azekeil: (Ulysses_31)
[personal profile] azekeil
I've finally got my silent Windows 7 HTPC behaving. It had sat idle for a good while after I thought it couldn't both play 1080p video (stuttering indicating insufficient CPU horsepower) or multi-channel audio (crappy onboard ATI 4250 HDMI). As this took me the best part of 4 hours to research, fix and tune I thought I'd document this to save others the hassle:

Audio
Your options are:
  • Multi-channel (meaning your PC does the mixing and sends multiple channels to the surround receiver) analog
  • 2-channel digital S/PDIF over Optical (TOSlink) or COAX, and passthrough of 2 channel encoded DTS or Dolby Digital if your driver, software player and surround sound receiver supports it
  • Multi-channel HDMI - note, not all Audio HDMIs are created equal! Some audio HDMI drivers don’t support passthrough or multi-channel, (generally onboard [e.g. ATI 4250] video cards)

Video
  • ATI Scaling keeps resetting - Run ATI Catalyst Control Center (ccc) as Administrator to save settings or edit the registry and reboot
  • (XBMC) Jerky or Stuttery Playback (if you’ve already checked the obvious) - I found that displaying video on a screen that’s not your primary desktop, in a ‘fullscreen window’ rather than ‘true fullscreen’, leads to annoying jerky playback. Either make your playback screen the primary, or enable ‘true fullscreen’. I found I also had to enable 'true fullscreen' to resolve a slow / stuttery playback issue.
  • When in 'true' full screen, it turns out some processes, namely ATI Catalyst Control Center, cause XBMC to minimise/lose focus. Fix this by stopping the applications from running (e.g. at startup). If you’re adjusting gamma / colour correction with it, use the built-in Windows colour correction instead.

Remote Control
In order to get better remote control (e.g. the green Media Center button launching XBMC) I followed this (somewhat overcomplicated) guide.
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