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  #1  
Old 09.10.2012, 10:53 AM
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Red face NFL Game Pass performance - BT Vision

Folks

This might help some of you who have a set-top box like BT Vision+ and are having Game Pass performance problems.

Most of you will know there are some tips here for improving performance:
http://gamepassuk.support.nfl.com/Vi...CLID=205437205

Using an ethernet cable connection, I ran a speed test (using http://www.speedtest.net/ on my MacBook Pro (7 years old) using a BT Broadband Homehub 2 and was getting around 2.4Mbps download speeds. The article says that an optimum speed is 5Mbps for the highest quality Game Pass feed.

What I hadn't considered previously was the other devices that were also plugged into my router via ethernet. One is a Nintendo Wii which occasionally pings the internet for updates, the other is the BT Vision+ box. I unplugged the BT Vision+ box and ran another speed test. The result? 4Mbps!

It turns out the BT Vision box takes a huge chunk of my bandwidth even if I'm not recording or streaming anything, presumably this is to keep things up to date and to enable the "pause live TV" function. I'm guessing Sky+ boxes do similar "damage" to your bandwidth.

The resulting performance in Game Pass is superb. Very smooth and a great picture. I have my laptop plugged into my HDTV using a DVI to HDMI cable from Amazon. It works a treat. I have found it is smoother if you select a fixed quality rather than using "best performance". I fix mine at 1,600 Kbps which provides a great balance between picture quality and performance.

An additional quirky thing I also found that might help some of you. I used Activity Monitor on my Apple MacBook Pro to monitor the CPU usage when Game Pass was running. Remember mine is 7 years old so CPU isn't as good as modern equivalents. I found that Game Pass over ethernet (with wifi disabled) used 80-90% of my CPU. Game Pass over wifi used 50% CPU. Incredibly, performance is better over wifi than ethernet. I know this will upset some of you techies... I can't explain it, but I can tell you that it's true and worth a try if you find your CPU is peaking using a cabled connection.

I know some people think that their performance problems are at the Game Pass end, rather than in their homes, but these 2 examples show that there are lots of little things that you can do at home that will provide an improvement. I can honestly say that Game Pass on my TV (via laptop) is now "TV quality".

I hope this helps some of you get more enjoyment from your Game Pass experience.

Last edited by Lido; 09.10.2012 at 10:57 AM.
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  #2  
Old 09.10.2012, 10:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lido View Post
Folks

This might help some of you who have a set-top box like BT Vision+ and are having Game Pass performance problems.

Most of you will know there are some tips here for improving performance:
http://gamepassuk.support.nfl.com/Vi...CLID=205437205

Using an ethernet cable connection, I ran a speed test (using http://www.speedtest.net/ on my MacBook Pro (7 years old) using a BT Broadband Homehub 2 and was getting around 2.4Mbps download speeds. The article says that an optimum speed is 5Mbps for the highest quality Game Pass feed.

What I hadn't considered previously was the other devices that were also plugged into my router via ethernet. One is a Nintendo Wii which occasionally pings the internet for updates, the other is the BT Vision+ box. I unplugged the BT Vision+ box and ran another speed test. The result? 4Mbps!

It turns out the BT Vision box takes a huge chunk of my bandwidth even if I'm not recording or streaming anything, presumably this is to keep things up to date and to enable the "pause live TV" function. I'm guessing Sky+ boxes do similar "damage" to your bandwidth.

The resulting performance in Game Pass is superb. Very smooth and a great picture. I have my laptop plugged into my HDTV using a DVI to HDMI cable from Amazon. It works a treat. I have found it is smoother if you select a fixed quality rather than using "best performance". I fix mine at 1,600 Kbps which provides a great balance between picture quality and performance.

An additional quirky thing I also found that might help some of you. I used Activity Monitor on my Apple MacBook Pro to monitor the CPU usage when Game Pass was running. Remember mine is 7 years old so CPU isn't as good as modern equivalents. I found that Game Pass over ethernet (with wifi disabled) used 80-90% of my CPU. Game Pass over wifi used 50% CPU. Incredibly, performance is better over wifi than ethernet. I know this will upset some of you techies... I can't explain it, but I can tell you that it's true and worth a try if you find your CPU is peaking using a cabled connection.

I hope this helps some of you get more enjoyment from your Game Pass experience.
Thanks for that post,very intresting for people to digest.
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  #3  
Old 09.10.2012, 11:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lido View Post
Folks

An additional quirky thing I also found that might help some of you. I used Activity Monitor on my Apple MacBook Pro to monitor the CPU usage when Game Pass was running. Remember mine is 7 years old so CPU isn't as good as modern equivalents. I found that Game Pass over ethernet (with wifi disabled) used 80-90% of my CPU. Game Pass over wifi used 50% CPU. Incredibly, performance is better over wifi than ethernet. I know this will upset some of you techies... I can't explain it, but I can tell you that it's true and worth a try if you find your CPU is peaking using a cabled connection.

I know some people think that their performance problems are at the Game Pass end, rather than in their homes, but these 2 examples show that there are lots of little things that you can do at home that will provide an improvement. I can honestly say that Game Pass on my TV (via laptop) is now "TV quality".

