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2023 Best Free H.265/HEVC Video Players for Windows 11/10/Mac

"Which is the best media player for Windows 11 to play HEVC files? KMPlayer does work well with HEVC files I've thrown at it so far and VLC always stutters." -- from Quora

Windows' built-in video player can't play HEVC videos without the help of HEVC codec. To play HEVC videos on Windows 10/11, you need to either install an extra HEVC codec pack, or try another HEVC video player. In this article, we share you the latest list of the best free HEVC H.265 video players in 2023.

Part 1. About HEVC Codec - Why You Need A HEVC Player?

HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding)/H.265 is a new video compression standard related greatly to high quality of videos. Compared to H.264, H.265 approximately doubles the compression ratio. So HEVC is the best choice to encode high-def video, especially 4K and 8K Ultra HD videos.

However, the high video compression efficiency also means increased computational complexity - it requires roughly 10x more compute power than H264. That's high demand for the hardware (CPU & GPU) and x265 HEVC processing software. That's why it's challenging for a regular HEVC x265 player to decode and play HEVC (x265) video and there are tons of errors like CPU overheating, laptop heavy lag, HEVC video choppy, CPU overuse, etc. The best free 4K/H.265/HEVC video player for PC/Mac should play HEVC videos with high accuracy, high velocity and high grade.

Part 2. Best 5 Free HEVC Players for Windows / Mac

  • 5KPlayer
  • VLC
  • MPV
  • MPC-HC
  • DivX Player
  • PowerDVD
  • PotPlayer

1. 5KPlayer

  • Rating: ★★★★★ 5
  • Type: Freeware
  • OS: Windows 11/10/8/7/earlier and macOS Ventura/Monterey/earlier

5KPlayer is a 100% free HEVC player that accepts 10/12-bit HEVC footage. It's GPU accelerated so it can auto assign the most computation-intensive x265 HEVC video decoding to GPU to play the HEVC H265 files smoothly and fast, avoiding issues like "unable to open H265", x265 video choppy, heavy lag or CPU overheating.

With mighty video/audio codec library, this HEVC x265 player can play HD and 4K HEVC 8-bit, 10-bit and even 12-bit videos from GoPro, Drone (DJI), iPhone, action camera, Canon, JVC DSLR cameras with whatever HEVC sub codecs, be it Apple native hvc1 or non-Apple hev1. No external video codec pack or filter is needed. It's extremely user-friendly and lightweight. Even a beginner can easily play 4K and 8K HEVC videos in original visual quality without further settings.

5KPlayer has many other outstanding features:

  • Play 8K/4K/HD/SD videos in HEVC, MP4 (MPEG-4, H264), MOV, MKV, AVCHD, VOB, ISO image, FLV, etc.;
  • Play DVDs, even if it is region code protected or physically damaged or scratched;
  • Stream media from iPad, iPhone, PC, Mac to Apple TV, PC, Mac or AirPlay-enabled speakers;
  • Download 4K HEVC videos and other clips from 1000+ online sites.
best free HEVC video player
5KPlayer- Best Free H265 video player

How to open 4k HEVC H.265 videos using the free HEVC player?

Step 1. Download 5KPlayer on your Windows or Mac computer. Install it as prompts. There is no adware or malware.

Step 2. Nagivate to the HEVC video that you'd like to play. Right-click on it and select Open With > 5KPlayer. The free HEVC video player will then start to play the video.

You can also open X265 files by drag and drop the HEVC videos into the player or click the Video button on its main interface to import the source HEVC videos.

best free HEVC X265 player
Play 4K HEVC with 5KPlayer

Step 3. You may want to click on Edit button on the control settings to adjust the HEVC video playback speed, fix an audio delay, adjust the effects, rotate, etc.

best free 4K HEVC video player
Adjust HEVC video playback settings

2. VLC

  • Rating: ★★★★☆ 4.5
  • Type: Freeware
  • OS: Windows, Mac & source code for others

VLC has been updated to play 4K ultra HD videos (HEVC/H.265) @ up to 60fps since Version 2.1. It supports Intel QSV for HEVC decoding. The minimum system requirements for 4K HEVC video playback is a PC with an Intel or AMD CPU equivalent to Intel Core i7 with 4 cores.

