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Dropping frames is one of common issues during 4K HEVC playback on PC/Mac. It leads to stutters or lags even in some highly-acclaimed video players (for example VLC). HDR and high frame rate videos are reported as the most troublesome files.
Usually, hardware is the primary reason for '4K HEVC frame drops'. The computer probably plays 4K H.264 files smoothly but starts struggling to play 4K HEVC videos. That's because it consumes much more CPU to encode/decode HEVC than H.264. On the other hand, some GPUs containing hardware-based encoder/decoder can greatly accelerate HEVC encoding/decoding and free up CPU to avoid dropping frames issue. But we should notice that better GPUs are required to handle 4K 10-bit HEVC videos.
Upgrading hardware is a way to fix 4K HEVC dropping frames problem. But if you haven't thought about making changes on your computer, the following solutions are helpful.
How to Fix 4K HEVC Dropping Frames Issues?
Solution 1. Convert 4K HEVC to H.264
As we mentioned above, H.264 doesn't have so high requirements on hardware. You can convert HEVC to H.264 to play without dropping frames.
WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe offers the easiest and fastest conversion way. It not only allows you to transcode 4K HEVC to H.264 with the original resolution, but also helps compress 4K to 1080P or 720P for playback on smaller displays and computers with lower configurations. It enables GPU acceleration (AMD, Intel, Nvidia) to deliver a superfast HEVC converting speed with crisp images.
Using WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe, you can change the format from HEVC to H.264 in a few of clicks.
Step 1. Launch this HEVC converter and then click the +Video button to load the source 4K HEVC file you play with dropping framers.
Step 2. Output Profile window pops up. Go to General Profiles > MP4 Video (Codec: h264+aac) > OK.
Step 3 (Optional). The resolution of the selected output format – MP4 Video – is set as 'keep origin' by default. If the 4K HEVC dropping frames problem is caused by high resolutions or frame rates, you can convert 4K to 1080P, click the gear icon to get access to settings window, change frame rate from 60fps to 30fps. Move to Resolution in Video Options panel, open the drop-down list and choose 1920x1080 or lower resolutions as the value. Click OK.
- Check Hardware Accelerator options (Intel or nVIDIA or both according to your GPUs) to turn on hardware-based transcodder.
- Click Browse button to set a new destination folder.
- Click RUN button to start converting 4K HEVC to H.264.
After the resulting file is created, open and play it to check whether 4K HEVC dropping frames issue is fixed.
Solution 2. Adjust Threads Setting in VLC
This solution focuses on helping users who encounter '4K HEVC frame drops' issue when playing using VLC on PC/Mac.
No matter which build you're using, the usual or nightly build, try to set Threads to 1 if you can't play 4K HEVC video files normally and get lots of dropped frames.
- Tools > Preferences.
- Move to the left bottom of preferences window. Change "Show settings" from Simple to All.
- Open Video Codecs under Input/Codecs. Select FFmpeg from the list.
- Set Threads from 0 to 1 and save.
Now, you can play 4K HEVC videos in VLC correctly.
Solution 3. Try Other HEVC Video Players
It is a truth that some people is bothered with 4K HEVC dropping frames in VLC but enjoy smooth playback in other media players (for example Media Player Classic MPC-HC) or vice versa.
Here, we would like to recommend a powerful free media player that handle HEVC well, 5KPlayer, which can work as the best alternative when other players are not working. It offers a great experience to play virtually all videos, from 4K/1080P/360° VR to various formats, HEVC/H.264/MP4/MKV/MTS/AVI etc. It takes full advantage of hardware acceleration (with the support of Intel, NVIDIA, AMD) to achieve smooth playback without frames dropped or other issues, like choppy, black screen, video/audio out of syncing and so on.
Besides HD video player, it also plays as music player, online video downloader and media streamer through DLNA and AirPlay. Also see more recommendations of free HEVC video players here.
Solution 4. Check the Hardware
If the 4K HEVC videos are playing with dropping frames, stutters, freezes, etc. on your HD TVs, Apple TV 4K, Amazon Fire TV stick, and some Roku devices, pay attention to the hardware. Check if all the hardware supports 4K HEVC videos, including support to HDR, 60fps sources. For example, if the source 4K HEVC videos are 60FPS, you should at least have HDMI 2.0. If it's a 4K HDR HEVC video, you should get HDMI 2.0a or 2.0b. Some device models provide poor support to 4K HEVC videos with advanced specs such as the Apple TV 4K. You may therefore see constantly dropping frames when playing a 4K HEVC movie @60fps on Apple TV 4K.
To fix the frame drops during 4K HEVC playback due to incompatible hardware, you can either upgrade the device, or convert the source 4K HEVC video to 1080P or 30fps with a free HEVC video converter.