I hope this helps some of you get more enjoyment from your Game Pass experience.
There are two possible reasons for this:
1) Your ethernet card is inferior to your wireless card, so it's passing jobs to the processor that it should be doing itself
2) You are actually getting lower bandwidth over the wireless, so there is not as much data to process, hence your CPU usage is lower.

I'm pretty sure that this would not be the experience of the average PC user.

Andy
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Old 09.10.2012, 12:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lido View Post
It turns out the BT Vision box takes a huge chunk of my bandwidth even if I'm not recording or streaming anything, presumably this is to keep things up to date and to enable the "pause live TV" function. I'm guessing Sky+ boxes do similar "damage" to your bandwidth.
I'm assuming you mean Sky Anytime+? That's an on-demand service, where it only starts downloading when you ask for a programme. Regular Sky Anytime downloads during the night via satellite, the EPG also arrives via satellite.
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Old 09.10.2012, 12:21 PM
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Andy

I agree with you it isn't logical to me either. But if, for some people, the bottle-neck is CPU load rather than network bandwidth, then this might help them.

I'd question your 2nd point. If I'm not even getting 5Mbps download speeds from my broadband connection, then it's unlikely that I'm getting lower bandwidth over wireless at a (theoretical) 54Mbps. Even the older 802.11b wifi connections are 11Mbps.

However in most cases I would recommend people use their ethernet connection, but don't rule out quirky cases where wifi is the better option!

All I can say is that, at a fixed quality setting of 1600 Kbps, the wifi connection gave me a better (smoother) picture feed on my TV.
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Old 09.10.2012, 12:41 PM
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I'm assuming you mean Sky Anytime+? That's an on-demand service, where it only starts downloading when you ask for a programme. Regular Sky Anytime downloads during the night via satellite, the EPG also arrives via satellite.
Gary. The only experience I have is with my BT Vision box. But it would be interesting to see how much the broadband speed changes if you disconnect your Sky box. I agree that streaming/downloading movies to the box (Sky or BT) would impact the broadband connection, but I believe the set-top box could be using (or maybe just reserving with QoS) some bandwidth unnecessarily.

Can anyone run a similar test at home with a Sky box and feedback?
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Old 09.10.2012, 06:27 PM
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I'm not disputing what is happening with BT Vision, but I think it's unfair to tar Sky with same brush.

If I get a chance, I'll run a test for you. Of course, that will be after I spend some time in a darkened room for defending Sky.
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Old 09.10.2012, 07:50 PM
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Ok, I'm now home to perform some tests.

I'm currently recording something random from the Sky Anytime+ library, watching an episode of Lost on Netflix in HD via my Smart TV and streaming the NFL Network at 4600kbps to my laptop. Everything is working hunky dory. My connection runs is just over 20mbps and I've recently changed ISP to Sky.

I hope this helps.
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  #9  
Old 10.10.2012, 08:30 AM
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Gary

20Mbps is a very nice speed! Do you have a Sky Fibre connection? The bandwidth taken up by your "idle" Sky box isn't going to be an issue as Game Pass only needs 5Mbps for the highest quality feed. Obviously you're not going to experience any performance issues related to the speed of your broadband.

I'd still be interested to see if speedtest registers a change when you disconnect your Sky box from your broadband connection. There may be Sky customers out there with similar broadband speeds to mine (less than 5Mbps). When I check my postcode on the Sky website, they tell me they can offer "7.0 - 14.3 Mbps".
What does it say for yours?

While you are busy defending Sky in your darkened room , I can assure you I'm not Sky-bashing intentionally. Just wondering whether this is something that all set-top boxes are guilty of.
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Old 10.10.2012, 12:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lido View Post
Gary

20Mbps is a very nice speed! Do you have a Sky Fibre connection? The bandwidth taken up by your "idle" Sky box isn't going to be an issue as Game Pass only needs 5Mbps for the highest quality feed. Obviously you're not going to experience any performance issues related to the speed of your broadband.

I'd still be interested to see if speedtest registers a change when you disconnect your Sky box from your broadband connection. There may be Sky customers out there with similar broadband speeds to mine (less than 5Mbps). When I check my postcode on the Sky website, they tell me they can offer "7.0 - 14.3 Mbps".
What does it say for yours?

While you are busy defending Sky in your darkened room , I can assure you I'm not Sky-bashing intentionally. Just wondering whether this is something that all set-top boxes are guilty of.
I'm fairly sure this is unique to BT, given how their network operates. Sky can send data via satellite which BT obviously can't do and so their boxes won't rely on your Internet connection as much as BT and as only Anytime+ requires significant data, you will only be effected if you actually downloading at the time.

My connection uses regular ADSL (whatever the current version is called), I've only recently changed to Sky from o2 which IIRC used the previous version of ADSL and limited me to 16mbit/s and I got about 15mbit/s. Sky said I would get between 12 and 19mbit/s. I do live on the same street as the telephone exchange. Interestingly even though the exchange is enabled for fibre, the cabinet in the street isn't, despite being just outside the exchange. Although as I'm currently paying £3.75 for 20+mbit/s for the next 12 months, I'm not really bothered.
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