But you can't rely 100% on VLC. According to users' feedback, VLC can't play HEVC in hvc1 codec, MPEG-H Part 2, and it does not support smooth playback of 8BIT /10BIT X265 HEVC files... It's lagging, freezing the whole screen and even stuck at gray screens. And you will see 4K HEVC frames drops, pixelated issues, etc. If you want to encode video streams into the H.265/MPEG-H HEVC compression format, you may need to download a specific x265 codec.

What if your VLC fails to play HEVC videos? Check the quick fix here >>

free H265 video player -VLC
VLC media player


  • It's free, open-source, and widely available on multiple platforms.
  • VLC provides many customization options and settings for video playback, which can allow users to fine-tune the HEVC viewing experience according to their preferences.


  • VLC may not provide the same level of video quality or performance as other dedicated HEVC video players, such as specialized hardware or software solutions.
  • VLC may not support some of the advanced features or profiles of HEVC such as HVC1 HEVC videos.

3. MPV

  • Rating: ★★★★☆ 4.2
  • Type: Freeware
  • OS: Windows, Mac & source code for others

MPV is a free and open-source video player. It's lightweight, simple, easy to use, and with a wide range of video formats support. It's able to play high efficiency coding HEVC videos without the help of extra codecs. Based on FFmpeg hwaccel APIs, it supports VDPAU, VAAPI, DXVA2, VDA and VideoToolbox video decoding acceleration.

However, reports on various forums indicate that MPV hardware decoding fails sometimes when playing 4K 10-bit HEVC. Also the CPU usage macxes out sometimes when playing 1080P 60FPS HEVC. The biggest disadvantage of this HEVC video player is that it may not be user-friendly for begginers, as there are various keyboard shortcuts to remember.

free player supports HEVC - MPV
MPV player


  • This free HEVC video player uses hardware acceleration and advanced decoding algorithms to provide high quality playback of HEVC videos, with low CPU usage and smooth playback.
  • There are a wide range of customizable settings, including aspect ratio, subtitles, and audio track selection to tailor the HEVC playback.


  • Its interface is less intuitive for some new users compared to other free H.265 players.
  • It will need some technical expertise to set up and use the advanced features and customization options may require some.
  • It may lack of support for some proprietary file formats and DRM-protected content.


  • Rating: ★★★★☆ 4.8
  • Type: Freeware
  • OS: Windows only

MPC-HC is another free and open-source H.265 video player that runs only on Windows. It will play most common video and audio formats, including HEVC H.265. Though the official site indicates that MPC-HC supports NVIDIA Cuda/Intel QSV GPU decoding, users on its forum have reported that MPC-HC often decodes 4K HEVC files on CPU only, especially when it comes to playing 4K x265 8bit/10bit videos.

There are other HEVC playback problems like freezes, sluggish 4K playback, choppy & out of sync errors... Though it's not a good 4K video player, it has no problem playing 1080P HEVC videos.

free x265 video player MPC-HC
MPC-HC player


  • MPC-HC is a lightweight and fast media player that can handle a wide range of video and audio formats, including HEVC.
  • It's a highly-customizable HEVC x265 video player with a variety of options and settings to adjust the playback quality and performance.


  • It has not been actively developed since 2017, so it may not be compatible with all HEVC standards and newer codecs.
  • As there is no built-in support for hardware decoding of HEVC, playing HEVC files can result in higher CPU usage and reduced battery life on laptops and mobile devices.

