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2021 Best Five 4K UHD Video Players for PC/Mac

As 4K content is going viral, more and more people climb on the bandwagon, picking up their GoPro, DJI, Canon or any other camera to shoot high-quality 4K video. While at the same time, there's a rising demand for 4k video player meant to help view crystal clear 4k clips or movies without ruining your viewing experience.

If you're looking for a 4K player that’s free to use yet powerful, just stop here. In the article, we will present the roundup of 5 free best five 4K 2160p video players for Windows PC and Mac. Prior to the roundup, there is one thing to be aware of.

4k footage features a 3840x2160 or 4096x2160 resolution, higher bitrate and frame rate, which lead to bulky file size. It's often encoded with HEVC/H.265 codec. All these makes watching 4k videos troublesome, especially if your PC is underpowered. So before downloading a 4k video player on Windows 10/8/7, make sure you are armed with powerful hardware capable of 4k HEVC video playback. Click here to check if your computer configurations meet the basic requirements for 4K (h265) video playback.

Top 5 Free 4K UHD Video Players You Shouldn't Miss

Part 1: Top 5 Best Free 4K UHD Video Players | Free Download and Reviews

No.1: 5KPlayer

Rating: ★★★★★ | Platform: Windows & Mac | License: Free

The 1st 4K media player we want to introduce is 5KPlayer. Free as it is, it is clean and safe to use without any malicious stuff. It is able to play 4K/5K/8K video and audio in almost all formats, e.g. H.265, AVC, AV1, MKV, MP4, MOV, MP3. It is also a good 4K HDR player for Windows 10. In addition to playing 2160p 4k video, you can also free download 4K content from video sharing sites, and stream videos from computer to smart TV wirelessly.

On top of that, 5KPlayer especially utilizes NVIDIA CUDA®, AMD, Intel® QSV, & DXVA 2.0 hardware acceleration, purpose built to deal with the data-intensive UHD 4K HEVC video files and minimize CPU usage. Thanks to its assist, you're free from computer overheating and choppy or lagging issues and play 4K 60fps videos flawlessly.

5KPlayer

Note: Hardware configuration matters when it comes to playing 4K HEVC videos. If it isn’t up for 4k video playing and you have no plan to upgrade your hardware, you can turn to a GPU accelerated 4K video converter, such as WinX Video Converter to convert 4K HEVC to 1080p H.264 in high quality and good compatibility with your aging devices.

No.2: VLC Player

Rating: ★★★★☆ | Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux | License: Free

As one of the most popular free media players, VLC is capable of playing almost all video and audio formats without installing additional codecs, be it HEVC, H.264, Xvid or VP9. Besides serving as a (4K) video player for Windows (XP to 10), Mac, Linux, Android and iOS, it can also play DVDs, 4K Blu ray discs, videos such as MKV, audios, and transcode multimedia files. Just like 5KPlayer, it stays far away from spyware, ads and doesn't track users.

VLC offers hardware-accelerated 4K playback initially with the release of version 3.0.0. You are guaranteed a seamless experience to import and play virtually all 4K videos from UHD bluray disc, DSLRs, webcams, and streaming platforms. However, some VLC users complained 4K video playback was choppy or lagging and returned a "close unexpectedly" error. In spite of this, it is still a good option.

Related: Why 4k is choppy and lagging in VLC >>

VLC media player

No. 3: DivX Player

Rating: ★★★★ | Platform: Windows & Mac | License: Paid

DivX is another award-winning HD video player for 4k 60fps videos, which offers impressive high-definition video playback up to 4K 2160p. It gives you full access to HEVC (H.265), MKV, AVI, MP4, DIVX and other high quality video files.

This video player permits you to fast forward or rewind to your favorite scenes quickly, choose a chapter, create a playlist based on your own needs, and switch seamlessly among soundtracks to hear other languages. And you can even cast videos, music and photos to big screen.

Note:
1. There's an open candy in the DivX 4K player download package. Make sure to clean it while installing.
2. If you don't need DivX Converter and DivX Web Player, make sure to uncheck the boxes while installing.

DivX Player

No.4: Media Player Classic and K-Lite Codec Pack

rating: ★★★☆ | Platform: Windows | License: Free

Media Player Classic, aka. MPC, is an open source free media player for windows PC. It mimics the look and feel of Windows Media Player 6.4. MPC is also a completely clean 4K Ultra HD video player for Windows 7/8/10. No ads and no toolbars. You may feel relieved by the use greatly.

In fact, MPC cannot play 4K Ultra HD videos on its own. It needs the help from K-Lite Codec Pack. To make things easier, you are suggested to download the K-Lite Codec Pack full package which has Media Player Classic covered. Although MPC can work on even the oldest computers, you still need a more powerful system to play HEVC x265 video in 4K resolution. Despite MPC is not underdevelopment since 2017, you can still have a try to view 4k UHD content.

Media Player Classic

No.5: KMPlayer

Rating: ★★★ | Platform: Windows & Mac | License: Free

The final best 4K media player is the famous KMPlayer. Originally served for Windows users, now KMPlayer has been evolved and works perfectly with PC, Mac, and Mobile. It supports a wide range of video formats, including AVI, MPEG, TS, MKV, MP4, 3GP, WMV, etc, and offers a slew of settings for zooming in/out video, customizing video playback speed, audio, subtitle, and more.

