How to Play HEVC Videos on Windows 11/10 without Errors
HEVC codec (High-Efficiency Video Coding) is more and more commonly used by iPhone, Android, action camera GoPro, drone, IP cameras, surveillance camera, etc to record footages, esp high-definition 2.7K, 4K, 8K videos. More than that, HEVC also becomes readable on majority of devices and platforms, including smartphones, personal PCs and tablets, smart TVs, game consoles, Roku, Plex, web browser, etc. Though H265 x265 is nowadays recognized, it's still confronted with varied types of errors during HEVC video playback.
Common HEVC Playback Errors
Different devices have their own video parameter settings and unique features for H265 video shooting. For instance, GoPro Hero 8 Black enables you to record HEVC video at 4K 60FPS/50FPS, 2.7K 120 FPS/100FPS; DJI Mavic 2 Pro allows you to record 10 bit HEVC video at DLog-M or HLG mode. Therefore, when you're meant to play back HEVC video shot by device A on platform B, some errors are inevitable:
- VLC crashes while playing HEVC
- 10bit H265 Dlog-m won't run on Windows
- Mac won't play HEVC DJI files
- Laptop lagging at 4k HEVC playback
- Plex for Android can't play x265 files
- PS4 can't play the media x265
- PCPU can't support H265 GeoVision
- HEVC black screen, only audio is playing
- High CPU utilization when H265 decoding
How to Play HEVC Videos without Problem:
Method 1 Install Free HEVC Codec for Windows 11/10/8/7
With a third-party HEVC codec package installed, you can enable your built-in player to play HEVC content. For example, Microsoft has offered HEVC Video Extensions for Windows 10 at $0.99, which is able to play HEVC videos in 4K and Ultra HD. There are free packages that include H.265/HEVC codec as well. Some famous ones include:
• K-Lite Codec Pack
It's a free bundle for high-quality video playback. It has codecs for less common formats, including H.265/HEVC, VP8/9, and many others. You can download the HEVC codec pack for Windows Media Player and Media Center as well as Media Player Classic, ZoomPlayer, KMPlayer, PotPlayer, GOM Player, and many others.
• Media Player Codec Pack
This pack works with Windows Media Player only. It lets you play 10bit x265, X265, H.265, HEVC, AVCHD, X264, and many other files. All solutions up to 4K and beyond are supported.
• x265 HEVC Upgrade
x265 HEVC Upgrade is designed for HEVC conversion and playback. It includes an HEVC decoder named UHDcode which allows you to play MP4 videos with HEVC codec using the 64-bit Windows Media Player.
Method 2 Play HEVC Videos with Other HEVC Players
If installing HEVC codec is too complicated for you, there are readily-accessible players that have built-in codecs for HEVC. Some are strong enough to offer HEVC hardware decoding to ensure super-smooth HEVC playback experience.
5KPlayer is a free and easy video player specially designed for 4K and 8K video playback. It keeps updated with modern video specifics like HDR, HEVC H.265, AV1, 60fps, AVC H.264, VP8/9, and any other videos you may have. The HEVC hardware decoding using NVIDIA CUDA®, AMD, Intel® QSV, & DXVA 2.0 Hardware-acceleration ensures a 4K ultra-high HD HEVC playback without a problem, even on a regular computer.
• VLC Media Player
VLC is a popular media player used by millions of users to play videos of any formats, including HEVC files. It contains many advanced features like 4K/8K playback, 10-bit/HDR support, passthrough, etc. Since Version 3.0, it takes advantage of DxVA2 and D3D11 to decode HEVC on Windows, VideoToolbox to play HEVC on macOS/iOS, and OMX and MediaCodec on Android. Check how to play HEVC HVC1 on VLC >>
MPC-HC is an old and free media player for Windows. It has added the support for HEVC and VP9 since v1.7.1. You can play HEVC x.265 in 4K flawlessly with it. The player supports CUVID and DXVA2 based on Nvidia and AMD GPUs. However, it has been discontinued since 2017. Therefore, it may fall behind to support the latest video codecs and resolutions.
Method 3 Convert HEVC to H.264 for Easier Playback
If the 4K/8K HEVC videos @60fps is too demanding for your computer, why not convert them to more friendly files? For example, most modern mobile devices have hardware decoders for energy-efficient playback of H.264/AVC video so you can convert HEVC to H.264.
WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe is the best choice to convert HEVC 4K/8K to H.264 fast without quality loss.
- 5x faster GPU HEVC to H.264 converting with support to AMD, Intel QSV, and Nvidia NVENC/Cuda hardware acceleration.
- High output quality with the built-in High Quality Engine and "Yadif Double Frames" De-interlacing Engine.
- Converting HEVC from/to H.264, MPEG4, AVI, WMV, MOV, MKV, FLV, WMP, PC, Web, TV, iPhone, iPad, Android, and more.
3 Clicks to Convert HEVC to H.264 for Windows 11/10
- Open the converter and click +Video to import the HEVC videos you can't play. You can load and convert multiple HEVC files in a batch.
- For easier HEVC video playback, select General Profiles > MP4 Video. To ensure the best quality, you can convert 4K HEVC to MP4 Video, or select 2K/MP4 Video based on your needs. You can also find MOV, WMV, AVI, HEVC, FLV, etc. or devices including iPhone, iPad, Android, TVs, websites, and more.
- Back to the main interface, enable the Hardware Accelerator and High Quality Engine boxes to make sure the best quality and speed balances.
