Now that you have XBMC set up and configured it’s probably good to run through a test to see how well your system performs. I’ve been able to run through a 1080p flawlessly when I followed all of the buffering recommendations we covered yesterday. Not all videos are created equally though, and as a result you may find that some 1080p videos work fine for you while others don’t.

So what’s different between videos? Generally the thing that will have the biggest affect on smooth video playback will be the bitrate it’s encoded with. Many times videos will use what is referred to as a variable bitrate which means that scenes with little movement will have a low bitrate while action scenes with lots of movement will have a higher bitrate.

I have a list of videos below that you can use to test your setup, along with the average bitrate of the video. The one with the highest average bitrate is at the top, and the bitrate drops as you go further down the list.

Bitrate test birdsBirds
HD Quality: 1080p MKV
File Size: 110 MB
Frame Rate: 23.976 FPS
Average Bitrate: 39.1 Mbps
Duration: 23 seconds

Bitrate test hddvdHD-DVD Demo Video
HD Quality: 1080p MKV
File Size: 278 MB
Frame Rate: 29.970 FPS
Average Bitrate: 17.5 Mbps
Duration: 2 minutes 1 second

Bitrate test big buck bunnyBig Buck Bunny
HD Quality: 1080p AVI
File Size: 886 MB
Frame Rate: 24.000 FPS
Average Bitrate: 12.0 Mbps
Duration: 9 minute 56 seconds

Bitrate test elephants dreamElephants Dream
HD Quality: 1080p AVI
File Size: 815 MB
Frame Rate: 24.000 FPS
Average Bitrate: 10.0 Mbps
Duration: 10 minutes 53 seconds

If you see any buffering warnings that means you either hit the limit of what your hardware is capable of, or you need to do a little more tweaking. With the HTPC that I built coupled with the buffer tweaks I previously mentioned I was able to play the “Birds” video above without any troubles along with all the other videos. There may be other things that I could still change to scrape every last ounce of performance out of the system, but given that I already have smooth streaming playback at high bitrates I’m not overly concerned with tweaking my machines any further.

CyberNet’s XBMC Guides: