Ask Ubuntu is a question and answer site for Ubuntu users and developers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I've heard about the possibility to play videos using graphic processor of video card instead of normal processor. I've read a few tutorial but I haven't see improvement in performances, processors continue to work a lot, so maybe I just haven't enabled this feature. I'm wondering if there's a simple and quick method to do it and which are practical advantages, no technical or theoretic. I have an nvidia 8400 and I use proprietary driver (260.19.06).

share|improve this question
What video player are you using? What makes you think it isn't using the hardware to best advantage? I'm running the same driver on an 8800, and I've yet to encounter a video that ran worse than perfectly and depending on the video encoding, with very very low CPU burden. Linking to the tutorials you have read would help us understand the your concern. – msw Oct 28 '10 at 12:20
I have this bizarre issue: video card temperature increases when processors work a lot (i.e. flash on firefox), so I'm trying to reduce processor's activity and see if this benefits video card. I can perfectly reproduce videos at the moment, it's only a matter of temperatures, 85°C in 30 seconds it's not a good thing I suppose. – skalka Oct 28 '10 at 13:33

There are several player supporting gpu accelerated video playback. But first you (nvidia user) should install latest nvidia drivers and vdpau libries (i guess vdpau-va-driver or vdpau-video or even just libvdpau -> synaptic will tell you).

  • VLC Player >= v1.1.2 (supports a lot of formats) -> enable gpu acceleration
  • Gnome Media Player (autouse best engine vlc|xine|...)
  • smplayer with vdpau support

Latest nvidia packages you can find in ppa:ubuntu-x-swat/x-updates SMPlayer with vdpau support you can find in ppa:nvidia-vdpau/ppa

Use carefully, ppa's can harm your pc.

share|improve this answer
smplayer works flawlessly with my Acer Revo with Nvidia ION. Because it's got such a poor CPU, smplayer is the only way I can play HD video on that device. – Scaine Dec 27 '10 at 14:03

Personally I use XBMC and Boxee to play back HD and SD Movies on my Ubuntu box. I have no problem with the same driver and a 8600. You have the option to turn on or off the VDPAU in these applications. Both apps have nice GUI. I don't now there is any official repository for XBMC for 10.10 I have compiled it from source but it was not a nightmare :) Boxee has deb packeg to intall on Ubuntu 10.10 and it working fine. I hope it helped :)

share|improve this answer
I didn't know about vdpau option on Boxee, I'll check, thanks, personally I use vlc. But I guess that I need to install some packages to use vdpau, I think that's part of my question. – skalka Oct 28 '10 at 13:41
Looks like VLC now includes experimental VDPAU support : – Scaine Dec 27 '10 at 14:06

Here is the best solution!

You can select Output driver option from some Media Players to play best quality videos with minimum use of processors. To do so I suggest you two players: Smplayer and Umplayer.

Once installed follow these simple steps to use graphic processor to play videos.

  • Open either player and go to preferences (shortcut to open preferences: Ctrl+P)
  • Go to Video tab.
  • in Output driver: you can select your video driver to which you want to use while playing high quality videos. For example you can use xv option for Best performance, or you can use X11(slow) if you want to play hight definition videos in low configuration system. You can find other options like gl, gl(fast), gl(fast- ATI cards) and so on.. Use which best suits for you configuration.
  • Get help from following picture, I used Umplayer but it would be same for Smplayer also:


Please reply if you need further assistance..

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.