more in the de-interlacing and handling of improperly flagged 29/59 content). It is very sad that consumer PC video cards are just not as good at processing HD video as processors in HD boxes. PC video cards focus too much on gaming imo.

I had to tweak my nvidia drivers to get the PQ that I liked. I only use WMC native for live Tv an hour/day for news and use Zoom Player with LAV for all recorded Tv playback. Some more info on your issue:

Are you running xbmc (mythtv backend), and jriver media player with mad vr at 1080p or UHD resolution? (try matching resolution of cable box to ensure the Tv processing matches)

Does the same muddiness happen on WMC recorded programs?

Have you tried simply using WMC native (no jriver/madvr)? Less processing might be better...

You mentioned side by side comparison. How are you doing that on one Tv? Split screen or are you just flipping back/forth between inputs?
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post #3 of 34 Old 07-03-2014, 08:26 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the response.

It's funny, I do think out of the bunch, wmc looks the best, probably due to the "less processing".

I have tried both UHD resolution and 1080p resolution for jriver and xbmc, and I don't notice much of a difference either way. If there is a difference, it's hardly noticeable. It might be better to run at 1080p, for the reason you mentioned. It would be closer to what the cable box is producing.

I haven't done much testing with the muddiness issue. I think it's an overall HTPC issue, not necessarily just recorded TV. My guess is that I might need to calibrate the display to get it to pop more.

Another thing I didn't mention is I'm using the beta nvidia drivers that allow 4K @ 60 Hz using 4:2:0 chroma subsampling. I don't notice the difference in live TV in PQ, BUT, I do get worse judder if I use 4:4:4 @ 30 Hz, so I stick to 60 Hz.

My "side-by-side" involves pausing live TV and switching inputs. Not very scientific at all, but even comparing that way, I do notice the difference.

My TV can play live TV from my hdhomerun using DLNA, and can also play recorded TV from myth tv, so I might do some more comparisons to see if I can see if it's an issue with the HTPC, or possibly the hdhomerun. My guess is it's the HTPC though.
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post #4 of 34 Old 07-03-2014, 08:32 AM - Thread Starter
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I would also like to add that downloaded content that I play using mpc-hc with mad vr looks absolutely stunning. So even though I think the HTPC is not processing the live TV as well as the comcast box, it is more than capable of fantastic PQ. I just can't get live TV to look as good as I want it .
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post #5 of 34 Old 07-03-2014, 09:01 AM
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So is it muddy in terms of contrast or in detail or both? Is your video card set to full range or limited RGB?

Smoothing and noise reduction algorithms in your card or TV can also make things look muddy. So make sure all of that is turned off.
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post #6 of 34 Old 07-03-2014, 09:23 AM
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Sounds like a mismatched color space issue.
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post #7 of 34 Old 07-03-2014, 10:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hisma View Post
I think it's an overall HTPC issue, not necessarily just recorded TV. My guess is that I might need to calibrate the display to get it to pop more.

My guess is it's the HTPC though.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hisma View Post
I would also like to add that downloaded content that I play using mpc-hc with mad vr looks absolutely stunning. So even though I think the HTPC is not processing the live TV as well as the comcast box, it is more than capable of fantastic PQ.
You seem not sure who's to blame... the HTPC itself, program or video drivers. First thing I would do is verify both inputs on the TV are calibrated the same (or swap the two inputs). If you are looking for pop enable Dynamic Contrast Enhancement. It will increase intra-scene contrast without any ill side effects.

Overall I have compared various HTPCs to TiVo and several set top boxes and never noticed a difference outside of contrast levels.
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post #8 of 34 Old 07-03-2014, 11:04 AM
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WMC doesn't do 4K so perhaps the upconversion is causing some problems. Try setting the TV to native resolution. If you haven't calibrated the TV then that's the first place I'd start. Just about every TV is miscalibrated right out of the box and needs to be adjusted for proper contrast, brightness, color, sharpness, tint, etc. I can almost guarantee that the contrast is set to 100% as the default when it should probably be closer to 50%, give or take. This could be why the color "pops" on one input and not the other. Color reproduction generally shouldn't "pop" but look realistic. If the colors are extremely bright and the picture is outdoors in bright sunlight, then it should reflect the naturalness of the scene and not blind you with brilliance. These are tricks the manufacturers use to grab your attention in a showroom. Your eyes will naturally be drawn to the brightest screen on display. Real life tends to be much darker in most situations.
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post #9 of 34 Old 07-03-2014, 12:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hisma View Post
Hardware list -
UN65HU9000 4K TV
HD Homerun Prime with cablecard
HTPC w/ i3 3.0Ghz & geforce 750ti
comcast dvr

