Upgrading to 4K projector but worried older tech will bottleneck me

Discussion in 'The HTPC, HDTV & Ultra High Definition section' started by shimyns, Jan 2, 2022.

  1. shimyns

    shimyns Ancient Guru

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    Hi all,

    My new Optoma UHD35 just arrived.

    I have a mid 2015 15" Macbook pro as my video source and a Pioneer VSX-921.

    My plan was to run an HDMI 2.0 cable from my Mac to the Pioneer and a second HDMI 2.0 cable from the Pioneer to the Optoma. (This is what I did till now with my old 1080P Optoma).

    I anticipate a few problems and would really appreciate some guidance.
    • Can my Mac's HDMI port output 4K 60Hz? I'm pretty sure its specs indicate only 30Hz.
      • If not, can I achieve this by connecting an active mini displayport to HDMI 2.0 adapter? I read somewhere that this is possible.
      • If not, is there another option?
    • Assuming I can output 4K 60Hz from my Mac, can my Pioneer pass it through to the Optoma? According to its manual I think it's saying that the max it can handle is 1080p. It has a PURE setting that supposedly passes the signal through, but I still don't understand if it can pass through 4K.
      • If I can output 4K 60Hz from the Mac but cannot send the video through the Pioneer to the Optoma, is there another option? Is there some sort of switch or splitter that I could buy that could input the HDMI 2.0 from the Mac and then have one HDMI 2.0 go from the splitter to the Pioneer for audio and a second HDMI 2.0 go from the splitter to the Optoma for 4K 60Hz video?
    I really appreciate any advice you might have!
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2022
  2. Mda400

    Mda400 Master Guru

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    Last edited: Jan 3, 2022
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  3. shimyns

    shimyns Ancient Guru

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    Thank you very much for looking into this and for your suggestions!

    • Yes, since posting this I found that the MBP's HDMI will indeed only output 4K at 30Hz. My understanding is that I'd need an active mini displayport to HDMI 2.0 adaptor to reach 60Hz (not an inactive adaptor), so I ordered this one.
      • Do you think this one would work?
    • Your suggestion to run a separate HDMI cable from the MBP's HDMI port to the AVR is new two me.
      • Can the MBP actually output from the mini displayport and HDMI port simultaneously?
      • Would the AVR be able to use the Audio even though the HDMI would generally be carrying a 4K 30Hz signal?
    • Someone suggested to me to output just from the mini displayport and run that cable into a splitter like this one and then from the splitter run one HDMI 2.0 cable to the projector and a second HDMI 2.0 cable to the AVR.
      • Any thoughts on that approach?
     
  4. Mda400

    Mda400 Master Guru

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    I cannot say from personal experience, but the questions asked on it say it does successfully output 4k@60hz from the thunderbolt port.

    From the apple support article i linked earlier, the Mid-2015 MacBook Pro says it "Simultaneously supports full native resolution on the built-in display and up to 3840 by 2160 pixels on up to two external displays, both at millions of colors"

    When you configure the HDMI connection to the AVR, make sure the output resolution from the MacBook Pro is set to one the AVR supports (ex. 1920x1080/1080p) and change the default sound output device in MacOS


    I would suggest trying the 2 separate connections first from the MacBook Pro (HDMI to AVR and mini-dp to HDMI for the projector), before you spend the money on such an option.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2022

  5. Mufflore

    Mufflore Ancient Guru

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    Know this:
    Current active DP to HDMI converters do not allow any other audio bitrate than 16bit 48KHz.
    Nothing higher, nothing lower.
    I managed to get Atmos to work over mine but there is no guarantee this will work, its not part of the specs I have seen.

