Fix VLC 4K Video Playback Choppy Issue

For users who take VLC as the main media player app, you may try to playback some 4K video shot with your 4K camera, camcorder, smartphone or downloaded from YouTube on VLC, however, one of most common issues when people encounter is the VLC 4K video playback choppy issues.

“I’m trying to playback 4K video from my GoPro in VLC and it’s super choppy, more actually freezes and that’s it. It’s not a CPU issue as the CPU isn’t pegged at 100. I tried it in the Movied and TV player in Windows 10 and it works perfectly. Any idea? I have GPU decoding enabled and I’m running a 980TI so I don’t think it’s related to that.”

“New to VLC & love its many options, however I am unable to play 4k video, doesn’t start then very choppy. No problem with other players so nothing wrong with my system or CPU. Would welcome any advice.Thanks.”

Although VLC can handle a lot of media playback perfectly, however, a lot of people even encounters video playback choppy issues when they try to play high definition movie such as 720p or 1080p movie, not to mention the large 4K video files. The good news is that there are solutions for you to fix VLC choppy playback issue with 4K or HD video.

Solution 1: Enable GPU hardware acceleration in VLC

If you are noticing choppy playback in VLC Media Player when playing high resolution video files, you may under certain circumstances benefit from gpu accelerated decoding in the media player to smooth things out. The feature in theory uses the processing power of the graphic card to lighten the load on the processor of the system.

Here are the detailed steps to enable hardware acceleration in VLC

Open VLC Media Player and click on Tools > Preferences or press Ctrl-P to open the settings window of the program. If you are using the simple settings interface, click on Input & Codecs on the left sidebar and check the Use GPU accelerated decoding box there.

Check Use GPU accelerated decoding box

If you are using the “all” interface select Input/Codecs > Video Codecs > FFmpeg > Hardware decoding instead to enable acceleration this way.

Check hardware decoding box

There are a couple misconceptions about this though that need to be addressed first before you can make an educated decision about it.

First, according to VLC’s GPU Decoding page, it is only available for H.264 streams. Second, the data is decoded in the GPU at the decoding stage and then transferred back to the player so that the other stages, filtering and streaming for instance, can be processed. This means that it can under circumstances be slower than without gpu acceleration enabled.

Last but not least, GPU decoding is only available for select operating systems. While Windows Vista and newer versions of the Microsoft operating system are supported, Windows XP is not at this point in time. The majority of graphic cards should support hardware acceleration just fine. Make sure you have installed the latest drivers though.

Solution 2: Play 4K Video with VLC best alternative 4K Video Player

Besides VLC, you can also play 4K video with the following powerful but free 4K video player.

5K Player

5KPlayer is a new and a pretty powerful video player in terms of playing the HD videos. Apart from playing 4K videos, 1080p HD videos smoothly, it also lets you play 5K videos, which is the biggest advantage of this player over other players.

Media Player Classic and K-Lite Codec Pack

Media Player Classic, also known as MPC, is an open source free media player, mimicking the look and feel of Windows Media Player 6.4. As a matter of fact, MPC on its own cannot play 4K UHD videos. It needs the help from K-Lite Codec Pack. To make things easier, you are suggested to download K-Lite Codec Pack full package which covers Media Player Classic. Despite that it can work on even the oldest computers, you still need a more powerful system to perform 4K playback.


The KMPlayer at first only serves for Windows users. But in April, 2016, a Mac alpha version was released for Mac users with OS X 10.6 or later operating system. It supports for a wide range of file formats and can play videos in superb quality, including 4K UHD. According to the description in its official site, the PC edition only works on Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7(32bit). If you need a 4K video player for Windows 10, 8.1 or 7, you’d better choose another program, such as 5KPlayer.

Divx Player

This very popular and well known video player now supports playback of files up to 4K in resolution. It supports DivX HEVC video with the HEVC plugin, as well as regular DivX and DivX Plus. DivX Player is promoted as a very high quality media player and is one of the most popular choices. Some of the unique features that are well worth mentioning with this software including the ability to quickly switch between subtitles in various languages. You can also easily flick through different soundtracks in order to hear features like the director’s commentary, or the motion picture in another language when available.

Related article: Watch H.265 video with VLC | Play MOV on VLC | Play MTS/M2TS on VLC 

Solution 3: Compress 4K to 1080p or 720p for VLC smooth playback

If above listed 2 solutions still can’t fix your problem, here, a more effective solution – downscale 4K to 1080p is highly recommended to you. To compress 4K to 1080p, you can download Pavtube Video Converter, which has full importing support for all 4K container file format such as 4K AVI, 4K WMV, 4K MP4, 4K MKV, 4K FLV, 4K MOV, 4K TS, 4K MXF, 4K XAVC/XAVC S, etc and 4K compression codec like H.264, H.265, Prores. You can batch load multiple 4K video into the program at one time for converting to various HD file formats including H.264 HD MP4, H.264 HD MOV, H.265 HD, MPEG-4 HD MP4, MPEG-2 HD, MPEG-TS HD, MKV HD, WMV HD, Divx HD, AVI HD, BDAV HD, etc for smoothly viewing on VLC.

To get best playback effects with VLC, you can flexibly adjust output profile parameters such as video codec, resolution, bit rate, frame rate, audio codec, bit rate, sample rate, channels, etc as you like.

Pavtube Video Converter is available on both Windows 10/8.1/8/7, it is also accompanied by an up-to-date Mac version – Pavtube Video Converter for Mac for macOS High Sierra, macOS Sierra, Mac OS X El Capitan, Mac OS X Yosemite, Mac OS X Mavericks, etc. The program is very easy to use, no matter experienced user or fresh could handle it very well. In addition, it produces high quality results, you can’t find any difference between the converted video and the resource 4K video.

Step by Step to Compress 4K to 1080p to Fix VLC 4K Video Playback Stuttering Issue

Step 1: Load 4K video into the program.

Download the free trial version of the program. Launch it on your computer. Click “File” menu and select “Add Video/Audio” or click the “Add Video” button on the top tool bar to import source 4K video files into the program.

Load source 4K video

Step 2: Define the output format.

Clicking the Format bar, from its drop-down list, to downscale 4K to 1080p, it would be much ideal for you to choose one of VLC compatible HD file format to output such as “H.264 HD Video(*.mp4)” under “HD Video” main category.

Choose output file format

Tips: Click “Settings” on the main interface to open “Profile Settings” window, in video section, under “Size(pix)” drop-down list, choose “1980*1020” or “1080*720” to compress 4K to 1080p, you can also change other settings according to your own needs to get better output video and audio quality.

Step 3: Start the video compression process.

After all setting is completed, hit the “Convert” button at the right bottom of the main interface to begin 4K to VLC best compatible H.264 HD format conversion and compression process.

When the conversion is finished, click “Open Output Folder” icon on the main interface to open the folder with generated files. Now, you can smoothly watch compressed files on VLC with no choppy issues.

What You May be Interested

Pavtube iMedia Converter

The most advanced yet easy-to-use tool for converting Blu-ray, DVD, ISO, Video to various video/audio formats for backup, editing, playing, sharing, etc.

Pavtube Video Converter

Converting common, HD, 3D, 4K videos to compatible with FCP, iMovie, FCE, Avid, Adobe, VR, Game, TV, Youtube, Media Player, TV Box, Storages, etc.