Help with projection setup and hardware configuration
By way of an introduction, my name is Neal and our church has been using EasyWorship 7 now for a year or two; recently we upgraded to a dual-screen setup with an HDMI splitter going to wireless HDMI transmitters. I'm starting to suspect that the laptop we had purchased not too long before that for just a single 1080p projection run is no longer sufficient.
I've spent a couple of hours trying to suss out system requirements and translating between nVidia and AMD, and figured I'd just post my needs and hope that somebody has experience with any of what I'm trying to accomplish. So here goes:
We currently run a Lenovo IdeaPad 3500U (4-cores / 8-threads), 256 GB SSD, with 8GB of RAM and Vega 8 integrated graphics. We utilize the single HDMI output to a splitter that feeds two identical HDMI transmitters for a dual-screen setup at FoH. We do not utilize any moving backgrounds, or 4K content. Due to some odd hiccups I'm investigating whether the older Vega 8 is possibly becoming a bottleneck. Some questions that I have about this:
1. As far as I can tell, an HDMI splitter doesn't tax the computer in any way as it is only copying the digital signal; is this accurate?
2. If we are experiencing odd lag issues both on the output (transitioning between slides), and in the software (loading songs into playlist), is it possible that is a function of an overloaded iGPU? I struggle to believe that a Zen+ 4-core/8-thread CPU is struggling...but Zen+ @ 12nm is getting long in the tooth haha
3. If it is potentially necessary to upgrade to a better laptop (which is a must over a desktop as we are a mobile church that sets up and breaks down every Sunday), are there any recommendations for a laptop with multiple video outputs in the event we want to use the fold-back feature of EasyWorship for a confidence monitor?
Honestly, I'm really looking for some help and perspective with this. I'm a techie that loves this stuff, but I know I lack the experience in this particular regard. So, if you have any recommendations or slap-forehead moments while reading this please let me know!
1. No, a splitter makes no difference to the performance of the computer, it cant tell the difference (except for EDID but that's a whole other thing)
3. Laptops with 2 external video outputs basically don't exist, the recommended way is to use a Matrox DualHead2Go. If you want to use one of those then look for a laptop with a DisplayPort or miniDisplayPort output. (they don't work with HDMI)
First off, the Vega graphics (any version of them) are way too weak for EW, especially for 1080p. The are barely capable of 720p use.
Second, Vega graphics are not capable of three outputs including the main laptop display and 2 external displays. You would a laptop with Nvidia Graphics to have two external and the main display at the same time, and that would normally require a fairly high end model (as in a Gaming Laptop). You won't find that option on most of your run of the mill, everyday home/school/work laptop. Some business class laptops do have that capability, but quite often it requires a docking station to enable that extra output. I don't know specific models, but they are out there.
Third, splitters rarely impart any additional load on the GPU unless they are faulty. Some of the cheaply made ones can introduce some latency or lag tho.
To check to see if the graphics chips is causing the issue open EW, click on the EDIT tab in the menu, go to the ADVANCED tab and put a check mark in the Disable GPU Shrink Filter. If all works properly you know you have insufficient graphics. If that doesn't correct the issue you have a differet problem you need to diagnose and correct.
Please note that this isn't a long term solution. This option is meerely a diagnostic tool and should only be used as such.
@Margaret: I agree, laptops with multiple outputs basically don't exist. I was able to find a few gaming versions that have HDMI + mini-DP, but now I'm looking at a laptop with aggressive styling and rainbow colors haha. As for the Matrox, thank you; these are the things I figure exist but I have no idea where or how.
@Donal: The funny thing is, when we bought the laptop we were still using EasyWorship 2 or 3. So the specs I think were right up our alley. Then the upgrade to EW 7 happened, and my concern has subsequently grown about the onboard Vega. Thank you for the tip regarding GPU Shrink Filter. I am going to test that out for a few weeks and see what happens.
Yes, I understand and agree this is all temporary; I am doing my research now so that I can propose a new setup that will not only fit our needs now but also provide greater flexibility in the future (like second output for confidence monitor).