- Click the big blue Run to start. The converting time depends on how long/big your HEVC video is. After that, you can play the HEVC converted videos anywhere.
Free Option - Handbrake
The free and open-source video transcoder may be the first choice that comes to users' minds. Handbrake can convert HEVC videos to H.264, H.265, MPEG4, and a slew of devices at different resolutions. More importantly, it supports AMD VCE, Intel QSV, and Nvidia NVENC hardware encoders to deliver good HEVC decoding performance on less powerful computers. What you need to note is:
- The AMD VCE and NVENC hardware encoders only support 1-pass mode, which means less output quality compared to 2-pass.
- Only video encoding is performed by the hardware encoder. Other tasks like decoding, filters, audio/video sync, audio encoding, muxing, etc., are performed by the CPU. As a result, it is normal to have high (even 100%) CPU utilization during encodes.
Method 4 Upgrade Hardware to Play HEVC Smoothly
Newer hardware is required to playback high-intensive HEVC videos properly. Read below to update your device to meet the minimum requirements.
Intel/AMD/Nvidia CPUs & GPUs with Support for HEVC Playback
- 6th-generation 'Carizzo' APUs onwards
- 'Fiji' GPUs (Radeon R9 Fury/Fury X/Nano) or newer
- 4th Generation Intel Core processors (Haswell CPU 2- 3.5GHz, 4 Cores)
- 5th Generation Intel Core processors (Broad well)
- 6th Generation Intel Core processors (Skylake)
- 900 Series GPUs (GeForce GTX 960 or 950) - hardware accelerated HEVC 8-bit decoding and encoding
- Tegra X1 SoCs or newer
- OS: Windows 10
- CPU: Intel Kaby Lake (or equivalent) processor and newer
- Graphics card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 equivalent or newer
- RAM: 8GB
Note: Most desktop hardware released in 2015 or later supports HEVC playback.
- OS: macOS High Sierra or higher
- Hardware: Macbook® – 2016 or newer, Macbook Pro – 2016 or newer, iMac – 2017 and newer
- iMac Pro – 2017 or newer, 27-inch 5K iMac (2015-2017)
- OS: iOS 11.0 or higher
- Processor: Apple A9 or newer
- Hardware: iPhones 6s or newer, iPad Pro or newer
- OS: Android 5.0 or higher
- Processor: Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 820 series (or equivalent) processors and newer
- Hardware: Samsung Galaxy S7/S7 Plus or newer, Samsung Galaxy S7/S7 Plus or newer, Huawei P9 or newer, HTC U10 or newer, etc.
TVs and Streaming Boxes
- tvOS 11 or later (Apple TV 4 or newer).
- Roku 4.
- Amazon Fire TV (2015) and 2nd generation Fire TV Stick
HEVC playback on a smart TV requires Amlogic S905 or Mstar 6A928 or better processor. Most new models from Sony, Samsung, LG, Vizio, TCL, etc. brings support for HEVC decoding. HEVC is supported by nearly all 4K UHD TVs.
Xbox One can play x264 HEVC and some x265 HEVC using Plex. It's hit and miss with HEVC files. Xbox 360, together with all PlayStation consoles including PS4 Pro, doesn't work with HEVC.
HEVC is supported by Safari (since 11), Microsoft Edge (hardware decoder required), and Android browser(since 5.0) on devices that have hardware support. Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Windows Internet Explorer doesn't work with HEVC.
FAQ HEVC Playback on VLC, Plex, Windows Media Player, Roku
1. Does VLC media player support HEVC?
The support for HEVC decoding starts from VLC media player V2.1.2. However, many users experience VLC crashing, stuttering, freezing during HEVC videos playback. For reasons and troubleshooting tips, check the HEVC playback error in this post.
2. Can Plex play/transcode HEVC?
MP4 4K HEVC (H.265) content at 30fps (8 bit) will Direct Play on supported devices. 4K content not matching the properties will be converted to 1080p. The process requires a powerful machine running Plex. If Plex won't play 4K HEVC content or plays with errors, refer to troubleshooting Plex HEVC playback error.
3. Can Windows Media Player Play HEVC?
Windows Media Player 12 supports playing HEVC on Windows 10. If you have an old Windows operating system not handling HEVC content successfully, refer to fixing HEVC playback issues on Windows.
4. How to enable HEVC 4K streaming support in Microsoft Edge
Microsoft Edge browser is the few browsers that support HEVC. To enable HEVC streaming, install HEVC codec or HEVC decoder on your Windows 10 PC, type edge://flags in the address bar, enable 'PlayReady DRM for Windows 10'and 'PlayReady Experimental HEVC Decoding', then restart Microsoft edge. Now, you should be able to stream HEVC 4K content in the browser.
5. Is there a way to direct stream HEVC to a Roku?
Yes. HEVC is natively supported on Roku-4 and Roku 4K TVs. The Roku-4 can play HEVC 4K content no matter what the device it's connected to. If you have an older Roku TV model, your server will transcode from HEVC to H264. The transcoding is a CPU-intensive.
Related Guide: What to Do if Roku can't Play HEVC?
6. What web browser supports HEVC/H.265?
HEVC in MP4 container is supported by Safari (since 11), Microsoft Edge (hardware decoder required), and Android browser(since 5.0) on devices that have hardware support. HEVC doesn't work in the commonly used browser such as Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Opera.