Please note that the ultra-high quality playback is available only on the PC 64x version, where you can play all high quality media files including 4k, 8k, UHD, 60fps on Windows 10. Playback speed of the high quality 4k content in HEVC (h.265), H.264, VP9 is dramatically improved on your high-end PC, too.

KMPlayer

Part 2: The Minimum System Requirements for 4K HEVC Video Playback

Besides the 4K video player, hardware configuration also matters a lot for playing 4K HEVC videos. Before you play your 4K footage, check if your hardware configuration supports 4K HEVC 10bit video playback.

Which Kinds of Windows PC Support 4K Video Playback

Must-have ingredients

  • Upgrade your operating system to Windows 10.
  • GPU memory should be at least 4GB to handle 4K 2160p video decoding.
  • Graphic cards are required to have a 256 bit memory bus as the entry level.
  • The entry-level of GPU frequency is approximately 1 GHz.
  • Integrated 4K UHD panel is a must have on your Windows laptop.
  • Keep a 4K UHD panel with HDCP2.2 on your Windows desktop.
  • Don't forget to feature the system with HDMI2.0 or DisplayPort output.

Which Kinds of CPU & GPU are needed for 4K HEVC hardware decoding

 

4K 8-bit (HEVC)

4K 10-bit (HEVC)

4K 12-bit (HEVC)

Intel QSV Supported CPU

Skylake

Apollo Lake, Kaby, Gemini, Coffee Lake

/

Nvidia NVDEC Supported GPU

/

Maxwell (GM206)

Pascal & Volta

Note: if you're running a Mac-based computer and plan to play 4K x265 video on macOS, make sure the operating system being upgraded to macOS High Sierra or above and internal memory being 8GB or larger. As for the Mac computer, you'd better choose iMac 5K (27-inch), iMac Pro (2017) or later iMac with native 4K display. As for even older Mac, you need to buy an external 4K display screen to enjoy the real 4K quality.

Additionally, make sure you have enough hard disk space, e.g. minimally 4GB RAM, 6000MHz video memory, 100GB for 2-hour 4k movie, and 4k supported monitor.

If your computer hardware is too aging to cope with the computing-intensive 4K HEVC 10bit video files, and playing 4k videos goes to be choppy, stuttering, or glitchy, why not downconverting 4k HEVC video to 1080p H.264 first? To do the task, WinX Video Converter is your best solution. It manages to convert 4k to 1080p, re-encode HEVC to H.264 without losing quality at all. In such way, you can play the converted 4K UHD videos on windows or Mac computer.

Part 3: FAQs about Playing 4K Video Footage

1. Why does my 4K video lag and stutter?

It has to do with both software and hardware. The easiest way is to upgrade your hardware (incl. CPU, graphic card, storage, etc) if possible. But you can try some tips to see whether it works. Here are some tips:

  • Update your Windows and graphics driver to the latest version.
  • Move the 4K video source to local hard disk.
  • Ensure nothing else is using up resources on your computer.
  • Change power plan to High Performance.

Except for the 4k video stuttering error, some people also argued why 4k videos not playing and are constantly informed of "file format not supported", "codec missing" and alike. The reason behind this is that most 4k recordings are encoded in HEVC codec, which many media players or computers aren't preconfigured with the codec. So make sure your media player is packed with HEVC before playing 4k video. Click to see the complete 4K video playing and uploading errors >>

2. What laptop can play 4K video?

There are many choices: Dell XPS 15 (2019), Alienware m17 R3, Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR, Dell XPS 17, HP Spectre x360 (OLED), Razer Blade 15 (OLED) and so on...

3. Is it possible to play a 4K video clip on a 1080p TV?

Yes and no. If you just want to play a 4K video on HD TV, you can connect your laptop to TV with a HDMI cable. The 4K video will be displayed, but in 1080p. If you want to see the real 4K resolution on 1080p TV, it's impossible. You can upgrade to 4K TV with a 4k-capable HDMI 2.0 or DP 1.2 for immersive 4k video viewing experience.

4. How to play a 4k video on my Windows 10

Please make sure a 64-bit windows 10 computer with a 4k-capable monitor or screen and HDMI 2.0 cable is armed for smooth 4k video playback. Then follow the steps below to play 4k UHD videos on Windows 10 using 5KPlayer.

  1. Just download a 4k video player such as 5kplayer on your Windows 10 computer. Install and launch it.
  2. Simple drag and drop your 4k UHD content to it, or click the Video icon on the interface to load 4k file.

Optionally, you can pause, fast-forward/backward the progress bar, adjust volume, choose the audio or subtitle track as per your needs.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

author - Kistent Waung

Kistent Waung twitter icon

Graduated from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, she employs herself in IT related content creation (since 2013) and happens to perfectly combine her major (computer & science) and her gusto (writing). She's seasoned at offering video audio conversion workarounds and always passionate about new trends, from hot HEVC, 4K to the new AV1 codec.

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