5. DivX Player

  • Rating: ★★★★☆ 4.4
  • Type: Shareware
  • OS: Windows & Mac

DivX Player is a high rated video player that has been downloaded over 1 billion times for playing DivX, AVI, MKV and HEVC files in up to 4K quality. As it supports hardware acceleration for HEVC decoding, it's among the best free HEVC X265 players that can deliver smooth and high-quality playback of HEVC-encoded videos. The unique smooth FF/RW feature help you quickly navigate to your favorite scene or find different scenec with Point Chapters. Additionally, DivX Player also offers advanced features such as frame-by-frame playback, audio track selection, and subtitle support.

You can also upgrade DivX to Pro version, which enables you to enjoy AC3 surround sound or amazing DTS HD audio, and play video from Google Drive or Dropbox.

DivX Player - Best 4K HEVC player
DivX Player


  • DivX Player is designed to work well with HD and 4K HEVC H.265 videos, so it may provide smooth playback and good performance.
  • There are many addition features such as the ability to create playlists, customize subtitles, and adjust audio settings.


  • The free HEVC player lacks some features available in other H.265 video players, such as streaming and network support.
  • It may contains advertisements and promotional content.

6. PowerDVD

  • Rating: ★★★★☆ 4.4
  • Type: Shareware
  • OS: Windows 11/10 or earlier

PowerDVD is a versatile HEVC video player for Windows. It's able to play HEVC H.265 videos (HDR10 to SDR), H.264, MOV, MKV, MTS, AVI, WMV, as well as various photos, videos, music, as well as Blu-ray and DVD movies. It provides high performance playing videos from modern cameras such as HEVC, AVCHD, AVC & XAVC-S videos in 4K and 8K. GPU-accelerated playback is supported to ensure the smooth HEVC playback experience, as you have Intel Haswell refresh and above, or NVIDIA Kepler VGA and above.

Compared to many other free H.265 video players listed here, PowerDVD has extensive features. It lets you play, enhance, and share all of your favorite media.

PowerDVD - Best H.265 HEVC player


  • There are advanced video processing features that can enhance the playback quality of HEVC videos, delivering a smoother and more detailed viewing experience.
  • The HEVC video player is able to play HEVC videos up to 4K resolution and it also supports High Dynamic Range (HDR) video, which can provide a more vibrant and realistic color range for compatible content.
  • There are a variety of features, including support for 360-degree videos, virtual reality (VR) headsets, and mobile device synchronization.


  • The free version is very limited in functions and to access all features, users need to purchase a license.
  • Playing HEVC videos can be more resource-intensive than other video formats, and this 4K H.265 HEVC player may require a powerful computer with a dedicated graphics card to deliver optimal performance.

7. PotPlayer

  • Rating: ★★★★☆ 4.4
  • Type: Freeware
  • OS: Windows 10 or earlier

PotPlayer is a free HEVC video player for Windows 10 and earlier systems. It's among the most popular video players on Windows, which also include other popular players such as VLC, mpv, GOM Player, KMPlayer, SMPlayer, etc. It's compatible with most the advanced codecs such as HEVC, AV1, VP9/8, H.264, MOV, etc. without any extra codecs. The HEVC video playback is stablewith the minumum resource using DXVA, CUDA, QuickSync decoders.

In addition to the HEVC H.265 media player, it contains a screen recorder, a TV receiver, and a video editor. You can use it to manage files from local storage, URLs, FTP servers, analog TV, digital, DVD and Blu-ray. There is also options to download and sync subtitles, add your own and customize their appearance.

PotPlayer- Best free HEVC x265 player


  • This free HEVC player supports a wide range of audio and video formats, including HEVC.
  • There are settings like audio and video filters, subtitle options, and playback speed control.


  • PotPlayer may not be as stable or reliable as other HEVC X265 players, and some users may experience issues with crashes or errors.
  • It may require more system resources than other 4K HEVC players, which could impact system performance or battery life on mobile devices.
  • It may not be compatible with certain file types or codecs, and some users may need to install additional codecs or plugins to play certain media files.

