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INTRODUCTION

I just got a new computer, and for some reason I can't stream videos over LAN like I used to be able to with my old laptop. When streaming videos of any type, the video has to stop every minute or two to load, whereas with my old, crappier laptop, it never had to buffer even for 1080p streams. I have checked and the old computer still plays all video formats (.mp4, .avi, .mkv) in multiple players (WMP and VLC) perfectly. However, the newer, much nicer laptop can't without stuttering.

SPECS

  • The old computer is an HP Pavilion dv7 (Phenom II X4 P920, 4GB RAM, ATI Mobility Radeon 5470) It has a 7200 RPM drive and a 1600x900 17.3" screen.

  • The new computer is an HP ENVY TouchSmart 15t-j000 (i7-4702mq, 8GB of RAM, Intel HD 4600 w/ GeForce GT 740M). It has a 5400 RPM drive with 24GB mSSD acceleration cache and a 15.6" FHD screen.

NETWORK

The network is obviously not the issue, but I thought to include it anyway, in case there are compatibility issues or bugs with the hardware in the laptops and router.

The router is a Cisco Linksys E4200 (dual band, reaches all areas the laptops are usually in, never have to reboot it).

The files I stream are located on a 1.5TB 7200RPM drive connected to a Dell Latitude via USB 2.0. The laptop is then connected to the router via Ethernet.

The files themselves are 238MB .avi's at 512x385. They are very small and easy to stream.

WHAT I'VE TRIED

I have restarted the router, the Dell that serves the files, and the external drive the files are located on. I also restarted the new computer. Before and after the restarts, the buffering problem persisted, but did not plague the older laptop. By doing this I was able to determine the problem is not network-specific, but computer-specific.

I have set static IPs for both laptops and the Dell, so I am sure no other device is competing for internal IP addresses. No heavy network use is occurring, so it is not a matter of the network getting bogged down.

I have tried multiple files from low-res .avi's to high-res .mkv's. I have used multiple players (VLC, WMP, and the default Windows 8 player) as well. I have tried this with the computer plugged in and on battery (the powerplan sets the wireless performance lower on battery).

WHAT I SUSPECT

There is a myriad of possible things that could be causing this, but I'm sure it has to do something with the newer computer-- not the network.

  • The graphics driver is a funny thing because it runs on the default Intel HD 4600s and changes to the dedicated card when it senses a heavier load. The GPU could be switching back and forth during video playback causing these frequent stutters or buffers.

  • Since the newer computer has an acceleration cache, there could be a problem of the computer trying to transfer files between the server, the HDD, and the cache, resulting in these delays.

  • There is a Windows service that isn't enabled that should be.

DISCREPANCIES

I really don't have much else. I'm confused that a powerful laptop can't out-perform a much crappier 4 year old laptop. The main differences I see between the two are as follows:

  • The OS: the 15" runs Windows 8, the 17" runs Windows 7.
  • The graphics: both have dual graphics, but the older one doesn't switch automatically like the newer one does.
  • The drive: the old one just has one 7200RPM drive, whereas the newer one has a 5400RPM with mSSD.

PLEA FOR HELP

If someone knows what might be causing this, how to fix it, and whether or not my ideas are irrelevant/not likely, could you please reply? I want to fix this annoying stuttering, and it goes against all logic that a powerful laptop doesn't stream as smoothly as a crappy one.

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I copied the files from the network drive to the desktop and played them from there. That resolved the problem: no pausing, stuttering, buffering, or whatever is happening. Obviously it is an issue with streaming, but just to that computer. The older computer can still do it perfectly. –  E-swizz Jul 14 '13 at 4:23
    
What's the CPU usage while streaming videos over LAN? Sounds like it might be the network card or driver that's the culprit. –  Tim De Baets Jul 15 '13 at 20:02

1 Answer 1

I finally figured out what the problem was. I installed K-Lite codec pack on the old computer, but never did on the newer one. Installing the Standard and 64-bit versions eliminates any stutters/buffers. Now I can stream perfectly from both computers.

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