Thereâs precious little ultra high definition content out there for 4K smart TV owners â which makes Netflix one of the key destinations. But for those looking to watch Netflix in 4K on their TV or PC, it's hard to know where to start.
Thatâs why weâve put together this handy guide, explaining everything from the key basics you need to get started, to the fine little details that can stop the process working altogether. And, generally, whether or not Netflix in 4K UHD is worth it.
Thereâs a growing selection of 4K content on Netflix, but donât be fooled into thinking everything on the platform is viewable in Ultra HD.
All the Netflix originals are available, but even movies are still found in good old fashioned HD. Itâs actually a little underwhelming, but if youâre a fan of watching series like Mindhunter, Better Call Saul and Ozark, youâll be satisfied.
Netflix 4K plan and cost (UK and US)
You're going to need is a premium level Netflix 4K subscription. To get access to all that juicy Ultra HD content you need to pay more, specifically ÂŁ15.99 per month.
In terms of video quality, Netflix streams 4K at 2160p, which is good news. There's no lesser term when it comes to 4K, or UHD, as there was with some providers of HD video who only broadcast in upscaled 720p at 1080i.
You need a 4K TV... obviously
The first thing youâre going to need is a 4K TV â thatâs pretty much obvious. 4K TVs are generally 2160p â which means a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels. 8K TVs with 7680 x 4320 are also starting to hit the market, but that really is overkill... for now, at least.
Go 4K on a budget: The best streaming sticks and boxes
There's a long list of TVs that support Netflix 4K, but just because you have a 4K Ultra HD TV doesn't mean it will work. That's because you also need a set that's HDCP 2.2-compliant (which is 4K copy protection) and, if you're using an external device, supports HDMI 2.0.
This is particularly shaky with older sets (especially those pre-2014), so make sure yours supports these standards before going any further. For more info on HDMI, check out our HDMI explainer, which dispels some of the myths and untangles the jargon.
We should also point out that every year Netflix picks out a list of specific "recommended" models, which can be a useful guide if you're in the market for a new TV set. For 2018 it's recommending LG's OLED and 4K UHD TVs with webOS and Sony's 2018 line of Android TVs. You can see the list of specific models here.
Check your broadband package
Now, if youâre going to be streaming 4K content, youâre going to need to have a pretty dandy internet connection. Remember everyone used to say that 4K wouldnât go anywhere because our connections werenât fast enough? Well, in the era of fibre and cable thatâs not a problem. Netflix recommends a connection of at least 25Mbps.
The average US broadband speed is 61Mbps so most people should be good to go â but it might mean a little bit of an upgrade is needed in UK households where the average is a much lower 16Mbps.
Oh, and it goes without saying: you don't want to be doing this if you have a data cap in your broadband plan. If you do have a cap, make sure you know what it is - and that you know it's high A lot of ISPs have bumped these caps high, but in the era of 4K streaming we're also capable of hitting them much faster.
How to stream 4K Netflix
Now, finally, youâre going to need a 4K streaming device. If you have a 4K television then the chances are it will be a smart TV which will have a Netflix app. Provided you have all of the requirements above, this should suffice.
Weâve tested the Netflix app on our various 4K smart TVs and 4K content was found and played absolutely fine. If you have a 4K smart TV, this could be a money saver. However, thereâs little consistency across smart TV platforms yet.
Essential guide: Everything you need to know about Amazon Fire TV
Often, however, an external device will give you the best experience. Netflix has a full list of its website, but some notable mentions include:
- Apple TV 4K
- Xbox One X
- PS4 Pro
- Now TV 4K Smart Box
- Nvidia Shield
- Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K
- Chromecast Ultra
How to watch 4K Netflix on PC and Mac
You can watch 4K Netflix on PCs only, as long as they have Windows 10. Furthermore, you'll need to stream via the Edge browser, so don't get any ideas about Firefox or Chrome. But things are also quite fiddly when it comes to hardware too â what did you expect? Your PC will need PlayReady 3.0, so make sure Windows 10 is fully up to date.
Your PC's hardware will also need 10-bit HEVC encoding support â so you'll need a seventh generation Intel Kaby Lake processor or later. Basically, if your machine is dated before 2017, you might be in dodgy territory. Alternatively, an Nvidiaâs 10-series graphics card can handle it instead.
See also: How to watch 4K on Xbox
You'll need a 4K display which supports HCDP 2.2 and runs at 60Hz, so take care to ensure that your screen is compliant. Once that's sorted and you have the correct level of Netflix subscription, you're good to go.
There are hacks out there for Mac, but it means installing Windows 10, which probably isn't worth the effort.
How do I know if itâs working?
Now this may sound ridiculous, but with Ultra HD itâs actually a common question. You might find yourself wanting to check if youâre actually streaming in 4K.
Netflix will automatically provide you with access to the 4K streams if youâre fulfilling the criteria above, e.g. 4K TV, full subscription, supporting app or streaming device. Weâve found Apple TV 4K to be a great experience. You can tell if the content is available by going to a show (preferably a Netflix original) and looking under the title. It should say âUltra HD 4Kâ and not âHDâ.
Ensure your 4K device is plugged into a HDCP 2.2 compliant HDMI port and not the nonsense ones some TV makers add around the sides. This is going to get more difficult as we add more 4K devices to our living rooms (games console, cable box, Apple TV, etc).
If youâre still paranoid that youâre not getting the resolution youâre paying for, you can use your TVs OSD to check the incoming resolution, often by pushing the 'i' button. That actually differs massively between TV brands, and wonât be that useful on all models, so youâll have to figure that one out for yourself.