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I've built a HTPC and would like to optimize Windows 7 to dedicate as much of the resources to Media playback through the HTPC. I'll be using XBMC and Media Center (testing them out, and making a selection later). I'll also be playing full HD content. What are some tweaks to Windows 7 itself that will help me 'squeeze' the most performance for playback of the HD content?

The HTPC will be used for:

  • Video playback including Blu Ray Disk, Netflix/Hulu internet streaming, and Saved DVD's
  • Audio playback (NOT iTunes!) but the integrated XBMC or Windows Media Center
    • Audio files will be streamed from another, LAN connected PC
  • There is a high probability that Video will be ripped and encoded as well
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What kind of hardware are you using? – Simon Sheehan Jun 4 '11 at 16:17
Also, do you have any issues yet or is it just a hypothetical question? Because if you don't encounter any problems, what's there to tweak? :) – slhck Jun 4 '11 at 16:18
@slhck I'm looking for a general tweaks to be used for the blog ;) Specifically any processes that can be removed or stopped. Applications that are unnecessary, or whatever I or others can do to tweak the system. – KronoS Jun 4 '11 at 16:24
@SimonSheehan I'm looking for a general answer so hardware isn't that necessary. – KronoS Jun 4 '11 at 16:25
up vote 8 down vote accepted

Since your machine is just for video playback, here are a few tweaks I would suggest to keep things speedy:

These are mostly just background processes we don't generally notice when running, but It will give you a performance boost.

You can find a few more things HERE.

Another option is tweaking the video playback itself. If you use CCCP - Combined Community Codec Pack, you will have greater control over the playback settings.

You may as want to try the DivX decoder as well, as it uses Hardware accelerated decoding.


Do note, I am not sure how well CCCP will work with XMBC or Media Player, it seems to only apply to certain video formats/players.

I also suggest using the latest GPU drivers for whatever card you are using. I know both nVidia and ATI's Control Panels have settings to control the quality output from the card.

ATI Panel

nVidia settings

Audio playback differs for each person mostly based on their speaker setup. A lot of computers use Realtek audio now, and they have drivers that provide different options for you to optimize it based on the room, etc.

For internet streaming, my only suggestion would be to optimize your connection. Close all programs that use an active internet connection, and make sure no one else in the home is using it. My knowledge on that topic is limited.

Media center has VERY limited audio setup, so external audio drivers are necessary for better sound playback.

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I'll also be using this for video and audio playback as well as internet streaming. – KronoS Jun 4 '11 at 16:38
@KronoS I have added more. – Simon Sheehan Jun 4 '11 at 16:42
@SimonSheehan I added more details as well :) – KronoS Jun 4 '11 at 16:44
@KronoS, I'll shall add some more in a bit ;) checking things out first – Simon Sheehan Jun 4 '11 at 17:24
Tweaking display setting will help with picture quality but you still need to be using DXVA decoding to reduce the work that your media centre does. Info can be found at the following link, – markfknight Jun 4 '11 at 17:28

If you use a graphics card or a motherboard/cpu with integrated graphics that can be used to decode video codecs and pass the files to it via the DXVA decoding, there will be few tweaks required as your processor will pass all the hard work off to the GPU.

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