    The point of my post is to prevent you using a DP to HDMI converter to get audio to the AVR, unless you dont care about missing out on high def audio tracks on Blu Ray etc.
    ie only use a DP converter to the display.

    ps
    Also my DP converter (Club3D CAC-1080) wont work well with my Samsung CRG9 UW at full res 5120x1440.
    It only runs at a lower res (stretched 1080p I think) unless hot plugged, then it can be 'forced' to work.
    But its a right pita.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2022
  6. shimyns

    shimyns Ancient Guru

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    @Mda400 Thanks. About the mini DP at 60Hz, I can't see where exactly you're seeing that it can do 4K at 60Hz. In the apple specs it mentions the HDMI capabilities but for the DP it just says "Two thunderbolt 2 ports (up to 20 Gbps)". True, it says this line "Simultaneously supports full native resolution on the built-in display and up to 3840 by 2160 pixels on up to two external displays, both at millions of colors" but it doesn't mention 60Hz. I did read that my thunderbolt 2 port is likely version 1.2, which means it can output 4K at 60Hz. But I also read somewhere else that if you didn't use an active mini DP-HDMI 2.0 adapter it would supposedly only output at 30Hz. I just don't know if that's true and haven't been able to find a straightforward answer as to whether an active adapter is needed. I guess I'll just try the active one when it arrives.

    Thank you for your advice to try to output the audio via the HDMI port and set the res to 1080p. That's a great call to try this first before spending money on a splitter!

    @Mufflore I recognize your un from years ago! I think you helped me out in the past. I do care about not limiting the audio and would prefer to avoid that. Either way, based on the advice here I think I would first try outputting my audio directly from my HDMI port before trying to get it from a splitter attached to the mini DP->HDMI 2.0 adapter.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2022
  7. shimyns

    shimyns Ancient Guru

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    OK, so I finally received the adaptor and cables to try out the projector.

    I was able to get audio from the MBP's HDMI to my AVR. Took some fiddling because my VLC player was swapping the audio channels so I switched to Elmedia Player.

    Anyway, I was able to get video using an active mini displayport adaptor --> HDMI 2.0 to my projector.

    The issue is that while I have the Optoma set as the main display at 60 Hz (and the MBP mirroring it and the AVR extending it), when I press the source button on the Optoma's controller, it indicates that the signal is 2160p at 30 Hz. Does this mean that the display is correctly set to the 60 Hz refresh rate but the Optoma is actually only receiving 30 Hz? The reason I'm using the active displayport adaptor is to get 60 Hz, since my HDMI port will only do 30 Hz. Does this mean that the adaptor just isn't working and I should try a different one?

    As a side note, I'm not sure which display I should be setting as the main and whether I should mirror or extend it. Does that matter or impact what resolution the Optoma would get?
     
  8. Mda400

    Mda400 Master Guru

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    Make the main display your optoma projector.

    Set the option to extend the displays and not mirror, so that it should cause the main display (optoma projector) to be its own resolution and refresh rate apart from the secondary 'display' (the pioneer avr).

    You can test the fluidity of the image with testufo.com to see if 60hz/60fps is actually being displayed on your projector. Making all displays the same refresh rate should guarantee image motion will stutter as little as possible.

    After making sure of those settings,
    hopefully audio is not affected. Again, make sure the AVR 'display' is set to a resolution it supports as some only play audio when the resolution sent to it is supported.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2022
  9. shimyns

    shimyns Ancient Guru

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    Thanks very much, this is really descriptive and helpful.

    Per my last post, I had set the Optoma to be the main display, the AVR to be an extended display, and the MBP to mirror the Optoma. It seems like you're saying that I should set the MBP to also be an extended display. Correct me if I'm wrong. I will try that.

    As for refresh rate, the AVR had been set to 60 Hz. I think the MBP would have been as well. Regarding the Optoma, though, as I mentioned, while I did set it to 60 Hz, when I pressed the source button on the Optoma's remote, it was reporting 2160p 30 Hz. But I will try testufo.com as you suggested and report back. Thanks again
     
  10. shimyns

    shimyns Ancient Guru

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    Here's what I just tried. I set the Optoma to main display and the MBP to extended. I plugged in the AVR and it automatically became the extended display and the MBP started to mirror the Optoma - with the only option being to stop mirroring and no option to set it as extended display. I selected "stop mirroring" and then I was able to set them up from scratch - successfully setting the Optoma as main, the AVR as extended, and the MBP as extended - each of them set to their "default resolution" setting.

