Tip Of The Day: Improving Streaming Performance

A couple of weeks ago, I went to an extender (Xbox 360) on one of my TVs in my house. My server is a Q6600/4GB/2600XT/3GB that should suffice for a multiple extender setup. Within the first few minutes of setting everything up I noticed that panning scenes would hiccup and stutter pretty badly. I left it as is for a few days just do get a better feel for what exactly is happening. I ended up with stuttering on pretty much every HD channel and even the occasional SD program. This was pretty unacceptable.

If you are a XPS 420 owner, or have an Intel onboard NIC, I encourage you to upgrade your drivers. This upgrade alone substantially helped streaming performance. Along with the driver upgrade, you get a few helpful network analysis tools. It is refreshing to see a driver upgrade help for a change :).

Another thing to try is to ensure your server and extender are on the same switch or router. Multiple hops, even gigabit swtiches, can cause hiccups in the stream which will look like stutters on the screen. I am not sure what the deal with this is but I guess the increased latency can’t compensate in variable bit and variable CPU load situations of program streaming. 

If nothing else, I always recommend a fresh install of your operating system. Overtime, especially for tinkers, your HTPC becomes a slow lumbering beast overloaded with bits of programs, registry entries and a multitude of CODECs. Reinstall your os, apply the service pack updates, then you motherboard drivers, and finally your video card drivers. Only install the programs you need. Using a backup program can help this process alot.

Do you have any tips for improving extender performance? If so, please share them in the comments section of this article.