You may be watching low-quality Netflix – Here is how to check

You’ve just bought a shiny new 4K TV or PC monitor, plugged it in, and are now ready to enjoy all the quality UHD content on Netflix – but setting up a 4K stream is not that easy.

There are various requirements your TV or computer system must meet to qualify for 4K Netflix streaming – and these can be stringent, especially for PC and laptop users.

Netflix lists the basic requirements for streaming Ultra HD content as follows:

  • A 60Hz TV or computer monitor compatible with Ultra HD streaming from Netflix.
  • A plan that supports streaming in Ultra HD.
  • A steady Internet connection speed of 25Mbps or higher.
  • Streaming quality set to Auto or High.

In short, customers should have a 4K TV, computer monitor, or laptop display, a high-speed Internet connection, and the Premium UHD Netflix subscription option.

After enabling the maximum streaming quality setting in your profile menu, you should be all set to enjoy Netflix’s UHD content.

But how do you know if what you are watching is really being streamed in 4K?

How to check

To check if you are streaming in UHD quality, you should first ensure that you are watching a 4K show.

Typing in “UHD” or “4K” into Netflix’s search bar will show all UHD-compatible series and movies, allowing you to easily find high-resolution content.

While there may be ways to open the Netflix debug or info menu on your TV or media player, many standalone devices and browsers do not present this option.

If you are streaming through a browser, you can check the quality of your Netflix content by pressing:

  • Ctrl + Alt + Shift + D on Windows
  • Control + Shift + Option + D on Mac

This brings up a detailed inspection of your current stream, including the video bitrate and resolution.

Netflix debug screenshot
Netflix’s debug menu, displaying bitrate and resolution.

Supported hardware and browsers

If you are watching on Chrome, Firefox, or certain other browsers, you may notice with horror that your stream is only playing at a maximum of 720p. There is a solution to this, but it is not ideal.

Chrome and Firefox, despite being fan favourites for desktop browsing, only support up to 720p streaming quality on Netflix, although this can be increased to 1080p using an unofficial browser extension.

If you want to watch Netflix in 4K on your PC, however, you typically only have two choices: download the Windows 10 app or use Microsoft Edge.

Microsoft Edge is the only browser which supports 4K content streaming on Netflix due to its improved HTML5 support.

If you have installed Microsoft Edge and are still limited to 1080p quality, this could be due to hardware limitations.

If you are using a discrete graphics card from Nvidia or AMD, make sure your drivers are update to the latest version. If you are using your CPU’s integrated graphics, Netflix states that users require a 7th-generation or newer Intel processor to support Netflix UHD streaming.

Also ensure that your Windows 10 installation is updated.

To check if your media player or TV supports 4K Netflix streaming, visit the complete list of supported devices on Netflix’s website.

Now read: The effect of Netflix on South African content

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You may be watching low-quality Netflix – Here is how to check