So far my experience has shown me that no one really knows how to truly troubleshoot video issues, so I'm going to put my money on the table and offer any expert here $100 to solve a (theoretically) simple problem:
I have a HTPC based around a Asus P4p800E Deluxe motherboard (Intel 865pe chip set). I am running a Prescott p4, 533fsb at 2.4ghz with 256 megs of ram. The video card is a GeForce 6600GT AGP running the most recent Nvidia drivers (84.21).
I have a dual boot system: a primary partition running Windows XP with minimal applications installed (HD software which will be described below and Theatertek). and the second partition is a testing ground featuring a fresh install of XP patched and Service Packed up to date that I can refresh, as needed, from a disc image... so I have a pristine windows partition to allow any conflict-free testing...
So here we go
I bought a FUSION HDTV5 USB tuner. I installed the software that came with the tuner (FusionHDTV version 3.20) and added channels. The card would only display analog channels. Any attempt to tune digital channels resulted in a box saying "Overlay not available."
If I disable DXVA and let it do all the rendering in the CPU, it works, however it pretty much maxes out my P4 even at the lowest quality setting.
I tried the most recent official release, 3.30.01 and got the identical behavior: when using DXVA it would tell me "OVERLAY NOT AVAILABLE." I was given a link by DVICO tech support to a beta for 3.40, again same behavior. It "works" when not using DXVA (although not to my liking) but will not allow DXVA...
I tried changing Nvidia drivers back to a 77.xx series as suggested by DVICO tech support. Same behavior. In the end I've tried 3 different version of the software and three different versions of the drivers in all possible combinations, and always the exact same behavior: it refuses to use DXVA and pretty much sucks when disabling DXVA.
So onto plan B
I looked around and figured out that the SAGETV application works with this tuner, so I downloaded and tried it. With it, I get similar, although not identical, behavior.
When using the SAGE decoders, I get constant 100% CPU use and dozens of dropped frames, staggers, audio pops, video pixeling and tearing, general garbage.
Again, I hoped to force some use of DXVA/VMR9 use to take the load off of the CPU-- so I try to use the Nvidia decoders. When using the Nvidia Post Processing setting in SAGE, the Nvidia purevideo system tray icon and panel appears, and seems to be using 'hardware acceleration" however I still get dozens of dropped frames and staggering, super slow gui response, 100% cpu use, etc-- so it doesn't really seem to be any different.
Most of the time when trying the Nvidia decoders, SAGE will crash. Their tech support forum suggest I stop using the Nvidia decoders
I've tried playing with sage FSE (the so-called "fullscreen exclusive" mode) which basically just makes the software complete unstable and it crashes constantly.
Onto plan C.
I tried WatchHDTV, software suggested here on AVS, which I believe uses the fusion decoders. Watch HDTV crashes on launch for me 100% of the time. Dead. Done. Period.
So here I am
- I assume that 1080/720 content decoding is possible with my configuration as I've read dozens and dozens of threads from people with seamless playback of this material with the 6600. This thread
suggested that Microsoft says you need at least 10 Gbps of memory bandwidth to play back 1080i content in applications using VMR9, however the 6600 has 16Gbps.
- I believe I am able to get DXVA/VMR9 hardware mpeg decoding from the card using Theatertek-- however, part of me wonders if there is something PHYSICALLY wrong with the video card, because:
* I have some weird menu/navigation issues with TT which cause it to crash-- disabling some advanced TT/DX features like "allow subtitle movement" seems to fix these problems.
* I tried to test the card with a higher end DX game-- while trying to load HalfLife2 it will hard crash the machine and it will not reboot properly again unless forced into safe mode and the display resolution is reset. However, this is not a legit copy of the game, so it might be an issue with the crack.
- Sage TV crashes within minutes when using the Nvidia Postprocessor as it's filter, and instantly dies when placed in "FSE" mode.
* FusionHDTV software absolutely refuses to use the DXVA mode no matter what combination of drivers and application-- where DVICO tech support claims they have perfect DXVA performance with a 6600GT, 84.21 drivers and versions 3.30 and 3.40 of their software.
* I was hoping to find some sort of benchmark/stress test that would test specifically if all functions of the DXVA/VMR9 system were operating properly, but I have not yet found if such a utility exists.
So, can you help me?
- Shouldn't I be able to get HDTV content to playback using primarily Hardware decoding on the 6600GT?
- FusionHDTV says if you have a DxVA card a p3 800mhz processor should be enough. Without DxVA it says P4 1.6 is required. I exceed BOTH specifications, yet cannot get decent playback - and when i get semi-stable playback it's non-DxVA and at 100% processor.
- SageTV says it will work on sytstems slower than 3.0g as long as the card is DxVA compliant... which mine is, however I'm not sure if it's being use properly when selecting the nvidia post processor it crashes often and instantly dies when placed in "FSE" mode.
- IS there any other tuner applications I can try? IS there any better troubleshooting I can attempt to figure out what is being used or not used (like some sort of processor metering for the video card?).
Seriously, a crisp $100 bill to whoever helps me figure out why this doesn't work when it seems like it should...