I want to stream hi-def (non flash-based) movies from my future minimum spec PC to my network-ready HDTV.

What I want to know is:

  • When streaming from a computer (local wifi network), is the computer's CPU/video/RAM resources used to the same extent as it would be if playing back on the computers local screen? If not, what are the differences?

  • So with streaming HD content, what are the minimum specs (e.g. in a processor) I should go for, if

    • only one TV is acting as client
    • two TVs are simultaneous clients.

In network streaming it is mostly your RAM and HDD that are used. The CPU and GPU should not generally be used unless you're having to transcode the media on the fly. This will depend on what sort of arrangement you use to stream the media.

A mid-range multi-core CPU should be quite adequate to your needs. If this is your only requirement I'd get an i3 (i5 only if you have the budget) and not bother with the unlocked clock (K) versions.

The bigger problem is WiFi: Unless you have an optimal wireless environment, you'll be stretching the capabilities of WiFi to deliver even a single 1080p HD video stream to your TV.

You'll need 802.11N, and you'll need to be using the 5Ghz bands of the N spectrum. The 2.4Ghz spectrum will be too slow in most environments. I'd recommend, instead, using a Gigabit network connection to the TV, if it offers that option.

  • 2
    I definitely support using wired LAN for that. Even my N router wouldn't deliver enough bandwidth for HD movies.
    – slhck
    Nov 25 '11 at 17:20
  • I figured wifi should have been ok because I've streamed from bbc's iplayer site over it in the past but then I assume it's not quite as HD as they make out?
    – blippy
    Nov 25 '11 at 17:26
  • 3
    Web HD content tends to be very compressed. It requires a lot of processing power on your computer to convert it into something viewable and HD. But it's never really, truly HD. It's better than non-HD, but if you blow it up to cover a really big screen you'll see it's got problems. If you have the faster 802.11N, you may be able to make it work for a single TV, but if you're streaming two independent HD streams, there will not be enough bandwidth available. Nov 25 '11 at 17:40
  • 1
    @rutherford I think most of the "HD" content you get online is just 720p. Think about it: That's less than half of the pixels the original contained.
    – slhck
    Nov 25 '11 at 18:56

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