hardware requirements for AV1 full software decoding?

xXaNaXx

Gawd
Joined
May 15, 2003
Messages
954
So up until fairly recently, for the past 6-7 years I've been running a pretty low-spec HTPC machine to run Kodi for local content off my NAS, and occasionally some YouTube content, and it has been pretty flawless for the most part (all of my personal encodes were all h.264 up until recently).

However, now that YT has a lot more of their content encoded in HEVC & AV1, my HTPC system is no longer able to smoothly play any of that content. It works fine for stuff on YT that is still h.264, but completely chokes on either HEVC or AV1. I also recently went back and re-ripped & re-encoded all by blu-ray discs that I've purchased over the years (both 1080p & 4K) into HEVC as well, in order to maximize space on my NAS storage, so I can't play any of that stuff on this system either.

I started looking at replacing just the GPU so it would be capable of smooth HEVC/AV1 decoding/playback, and according to the nVidia Video Encode and Decode GPU Support Matrix, the lowest-spec card that can do both HEVC & AV1 10-bit decoding is the RTX 3050, which currently runs around $290 - $300. AMD isn't a whole lot better...their RX 6600 is the lowest-spec card that does HEVC/AV1 decode, which runs around $240. Either of those is a ridiculous amount to spend on a single component just to watch some video, especially considering the ENTIRE REST OF THE SYSTEM only cost $10 more than the AMD card alone would cost me (granted, the CPU was free from a decommissioned system from work, and the SSD was repurposed from an old system of mine from many, MANY moons ago). And neither of those cards has a fanless, single-slot option available to fit in the tiny Mini-ITX cube case.

The GPU I have in there now cost me $43 way back in Sept 2012, and I carried that over into this build. What in the actual Fv<K is going on here, WHY isn't there an affordable, low-power, FANLESS, single-slot, HEVC/AV1-decode-capable GPU available for HTPC and/or low-end PC use?

Anyway, what I want to know is, including previous-gen CPU's, what is the minimum CPU required to use software-only decoding for HEVC & AV1 10-bit (up to 4K resolution)? I still have an old i7-2600K kicking around, as well as the i7-4790K in my sig that's about to be replaced with a Ryzen 9 5950x tomorrow (but neither of which are currently available so I can test them to see if they will work). I'm guessing it's probably too much to hope for that either of those work for this purpose? I'd really lke to get my HTPC back into actual, FULLY usable form as inexpensively as possible, and without requiring a whole new case, because I really like the one I have now.

This is my HTPC system as it stands now:
Free: Intel Core i3-2120 (Sandy Bridge)
Free: 60GB OCZ Vertex 2 SSD
$48.99: ASRock H61MV-ITX LGA 1155 Mobo
$29.99: Ballistix Sport 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3 1600
$42.99: PowerColor Go! Green Radeon HD 6450 1GB
$87.93: Rosewill Lepton 500w PSU
$39.99: DIYPC HTPC-Cube-BK Case
Total Price: $249.89

Luckily, I do have a 2019 nVidia Shield TV Pro that handles 4K HEVC with no problems, and I've been using that for the local content & HEVC-encoded YouTube, but once YT completely switches everything to AV1, even that will choke because there is no AV1 hardware decoding support in any of the existing Shield products.
 

Zepher

[H]ipster Replacement
Joined
Sep 29, 2001
Messages
20,390
Do you happen to have links to AV1 encoded youtube videos? Curious to see how my Apple TV4k plays those files as that is what I use now.
 

xXaNaXx

Gawd
Joined
May 15, 2003
Messages
954
Do you happen to have links to AV1 encoded youtube videos? Curious to see how my Apple TV4k plays those files as that is what I use now.
Sorry, i don't...the files i was playing were ones that i had downloaded, and i had not realized that the default selection was for the AV1 version...i could go back and re-download them again, but that seems like a huge waste of time (as well as storage space) if that is where the future is leading.

But basically any product/service which lets you DL YT videos should allow you to see all the versions available and download the one you want. Most likely any high-subscriber-count channel that has 4K resolution available likely has an AV1 version for it, since those will be streamed the most and would benefit the most from the smaller file size.
 

Zepher

[H]ipster Replacement
Joined
Sep 29, 2001
Messages
20,390
While searching for AV1 videos I found a video showing how to turn it on in the browser, it looks like Edge doesn't have the AV1 setting in it while Firefox does.

