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Top 10 Best MKV Players to Play MKV Video Files up to HD/4K

MKV videos are very common since most movies and TV shows we see daily are in MKV file format, but the qualified MKV player to play such MKV files are uncommon. Why? MKV is especially designed to be universal for containing different information for HD/4K videos with comparatively higher resolution and larger size. So, because of codec variety inside MKV container, relatively higher definition and bigger file size of MKV videos, finding a professional program is the first yet difficult task if you want to play H.264 or HEVC encoded HD/4K MKV files smoothly at any resolution, including 3840x2160, 1920 x 1080, 1280 x 720, etc. with MBs or GBs.

To make things easier, we’ll introduce and review 10 best MKV players for Mac and Windows out the market here for your reference. No need to install codec pack. No need to convert video formats. The suggested MKV video player lets you play any MKV file at ease.

Can’t Play MKV Video Files? MKV to MP4 Conversion Is Suggested

As MKV is a container format designed especially for high definition videos up to 1080p/4K, you may encounter MKV not playing error with your default MKV media player. To make your media player play MKV files without hassle, MKV to MP4 conversion is suggested and the tool to help convert is WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe.

Why Are We So Picky about A MKV Player?

MKV is a popular container format that is royalty-free and open to anyone to use for free, but it is not an industry standard so that not all media player can play it very well. As a container format, it can hold unlimited number of video audio codec formats, pictures or subtitles tracks inside a single file. That being said, MKV can be encoded with HEVC, VP9, VP8, H.264, DTS, AAC, codecs from Realvideo and ON2, etc., however, there is seldom one media player supporting all codecs.

MKV is the most suitable file format for HD and Blu-ray movies, so we see many 1080p or 4K videos are in MKV format. Besides, higher resolution means lager file size. That is to say, besides MKV videos not playing caused by unsupported codec, poor MKV playback performance, like video stuttering, fps dropping, no sound, etc. is also a big headache if there is no powerful MKV file player.

Also, a third-party MKV player is needed to replace Windows Media Player and QuickTime as MKV is not supported by Windows 7/8 and Mac computer natively. If needed, below are top 10 free MKV video file players we hand-picked for you to choose from.

No.1 5KPlayer – All-in-one MKV Media Player for Mac & Windows

  • Rating: ★★★★★
  • Type: Free
  • Supported OS: Windows 11/10/8/7, macOS Monterey & earlier

5KPlayer is surely the best free MKV video player for Mac and Windows with whatever video/audio codecs supported by itself. You don’t need to install any CCCP codec pack or DirectShow decoder filters that is required for successful MKV playback. This matroska video player can handle any MKV video file in any resolution without "MKV stuttering playback", "unsupported video codec", or "MKV no sound" error.

Tremendous video playback capacity allows you to not only play MKV files, but also play MP4, HEVC, M2TS, AVCHD, MOD, H.264, MPEG-4, AVI, MOV, WMV, FLV, and so on. As for common 4K HEVC/H.264 videos or movies formatted by MKV format, it’s a no-brainer for 5KPlayer to play it thereon. Horse-powered by NVIDIA CUDA®, Intel® QSV, DXVA 2.0 & AMD Hardware-acceleration, it ensures you a smooth playback of 4K x265 MKV video by handing over the computer-intensive 4K HEVC decoding tasks from general-purpose CPU to graphic-expert GPU. No choppy, no stuttering.

Besides a universal MKV player, 5KPlayer also features sorts of additional functions to enrich your multimedia experience, such as playing lossy/lossless music, playing any DVDs, 300+ sites media download, DLNA streaming across devices, AirPlay iPhone/iPad, IPTV/M3U/M3U8 streaming, etc.

5KPlayer
5KPlayer

No.2 VLC Media Player – Most Popular Open-source MKV Media Player

  • Rating: ★★★★☆
  • Type: Open-source & free
  • Supported OS: Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Chrome OS, etc.

Same as the 1st ranking MKV file player, VLC is also free from Microsoft DirectShow framework, indicating that it also doesn’t require you to download and install any third-party video codec pack and filters. It supports for most video and audio streams you will find in an .MKV file, depending on what your streams are. Besides, by choosing VLC as your default MKV player, you can organize and operate MKV video’s multiple video, audio and subtitle tracks in a decent way every time you need it.

