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Laptop wont play video smoothly, I've tried everything I can think of!? Answered

I've got a compaq cq50-139wm laptop. It's single core cpu, 2 gig ram, intel centrino, intel express chipset 4 integrated graphics, I don't know exactly all what is the important factor here. See this page, it lists more specs: 

I factory reset it using the recovery manager, took off all the bloat programs, nothing seems to be maxed out, (cpu, ram)

we have 50 mbps internet, the laptop just not only cant stream video smoothly, it can't even play video smoothly. If I try to play a dvd or any type of video file using any video player, it just doesnt work, the video is still still choppy. Audio is fine. The laptop has windows vista home basic, I checked and microsoft auto update says the graphics drivers are up to date. I tied adding Service packs 1 and 2 but that didn't solve the issue. 

I just dont even know what else I could try. Suggestions? Other than the video issue the laptop works quite well.


I have tried many linux distros over the years trying to find one that suits my needs for video playback and all around general driver support. I end up going back to Windows every time. I am fairly convinced there just isn't one. linux sucks period. You will always spend more time fixing it than using it in my experience and that is not aceptable to me. Windows may have security issues but since i am not a total moron, I don't get viruses and malware even without security suites because I know how to spot it and avoid it. Until linux can make an OS that works out of the box and KEEPS working.. I will never be able to convert completely. The simplicity and stability of windows 7 simply can't be beat in my experience.

I'm about to ditch vista. It doesn't seem to be making this process any easy. I dont know which version of linux mint would be best for this old laptop. I would still have the same bios though right even with a different OS?


3 years ago

That is an OLD computer really. If you have not had the issue in the past, like it ran much better when you bought it, reinstall the original OEM operating system completly. Then see if simple video file plays after installing appropriate drivers and things. If not:

Do a disc check to and analyze the S.M.A.R.T. data, see if it may be a HHD issue. I do not think it is, but good to check it anyway. Maybe go into BIOS or some utility and see if the RAM is healthy and not failing, and other forms of memory, like cache. Things like that age over long times which degrade performance. The CPU will also degrade, and the system may eventually become completly unstable, like it is overclocked too much. A workaround would be to underclock the CPU so it is stable again, and not overheating.

If at all the computer is getting really hot, then the solution would be to get a air compressor and blow out dust. If that does not help enough, then take the laptop apart carefully, take plenty of pictures with every set of crews you remove, and get down to the heat pump, and remove it from the mobo and CPU, clean off old crusty heatsink compound, and replace the compound. (that is only for extreme cases.) It may be that it is running too hot, and the mobo is severely underclocking it. I had an issue with my computer build like that, where it got too hot and it gave me an error telling me the CPU is critically overheating and underclocked it for about an hour. I reached inside the computer to feel lots of dust all over the half-broken heatsink I keep neglecting to replace, and under it all, the heatsink was really hot to the touch even after removing power entirely. I can't imagine what the junction temperature was.


3 years ago

Did you try VLC player? It is less bloated and performs much better, and also has many advanced options for video. I found that windows media player is not that good on older machines. Esp. one's still running vista.


To prove that it is not a hardware optimisation issue, you may try a live DVD or live CD of another OS, a clean OS install will sometimes is the easiest way to resolve really weird issues like that. Try ubuntu live DVD or live USB. If it boots up and works, and all the drivers are working properly for WiFi, video, graphics, etc. then you will likely see it performs really well and the computer feels pretty fast. If you are not a fan of linux, perhaps it does not fit your workflow, then maybe try XP? or W7, W8.1, W10 tech preview?


If it is interlaced video's, there maybe a slow algorithm that is used to deinterlace it to get good quality, and the CPU may not be up to the task of processing the video in real time. However, considering the computer is not *that* old, it shouldn't be an issue for SD video. It is was like UHD res, then I would say you need a more powerful computer.

I tried downloading vlc. I cant get the program to install. I click on the downloaded installer and nothing happens

I'm not sure about the interlacing. Not sure i understand what that is. Is that what codecs do? I'm lost there. I know vlc can do that. Does you tube use interlacing?

I forgot to mention I tried running linux mint xfce and mate versions live off cd and usb. Still the same issue. Lol. I know it's a super old computer. My Dad has the same computer though he's not going to buy a new one so I'd like to find a fix for this. I tried running a program called Speedfan which measures temperature of CPU and other components. They all tested within range of what they should be although to me the bottom of the laptop does feel quite warm. I haven't tried underclocking the CPU. I've never done that. What program would be good for that? Or is that something I have to do manually? Taking it apart and blowing it out/cleaning it might be a good idea. I always end up breaking a bunch of little plastic clips whenever I do something like that. I'd have to take the keyboard off.

