Google Chrome is one of my favorite browsers, but there are some tweaks particularly with YouTube video decoding which are worth looking for most users out there who are not using one of the newest Intel or Nvidia GPUs.
Revert to H264 from VP8/VP9
The easy fix is to install the open-source h264ify on the Chrome web store
Then if you check ‘Stats for nerds’ by right-click on a YouTube video, you can see that the mime type says ‘avc’ right after where it says ‘codec’. You are all done then! Watch your CPU temperatures drop!
The most common way for video decoding support to be broken is the fact that YouTube switched to WebM video formats VP8 and VP9 in their video browsers when using the HTML5 player. This video format is NOT supported for hardware decoding for some hardware configuration today, including all AMD graphic devices.
It’s great for Google to flout that the VP9 codec has been pushed to millions of consumers, but this comes at the cost of higher power consumption and lower performance compared to the universally hardware accelerated video format of H264 for hardware dating back 2008 (Intel GL40).
Video Card Blacklists
There’s may also be patches in Google Chrome to prevent hardware video decoding for Intel depending on the video driver installed, which blocks older Intel GPUs by default. This can be verified by going to ‘chrome://gpu/’ to see if ‘video decode’ has ‘hardware accelerated’ next to it.
This can be forced on with setting the ‘#ignore-gpu-blacklist’ in chrome://flags/, but you do run the risk of running into other rendering issues. My Lenovo Thinkpad X200 (Intel GMA4500MHD) drops video frames for all 720p 60fps YouTube videos to the point that the video becomes completely unwatchable, even with hardware acceleration turned on.
The way to check if your video-card supports VP8/VP9 video decoding is via DXVAChecker