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post #1 of 9 Old 01-27-2020, 07:45 PM - Thread Starter
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What really determines a card's playback ability?

This is something I've had a hard time figuring out. So I've decided to stop by and ask all the smart guys here what actually makes this work. So what is it that actually determines whether or not a video card can output 4k video well? I mean streaming netflix, as well as video file playback. Pretty much everything you'd want to do with 4k.



I've talked to some people who say "Oh well you're just bypassing most of the video card's processing capabilities, since largely they're made for gaming. Most of the big bad expensive video cards out there are made to play new demanding games at high graphics settings and not bog down. Which is a big job, in computing terms. But if you use a high end graphics card to stream or play 4k video files, well you're really not making it work very hard."



But what about a low end card? What about an Nvidia GT 1030, or an AMD RX 550? Why do those cards seem to struggle with video playback, when they've got the processing power to play most modern games on low to medium settings? They seem like pretty capable little cards, all things considered. But people will tell you not to use them for all things 4k, because they're just not up to the task. I've heard they'll "drop frames" or that they just can't do it. Essentially, don't waste your time. So what specs do I need to know about, in order to make the determination if a card can play all 4k video well? I won't be gaming with the card, this is only a question about all types of 4k video playback that you might do these days.

Last edited by bennylava; 01-28-2020 at 02:41 PM.
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post #2 of 9 Old 01-27-2020, 08:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bennylava View Post
This is something I've had a hard figuring out. So I've decided to stop by and ask all the smart guys here what actually makes this work. So what is it that actually determines whether or not a video card can output 4k video well? I mean streaming netflix, as well as video file playback. Pretty much everything you'd want to do with 4k.



I've talked to some people who say "Oh well you're just bypassing most of the video card's processing capabilities, since largely they're made for gaming. Most of the big bad expensive video cards out there are made to play new demanding games at high graphics settings and not bog down. Which is a big job, in computing terms. But if you use a high end graphics card to stream or play 4k video files, well you're really not making it work very hard.



But what about a low end card? What about an Nvidia GT 1030, or an AMD RX 550? Why do those cards seem to struggle with video playback, when they've got the processing power to play most modern games on low to medium settings? They seem like pretty capable little cards, all things considered. But people will tell you not to use them for all things 4k, because they're just not up to the task. I've heard they'll "drop frames" or that they just can't do it. Essentially, don't waste your time. So what specs do I need to know about, in order to make the determination if a card can play all 4k video well? I won't be gaming with the card, this is only a question about all types of 4k video playback that you might do these days.
The video cards have *separate* hardware on chip to handle video decoding, video encoding, and game processing. The video decoders in the 1030 are not the same as in the 1060 for example. In addition, using something like madVR uses the full card's game processors to do video upscaling, HDR tone mapping, etc. So that makes a huge difference.

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post #3 of 9 Old 01-28-2020, 02:47 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by markmon1 View Post
The video cards have *separate* hardware on chip to handle video decoding, video encoding, and game processing. The video decoders in the 1030 are not the same as in the 1060 for example. In addition, using something like madVR uses the full card's game processors to do video upscaling, HDR tone mapping, etc. So that makes a huge difference.

So is it like a separate chip? Something besides the GPU?


Something I can easily look at the specs and say "Oh this card can never do 4k well, cause it's only got a... model-T chip. Whereas this other card can easily do 4k well, because it has this other, far better chip".
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post #4 of 9 Old 01-28-2020, 03:13 PM
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Any modern, as in released in last 2 or 3 years, video card, even those integrated with processors, can handle 4k playback. Older onea, regardless how expensive they are, probably won't do 4k. Basic requirements are HDMI 2.0 support and H.265/HEVC decoding. But some streaming service uses other codec as well.

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post #5 of 9 Old 02-01-2020, 04:15 AM - Thread Starter
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But some streaming service uses other codec as well.

So it's possible to get a 4k card that still can't playback 4k, because the service you're using uses some codec that your card doesn't support?
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post #6 of 9 Old 02-01-2020, 07:09 AM
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Possible but probably rare. For example, YourTube 4K HDR requires VP9 support but YouTube 4K does not.

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post #7 of 9 Old 02-02-2020, 12:05 AM - Thread Starter
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Seems like you can't really find a good 4k card that won't be loud. It's like you have to get one that has a fan. Since we're the audiophile and home theater types... this sucks for us. Ideally you'd want a card that is passively cooled like that Evga brand GT-1030 card.



Maybe the best thing you can do is get one of those PC cases that are built to be quiet.
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post #8 of 9 Old 02-02-2020, 01:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bennylava View Post
Seems like you can't really find a good 4k card that won't be loud. It's like you have to get one that has a fan. Since we're the audiophile and home theater types... this sucks for us. Ideally you'd want a card that is passively cooled like that Evga brand GT-1030 card.



Maybe the best thing you can do is get one of those PC cases that are built to be quiet.
Perhaps you can move the HTPC to another room (if you have an adjoining room on other side of screen wall etc)

Video: JVC RS4500 135" screen in pure black room no light, htpc nvidia 1080ti.
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post #9 of 9 Old 02-02-2020, 06:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bennylava View Post
Seems like you can't really find a good 4k card that won't be loud. It's like you have to get one that has a fan. Since we're the audiophile and home theater types... this sucks for us. Ideally you'd want a card that is passively cooled like that Evga brand GT-1030 card.



Maybe the best thing you can do is get one of those PC cases that are built to be quiet.
My GT1030 passive card works just fine with 4k. If you don't use MadVR for 2k to 4k upscaling or tone mapping, you don't need to spend more.

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