Friday, June 13, 2014

Mpv a Better Mplayer?

You may have seen references here and elsewhere to a new kid on the video-player block called Mpv. It's a fork of Mplayer2, which is a fork of Mplayer, which must be feeling so inadequate right now. So how does Mpv compare? It has a few new features but is generally the same as Mplayer, a shell-based video player with a thousand options under the hood. So I thought I'd do a little test comparison, running the same files through each player and see how they measure up in CPU usage. Just for kicks, I'll throw in VLC, too.

For my testing, I used a Powerbook with a 1.5 GHz G4 running Debian Wheezy. As Mpv is only available in the Jessie repository, getting it on Wheezy was a bit of a pain but possible. Also, I used three movie files to compare: a black and white 640 X 480 Xvid file, and two color 720p files, one an mp4 and the other an mkv. This testing isn't all that rigorous or in-depth, but I think it's useful as a general impression and might be an eye-opener. On to the numbers!

I'm too lazy for tables, so here are the CPU percentages for the standard def Xvid (rough average after a few minutes of playing):

Mplayer – 26%-28%
Mplayer2 – 30%
Mpv – 30%
VLC – 34%

And the 720p mp4:

Mplayer – 60%
Mplayer2 – 78%
Mpv – 65%
VLC – 76%

The 720p mkv maxed out the CPU with heavy frame skipping, so the following results are with the skiploopfilter=all option:

Mplayer – 100%, occasional frame skipping
Mplayer2 – 100%, constant frame skipping
Mpv – 100%, occasional frame skipping
VLC – 100%, constant frame skipping

So for CPU efficiency, Mplayer still comes out the best, but Mpv is a definite improvement over Mplayer2. As some additional information, I only used the drop late frames option on the first two files, passed as "-framedrop" in Mplayer & Mplayer2 and "--framedrop=vo" in Mpv (VLC has a corresponding option in its preferences). I also set my file manager to launch these files with a double-click, so I didn't launch them from a terminal.

None of this means Mplayer is automatically a better choice than Mpv. Mpv has several new features, like an improved onscreen display and it can also stream HTTPS links which Mplayer can't. Lately Youtube's been throwing up HTTPS links for its videos, so Mpv is a necessity unless you use Youtube-dl and its --prefer-insecure hack (no longer working) [and for a debate on the etymological propriety of insecure vs. unsecure as can only be found on Github, look here!].

Also, Debian maintainers are having one of their periodic Olympus Mons-sized insanity episodes by eliminating Mplayer from Sid:

Yeah. That happened.

Sid and Jessie users can still get Mplayer from the repositories, but still, Mplayer not part of your distro? Whuh?

I think I mentioned in another post that Mpv worked on G3s out of the box, whereas Mplayer (and VLC) had to be compiled with the "--disable-altivec" configure option. I recently found that the Mplayer and VLC from worked perfectly fine on my G3 running Jessie. I don't know if this is true for Wheezy, but it might be worth a look.

And one last video note for OS X users, Adam A.'s Youtube-dl GUI, PPC Media Center, got a recent update with some Comedy Central fixes among other improvements, so download the latest from that linked post :)


  1. Ever given "smplayer" a try? Dr.Dave turned me on to it back when he wrote for my blog.

    The most efficient ready to go package for video on PowerPC Linux that I have seen. I tend to use Mac OS for playback still, but generally choose smplayer over vlc on Debian. it plays 400p XviD on a G4 450 at about 38% CPU.

    1. I did awhile ago. I remember being frustrated the Debian version was far behind the development version, but that's probably changed. I should take another look, 'cause VLC is just blah.

    2. I should add that the only real reason I still use Mac OS for video playback is that I have CorePlayer. When I don't need it's extreme efficiency I generally use Mplayer in OpenBSD.

      The only OS I still use vlc on a regular basis still is Mac OS. I also use version 1.1.12, which is far better than any of the 2 versions.

      To Marian below:
      VLC is the most robust in terms of customizability, filters etc for sure, but in terms of playback efficiency; Mplayer has always kicked VLC's ass.

  2. Greetings & Good work with this helpful site!

    I'm resurrecting a heirloom G3 900mHZ topped(720megs?)-RAM iBook but a dead HD by using a Lubuntu 14.04/14.10 live cd to use its apps to work with docs stored on USB flash drives. My problem is it takes nearly two hours for Lubuntu to load up. Is this normal? Is there a speed up?

    I'm a nontechie senior playing this all by ear so please define any solution in steps, thanks!

    Jim in NYC

  3. VLC in my opinion is still the best out there.

    1. Have you even tried other alternatives? I've been trying newer updates of VLC, still go back to other alternatives like SMPlayer, Since the other alternatives are better for viewing videos.
      Do you use VLC for one of the other reasons?

  4. I regularly use either SMPlayer or RealPlayer Cloud. Of these two what would be your choice as your go-to player???

    1. I haven't used RealPlayer since the MacOS 9 days, so I don't know much about their latest. I've always found SMPlayer fine and saw their newest versions added limited mpv support.

  5. Mplayer & VLC are not more CPU efficient.

    You might want to try some SIMPLE BENCHMARKING!

    Install Linux and Conky and then watch the differences, mpv is far superior to both.

    Let's not forget mpv has better video quality and performance, due to the OpenGL they are using...

    1. You might want to try some SIMPLE BENCHMARKING!

      Install Linux and Conky and then watch the differences

      I guess you didn't read the post. That's exactly what I did.

  6. I'm trying without success to install mpv in my g4 MDD. I'm using lubuntu 12.04 a wheezy based distro. From what i see in the blog above, mpv is only available in the jessie repository but it's possible to get it with hassle on wheezy. Is it possible to know how to proceeed ? and building from source result to me each time in annoying compilation errors .

    1. I'm not sure what I did can apply to Lubuntu. What I did was add testing (Jessie) sources to my stable (Wheezy) repositories and then used "aptitude -t testing install mpv" to target the testing repository. I'm not sure how that process works in Lubuntu.

    2. Ok, it work by adding trusty repositories to my precise sources. Thanks very much.