Complete guide to 4K Netflix: How to get UHD in your living room

The tech, the subs and common problems solved

​How to watch 4K Netflix
The Ambient is reader-powered. If you click through using links on the site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

There's more and more Ultra High Definition (UHD), aka 4KTV, movies and shows for 4K smart TV owners to choose from and Netflix is definitely one of the key destinations. However, for those looking to watch Netflix in 4K on their TV or PC, it's hard to know where to start.

That’s why we’ve 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.

There’s a growing selection of 4K content on Netflix, but don’t be fooled into thinking everything on the streaming platform is viewable in Ultra HD.

Jump to our list of the best Netflix 4K content to find out what is available.

Netflix 4K plan and cost

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 $15.99 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.

Netflix 4K cost

You need a 4K TV... obviously

The first thing you’re going to need is a 4K TV – that’s pretty much obvious. 4K TVs are generally 2160p – 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. You can see the list of specific models here (that landing page shows the current year, but you can check previous years to see if your 4K TV is recommended).

Check your broadband package

Now, if you’re going to be streaming 4K content, you’re going to need to have a pretty dandy internet connection. Remember everyone used to say that 4K wouldn’t go anywhere because our connections weren’t fast enough? Well, in the era of fibre and cable that’s 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 – 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.

Streaming Netflix in 4K

How to stream 4K Netflix

Now, finally, you’re 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.

We’ve 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, there’s 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:

What about HDR and Dolby Vision?

Netflix currently supports two different HDR streaming formats; Dolby Vision and HDR10. To get in on this high dynamic action, you'll need a TV that supports either Dolby Vision or HDR10.

If you're using an external box or streaming stick, you'll want this connected to your device via an HDMI port that supports HDCP 2.2 or later.

Buyers guide: The best 4K home projectors

Technically, HDR is available on some smartphones and tablets that are not necessarily classified as having 4K displays. If you're browsing Netflix on a newish iOS or Android, look out for the HDR or Dolby Vision icon.

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 – 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 – 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 Nvidia’s 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.


Netflix 4K won't work

How do I know if it’s working?

Now this may sound ridiculous, but with Ultra HD it’s actually a common question. You might find yourself wanting to check if you’re actually streaming in 4K.

Netflix will automatically provide you with access to the 4K streams if you’re fulfilling the criteria above, e.g. 4K TV, full subscription, supporting app or streaming device. We’ve 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 “Ultra HD 4K” or "Dolby Vision" and not “HD”.

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 you’re still paranoid that you’re not getting the resolution you’re 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 won’t be that useful on all models, so you’ll have to figure that one out for yourself.

The best Netflix 4K and HDR movies and shows

There's over 800 UHD things to choose from on Netflix, if you add up all the regions - and around 550 if you live in the US. To make life easy for you we've picked out the top 20 shows, documentaries and movies for you.

Top 20 Netflix 4K TV shows

  • The Irishman
  • Mindhunter
  • Chef’s Table
  • Okja
  • Planet Earth II
  • Ricky Gervais: Humanity
  • Black Mirror
  • Altered Carbon
  • Ozark
  • Audrie & Daisy
  • The Innocents
  • Glow
  • Bloodline
  • Dirty Money
  • Better Call Saul
  • Sarah Silverman: A Speck of Dust
  • Stranger Things
  • My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman
  • Narcos
  • Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later


TAGGED    televisions    smart home

Related stories

apple The best Apple HomeKit devices: Compatible smart lights, plugs, thermostats, cameras, sensors and more
robot vacuums Best robot vacuum cleaners 2020: Roomba, Neato, Roborock and more
smart home The best smart locks: Smart security from August, Yale, Schlage and more
thermostats Tado review: Smart Thermostat and Radiator Thermostat put to the test
smart home IFTTT essential guide: The best IFTTT Applets for your automated smart home
smart home Sky Q: Complete guide to Sky's Ultra HD TV platform