Already surpassing 3.8 billion downloads worldwide, besides MKV playback, VLC currently is no doubt the most popular media player to play daily videos, music, DVDs, live streams, and so on. As a user and editor’s choice, you can always trust it to play MKV video files up to 4K though sometimes there are flaws.

Somehow, VLC media player lacks user-friendly interface, and though armed with advanced features like live streaming and video conversion, it is just too complicated for newbies to handle with them. By the way, VLC does not willingly accept Blu-ray Disc and RM video which is also somewhat disappointing to people who need the feature. Worse still, MKV black screen error happens most frequently on VLC compared to other MKV file players.

VLC
VLC Media Player

No.3 DivX Player – Award-winning DivX Player with MKV Playback Ability

  • Rating: ★★★★
  • Type: Freemium
  • Supported OS: Windows 10/8/7, macOS (Catalina/Big Sur and earlier)

DivX Player not just plays MKV video files back, but plays them in a very good way. There are some enhanced MKV playback features like: supports up to 8 MKV multiple subtitles and audio tracks, offers smooth fast-forward and rewind MKV playing process and auto-generated MKV chapters.

Besides a MKV player, DivX allows for playing, creating and DLNA-casting videos, including DivX, AVI, MP4 and HEVC up to 4K. It is designed to be considerate for you to control your media files easily. The Chapter Points function allows you to navigate to your favorite scenes or find different scenes. Also, you can create, organize, play and loop playlists.

Unfortunately, DivX Player is freemium software which means it isn’t free of all features available for users, and users need to play some money to get Pro version for advanced features. And as a MKV HD video player under the old label, it sometimes needs to consider about adding Blu-ray video playback function, which gives a larger range of MKV media playing options (since some of MKV video file contains in Blu-ray Disc).

DivX Player
DivX Player

No.4 Media Player Classic – Most Light-weight MKV Video Player

  • Rating: ★★★★
  • Type: Free
  • Supported OS: Windows 10/8/7

Media Player Classic (aka. MPC-HC) is an open source media player with MKV media playback ability. It can be downloaded on its official website with nary a penny. Though it's a freeware, there is no advertisement, annoying toolbars or latent spyware, needless to worry about the security matter. What's more, this free MKV player is open to almost any video codec and format you throw at it, be it MKV, MP4, MOV, AVI, FLV, DVD, CD, etc.

Certainly, there is one beef from its users. This media player is unable to play old MPEG-1 files (the same to VLC player) or to smoothly play 4K HEVC (MKV) video at 60FPS. The image is lagging and audio is stuttering. These might be the major parts for MPC-HC to be improved in the future. As for other functions like streaming and video downloading, it won’t satisfy you. Media Player Classic just performs its basic job well. It's a nice choice for someone who doesn't require extra features.

To be noted, Media Player Classis has ended the development since 2017, which means any newer video formats like AV1 and ProRes won’t be supported by it.

Media Player Classic
Media Player Classic

No.5 PotPlayer – Excellent MKV File Player for Advanced Users

  • Rating: ★★★★☆
  • Type: Free
  • Supported OS: Windows 10/8/7

Wonder why I rank PotPlayer higher than KMPlayer since part of the PotPlayer's development team still comes from KMPlayer? Yes, they have many in common. The major reason lies in that PotPlayer overshadows KMPlayer with its more outstanding GPU hardware decoding, especially for 4K high resolution videos.

When you run PotPlayer to play MKV videos with compute-intensive HEVC codec or 4K high resolution, the advantage of enhanced GPU hardware acceleration shows up. With seamless support of DXVA, Nvidia CUDA and Intel QuickSync techs, this MKV video player can produce smooth playback effect, with crisp video picture and clear sound, no freezing/lagging or any stuttering issues. Beyond that, your computer CPU usage can be reduced to minimum degree and your system responsiveness gets greatly improved.

For newbies, you can simply drag and drop your MKV video files to this player to play. For advanced users who need further controls to your videos, PotPlayer gives numerous settings for you to customize your MKV playback.

