What is needed to resolve "laggy" menus...? (1 Viewer)

muppetman

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Hi,

Newbie here, so please go easy on me....I've been a Windows Media Centre user for about 6 years and have converted our "box under the telly" to MP over the last three months - I love it!

System specs are in my profile, but basically I'm running s singleseat install on a Z77 motherboard with Intel i3, HD3000 and OCZ Vertex 3 SSD as the boot drive with 8gb - pretty good spec for an HTPC. Clean install of MP with StreamedMP, latest drivers, bios etc. I should also add that this machine is only used for MP, nothing else.

Firstly, I'm more than happy with all aspects of video playback - I've only installed the LAV pack and quality of playback of all sources (Freeview HD, Freesat HD, MKVs, DVD/BD rips, recorded TV) is great - no glitches or breakup on any of the sources (something I was never able to achieve with Media Centre with the HD channels!) Most of our use of this box is interlaced 1080 TV content, and it all looks great on our 60" LCD!

So why am I posting?....Well, the one issue I do have with my system is that the menus are "laggy" - not all of them, but specifically when there is a lot of graphic detail on the menu - a good example of this is the tv-series plugin, I've got the TV series' showing as coverflow with 1080 res background images for each series - if you hold the right arrow key down on the remote, the scrolling is very slow whilst the system redraws the background image before moving to the next series etc. If I change the view to list format, the scrolling is extremely fast.
I've also noticed that if a tv-series is paused etc and it goes to the scrolling text description of the series, the scrolling is jerky.

I'm guessing that my problem is down to using on-board graphics (Intel HD3000) - I'm happy to be told otherwise if you think it's something else. I'm thinking this as CPU utilisation doesn't seem to be spiking etc. on going into any of these menu screens.

Initially, I was reluctant to upgarde the graphics card as I've always had issues with driver versions on previous Media Centre installations (both ATI and Nvidia), hence going back to onboard graphics a couple of years ago when they improved. Also the power/heat/noise etc., is a consideration as our box is on pretty much 24/7. However, the laggy menus are now bugging me too much!

So after my long-winded post, my question is, what specs do I need to be looking for in a graphics card to speed up the menu browsing? I don't mind spending some cash if I need to, but I don't want to go overboard as it'll cost more, but more iumportantly will probably bring increased power or cooling requirements (so preferably want to go fanless card if poss)

Thanks for reading my ramblings!
 
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muppetman

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Thanks for your response. TBH, I hadn't even thought about trying a different skin!

I installed StreamedMP as I thought the standard look was a bit too basic for my liking and as the skin installed compatible versions of tv-series and moving pictures, it was the best choice for e newbie like me!

Although your suggestion is a good one, I'm reluctant to change the skin. Now I've got it all set-up and configured, I'll be in big trouble if I mess it up now - the WAF is high, it hasn't crashed or broken in months and the kids know where everything is in the StreamedMP skin (it was a big learning curver for everyone moving over from Windows Media Centre).

So although I'm normally a tight-wad(!), I don't mind throwing some cash at this issue if I can resolve with a simple graphics card upgrade!
 

Lehmden

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    Hi.
    Those Problems are not related to your Graphics. This has two main reasons. First, the database handling needs sometimes lots of CPU power. And second the Render engine of MP is somehow not optimised. It's not useful to reload backdrops during scrolling but the engine tries to do this..

    The StreamedMP skin is well known for being CPU hungry too.
     

    kiwijunglist

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    that's strange I can scroll through coverflow with 1080p backgrounds extremely fast, so fast that I can barely see the covers changing. Maybe you are using an old build of tv series? you can see my htpc specs on the left.
     

    muppetman

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    Thanks for your responses, guys....

    @Lehmden - I'm disappointed I can't just fix this by simply upgrading my graphics card, but what you say makes a lot of sense! Might have to go with the first suggestion and change skin, which I was trying to avoid.

    @kiwijunglist - yes, that's what I want - to barely see the covers changing! At the moment, there is almost a one-second gap before the next cover is selected. I'll check the version of tv-series when I get in tonight, but it was the latest version about a month or so ago when I checked it.
    EDIT - Just realised there was a new version of tv-series released just before Christmas - I'll give that a go tonight!
     
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    kiwijunglist

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    HD3000 is a fairly good iGPU I'd be surprised that it wouldn't cope with this.

    While I have no idea what the problem is I would suggest the following (before considering a new video card)

    1. Try different skin + update tv series version
    2. Are you using the remote to scroll? Try just holding down the right arrow, is that better? How about pressing the right keyboard arrow button multiple times really really quickly, does that make any difference here?
    3. In bios set the video memory to a fixed amount (maybe 512mb or 1024mb)
    4. Check Aero is enabled in windows
    5. Go into task manager (ctrl+alt+del) then delete every process/service that is running + retry
    6. Complete uninstall + reinstall of MePo with a complete new tv series install as well (ie not using old database/thumbs dir)
    7. Complete reinstall of windows, with only MePo + drivers installed.
     
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    sleepycol

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    Definitely recommend checking video memory allocated in the BIOS. Often the default is quite low. Increase this and try running MP again.
     

    muppetman

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    @sleepycol - Thanks for your reply, but def not that - it's always one of the first things I change in the BIOS when I build a new machine.

    Anyhow, the missus went out last night so I had some time to play. Started off by uninstalling StreamedMP and reinstalling moving pictures and MPTV-series. Rebooted, and scrolling speed was off-the-scale fast! So Lehmden was absolutely right - the StreamedMP skin is pretty resource hungry.

    So I liked the performance, but the look was pretty drab. Was looking into which skin to replace it with and had the brainwave of installing the 1.30 beta with the Titan Extended skin. 30 mins later, I'm up and running on 1.30, performance is great and my setup has got its "wow" factor back. There's a few things missing, but overall I think I can get on with this - if not, I'll install the StreamedMP skin and see if I still have scrolling performance issues in 1.30.

    Obviously not the best idea using a beta for a "production" machine, but it's been stable so far. I like the idea on an "integrated" skin as well - seems like less to go wrong.
     

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