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Why is 4K Video Choppy/Lagging?


Like all machines, a computer’s capacity to produce the output you want depends on its internal driving force. A computer’s horsepower is known as its processing power.

Just like a car that needs 500 horsepower to reach a maximum speed of 160mph, a computer also requires appropriate processing power to achieve your desired output. The proper specifications provide the smooth management of high-definition videos.

This article will explore the processing power needed to handle 4K resolution—the leading standard of multimedia resolution in today’s market.

Why Does 4K Video Lag on My Computer?

A woman using a lagging laptop

There are a multitude of system resources needed in accommodating high-resolution. These requirements are pulled from both your software and your hardware.

When your hardware or your software is lacking or cannot work in conjunction with each other, they can negatively impact the cohesive output.

The components impacted by inadequate specs or mismatched integrations result in lags and glitches. The nuisance can result in less efficiency or an unfavorable experience altogether.

You can avoid this if you know what you need and how to integrate them correctly. 

The proper hardware and software can offer you a flawless 4K experience.

Hardware Requirements for Flawless 4K Playback

Computer Hardware

These are the components needed in your hardware: 

  • A decent Graphics Card
  • Ample V/RAM
  • A Dual-Core processor 

The processor that is most responsible for managing your visuals is your GPU, otherwise referred to as your Graphics Card. 

Playing high-resolution videos smoothly is a huge undertaking. It is a feat you cannot expect of the common integrated graphics card.

The required specs in managing high-definition, like 1080p or 4K, without a hitch are more easily accommodated by external graphics processors.

The GPU and its capacity are integral in delivering the visual quality you desire. The difference between an integrated GPU and an external GPU is that an iGPU is, for the most part, just an add-on function to the CPU. In contrast, an eGPU (or discrete GPU) holds a better configuration to stand independently in carrying out the same functions. 

Suppose your high-resolution videos are not playing out as smoothly as you had hoped. Your GPU might be outdated or lacking in power. In that case, your GPU is likely not up to the challenge. 

It takes a lot to decode a 4K software. Suppose your CPU is left to handle the management of all your programs while also decoding the high-resolution software. In this case, it will mostly result in the choppy and substandard delivery of 4K resolution. 

To ensure you get the full 4K experience, invest in a GPU that takes on the heavy lifting in decoding these videos to generate quality output. An eGPU worth looking into is the GeForce GTX980 .

It is virtual reality ready, further elevating 4K immersion. It also operates on 4GB of V-RAM.

The V-RAM is found within the GPU and is responsible for storing image data for your display. Its primary purpose is to ensure the even execution of graphics is delivered smoothly through the interface. 

The V-RAM serves as a buffer between processors and displays. It is where digital signals are sent from the processors into the display. The V-RAM pulls data that has been processed and stored within the non-video RAM. 

When this transmission is made between the two storage units, the RAM is off-loaded and freed up to take on more data processed by the CPU. A V-RAM with higher storage capacity allows quicker data transmission, permitting faster processing. 

A CPU’s core is its brain. 

Computer Hardware with CPU

It gathers data through the varying software each application possesses, and through decoding them, it interprets their instructions. It uses its interpretations to carry out the necessary calculations and internal programs to fulfill instructions.

Imagine a “brain” going through all of that alone. With so many tasks and functions to carry out, it is easy to overload and causes delays in performance. 

More cores in a CPU means it will be able to carry out its functions faster. While “the more, the merrier” is certainly fitting in this aspect with multicore technology going up to Octa-Core, a Dual-Core will suffice here. 

A Dual-Core processor paired with everything above is enough processing power to run high-resolution media smoothly. 

If you plan on using it for more than watching one 4K video at a time, you can opt for a CPU with more cores. A CPU like the Intel Core i9-9900  is more than capable of hitchless high-resolution playback with its Octa-Core technology.

The Best Software for Flawless 4K Playback

A man playing game on 4K monitor

There is a variety of software you can use for high-resolution playback.

Regular media players are not always equipped to manage 4K and the likes. The platform’s untoward response might take away from your experience.

You may come across blurriness, lagging, crashing, and other errors that occur due to incompatibility issues.

Here are some of the best multimedia players for Microsoft and Linux. They can accommodate high-definition without a hitch.

  • 5K Player
  • VLC Media Player
  • CyberLink PowerDVD Ultra

5K Player offers users 4K streaming at 60fps. The frames per second are your frame rate, and it will define how smoothly your images are delivered onto your display. At 60fps, the 5K-Player packs 60 frames in one second, providing a more even image flow. 

VLC Media Player can accommodate up to 8K resolution. It is also open to various plug-ins, allowing more opportunities for customization. The only downside here is its exclusivity to Microsoft.

CyberLink PowerDVD Ultra is equipped for standard 4K viewing and offers users the high-resolution in full 360 modes. It supports 4K Virtual Reality  for the most immersive experience you can have with 4K. 

How Do I Fix Laggy Playback of 4K Videos

A boy watching video on laptop

Some playback issues can be from overloading your processors. Depending on its configurations, it may not prioritize the performance of media playback as it does other programs that are also running.

Quick Tips:

  • You can try closing some windows to lessen the processor workload. 
  • Check for the latest updates of your operating software and your media player.
  • Refresh the window the video is playing in.
  • Ensure no plug-in is interrupting any data transmission. 
  • Restart your computer.

