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I've been vaguely considering setting up a computer in our home entertainment system as an Internet console. Namely, to watch video from Globaltv.ca, which is remarkably Hulu-like, just with one channel instead of all of them. Our TV is in fact a monitor (a 48" plasma monitor, but a monitor just the same), with a VGA in port and without a TV tuner. This simplifies the task a bit.

The problem is with the system requirements for displaying Flash video full-screen. My home desktop system is capable of doing this without too much trouble, but my desktop at work is a fair bit slow and choppy. The trick is that the desktop at work has a 2.0 GHz Pentium 4 CPU and 1 GB of RAM! There's also a GeForce 6200 in it, and yes, the Nvidia driver is installed and working properly.

At work I'm running Ubuntu, but even when nothing but Galeon (or Firefox, or Opera, which had the best performance, relatively speaking) was running, it was still choppy. I still had around 200 MB of RAM free, and the CPU was running at around 70%.

By comparison, my home desktop is an Athlon X2 4200+ with 1 GB of RAM and an Nvidia 7900 GS, and everything runs smoothly. Is this level of hardware really required for watching Flash video? I honestly consider this to be insanely high for such a minor application, even though the system is almost 3 years old now.

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The reason your work computer is choppy is due to Linux, not due to the slower CPU. Probably if you ran Windows on the exact same system, the video would be almost perfectly fine (even on my fast windows PC, there are occasional hiccups in flash video...it's just got problems in general) –  davr Aug 24 '09 at 23:06
    
@davr: You'd notice the same decrease if your ran it through Firefox on Windows (it's not Windows vs. Linux in this case) - Flash on IE has the highest performance compared to any other combination by far. –  Chealion Aug 24 '09 at 23:10

3 Answers 3

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Full screen Flash video is quite resource intensive. Adobe says that to watch a 720p on Windows you will need need:

  • Intel Pentium 4.3 GHz, AMD Athlon™ 64 3400+ processor (or equivalent)
  • 128 MB of RAM
  • 64 MB of VRAM

Linux:

  • Intel Pentium 4.3 GHz, AMD Athlon™ 64 3400+ processor (or equivalent)
  • 512 MB of RAM
  • 64 MB of VRAM

Looking at the requirements further, it looks like the a good system for full screen Flash would be

  • Intel Core Duo 2.66 GHz processor
  • 1 GB RAM
  • Nvidia GeForce 6600

Also, see my answer (and others') to Quiet Media Center PC.

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Adobe has let the Mac and Linux versions of the Flash player languish for quite a while. The biggest issue is full-screen video.

  • Flash doesn't make any use of the video card to render video, so running without a card is a perfectly tenable option (unless you want to play non-Flash HD video).

  • The code lately seems to have been written on Windows and ported to other platforms, rather than multiple optimized but compatible code bases.

These two factors make even pretty good systems (for example, my low-end Macbook has a Core 2 Duo, which in Windows plays back the video without issue and in MacOS can barely handle it in windowed mode) choke horribly.

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1  
This comment is now out of date (it was posted nearly 2 years ago). Flash has used the GPU for H.264 video decoding for a while (DXVA I think), and as of the recent 10.2 player can also use the GPU for video display. –  Simon Apr 7 '11 at 4:03

I always use VLC media player for viewing Flash videos.

On my system VLC takes 2-3% CPU when playing full screen. The system is not particulary fast: AMD Phenom X4 9650 2.3 GHz.

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Yes, VLC is better (smoother) at playing FLVs/MP4s, but if it's an online stream you may not have that option. –  Simon Apr 7 '11 at 4:04

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