    When the Optoma was set to 30 Hz (it started automatically at 30 Hz) testufo.com confirmed that it was at 30 Hz. When I set it to 60 Hz testufo.com confirmed that it was at 60 Hz. However, when pressing the source HDMI button on the Optoma remote to check what signal it was reporting, it nonetheless (still) reported 2160p 30 Hz, contradicting testufo.com !

    In this setup, I played some 2160p video with Elmedia Player and was able to view it on the Optoma and get audio from the AVR. I can't say the video was super smooth, though. It stuttered a bit when panning. I don't know if this is a refresh rate thing or just my old MBP and its weak GPU... I wasn't able to check the MBPs Hz because when it was set as extended display and I tried testufo.com, I got an error message saying "sync failure, move all apps and browsers to primary monitor". I guess I'm questioning if this mild stuttering is due to inconsistent refresh rate between the Optoma and the MBP (oddly for the AVR I can directly select its refresh rate but I can't do that for the MBP). I suppose it's 60 Hz and that my GPU is just struggling.
    What are your thoughts? Also, does it stress the GPU more to have "two" extended displays (The MBP and AVR)? If so, there's the option of using a splitter/switch at the active mini displayport adaptor to HDMI which seems more complicated and IDK whether would help.

    Now, let's say I could live with the stutter. BUT, when I disconnected everything and tried to connect it all back to reproduce what I had just done, when I plugged the Optoma back into the mini displayport adapter, I got a green screen on it and it was (finally) actually reporting 2160p at 60 Hz!! I don't understand the inconsistency with how it responds when I plug it in the same way I'd done before. It seems hit or miss. Moreover, I don't understand why when the Optoma reports a 2160p 60 Hz signal it can't manage to display the image and gets stuck as a green screen (or green line at the top and just black below), but when it reports 2160p at 30 Hz it does manage to function as the main display showing the desktop and testufo.com says it's at 60 Hz. I'm confused.. Is the mini displayport adapter an issue here?

    Thanks!
     
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  11. Mufflore

    Mufflore Ancient Guru

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    To get truly smooth playback you may need to set the refresh rate to the same as the video framerate.
    ie if the video is 23.97fps (24fps), set the refresh rate to 24Hz.

    You can find info on the video file with mediainfo
    https://sourceforge.net/projects/mediainfo/
    Once installed, you right click the video and select mediainfo.
    It can display in numerous ways, I change it to text as it covers all the bases with more info.
     
  12. shimyns

    shimyns Ancient Guru

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    Thanks, I installed it and all vids I checked are 24 fps. Do you happen to have any suggestions about why sometimes when I plug the projector in it reports 2160p 30 Hz but testufo.com says it's at 60 Hz and sometimes when I plug the projector in it reports 2160p 60 Hz but all I see is a green screen or green bar across an otherwise black screen? I've also seen it show crazy shifting horizontal colorful lines.
     
  13. Mufflore

    Mufflore Ancient Guru

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    The 30Hz report issue will be coding laziness or a bug in the projectors firmware.
    If 60Hz wasnt possible you would not have been able to set the mode on the PC - unless there was another bug ;)
    Since it works theres no problem.

    Crazy lines/green screen could be a sync problem possibly because the cable is on the edge of capable bandwidth or a bad connection that wasnt resolved quickly enough. Try another cable.
    It can also be buggy firmware.
    If its easy enough to get working dont worry.
    If the problem gets worse, report it to the mfr.

