Question: VM / Windows 10 / Handbrake Performance

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Question: VM / Windows 10 / Handbrake Performance


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I'm looking for perspective on performance from those more experienced with the VM environment on Synology NAS...

We have a mostly idle DS3018xs (Intel Pentium D1508 w/ 8GB) that I considered pressing into service for high volume transcoding with Handbrake. So I created my personal-first VM per NasCompares' instructions. 4GB allocated to Windows 10. And then I installed Handbrake, along with a few videos to transcode. I was surprised to find that transcoding speed on the NAS was barely 50% faster than a MacBook Air (1.6 GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i5 w/ 16GB). Much slower than anticipated, given the Pentium CPU.

I could try again with up to 32GB RAM and a larger memory allocation to Windows, etc. But I am suspicious that those changes may offer little or no improvement in transcoding speed. So before going any further, I'm looking for some feedback to help set my expectations for Handbrake performance in VM.

Meanwhile, we're planning to repurpose a Mac Mini (upgraded to 3.2GHz 6‑core 8th‑generation Intel Core i7 w/ 16GB) for the transcoding project. Is that likely a better-performing platform vs the NAS?

Thanks for any comments or suggestions. Ron
Not sure that RAM makes any difference but Windows will need a chunk anyway. In my experience Handbrake likes CPU and not much RAM.

My Mac Mini late 2012 (2.5GHz dual core i5, burst to 3.1GHz, and 16 GB RAM) generally gets 300%-375% (4 hyper-threading cores) when running Handbrake and I let other stuff idle: DVD material is generally +40fps; MKV from Blu-ray is around 6fps. This converting with settings based on Apple 30fps profiles and including transcoding to two audio tracks: AAC stereo (320kbps) plus AC3 5.1 channel (640kbps), unless suitable pass-thru tracks already exists.

Usually working from the internal SSD but I don't think reading/writing with a 5400rpm firewire 800 drive (or similar USB 3) will make it any slower.

If you're batch converting to the same settings and your source files are pretty similar spec then you should look at installing the Handbrake CLI and scripting it. I do this with an Automator dropper app that takes files that are 50fps and I only want at 25fps (there's nothing I'll get except double diskspace from having the originals).
Thanks @fredbert for the comments about Mac mini. Seems like a better choice vs. a Windows VM on the NAS.

Handbrake on the Mac mini will be reading/writing from/to a DS3617xs via 10GbE. Presumably the NAS and network won't be a bottleneck. Good idea about Automator. Ron
The network shouldn't be limiting if you consider my experience of DVD ~8GB and takes ~40mins. But if the job will take a long time then factor in the pain of a network issue: you could script copying across the file, do the conversion, copy the new file back and delete the temp files.

Latest version of Handbrake/CLI has moved the user preset file and, I think (cos I had to mod the bash code in my dropper), using a preset from the GUI now needs to include and group "my group/my preset". I test (grep) for my preset in the user_presets.json file before continuing and the file moved from normal Mac app support folders to a container folder.

Used to be $HOME/Library/Application Support/HandBrake/UserPresets.json
Is now $HOME/Library/Containers/fr.handbrake.HandBrake/Data/Library/Application Support/HandBrake/UserPresets.json
Thanks @fredbert for the comments about Mac mini. Seems like a better choice vs. a Windows VM on the NAS.

Handbrake on the Mac mini will be reading/writing from/to a DS3617xs via 10GbE. Presumably the NAS and network won't be a bottleneck. Good idea about Automator. Ron
mini over NAS for this no brainer. Did a test a few weeks back regarding a fresh installed win 10 VM on a 718+ all ssd nas with 16GB of ram. Tested it with win7, win10 in comparison running the same VMs on a RS model with no SSDs. All in all, CPU bottleneck just for the basic tasks on that VM, let alone a transcode task such as Handbreak.

Thanks for the additional comments @Rusty Mac mini it is... Well at least I learned how to install Windows on a VM. But you're right - 95%CPU usage and not much actual work being accomplished. Ron
Thanks again @fredbert for the many suggestions regarding Mac mini Handbrake transcoding. The 3.2GHz 6‑core 16Gb Mini appears to be CPU limited - 16Gb Mac memory is ample, at least for one Handbrake instance. Reading/writing to the same storage pool on DS3617xs NAS via 10GbE is not a limitation by a long shot. So I have about 10TB of transcoding in the queue as the first big batch. Yikes! Not for the timid.
Another less CPU-intensive option is to run ffmpeg. It can manage things Handbrake is unable to do.

For example... if you have an mp4 file you wish to convert from DTS audio to AAC, Handbrake will re-encode the video as well... as it does not have video codec passthrough capability. And it gets worse...

If you have a bunch of mkv files that you want to convert to mp4, don't even look at Handbrake. Instead, ffmpeg can handle that "in an instant".

So... if you are CPU limited, you might want to consider alternatives to Handbrake.

Yes... Handbrake is in my toolkit... but it's rarely the first choice.
From the Handbrake documentation
HandBrake leverages tools such as FFmpeg, x264, and x265 to create new MP4, MKV, or WebM video files
On Mac there used to be ffmpegX which was a GUI front for FFmpeg. Handbrake was an alternative and with built-in profiles made it easier to select settings for a particular player. Handbrake went stale but then was picked up by its current maintainers.

The main reason to use it, for me, is the preview to set cropping vs the automated selection, the ability to start from a device profile and add tweaks (extra audio tracks, adjust subtitles, edit chapter names), and save profiles for easy reuse. Using the HandbrakeCLI and a profile is an easy way to get batch processing done.

It's true that FFmpeg (ffmpeg, however the capitalisation should be applied) can do loads of stuff but you have to understand what the various command parameters will do and takes a bit more time to master. However, I did use it to create an Automator dropper app that took a m4v/mp4 file and embedded the srt subtitle file. It was useful to make the video file more iTunes-y.

Plus DSM has /bin/ffmpeg

Each to their own :)

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