AV1-youtube.jpg
 

magnetik

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jun 6, 2000
Messages
6,166
Intel Arc A-Series GPU's have full hardware AV1 decode and encode fwiw.
 

xXaNaXx

Gawd
Joined
May 15, 2003
Messages
954
Intel Arc A-Series GPU's have full hardware AV1 decode and encode fwiw.
so the A380 looks like a little better option, even though it's still $139.99, and cannot be found in stock anywhere yet and probably won't be for some time since it was just released.

i'd still like to know if the i7-2600K or i7-4790K might be able to handle at least AV1 decoding? because if one of those can, that's something i can get put together with parts i already have. if not, i'd like to know what line of CPU's would be powerful enough for software decoding.
 

griff30

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Jul 15, 2000
Messages
7,002
so the A380 looks like a little better option, even though it's still $139.99, and cannot be found in stock anywhere yet and probably won't be for some time since it was just released.

i'd still like to know if the i7-2600K or i7-4790K might be able to handle at least AV1 decoding? because if one of those can, that's something i can get put together with parts i already have. if not, i'd like to know what line of CPU's would be powerful enough for software decoding.
Newegg got the A380 to me in 3 days and that was weeks ago.
Your rig may run it, mine would not. YMMV.

To answer your question, "i'd still like to know if the i7-2600K or i7-4790K might be able to handle at least AV1 decoding? "
Shmaybe.
There is software support in some browsers.
 
Last edited:

whateverer

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Nov 2, 2016
Messages
1,810
i also hit a wall with av1 encoded YouTube playing bask on my media server (i3 2100t) ; upgraded to skylake i5 6500 dell, and handles most 4k streams smoothly (or 1440p, if that fails)
 

xXaNaXx

Gawd
Joined
May 15, 2003
Messages
954
Newegg got the A380 to me in 3 days and that was weeks ago.
Your rig may run it, mine would not. YMMV.

To answer your question, "i'd still like to know if the i7-2600K or i7-4790K might be able to handle at least AV1 decoding? "
Shmaybe.
There is software support in some browsers.
yeah, i highly doubt this board will support resizable BAR, so even if those cards were available anywhere, it probably wouldn't do me any good in this PC.

i also hit a wall with av1 encoded YouTube playing bask on my media server (i3 2100t) ; upgraded to skylake i5 6500 dell, and handles most 4k streams smoothly (or 1440p, if that fails)
hmm, damn...and yours is 6th gen, whereas mine are 2nd & 4th gens, so it's highly doubtful they will work if yours still doesn't handle everything @ 4K. maybe once my shield gets outdated i'll have to pick up a then-current-gen (or slightly older) NUC or something to use as a HTPC.

well i guess i'll probably end up retiring my current HTPC and re-purpose it as my home router running RouterOS. i have my old i7-2600k @ stock 3.4Ghz running for that right now, but it's WAY overkill for it...don't think i've ever seen the CPU go above maybe 25%, and that was just one core...so a dual-core of the same generation @ 3.3Ghz should still be more than necessary and will certainly use less power, especially since i'll be pulling the video card out of it to make way for the 2nd NIC, and using the CPU's integrated graphics if i ever even need to connect it to a monitor. it will also take up a lot less space, because my current router is in an old re-purposed, large-ish mid-tower case.

now i guess i just need to find a use for my old i7-2600k system (and find a small/cheap case for it, LOL)
 

xXaNaXx

Gawd
Joined
May 15, 2003
Messages
954
circling back to this, i was finally able to grab one of the A380's...and as suspected, it doesn't work in either the i7-2600k (which i actually upgraded to an i5-3570K for only $20) or the i7-4790k system. i can get into UEFI/BIOS, but once the Windows logo appears on the screen during bootup, it just hangs/freezes and won't continue booting.

at some point maybe in the next 2 - 3 months i'll probably do a HTPC refresh with a much newer platform (most likely an i3-12100 or i3-13100) so i can utilize the A380 in it. in the meantime, i'm probably going to try throwing it into my main desktop as a 2nd GPU so i can get started with AV1 encoding, assuming i don't run into any problems with having that card in the same system as my nVidia GPU that i use for gaming.
 

Zepher

[H]ipster Replacement
Joined
Sep 29, 2001
Messages
20,390
circling back to this, i was finally able to grab one of the A380's...and as suspected, it doesn't work in either the i7-2600k (which i actually upgraded to an i5-3570K for only $20) or the i7-4790k system. i can get into UEFI/BIOS, but once the Windows logo appears on the screen during bootup, it just hangs/freezes and won't continue booting.

at some point maybe in the next 2 - 3 months i'll probably do a HTPC refresh with a much newer platform (most likely an i3-12100 or i3-13100) so i can utilize the A380 in it. in the meantime, i'm probably going to try throwing it into my main desktop as a 2nd GPU so i can get started with AV1 encoding, assuming i don't run into any problems with having that card in the same system as my nVidia GPU that i use for gaming.
I'll be working on my PC's tonight, playing musical CPU's. swapping around Ryzen 5500, 5600G, and 5800X between 3 machines.
While I am doing that, I'll slap my A770 into my Z97 i7 4770 setup and see what happens.
 
Top