    Keep an eye out for newer firmware for the pj.

    ps
    did 24Hz refresh solve the jittery playback?
    This is something I also have to do when playing video on my TV.
     
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  14. shimyns

    shimyns Ancient Guru

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    You know, I think you might be right about the bad connection. It seems like if I just bump the mini displayport adapter in the thunderbolt 2 port I lose signal and it starts to go green or flash. It's like it doesn't fit in tightly enough. I'm still not 100% convinced though because it seems like every single time the optoma reports 60 Hz, I get the green screen issue, seperate from that. But could be. In the meantime, I have ordered a different adapter that will hopefully fit better. The cable should be fine though it's brand new and HDMI 2.0 etc rated.

    I haven't tried the 24Hz suggestion yet. Last night for the first time I actually watched a movie on it (set to 60Hz) and it generally seemed fine except for panning scenes.
     
  15. Mufflore

    Mufflore Ancient Guru

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    Note that when you change to 24Hz using your current cable, you may not see any more connection problems because there is easily enough bandwidth to do 24Hz.
    An HDMI 1.3 cable will suffice for this with UHD movies stored in ycbcr 4:2:0 format (as are broadcasts and Blu Ray etc.).
    You can even use HDMI 1.3 for UHD60 if you stay at ycbcr 4:2:0 but the desktop wont look too good. Its fine for video though.
    NVidia allowed the use of UHD @ 60Hz 4:2:0 for PC desktop + gaming for those with 4K screens before HDMI 2.0 video cards came out.

    This has nothing to do with video skipping.
    All video devices I have tried need video to be played at the native video rate as the refresh rate for fully smooth playback.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2022

  16. TruMutton_200Hz

    TruMutton_200Hz Ancient Guru

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    In the U.S., 4k Blu-ray movies are usually 23.976fps (24:1001) which matches the '2160p23' display mode, whereas in the U.K. and a large part of Europe they are usually 24fps which matches the '2160p24' display mode. (The same also applies to normal 1080p Blu-rays and 1080p23 / 1080p24.) If your Macbook is running on Windows (you can dual boot if needed) you can just grab the latest K-Lite Codec Pack Full (and the latest update package for it, if any) from codecguide.com and choose MPC-HC as the player, madVR as the renderer. Enable audio bitstreaming over HDMI in the LAV Audio Decoder settings. You can hit Ctrl+J during playback to see how frequently you are getting dropped frames / repeated frames. madVR settings give you the option to let it switch display modes automatically for you. Another option in madVR is to enable Smooth Motion, but it produces 'soap opera' effect that ruins the whole cinema experience so, for that, you want to use a TV or projector that can support both the 24p (24 Hz) and the 23p (23.976 Hz) display modes. MPC-HC also lets you choose other renderers besides madVR, but I found that all of them except madVR have some kind of mild stutter/judder going on, no matter what laptop I used, and, toying with the buffer sizes etc. never fixed that.

    As for audio bitstreaming over HDMI. I used to do that with my old Emotiva UMC-200 prepro, but it can't do 4k so nowadays I just stick to using my Eastern Electric MiniMax DAC Supreme via USB. It only has stereo sound, but the clarity of the sound is just so much better in comparison if you have good speakers. I use a pair of Canton Vento 890.2 DC speakers, powered by an Emotiva XPA-2 Gen 1 amp. I don't watch that many movies anymore TBH, else I would decide to just replace my UMC-200. To make the cooling fan of the laptop stay silent during a movie or music etc., I use ThrottleStop to temporarily disable Turbo Boost on the Intel Tiger Lake CPU. I know that it also is possible to run the powercfg command to temporarily change PROCFREQMAX (to 2400 MHz in my case). However, with a Tiger Lake this doesn't always prevent the fan from still kicking in, as these newer generations of CPUs from Intel can dynamically bump the power comsumption up far above the TDP. So, as a result from this, changing this setting doesn't have the same effect as disabling Turbo Boost.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2022

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