VLC video playback CPU usage improvement


You certainly noticed playing a video in VLC draws a lot of CPU. There is a setting that could be changed to drastically reduce the CPU usage.

In my test, I reduced the CPU usage from 150-200% to 10-40%, this makes a huge difference. I used VLC from Flatpak.


  • click on “Tools” in the menu
  • Select “Preferences” (you could just do Ctrl+P)
  • Click on the tab “Video”
  • In the field “output”, select “X11 video output (XCB)”
  • Save
  • If you started to play a video, you need to stop and start again to apply changes

By default, I guess VLC uses OpenGL which uses software rendering on Qubes OS, which draws even more CPU.



This was actually already low given there is no hardware decoding and my test video is x265 10 bits encoded.

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If you still curious about performance, you can compare it to smplayer (it has mpv backed) or pure mpv? I use X11 there, too.

You are my hero

By the way, it would be nice if someone compiled these minor (in terms of implementation) optimizations into a single quality-of-life post/thread so people won’t have to browse through and open a hundred different posts further down the road. Ideally these posts would be organized into sections, give credit, have links, and condense things so they’re as compact as possible

Video playback

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My word. Wish I knew about this years ago. I leave several videos up paused, and they eat up like 10% CPU each doing nothing. This dropped it down a lot.

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For anyone reading this in the future:

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See also:

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