I did an OEM factory reset with the HP recovery manager. I wanted to try upgrading to Windows seven but the microsoft site wasn't accepting my product key for Vista. I am wondering If that something where an OEM product key wouldn't work, like if maybe you can only get the iso from microsoft if you actually bought the Vista operating system. There is always a torrent Windows 7 iso... But if video wasn't smooth in Linux mint I doubt it will be in windows 7.

I think that overclocking would help. I'm not sure how to do that. I dont believe that's an unlocked feature of the bios, I looked. Vista lets you underclock, I tried underclocking at 50% and video play was terrible. At 100%, normal clock speed, youtube is so close to playing perfectly at normal speed, I think just 10-15 percent overclock would do it. I dont understand why the video is choppy yet the cpu isn't maxed out in task manager. Maybe thats because only the graphics portion is maxed out. Would more ram help in the case of streaming video? I thought ram was more for opening frequently used files and programs faster? Since there is no video card, just integrated graphics in the cpu, can I somehow give the graphics more dedicated ram?

Right now here is what I'm thinking to try:

Add more ram (I'd have to buy it and not sure it would help)

Overclock CPU-Would have to get a different bios I believe, not sure. I have InsydeH20 3.5

Neither the HP graphics driver nor the Windows Graphics driver in Safe Mode can play youtube smoothly in normal 360P

I did all the memory test available in the bios. They were all good.

Also, we have two of these old laptops, the exact same ones, with the exact same video playing issues. Don't know if that's helpful to rule out any likely cause of the problem.


3 years ago

Helped a friend with 5 or more resident wallpaper toys like talking fish, alarm clocks, that use up CPU time. Once the residents were turned off the computer could stream video without coughing...

This babies got nothing extra. It's stripped to the bare bones. His computer might work well now but is it worth the sacrifice? No more talking fish? Jk.


3 years ago

Check to see if your antivirus is interfering.

You could also try in safe mode although it may not work without the advanced video drivers.

A bit more expensive solution would be to upgrade to Win 7 but if it's a hardware issue that won't fix it.

Try downloading a recent version of Knoppix. It is a linex version that runs/boots from a DVD. It can test your hardware and see if there is a problem. If video plays choppy when booted from Knoppix then its a hardware issue. Be aware though that even though Knoppix is free it is a very big download anymore.

It has no antivirus or security anything. i took that all off. More trouble than it's worth. I though I could upgrade to Windows 7 for free if I had Vista. Youre supposed to be able to but I'm not sure if that is for OEM versions too. Something wasn't working. My product key wasnt accepted by the microsoft site. I haven't tried knoppix. I tried Linux mint. It was the same, maybe slightly slightly better. I tried wary linux but couldn't figure out the wifi:)

Something is probably failing or over heating. Make sure the fans are all running and clean. After that there probably isn't much you can do except replace it or try some sort of external cooling. It must be going on 7 or 8 years old at this point? It's probably just getting close to quitting altogether.

Over 10 years old actually. Possibly older than youtube.

We have an outdated laptop and no clue about the type of video but we do know you have the worst possible OS installed - Vista was dead before it reached the first computer.

With 2GB of Ram you barely have enough room for the OS, let alone for anything that has to work.

Most of the working programs will use the hard drive as a cache location.

If you try to play high definition video you will be at a lost, especially for online content or streaming.

Don't expect a mouse to drag a horse carriage ;)

Give the VLC player by Videolan a go, does not need much hardware and supports almost any format you can think of.

And yes it supports streaming as well.

The only issue was with 1GB of RAM, having 30 PDFs open and like 20 tabs open, 3 of which were gmail, maybe an average of 5 for youtube, you get the idea, all under linux, it worked OK, just took a while to switch between tabs and programs with a failing HDD.

maxing out the RAM to 2GB made things like 10X faster, until I maxxed out the resources again and things slowed down. I eventually reached a point where the computer was always paging and thrashing, and thinking it was a lack of RAM, it turned out to be a memory leak in google chrome when Gmail was open. I had 3 gmail tabs open, not to mention everything else. No wonder. The same problem STILL exists in google chrome on my computer I built a while ago with 8GB of RAM and an i5 3550K!

Google Chrome doesn't even work right on my old laptop. It tries to do too much. There is a setting though where you can turn off chrome background processes when closed. Take a look at task manager. Chrome is always trying to do like ten things even when closed unless you change that setting.

No, 2gb is enough to have video work smoothly on a WXGA screen. I have an old laptop with a 800MHz dual core pentium, and maxxed out recently with 2GB of DDR2 RAM, it play's youtube videos just fine, even in 720p.

I agree vista will be a drag though, it is simply not that efficent at resource usage.