Unable to Play 4K Videos On PC? It Might Be Something Serious!


High-quality videos have become a common thing today. Gone are the days when 720p and 1080p were the industry standards for high-definition video. Today everyone has moved to 4K as it offers a clear viewing experience. However, people using old PCs have reported that their PC cannot play 4K videos. 

That may happen because video formats lower than 4K require minimum screen resolution and GPU intervention, while 4K requires a lot of resources. When you try to load a heavy video file, the task is no longer based on processing power as it shifts onto the GPU. 

This is also why many have complained about being unable to play 4K videos or the screen going black when trying to run a 4K file. While users believe it is OK for your PC’s screen to go black, it might be serious as it might hamper the GPU. 

If you are also having a similar experience, do not worry. This post has some amazing fixes you can use to resolve your 4K video errors. 

How to Fix Unable to Play 4K Errors? Ways that Work!

Your PC’s inability to play a 4K video is not just an ordinary problem. There’s nothing simple or ordinary about the problem. The issue might affect the PC’s performance and crucial resources like the GPU and processor. 

To fix the 4K errors on your PC, here are some fixes that may help – 

Fix #1 – Limit Background Processes

When you are facing issues while running a 4K video, you should first ensure you have limited background applications. As 4K is a resource-intensive format, it requires much memory to run smoothly on a PC.

When your PC cannot provide the required resources, the video player cannot handle your request. Hence you are unable to play 4K videos. 

Here are the steps to help you out in such situations – 

Step 1 – Press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to bring up the Task Manager.
Step 2 – You need at least 30-40% RAM to run a 4K video smoothly. So click on memory to sort the available processes based on how much memory they are taking. 

task manager
Step 3 – Select heavy applications that are useless now and shut them down using the end task option.

Do you see what you did? You freed up some valuable memory to help your PC run 4K videos smoothly. 

Fix #2 – Ensure Support for 4K Codec

While running a video, users often forget an important aspect of using a media player, i.e., the support for multiple formats. At the end of the day, 4K is just another codec format that requires an environment to run smoothly. 

If your PC has enough memory to process a 4K video, but the media player you are using cannot process the file, it may not support the format. Before trying to play a 4K video, confirm whether the media player, you are using supports 4K or not. 

Fix #3 – Check Your PC’s Performance Mode

This fix can be helpful, especially if you use Windows 11 on a laptop. The latest Windows operating system offers multiple modes of processing. Sometimes the processing of 4K videos becomes extremely heavy for a moderate mode, hence you may need to switch to performance mode. 

Here’s how you do it – 

Step 1 – Press Windows + I on your PC to open System Settings.
Step 2 – In System Setting, look for Power & Battery.
Step 3 – After you have opened it, find the Power Mode Menu, and change it to best performance.

Change Power Mode to best performance
Step 4 – Save your changes and return to the 4K file you want to play. 

Fix #4 – Check Your GPU Performance

After changing your PC’s performance mode, it is time to look for GPU performance. If your PC has a dedicated graphics card, but you can’t play 4K, it could be due to the performance mode. Sometimes, your PC is not using the best performance mode by default, you have to set it up.

Here’s how you do that – 

Step 1- Press Windows + I to open System Settings
Step 2- In system settings, go to Display options available in the settings.

Display option in settings
Step 3- Explore more options in the display by clicking on Graphics. advanced display option
Step 4- Click on Change default settings to find advanced options in graphics settings. Click on Change default settings Option
Step 5 – Make sure both the toggles are turned ON in the opened settings window. Make sure both toggles are turned ON

Fix #5 – Update Your Graphics Driver

After changing the settings and with the required resources to run 4K, if the issue persists, only one thing may be causing the error, i.e., your graphics card driver. Try updating it, and you may find better results. 

To update the graphics driver, you can use two ways – 

Updating your graphics driver is similar to updating any other driver. Hence, if you know how to update drivers on a Windows PC, you are good to go!

1. Device manager (Internal and Manual method)

Press Windows + X > select Device Manager > go to Display adapter category > right-click the driver > select Update driver > choose the first option and update the driver.

2. Advanced Driver Updater (External and Automated Method)

Download the best driver updater.

Run the tool > click Start Scan Now button to initiate the scan > review scan results and update the graphics driver. 

start scan using advanced driver updater

Make sure you restart the PC after updating the driver.

With the help of these fixes, you can easily fix the unable to 4K error on your PC. Let us know in the comments section about what works for your system. Keep in mind that using a 4K-enabled monitor will enhance your experience, so opt for it if you can.

Thanks for reading! Good luck.

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About The Author

Dishank Sharma
Dishank Sharma

A creative tech-writer who loves to explore latest tech-trends & convey them to his readers in the simplest way possible. He loves to blend the crispness of technology with a pinch of creativity while curating best practices for the readers. In his free time, he likes to scribble poetry, listen to rap & travel.

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