Playing 1080p MKV’s on Windows 7

I recently joined ultrageekdom and built a HTPC to replace my aging XBOX and negate the need to run TVersity and even manually convert non-XBOX360 content (i.e. you know, Debian ISO’s….) to be playable via the 360 (i.e. WMV).

Since I built the HTPC it’s been fine (apart from a few niggles, I still need to configure the harmony remote properly) but I haven’t been able to play back any 1080p content smoothly. I’ve been blaming a combination of the hardware (the hippie green low power CPU 5050e) and motherboard (Asus M3N78-EM) and Windows 7 for not being optimised yet, which is partially true. The other issues is that I’m using XBMC to play back which is an amazing media center but notoriously doesn’t use external codecs for playback, which is great if everything works out of the box but shitty if it doesn’t.

Anyway, I found the solution to my problem via the Media Center community forums  with this:

http://shark007.net/win7codecs.html

and the 64 bit components if you’re running Windows 7 64bit:

http://shark007.net/x64components.html

Go through the config screens on both and fiddle the settings as appropriate, and viola! smooth as silk play back in Windows Media Player (haven’t tested VLC yet but I assume it should work the same). Apparently CoreAVC would also have solved the problem but it’s not free, and free is good.

However this doesn’t solve the problem of XBMC not playing smoothly because as mention it doesn’t use external codecs, so…now I just need to do the following:

http://xbmc.org/forum/showthread.php?t=43511&highlight=external+player

to set up WMP as an external player within XBMC and it’s done, not that it was really a big issue since even on a 100” screen sitting 4m away I can’t tell the visible difference between 720p and 1080p, but it was the principle of the thing.

 

XBMC Mutiplex View