Potplayer
PotPlayer

No.6 KMPlayer – Easy-to-handle MKV File Player for Newbies

  • Rating: ★★★★
  • Type: Free
  • Supported OS: Windows 10/8/7

KMPlayer is no doubt a powerful MKV video player, supporting an expansive library of video codecs and formats, be it AVI, RealMedia, MPEG 1/2/4, ASF, MKV, FLV, MP4, VCD, SVCD, DVD, etc. You're also authorized to make some adjustments during MKV playback, including image filtering, sound track, brightness, saturation, zoom, playback jump, etc. What also surprises you is that it supports 3D video playback and subtitles in variety of formats SMI, ASS, SRT, PSB, S2K, SUB, TXT and LRC. That's not the end. Its screen capture feature might be the ace, which lacks in most other competitors.

It is a piece of cake for KMPlayer to play any movies, dramas, music, and other contents on computer, which eases the way you enjoy any multimedia contents without MKV audio video out of sync, MKV black screen, MKV stuttering, etc. error.

It would be much better if it gets improved in these areas: delete the redundant features, simplify the control box, remove the off-putting advertisements, reduce the bundled software, optimize the internal algorithm, etc. In short, it's definitely a qualified player to play MKV.

Free MKV player - KMPlayer
KMPlayer

No.7 GOM Player – A Superb MKV Player Highlighting Subtitles Search & Sync

  • Rating: ★★★★
  • Type: Freemium
  • Supported OS: Windows 10/8/7

Another MKV player freeware made by South Korea is GOM player. What is special to me is that this player not only plays MKV video with H264, HEVC, VP8 codecs, but also plays damaged MKV files without downloading extra codecs or repair pack. Yet, as you might notice, it's currently unable to play VP9-encoded MKV files.

One point I appreciate a lot is that it provides much higher information transparency and more sincerity to its users. It doesn't intentionally hide its shortcomings or its imperfect sides. Instead, it shows to you and lets you freely make decision. For instance, it tells you that it can't handle all videos playback. For some files, you're required to seek helps from DirectX or Windows Media Player. And not all the computers are supported by GOM player to play 360° VR videos thereon. It has entry-level requirements to your desktop. You can find the detailed product description under "Specs" on its official product webpage.

Regardless of the drawbacks, the strongest selling point is that it supports subtitles search and download for movies and TV shows so you don't need to worry about MKV subtitles not showing error. Though you may have to tolerate the ads inside the software, the free version of this MKV file player gives you all the playback features that the Pro version owns.

GOM Player
GOM player

No.8 RealPlayer – Classic Cross-platform Media Player

  • Rating: ★★★★☆
  • Type: Free
  • Supported OS: Windows, macOS, Linux, Android

Does the sort order really explain everything? Not really, sometimes. For example, this free MKV video player is such an exception. It's ranked at the 8th place of our picks. However, its performance makes an impressive showing, 100% worth 4.5 stars.

The first thing I noticed is that it does play MKV files with the common video codecs, but also download MKV video file from online sites. It doesn't list out the supported video sites, but you can have a test on your own. This free media player scores well in this list also because it supports video converting. Thus, you can transcode video to MP4, MOV, AVI, MP3, etc. for watching on your mobile device, as well.

Does that all it get? Absolutely not. It also allows you to burn your favorite music playlist to CD just a click away. Video streaming feature is available as long as you have Xbox One, Chromecast or Roku. Then, you can stream videos and movies to your smart TV.

RealPlayer
RealPlayer

No.9 Cisdem Video Player for Mac – Ideal QuickTime Alternative Especially for Mac

  • Rating: ★★★★
  • Type: Free
  • Supported OS: macOS 10.10 or later

Is QuickTime the best one for you to play MKV video files on Mac? Not really, indeed. Cisdem Video Player for Mac can be a great alternative if your QuickTime lets you down. This Mac MKV file player enables you to free play MKV, AVI, AVCHD, WMV, MP4, etc. with a wide arrange of resolution including 4K, 5K and even 8K Ultra HD. To play MKV with subtitles, just load subtitle and then the subtitle will be automatically detected and displayed.

No need for additional codecs or codec package, it can finish the video playback job on its own, letting your computer be away from the potential viruses and risks caused by the anonymous codec installation. You can also upgrade this MKV player if you're meant to use its built-in convert feature.

