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Posted by Donna Peng - Contact Author

[100% Fixed] Plex Buffering & Stuttering Issues with 4K, Xbox One

I am currently running Plex on my Mac and streaming wirelessly to my LG Smart TV. It is fantastic! However when I play some 4K movies, the Plex keeps buffering and stopping. Could I please have some tips and tricks to get around of the buffering but keep the 4K quality?

When I watch a 4K HDR file streaming from my Western Digital My Passport Wireless Pro to my LG OLED LG OLED55E6P using the Plex app, I get buffering throughout the film to the point where I have to stop watching it. If I fast forward to half way, it will buffer forever.

I got a Synology DS718+ and when watching movies h.264 1080p on my Samsung TV QE55Q7, the Plex keeps lagging constantly. It's very annoying that the movie stops every minute for few seconds.

Plex buffering & stuttering issues are not a new topic on Plex and othe related forums. No matter you're using Samsung TV, Xbox One, PS4, Ruku, etc., you will find that Plex is prone to the issues, especially constant buffering issues with large files like 4K. However, as Plex involves quite a wide range of devices and different operations, it's quite tricky to diagnose the problems. To save your time and efforts, here we have gathered the most possible solutions to Plex buffer issues that are proved to be useful by users.

2021 Best  Plex NAS
2021 Best NAS for Plex

Why does Plex Keep Buffering?

• The internet speed is too slow to stream large media;
• The CPU is not powerful enough to transcode HD/4K media;
• The subtitles you’re using are in a format that's too difficult for your machine to handle;
• You're running too many streams at the same time;
• Memory problems with the streaming device(s);
• Improper Plex server and/or streaming device.

See all Plex playbak errors & fixes >>

Fixes to Plex Buffering & Stuttering Issues

• Check the internet

When your Plex playback keeps buffering and lagging, the first thing is to check if you're on Ethernet or Wi-Fi. Plex will detect the bandwidth automatically. If the internet is not strong enough for the media to work with, and the client has been set up to play maximum, then it will try to cram through whatever huge. Then stuttering occurs. In this case, you can:

* Move the streaming device to be connected via cable and not wifi.
* Make sure you have a fast internet (3.0 MBps – Recommended speed for SD quality; 5.0 MBps – Recommended speed for HD quality; 25 MBps – Recommended speed for Ultra-HD quality).
* Turn on the Auto Quality setting to let the Plex adjusts the streaming quality when the internet is bad to avoid buffering.
* Change your network adapter configuration and disable the Large Send Offload (LSO) in the Device Manager.

• Check if NAS or other device has enough transcoding power

What is Plex transcoding? It occurs when the format, resolution, bit rate, etc. of the coming videos are not supported by the client device. Then Plex Media Server will start to transcode the incompatible videos into a format playable on the client device. The transcoding speed relies on the CPU of the NAS or computer that running the Plex Media Server. However, if the CPU is not powerful enough to transcode videos like HD 1080P and 4K, you will suffer Plex buffering.

Open the log file and you will see results like:
Aug 19, 2015 16:45:40 [0x10db56000] VERBOSE -  * speed => 5.2
Aug 19, 2015 16:45:40 [0x10dc5c000] VERBOSE -  * speed => 4.8
Aug 19, 2015 16:45:41 [0x10d84d000] VERBOSE -  * speed => 4.7
Aug 19, 2015 16:45:41 [0x10dad3000] VERBOSE -  * speed => 5.0
Aug 19, 2015 16:45:42 [0x10dc5c000] VERBOSE -  * speed => 4.8
The speed value greater than 1.0 means that the server is fast enough to transcode. If the value is less than 1.0, you’re likely to see Plex stuttering/buffering issues.

The NAS drives usually used by Plex Media Player don't have a very strong processors. Only a small number of NAS devices are capable of transcoding 720P videos, and only some high-end modern models can offer enough power for 1080P and 4K transcoding. In this case, you'd better get a beefier NAS for Plex.

• Check the audio and subtitles

Similar to complex video settings, large audio file will also cause Plex to keep buffering. For example, the 7.1 audio may play fine at home smart TV, but it will buffer a lot on mobile via remote access. Likewise, image based subtitles like PGS, ASS, VOBSUB may lead to constant buffering (BTW, you should check if your TV or other client device support the subtitle format). Both high-quality audio and adding subtitles will force Plex to transcode the media. The buffering imply that the server is not powerful enough for the transcoding.

• Unsuitable streaming device

You should know that streaming on a local smart TV/PC and remote mobile is different. In other words, the PC may have a more advanced CPU like x86, the media works fine. But if you stream the video on an ARM-powered PS4, there is a big chance that you will see Plex playback buffering at high bitrates. In addition, Plex won't work well on certain devices. For example, many users are reporting that Plex is getting constant buffering on Xbox One, especially with 4K HDR files. This issue has been reported to Plex and there are any good fixes to it so far.

• MKV buffering lag issues

MKV is a video container that's able to contain multiple streams. If Plex constantly buffers with MKV files, use the MediaInfo app to check the file info. In some cases, the MKV may include 2 or more video stream and one of which (like HDR 10 and Dolby Vision) puts too much stress on the Plex app. That may leads to the buffering issues with Plex.  

[Ultimate Workaround] Fix Plex Buffering caused by Slow Transcoding

In fact, most of the Plex stuttering & lagging issues can be solved by spending more money on an advanced 4K NAS for Plex. However, even with a J4005 NAS which is able to offer fast transcoding for 4K H.265 content, you're allowed to stream on 1 or 2 devices only. There is an ultimate workaround to avoid Plex stopping errors – transcoding the videos before you upload them to Plex Media Server. To maintain the best possible quality of any tough videos like 1080P & 4K videos, the tool recommended is WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe. It's a 4K video converter that supports high-quality videos in any parameters like H.265, HDR, MKV, etc.

WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe


author - Donna Peng

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Donna Peng's fascination with multimedia began at an early age - shortly after she licked the physical disc and then she's been obsessed ever since. Her decade-long career at Digiarty after the graduation has seen her unmatched expertise in the field of DVD, digital video, software and anything related to home theatre. She is currently fascinated with photography.

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