Please help me understand this. I am on the verge of dumping my cable card and going back to my crummy comcast box. I have been using the cablecard exclusively for the last month. I have tried EVERYTHING to get the PQ to match or exceed what I was getting on the cable box for live TV. I've used wmc, xbmc (mythtv backend), and jriver media player with mad vr rendering. Even with mad vr, the picture looks more "processed" than it does on my cable box. The cable box just looks cleaner.

Also, color pops more on the box than it does on my HTPC. There is a noticeable "muddiness" to the color from the HTPC. Most wouldn't notice it right away, until you compare the cable box picture side-by-side.

Anyone else come to this conclusion?

I wonder if it has to do with the 4K up-conversion on my TV. Anyone have any tips I could try? I want to get rid of the comcast box if I can, but I don't want to watch TV with inferior PQ on my $4,500 TV.

Thanks!
The muddiness is usually a symptom of compressed color space. Try setting the drivers, and 7MC to 0-255 color space.
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post #10 of 34 Old 07-03-2014, 12:52 PM
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I just use 7MC media center for live TV and recorded TV.

On the playback of recorded TV broadcast at 720 I can improve the picture using MB3 server and Media Browser Theater. I set Media Browser Theater to use MPC-HC as an external player for wmv files and madVR upscales the 720 to 1080. The interface is clunky but I find the improved picture worth the trouble.
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post #11 of 34 Old 07-03-2014, 02:45 PM
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If you don't fix your mismatched color space, no amount of calibration or configuration tweaking will help.
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post #12 of 34 Old 07-03-2014, 03:10 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdavej View Post
So is it muddy in terms of contrast or in detail or both? Is your video card set to full range or limited RGB?

Smoothing and noise reduction algorithms in your card or TV can also make things look muddy. So make sure all of that is turned off.
I haven't tried to make sure all the video card enhancements are off. I know for a fact de-interlacing is still on.

Going to see if that helps. It seems that the picture looks best when the picture is kept as raw (untouched) as possible, and letting the TV do its thing. I don't like the results I get when I try to let the HTPC upscale.
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post #13 of 34 Old 07-03-2014, 03:14 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Charles R View Post
You seem not sure who's to blame... the HTPC itself, program or video drivers. First thing I would do is verify both inputs on the TV are calibrated the same (or swap the two inputs). If you are looking for pop enable Dynamic Contrast Enhancement. It will increase intra-scene contrast without any ill side effects.

Overall I have compared various HTPCs to TiVo and several set top boxes and never noticed a difference outside of contrast levels.
You are right. I don't know... I spent weeks trying to tweak the HTPC picture. Even ended up replacing a video card, as my previous AMD card was causing awful flashing that wouldn't really go away.

The 750ti doesn't have this problem, luckily, but now I have to tackle this washed out color issue. It's particularly noticeable with ESPN, where text in the ticker looks almost white on my comcast box, whereas it looks greyish on my HTPC. Annoying. It's NOT a calibration issue. I followed calibration settings from the fairly large HU9000 owners thread. It's using movie mode and I want the picture to look as close to reference as possible.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fyodor View Post
The muddiness is usually a symptom of compressed color space. Try setting the drivers, and 7MC to 0-255 color space.
I have checked this already, at least inside of xbmc/wmc. I can check if I mucked with the drivers though. Quick question... should I choose RGB or ycbr444 color-space option?
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post #14 of 34 Old 07-03-2014, 03:32 PM
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WMC will require a registry hack to force it into full range RGB. There is no settings for it. Can't speak for anything else. Each app behaves differently. Then, your driver should be sending out full range as well. So is the TV. Right now, it seems you are displaying limited range RGB on a full range configured TV. Try switch your TV to limited range (should be default) instead to see what happens. It's never an easy task to match all three (app, driver and TV).
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post #15 of 34 Old 07-03-2014, 04:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by emcdade View Post
WMC was washing out my blacks before I ran the fix that changes a registry entry.

