I recently upgraded my Windows 7 MediaCenter HTPC due to a motherboard failure (really old motherboard and cpu, it was on its last legs.) I chose to upgrade to an i5 system with everything built into the motherboard. I did my due diligence, researched, and found some hardware that was within my budget. I ended up with:
- Core i5 2500K (3.3Ghz)
- Corsair XMS3 2x2Gb DDR3 (4Gb)
- ASUS P8H 61-M LE/CSM
- MicroCenter 64Gb SSD
- (Previous BluRay player, forget the brand)
The system is pretty awesome, and plays everything I have perfectly. I almost went with an Atom solution, however there have been numerous notes that they do not play NetFlix Instant Watch well...and I am a heavy Netflix IW user. High definition BluRay rips work well, although they usually contain lower audio quality than the BluRay's they were ripped from.
The real problem I am encountering is playing back BluRay video from discs. For some reason, I am encountering rather terrible stuttering problems with both the audio and video. The stuttering is synchronous in both, and occurs at seemingly random intervals. I've used PowerDVD 9, PowerDVD 11 trial, and WinDVD 11 Pro trial. All three have stuttering problems, although PowerDVD 11 seems to have the least. Watching system resource usage, CPU load is never above 20%, and memory usage tends to be a constant 1/3rd the total available system memory. When playback is fine, its superb...the video is crystal clear.
The audio quality is ok, certainly not what I would expect from a BluRay disc. I did some research, and it seems that playing BluRay from a PC causes a downsampling of the audio? I am curious if the audio is my primary problem here, the cause of the stuttering I am encountering? When stuttering occurs, the audio gets REALLY bad, while the video just pauses momentarily every second until for whatever reason everything picks up and runs fine (usually after a few seconds to a couple minutes.) The audio chipset is a Realtek HD ALC887 8-channel, supposedly designed to support BluRay playback. Has anyone encountered any issues like this playing back bluray discs on a PC (namely with PowerDVD...WinDVD was FAR worse, and seemed to have real trouble even reading the discs, and I have no interest in fiddling with it further.) Is there any reason to suspect the video decoding as the problem?(Given how bad the audio gets during a stutter, and how clean the video remains, I am inclined to think the issue boils down to audio.) Is it even remotely possible that the motherboard, cpu, or ram are causing the stuttering (all three are pretty blazing fast...faster than the hardware that I replaced, which seemed to play BluRay fine with PowerDVD 9.)
I've read a bit about the Asus Xonar HDAV 1.3 and the Auzen X-Fi HomeTheater HD home theater hi-fi audio cards. Seems they are the only way to get true full-quality, uncompressed BluRay audio bitstreaming over HDMI on a PC. None of the usual suspects seem to have these cards in stock, however. Are these cards worth getting? Are they even still available, or have they been discontinued (if so, that would indeed be sad...they sound simply fantastic.)