How to Fix Lagging 4K Playback for Windows

A women watching film on a laptop

If these tips don’t do the trick, you can also try adjusting your computer’s configurations to prioritizing audiovisual playback. Here’s how you can do that for Microsoft OS:

  1. Search for “Control Panel” on the bottom left corner Search Bar
  2. Locate “View By” on the upper right drop-down, click on “Large Icons” 
  3. Scroll down to “Power Options” 
  4. Tick the checkbox for “High Performance
  5. Click “Change Plan Settings
  6. Click “Change Advanced Power Settings
  7. Click on the drop-down menu below “Change Settings That Are Currently Unavailable
  8. Click on “High Performance
  9. Click “Apply” 
  10. Your computer should now prioritize audiovisual functions better.

Window setting screen

You should also check your internet connection.

If you are streaming 4K videos online and the resolution is lowered or consistently lags, you might be suffering from connectivity issues.

Streaming 4K content can hog bandwidth. If your connection is slower than 25Mbps, the programs might struggle for every bit of bandwidth. Ensure your connection is at least 25Mbps, so there’s sufficient distribution among your programs.

Check your multimedia transmitters.

Whether you are using a DisplayPort or an HDMI cable to transmit 4K videos from a data source into your display, it is important they are compatible and connected properly.

A DisplayPort is best for a PC to monitor transmission. Its adapters come with a locking mechanism that ensures a snug and secure fit into each receptor. 

A DisplayPort is also known to deliver the best audiovisual transmission with the least compression. The latest DisplayPort 1.4  has a data rate of a staggering 25.92Gbps that helps prompt delivery of high-resolution as smoothly as possible.

An HDMI cable is more popular in mainstream multimedia. It is more commonly used for non-PC displays such as TVs and projectors. 

The latest HDMI 2.1  has cables as long as 150 feet and offers up to 18Gbps of bandwidth. That’s no small feat and delivers 4K resolution in a big way!

If all else fails, you can convert your 4K videos to a lower resolution that still delivers high-definition. The 1080p resolution is standard high-definition. The base HD resolution provides impeccable image quality that is less demanding of your computer’s resources.

How to Downscale 4K to 1080p Quickly | Best 4K to 1080p Converter

Here is how you can do that.

  1. Download WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe 
  2. Import the high-resolution video you want to lower by clicking +Video
  3. Set the Output Format (for downsizing a 4K, input 1080p on the Output Profile)
  4. Click OK. 

For more specific adjustments, you can take these extra steps.

    1. Click Settings (icon shaped like a gear)
    2. Adjust audiovisual parameters to customize its components further
    3. Pick out a manageable Frame Rate for your Display
    4. Click OK
  1. Click RUN to commence video conversion.
  2. Open your multimedia player 
  3. Input your newly converted media for smoother playback.

How to Fix Lagging 4K Playback for Mac

A woman using her Macbook

Are Apple products, such as Mac computers, capable of playing 4K videos? 

Yes. These Apple products are specifically devised to accommodate 4K video quality:

With 4K rapidly becoming the resolution standard, nearly all devices are designed to manage this vast resolution. Some devices are fully equipped to handle its high-resolution simultaneously with other heavyweight programs. 

Still, some can only play it within certain conditions. 

If you face issues with 4K videos on your Mac, here are a few tips for troubleshooting them.

Quick Tips:

  • Open Mac’s Finder
  • Click “Applications
  • Scroll to “Utilities
  • Launch “Activity Monitor

Activity Monitor: Here, you see the different programs your computer runs simultaneously.

  • Close all unnecessary windows and applications such as:
  • Heavyweight tasks that hog your processor’s functions.
  • Windows that eat up your internet connection’s bandwidth.
  • Complicated programs that aren’t involved in running your multimedia player.
  • If possible, close all other applications besides the platform your 4K video is running or streaming on.

These should be enough to prevent choppy playback of your high-resolution media on your Mac.

The Best Software for Flawless 4K Playback on a Mac

Woman using Macbook air

Here are the three best multimedia player softwares available for Macintosh computers.

  • Cisdem Video Player 
  • DivX Player
  • 5K Player

Cisdem Video Player supports over 200 add-on features, including an in-app 4K converter. Its interface is user-friendly and provides automatic codec updates. It is the number one go-to for Mac users in 4K compatible media players.

DivX Player allows users to play, edit and stream 4K videos smoothly. It is also configured to support many formats (MOV, AVI, MKV, MP4, and WM). DivX Players support downloading videos to watch offline after fully streamed and saved to a device.

5K Player is compatible with 4K, 5K, and 1080p HD videos. It also supports Blu-Ray, DVDs, and radio. With an all-new interface, it still features the same playback results.

Final Words

A girl watching video on laptop

We hope you found this article helpful in guiding you through the issues you might face with high-resolution playback.

The 4K immersive experience is worth leveling up to. 

Experiencing lagging and freezing can be normal but takes away from the top-quality resolution 4K offers. Just remember these tips to help maximize your 4K experience.

Key Takeaways:

  • Hardware is important. Make sure they are up to date and possess the necessary specs to manage 4K media.
  • Certain functions are devised to handle 4K along with other heavy-weight applications. Your processors might be overloaded if they aren’t equipped with these features.
  • There is multimedia software that is more compatible with high-resolution. Your 4K video can suffer when it is played on a platform that can’t manage the vast amount of pixels.
  • Connect to an internet connection that offers at least 25Mbps for uninterrupted playback.
  • There is always a solution to 4K videos that are blurry, lagging, or crashing.
  • When you cannot change your equipment, you can downsize your 4K video into the more manageable 1080p. 

Check out this video to see the difference between 1080p and 4K videos.

Can you REALLY SEE the DIFFERENCE 1080 VS 4K?

Here’s a step-by-step visual guide of troubleshooting issues with a 4K video on your VLC Player.

Fix - VLC Player Lagging & Skipping when playing 4k/1080p HD Videos | (2020) Easy Steps

Last update on 2022-08-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API.


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