http://www.hack7mc.com/2009/06/fixin...ck-levels.html
interesting, I will see if this makes the difference. I'm determined to ditch the comcast box, but it's staying as long as it's PQ remains superior.
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post #16 of 34 Old 07-03-2014, 05:48 PM - Thread Starter
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woo! Easier than I thought. I'm still not 100% sure if it was an individual setting or a combination, but here's what I did -

* changed native desktop resolution to 2160p @ 30 Hz. This ensures I'm getting full 4:4:4 chroma sub-sampling. This makes a noticeable difference on the desktop color.
* turned off ALL enchancements I could find in nvidia settings. Used nvidia color settings & force full RGB.
* changed native resolution in xbmc to 1080p instead of 4K. No difference in color, but may improve overall performance

Even with those settings, color still wasn't right. Tried fiddling with TV settings. I changed the input type from "PC" to "TV". BOOM. Could instantly see the difference in color. Text in xbmc went from light grey to white. That was the "magic setting", it was the TV input settings all along it seemed. Though, I am still not sure if it also required the above settings, or if it was only the last thing I did that got it right.

I'm still playing around with other settings to get it 100% right. I get bad judder unless I sync refresh rate to the display & have the xbmc match refresh rate to source material. I also notice enabling de-interlacing in xbmc makes PQ MUCH worse. So leaving that off.

The picture between the comcast box & xbmc are very similar now, can barely tell the difference, though I think the box is still slightly better at motion handling.

At this point though, I think I can tweak a bit more to where I can ditch my box, and go back to mythtv full time. THANK GOD.
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post #17 of 34 Old 07-04-2014, 02:06 PM
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For a Samsung TV make sure Picture size is set to "ScreenFit" and then reset any desktop scaling you may have in the nvidia control panel to give you 1:1 pixel mapping.

I learned too, never set the input to PC. Someone once told me that setting is for gaming, but it really screws up video.
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post #18 of 34 Old 07-04-2014, 03:11 PM
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If you know what you are doing, PC setting is probably the best way to go. As of right now, OP may have video played perfectly on the TV, everything else on the PC will have both black crush and white crush.
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post #19 of 34 Old 07-10-2014, 01:17 PM - Thread Starter
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well, as hard as I have tried, I think I am going to have to give up on this.

My HTPC just isn't good enough for live TV on my 4K TV. I finally got the PQ to be "close enough". The HTPC still has a more "over-processed" look, whereas the box just looks cleaner. But color-wise, and quality-wise, they are near identical.

What I cannot accept however, is that judder & image ghosting is too obvious on the HTPC. I have spent countless hours trying different combinations of settings, and it doesn't match the performance of my cable box.

I get best motion performance on my TV when I use auto motion plus, which is just samsung's fancy word for motion interpolation. With it off, the HTPC performs near identically to my cable box. However, with it on, the HTPC simply fails to deliver. Noticeably more judder, and ghosting appears. Even with very mild motion interpolation (judder reduction = 0, blur reduction = 10, which is recommended by cnet as best motion settings for my set), judder & ghosting is still worse on my HTPC than my cable box.

Best performance comes when I have xbmc set to match the TV to the framerate of the picture, and with vsync turned on. Those settings have the biggest positive impact on judder performance. Also, setting my screen size to 1080i also has a big impact, since if I try to watch TV at 2160p, the HTPC chokes. Outside of those changes, no combination of filters or upscalers have any sort of major impact on performance. Even with the most performance-conscious video card & filter settings, I still get judder & ghosting.

So frustrating. I don't have these problems with downloaded content, just TV. The judder only seems to happen when the picture changes between interlaced & progressive scan framerates.

Oh well, I will just use the cable box for my living room 4K TV, and the hdhomerun for my other rooms & devices. Might also use it for recorded content as well.