Bottom Line

Which is the best free HEVC player for Windows 11/10/Mac? The above options are H.265 players ranking top on Google. However, the best one for you will depend on your specific needs and preferences. Also, there are many other free HEVC players available for Windows and Mac. It's worth trying out a few different options to see which one works best for you.

Part 3. How to Easily Play Any H.265/HEVC Videos on Windows (11/10)/Mac

Many HEVC videos won't be playable on the regular player apps. Sometimes, your device's screen does not support 4K resolution, your hardware configurations fail to support the high-demanding HEVC decoding, the player won't play HEVC videos with 60fps, high bit rates, 4K and higher resolutions, or HEVC is not widely welcomed by most of your devices. In this case, you may need a HEVC converter.

WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe is highly recommended to convert UHD/HD/SD videos from H.265 to H.264, MKV to MP4, AVI to WMV and so on. Also, it supports to tweaking video parameters like aspect ratio, resolution, frame rate etc. to fit all screens. It utilizes hardware acceleration tech to convert HEVC videos at 5x faster speed.

Fast & High-quality HEVC Transcoding

  1. HD Video Converter Deluxe performs HEVC encoding/decoding with hardware acceleration to greatly boost video transcoding speed and relieve CPU burden.
  2. With hardware acceleration, it makes a reality to compress UHD large video files with high bitrate and brings a smoother playback in players or on devices.
  3. Every computer including Intel and NVIDIA graphics can unlock the power of Intel QSV and NVIDIA NVENC for x265 to x264 video processing while freeing up CPU for multitasking.

Video Tutorial: How to Play HEVC Smoothly with the Best HEVC Player


1. How Can I Play HEVC on My PC/Mac?

If your computer configuration is high enough, install an HEVC H.265 player to play 4K HEVC footage directly. If not, you'd better convert the 4K HEVC to H.264 to avoid any stutters or freezes on your PC or Mac. Check the minimum requirements for HEVC:

  • Windows: HEVC is supported on Windows 10 computers using the Intel Kaby Lake (or equivalent) processor and newer.
  • MacOS: HEVC is supported on macOS High Sierra computers using the A10 processor and newer.

2. Can I Play 4K HEVC on My TV?

It depends on whether your TV supports HEVC or not. Actually most 4K TVs only play H.264 format instead of HEVC codec. That's why you need a best HEVC video converter. Check the supported file types of common 4K TVs:

  • Apple TV: H.264, MPEG-4, JPEG
  • Sony TV: MPEG-1, MPEG-2, AVCHD, MPEG-4, DivX, Xvid, WMV, Asf, OGG, MKV, MOV, RealMedia, FLV, 3gpp, MVC
  • Samsung Smart TV: H.264

3. Can my phone play HEVC?

The built-in players on almost all the newer mobiles can play HEVC natively. For your reference, HEVC is supported by the systems and devices later than the following:

  • iOS 11.0 or higher (Apple devices): iPhone 7/7 Plus or newer, iPad Pro or newer.
  • Android 5.0 or higher (Android devices): Samsung Galaxy S7/S7 Plus or newer, Galaxy Note 8 or newer, Google Pixel/Pixel XL or newer, Huawei P9 or newer, Xiaomi Mi 5 or newer, LG G5 or newer...

4. Can HEVC play in VLC?

Yes, VLC is one of the best free HEVC players for Windows 11/10 and Mac. VLC added support for HEVC playback since V2.1.1 and it now supports videos in HEVC, VP9, and almost all other video formats on the market. However, VLC doesn't provide a reliable performance when playing HEVC videos with HVC1 codec ID.


 author - Matthew Palmer

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Matthew Palmer is a seasoned content creator with over 10 years of experience in Windows at large. He has been specialized in almost any technology with Windows OS and written thousands of new articles, covering everything from in-depth features of new laptops, latest GPU/CPU PC hardware, games, to software related. While digging into new techs, he continues enjoying painting and comics.

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