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How to force Netflix to stream in 4K on your computer

Want to binge watch a show in 4K? You have options.

netflix logo on blurred background
Image: KnowTechie

If you’ve ever streamed something on Netflix and thought the resolution seemed a little low, you may have been correct. You do have options to force Netflix to stream in 4K, however.

While the platform does offer 4K playback, achieving this level of quality sometimes requires more than simply hitting play. Ultra HD video demands certain software, hardware, and other requirements, and failing to meet just one could derail your streaming experience.

Let’s discuss how you can ensure that Netflix always streams in 4K on your Mac or Windows PC.

Reasons why Netflix may not stream in 4K

netflix on a macbook
Image: Unsplash

Here are some of the common reasons why Netflix may not stream in 4K on your computer:

  • No 4K (premium) subscription
  • Content isn’t in 4K
  • Streaming quality not set to high
  • Incompatible software or hardware (see Netflix 4K system requirements)

If you haven’t subscribed to Netflix’s premium plan, you’ll only be able to stream content in either 1080p on a standard subscription or 480p on basic.

READ MORE: What’s the best desktop browser for Netflix?

To unlock 4K, you’ll need a premium plan, which, naturally, comes with a premium price tag.

Not all content on Netflix is available in 4K. You can check the max resolution of a video by clicking the Episodes & info arrow to bring up more information. From here, you’ll either see SD, HD, or Ultra HD 4K beside the run time or season count.

READ MORE: How to sign out of Netflix on any TV

If you haven’t opted for high-quality payback in your settings, Netflix will stream content at a lower resolution. Luckily, you can alter the preference in just a few clicks.

How to change your Netflix playback quality

If you want to make sure you are streaming content in 4K (or at the highest quality possible), you have options when streaming on your computer.

  1. Click your Profile icon and go to Accountthe adam project and profile menu

  2. Then, click the Disclosure triangle beside your profile under Profile & Parental Controlsnetflix settings menu

  3. Click Change beside Playback settings4k playback options for streaming service

  4. Switch Data usage per screen to High and click Savenetflix 4k settings

If you’re aiming to stream content in 4K, we can only assume that you have the data to support your venture. As noted on the Playback Settings screen, Ultra HD uses a chunky 7GB of data per hour.

How to check if Netflix is streaming in 4K

netflix video bitrate check
Image: KnowTechie

Here’s how to check what resolution Netflix is using:

  1. Play a video and press either Shift + Control + Option + D (Mac) or Shift + Control + Alt + D (Windows)
  2. Inspect the Playing bitrate line to see the current resolution

If that line shows 3840 x 2160, then Netflix is streaming in 4K.

Netflix 4K system requirements

netflix on macbook air
Image: KnowTechie

Here are the system requirements for streaming Netflix in 4K on your computer:

  • Compatible 60Hz 4K TV or display that supports HDCP2.2
  • 25Mbps or higher internet connection
  • Microsoft Edge for Windows, Safari for macOS, or the Windows Netflix app
  • Powerful CPU, such as modern Intel or Apple silicon
  • Compatible HDMI cable (if applicable)

To play 4K video, you’ll need to use a display with a minimum 60Hz refresh rate and HDCP2.2 support. If you don’t know your screen’s specifications, you should check the manufacturer’s website for more information.

You’ll also need a reliable internet connection with a minimum speed of 25Mbps to keep up with all of that high-res content.

On top of that, only certain browsers support 4K video, which is why you’ll need to use Edge, Safari, or the Windows Netflix app.

Hardware, of course, is also important. Most modern CPUs should be able to handle 4K video. However, if you experience performance issues, checking that your CPU, GPU, and all other components are up to the task is a good troubleshooting step.

Finally, if you’re connecting your computer to a TV or display via HDMI, you’ll need to ensure that the cable supports 4K video.

Is Netflix Ultra HD 4K worth the price?

If you stream a lot of content and have all the right hardware, Netflix’s 4K plan may be worth the money.

When you have a sizable display, a decent CPU, and a solid internet connection, pumping up the resolution can provide an awesome viewing experience.

If, however, you watch Netflix on a 13-inch laptop screen, you’re probably not 4K’s target market.

Have any thoughts on this? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Matt is an Australian freelance writer with a degree in creative and critical writing. Prior to commencing his studies, he worked in tech support and gained valuable insights into technology and its users. His true passion is telling stories, and he hopes to one day write a novel worthy of publication.

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