I hate to admit defeat, but unless someone has something that I haven't tried yet, I'm giving in & keeping the comcast box.
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post #20 of 34 Old 07-10-2014, 01:27 PM - Thread Starter
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If you know what you are doing, PC setting is probably the best way to go. As of right now, OP may have video played perfectly on the TV, everything else on the PC will have both black crush and white crush.
PC setting disables almost all picture options on the TV, and you can't turn on auto motion plus, which to me is the biggest deal-breaker.

I don't like SOE, but I like the smoothed out motion you get with mild motion interpolation. I hate when a scene pans & you see obvious skipping.
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post #21 of 34 Old 07-10-2014, 01:39 PM - Thread Starter
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on that note, is there any way to have frame interploation done in my HTPC, so that with auto motion plus disabled on my TV, I can still get smooth, judder-free performance using my HTPC? Haven't looked into this, but if there's a way to do it with live TV in xbmc, I'm all ears.
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post #22 of 34 Old 07-10-2014, 01:58 PM
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... I had to tweak my nvidia drivers to get the PQ that I liked....
Have you tried plying wit the driver "gaming" settings? I don't know how much of this matters for tv playback, but these are my settings (I do not game):

Ambient occlusion -Off
Antistropic filtering - Off
Antialiasing - fxaa - Off
Antialiasting - gamma correction - Off
AA Mode - Override any app setting
AA Setting - 32x CSAA
AA Transp - 8x supersample
CUDA gpus - all
Max pre frames - use app
Multi Disp - Single Disp Perf
Power Manage - Prefer Max Perf
Text Buff Anti - Off
Text Buff Neg LCD Bias - Clamp
Text Filt - High Quality
Text Filt Trilinear - Off
Thresh Opt - Auto
Triple Buff - On
V Sync - On

Desktop Color:
2. Use nVidia Settings
3. YCB 444, Full screen video

Desktop Size:
2. No scaling, Display, Override games & programs

Video Image:
Inverse Telecine
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post #23 of 34 Old 07-10-2014, 02:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Have you tried plying wit the driver "gaming" settings? I don't know how much of this matters for tv playback, but these are my settings (I do not game):

Ambient occlusion -Off
Antistropic filtering - Off
Antialiasing - fxaa - Off
Antialiasting - gamma correction - Off
AA Mode - Override any app setting
AA Setting - 32x CSAA
AA Transp - 8x supersample
CUDA gpus - all
Max pre frames - use app
Multi Disp - Single Disp Perf
Power Manage - Prefer Max Perf
Text Buff Anti - Off
Text Buff Neg LCD Bias - Clamp
Text Filt - High Quality
Text Filt Trilinear - Off
Thresh Opt - Auto
Triple Buff - On
V Sync - On

Desktop Color:
2. Use nVidia Settings
3. YCB 444, Full screen video

Desktop Size:
2. No scaling, Display, Override games & programs

Video Image:
Inverse Telecine

Yes, I have tried, but with so many combinations of settings, I can't seem to find the best combination.

Thanks for posting this. I will try your settings and report back. I can say I have defintely not used this combination of settings before, because I typically tried to go with more performance-based settings. I'm using a 750ti though, so while not a powerhouse, it should be more than adequate for watching videos.
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post #24 of 34 Old 07-10-2014, 03:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hisma View Post
on that note, is there any way to have frame interploation done in my HTPC, so that with auto motion plus disabled on my TV, I can still get smooth, judder-free performance using my HTPC? Haven't looked into this, but if there's a way to do it with live TV in xbmc, I'm all ears.
Smooth Video Project:

http://www.svp-team.com/
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post #25 of 34 Old 07-10-2014, 03:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by nvmarino View Post
Smooth Video Project:

http://www.svp-team.com/
interesting! I have never heard of this.