Thanks for the help, and I will check back with any updates!
Neal, you have to be careful. A lot of laptops have two external video out ports, but will only be able to use one of them if you use the built in display. I have several Thinkpads that have two display out ports, but the options are the build in display and one of the two external ports or both of the external ports without the built in display. No way to enable all three of them.
Depending on which build of EW7 you are using it can become quite taxing on the graphics system. The latest builds (7.2.x.x and newer) are heavily dependent on the GPU with less reliance on the CPU, while older builds (126.96.36.199 and older) are more dependent on the CPU and less so on the GPU compared to the later releases. I can run 188.8.131.52 and prior on an old Ivy Bridge 2c 4t laptop with integrated graphics depending on what we display in our children's area. The later releases starting with the 7.2.x.x series will stutter and have significant lag.
You can start Task Manager to see how much the system is using the CPU and the GPU to help diagnose where the bottleneck is.
This all helps, thank you.
I'm leaning toward recommending we upgrade to a laptop that has a dGPU (like a 3050 or 1060 ti) to properly handle EW7 and beyond. I mostly wanted to investigate any potential issues with iGPUs (which you covered), and possible use of multiple outputs in the future. I am still going to put the 3500U (and its 8 CU Vega gfx) to the test over the next few weeks and report back in the hopes that it will help future people.
I do have a follow-up question though:
Most laptops with nVidia dGPUs still appear to control the video outputs through the iGPU due nVidia software. Does the dGPU matter for controlling the physical output, or does EW7 need the horsepower just to run period regardless whether or not the video output is controlled by the iGPU?
Laptops with nvidia graphics are set to use the integrated (intel) graphics first by default and then switch to the Nvidia graphics when the GPU load is high enough. For EW and some games you need to change the setting in the Nvidia control panel to use Nvidia as a global setting or select the individual programs that you want to use Nvidia for. That is due to the Nvidia graphics using a lot more power to run which results in shorter battery life. The software is supposed to be able to make that switch automatically, but quite often it doesn't switch like it should.
And yes, EW needs the extra graphics power just to run everything in the newer releases. I don't know all of the specific details of the coding, but just rendering the main EW program uses more graphics power in the later releases starting with 7.2.x.x than it did in 184.108.40.206 and previous.
Another thing I forgot last night was that some laptops use one or more of the USB-C ports as Thunderbolt ports that can be used for video out. I've never had access to any new enough to have that option, but I know they exist.
Excellent, thank you.
The list of unsupported hardware (Video Cards) includes "Intel UHD (specifically the Intel UHD 620)". Can this be interpreted to also include any UHD before they switched to Xe gfx (through 11th gen)? Would it be better to just make the jump to 12th gen and the new gfx architecture?
Unless someone from EW itself states different,No. It would be best to avoid ANY integrated Intel Graphics at this time. If they ever integrate the upcoming Arc Intel Graphics into their laptops it's possible that will be acceptable, but that isn't available at this time and would have to be tested first.
Looking at any AMD APU (with the exception of the still-hard-to-find 6000-series + RDNA2) the iGPU is going to be a 7-CU or 8-CU Vega iGPU. If it is also paired with a dGPU like the 3050 ti, would there be any issue with EW7 running properly, because the software would tag the dGPU when necessary (or be manual set via Nvidia global settings)?
Thanks again for the help with all this.
Also, how important is system memory for EW7? I am of the opinion that 8 GB for ANY computer these days is too little, but in a case like this where the usage is centered around a single use-case, I'm wondering I can let that personal conviction slide...
That should work out quite well. A laptop 3050 Ti is equivalent to a GTX 970 Desktop card. You'll more than likely need to set the Nvidia Control Panel to use the Nvidia graphics when using EW tho, just to make sure it happens. That setting is under the 3d tab IINM, but it's easy to find it using your favorite search engine.
8 gigs should get the job done. We ran 8 gigs for several years without any issues, but I did put in 16 gigs when I built our new system a couple of years ago. Ryzen 5 3600, B550 board, 16 gigs (2 x 8) 3200, GTX 1660 Super.