Though macOS is a very excellent operating system, there are seldom Mac media player available for daily media playback especially the MKV files up to 4K. To make up for that, Cisdem Video Player for Mac is an ideal helper.

Cisdem Video Player for Mac
Cisdem Video Player for Mac

No.10 UMPlayer – Outdated yet Popular Video Player for MKV Files

  • Rating: ★★★
  • Type: Free
  • Supported OS: Windows

UMPlayer is a multi-format media player based on MPlayer, which utilizes the previous MPlayer old engine. But this doesn't exert a negative impact on this free player's feature to play MKV video files, as well as MP4, MOV, HEVC, AVI, WMV, etc. It lets you search MKV video resources online and music from Shoutcast thereon. The same also applies to search for subtitles for your MKV file thereon.

Compared to other MKV video players, UMPlayer has some drawbacks, no YouTube streaming/recording, no hardware decoding, being lagging and freezing during DVD playback, etc. So you can't expect too much from it.

What’s more, though it is still getting updates, it is an old-fashioned media player that’s only suitable for common SD MKV files and other MP4, AVI, WMV etc. videos. For 4K video playing, it would be very difficult for this media player to play.

UMPlayer
UMPlayer

Wrap up:

After comparison, each MKV video player has its advantages and disadvantages. So, what satisfies your needs is the best one, of course. To stand out, the MKV player you choose should play MKV videos and movies on both Windows and macOS platforms with full support for all video audio codecs, video formats including MP4, AVI, MOV, M4V, WMV, as well as audio files in MP3, WAV, FLAC, etc, and resolution including SD, 720p/1080p HD and 4K 2160p.

Also, a good media player provides popular features like online video download, video music stream, screen cast, etc. that’s is high in demand among users. So, based on your needs and our recommendations, you can choose a super MKV player from the list on this page.

As MKV is designed with the future in mind that incorporates features you would expect from a modern container format, if conditions permit, don’t hesitate to save videos in MKV format. It not only keeps video in high quality, but also preserves intact elements (chapters, menu, audio, subtitle tracks) in videos. And you don't have to worry about MKV not playing error. You're able to play MKV files smoothly with the above MKV players, or convert MKV to any formats or devices with WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What players can play MKV files?

The players that can play MKV files are many, including 5KPlayer, VLC, DivX Player, Media Player Classic, PotPlayer, KMPlayer, GOM Player, RealPlayer, UMPlayer, Cisdem Video Player for Mac, and so on.

2. What is the best player to play MKV files?

5KPlayer is chosen as the best MKV player. 5KPlayer, doesn't rely on the framework of Microsoft DirectShow, is able to play MKV files with whatever codecs, be it H264, HEVC, VP8, VP9 or the troublesome Realvideo, Realaudio, RV 9, RV 10, ON2 (VP4, VP5, VP6) with itself, needeless to install any codec pack or the like on your Windows (10) computer. It also support you to play MP4, MOV, DVD, ISO image, AVI up to 4K resolution!

3. Can VLC play MKV files?

Yes, VLC can open MKV files for sure. However, VLC MKV error is also known as there are often problems when playing MKV with VLC, such as VLC audio delay, playback stuttering, fuzzy image, buggy interface quirks, etc.

4. Can Windows Media Player play MKV files?

No, Windows Media Player can’t play MKV videos by default. But with proper MKV codec for Windows Media Player installed, even Windows Media Player can support for playback of MKV video files.

5. How to play MKV files?

To play MKV files on computer, there are mainly two ways.

Via MKV player:

  1. Free download, install and launch a MKV player like 5KPlayer on PC.
  2. Drag and drop your MKV file to it to play.

By converting MKV to MP4:

  1. Download, install and launch a video converter like WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe.
  2. Drag and drop MKV file to the video converter to convert to MP4.
  3. Play the converted file with Windows Media Player, QuickTime, or VLC.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

author- Brent Archer

Brent Archer twitter icon

Brent Archer is an experienced editor who loves all things related to social. He has spent more than a decade writing instructional contents related to social media, streaming services and video related topics all over the internet for Digiarty. Outside the social, he is addicted to Google I/O, Apple WWDC and other tech news to keep him informed.

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