How well does it work? How smooth can it make video, compared to results you'd get from a high-end TV? Is it comparable at all? It says complexity is "high" to get it to work with xbmc. Any guides you know to get svp to work with xbmc? I can just google it, but if you know of a good one off the top of your head, it will save me time
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post #26 of 34 Old 07-11-2014, 12:22 PM
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There is no way to get it to work with live TV in xbmc as I'm aware
You can get it to work for recordings either using an external player or dsplayer builds of xbmc. Though to use dsplayer and SVP you have to get into the complex side of things and use a renderer/decoder mix that I think is developed by the guy who makes the dsplayer builds

It's not SVP, but madvr has a frame rate conversion option that will eliminate the judder

Your best bet for live TV is probably jriver with madvr
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post #27 of 34 Old 07-12-2014, 09:59 PM - Thread Starter
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There is no way to get it to work with live TV in xbmc as I'm aware
You can get it to work for recordings either using an external player or dsplayer builds of xbmc. Though to use dsplayer and SVP you have to get into the complex side of things and use a renderer/decoder mix that I think is developed by the guy who makes the dsplayer builds

It's not SVP, but madvr has a frame rate conversion option that will eliminate the judder

Your best bet for live TV is probably jriver with madvr
thanks for the suggestion.

I think I got it now. I've kept waffling back and forth on the quality not cutting it, but I think I found something that works.

I put all my emphasis on tweaking settings at 1080i/1080p resolution, because I figured that'd put less stress on the video card & processor than 4K resolution. But no matter how hard I tried I kept getting weird judder & ghosting when I turned on motion interpolation in the TV settings.

After spending a few days giving up on this, I tried again (since I couldn't stand the comcast box, after using xbmc bliss it's like going from a ferrari back to a pinto).

There doesn't seem to be much people using xbmc for live TV with 4K TVs yet. This defies logic, but I have found that best performance comes from running the TV at native resolution (2160p) at 60 Hz. I wrote off 2160p before because it originally stuttered like crazy... at 30 Hz. But the newest nvidia drivers allow 2160p at 60 Hz for kepler cards. So on a whim I tried 2160p again at 60 Hz, and the judder and ghosting is gone. Even PQ has improved, since monitor PQ is always best at native resolution.

I might find more problems as I test some more, but for now I'm very happy. It's no longer "close enough", performance is now "identical" as far as I can see, in both PQ AND in motion, even using motion interpolation on the TV.
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post #28 of 34 Old 07-12-2014, 10:10 PM - Thread Starter
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One final note (until I find something else wrong), I think the reason live TV works best at 4K resolution has to do w/ the automated 4K upscaling on the TV. I'm guessing that by already having the display set at 4K resolution, the upscaler no longer needs to upscale the image, which frees up processing power to handle motion. That's all I can think of to explain what I'm experiencing.

I'm still not 100% sold yet, but this is the best I've felt so far with my HTPC live TV setup so far.

Why this is odd is because every HTPC live TV setup guide I've read says performance is best at resolutions closest to the source input. But I think rules are different with 4K TVs, since the image needs to be massively upscaled to fit on the screen.

So hopefully, someone who is really slick with xbmc can come up with the "ultimate PQ performance guide for running xbmc on a 4K TV". They could definitely learn from my many hours of trial and error here .

If anyone wants to know my current xbmc & video card settings, let me know.
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post #29 of 34 Old 07-13-2014, 05:54 PM
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Just picked up the 8550 tonight for $1796. I have a gtx titan and I'm intrigued at your work and will give it a shot tomorrow and report back. I returned the lg 4k and hope this sammy is better than the sony 4k 49 inch that is $1999.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by traumadisaster View Post
Just picked up the 8550 tonight for $1796. I have a gtx titan and I'm intrigued at your work and will give it a shot tomorrow and report back. I returned the lg 4k and hope this sammy is better than the sony 4k 49 inch that is $1999.
thanks, let me know how it goes. Curious to see if you have similar results. I compared the cable box and the cablecard at the same time, and used the cable box as the "reference point". Sometimes the differences were very subtle, but the box always edged out the HTPC until I stuck with 2160p @ 60 Hz. It's also important to have vsync on, and inverse telecine on. The rest I think don't make a huge difference in performance or PQ, but you're likely better off having higher quality video settings than performance-based settings, especially with a titan.

The rest depends on what player you use. I use xbmc which is more complex to set up due to the multitude of filters & video settings you can tweak. WMC has almost no customization, but that's a good thing, since it won't try to fight with the TV. The TV already has excellent upscaling and motion handling capabilities, so no need to over-do it in the HTPC.
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