Archive for April, 2011

Recommended cards for hardware-enabled playback


This post is split into two parts, the first part is for those looking to see if their Graphics Card supports hardware-decoding of video (H.264/AVC and VC-1), whereas the second part is for those looking to buy a new graphics card that supports hardware-decoding.

The term DXVA (DirectX Video Acceleration) is often used and refers to hardware-enabled playback under Windows. Many of the graphics cards presented here also supports hardware acceleration on other platforms, but those will not be taken into consideration by me for the time beeing.

Part 1: List of graphics chipsets that support Hardware-decoding (DXVA) of H.264/AVC and VC-1

Wikipedia lists most compatible cards that decode video on the GPU, each manufaturer has their own solution.

  • ATi cards have a feature called Unified Video Decoder (UVD), if you have an ATi card you should click this link to check if your card is compatible. The latest version of UVD is verion 3.0 and includes support for DivX and Xvid via MPEG-4 Part 2 decoding and Blu-ray 3D via MVC.
  • Nvidia cards have a feature called PureVideo, which is currently in the 4th generation. This link lists compatible cards. PureVideo does not support DivX and Xvid hardware-decoding at the moment.
  • Intel also support HW-decodeing on their graphics chipsets, but there are no official lists. I’ve instead listed the cards I know to be compatible here:
    • Intel G45
    • Intel GMA500
    • Intel GMA600
    • Intel GMA X4500 (Not fully)
    • Intel GMA X4500HD
    • Intel GMA 4500MHD
    • Intel HD Graphics (GMA HD) (Included on Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 processors)
    • Intel HD Graphics 2000
    • Intel HD Graphics 3000

Part 2: Recommendations for graphics cards that support Hardware-decoding (DXVA) of H.264/AVC and VC-1

For the Home Theater PC

If you are still at a planning stage for your HTPC, I recommend getting this book. I wish I had this book when I started out as it would have saved me a lot of time. Of course, if you are not interested in setting up windows media center, this book should be more suited for. I will use for most of my HTPC recommendations, check out their page and forum!

Fan VS. Fanless

While noise can be an annoyance, removing all cooling components can become quite hazardous. Most graphics cards are equipped with low quality stock fans that makes quite the impact on overall noise levels. These can easily be swapped with better coolers from Zalman or Arctic Cooling. I used the Zalman VF1000 on my Ati 4850 with good results. If you are considering a fanless card, make sure it keeps a stable temperature and that the case fans helps cooling it.

List of recommended cards

Fanless and gaming: Powercolor ATi Radeon HD5750

Fanless and little to no gaming:

Fanless and low profile cabinet: Asus ATi Radeon HD5450 Silent

With good fan for gaming: Sapphire ATi Radeon HD5770 Vapor-X

If you thought the sequel to StarCraft is exciting you might be surprised that the sequel to WarCraft can still be played on a modern operating system.

One of the problems though is that mulitplayer over local network requires IPX, a network technology that has been removed from Windows since Vista. But fear not. If you get IPXWrapper from here (alternative mirror) and drop the files in the WarCraft II program folder.

From the Read Me:

IPXwrapper is a winsock wrapper which transparently tunnels IPX packets over IPusing UDP port 54792. To use it, simply copy ipxwrapper.dll, wsock32.dll andmswsock.dll to the directory containing your legacy program.

When this step is complete you can launch WarCraft II and create a LAN game using IPX, as you normally would on a system with the IPX protocol installed. Remember to check that the firewall doesn’t block anything.

IPXWrapper also works for other games that require IPX, including C&C: Red Alert 2, Army Men RTS, Lords of Magic SE, Dark Reign, Diablo I (see detailed Diablo setup here) (List updated based on comments, thanks for any input!).

For an active WarCraft II community, take a look at War2Combat.


I previously wrote a guide detailing how to offload decoding of h264 and x264 video files to the graphics card. That guide is very outdated now, but still relevant. I therefore decided to give you an updated version that also takes Windows XP users into account and simplifies the whole process.

Changes from previous version

  • Uses a newer and better Media Player Classic Home Cinema (MPC-HC)
  • Accounts for Windows XP users
  • Does not require Cyberlink video decoder, which should save you some money as well as simplifying the setup

This 3 step tutorial is based on following links:

Step 1 – Requirements and installation

Latest Media Player Classic Home Cinema (MPC-HC):

A supported Operating System: Windows XP SP3 or Windows Vista/7 32bit/64bit

Step 2 – Configuration

After installing MPC-HC, fire it up and open the options by going to View > Options.

Make sure the settings are as described in the screenshots below:

MPC-HC Playback Options
MPC-HC Output Options
MPC-HC Filter Options

Step 3 – Testing

With the correct settings in place, it is time to check that Hardware Decoding is actually functioning.

To do this you will en a test file, you can get one from the following address:

Start the movie, then right-click and go to Filters > MPC Video Decoder as shown below.

Renderer Information

In the properties window it should display the following under DXVA settings, if it says Not Using DXVA, then look trough the troubleshooting points at the end of this tutorial.
DXVA Enabled


Problem: MPC Video Decoder Properties says Not Using DXVA under DXVA mode with the Aristocats.mkv test film.

Solution: If you configured MPC HC exactly as noted in this tutorial, then you should make absolutely sure your graphics card supports x264 hardware decoding.

Problem: MPC Video Decoder Properties says Not Using DXVA under DXVA mode on some films other than the Aristocats.mkv test film.

Solution: First make sure the video format in use is actually encoded in h264/x264. If it is in h264/x264 you might be unlucky as not all encodes properly support hardware decoding and DXVA (especially older files). Click here for more info.