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Downscale 4K to 1080P: Benefits, Tutorial and Top 4 Converters Reviews

Many cameras, phones are capable to shoot video in 4K resolution. That doesn't mean we all have access to take advantages of those true-to-life pictures. Limited by display devices, decode technology, bandwidth, 4K sources, and many factors, we are not yet able to race onto the 4K bandwagon. Therefore many times we need to downscale 4K to 1080P.

Don't know whether it is necessary to lower the resolution or where to begin? Take it easy. This post will make clear the reason of downscaling 4K to 1080p and show you a detailed how-to guide.

Why Do We Want to Downscale 4K to 1080P?

• It is still a big workload for most computers to cope with the large data of 4K clips

Editing the film before uploading or sharing is necessary. But 4K makes the video editing a real nightmare. It is so much work on video editing programs and takes up so much space. Our PC has to be equipped with strong GPU, CPU, and large RAM or it will easily get crashed. Of those, the price of GPU remains high since skyrocketing in 2017. Expensive PC building makes editing 4K the sole preserve of expertise.

• 4K displays are the trend but not yet in everyone's home

Most of the computer monitors are still in a 1080P resolution. A 4K monitor usually tagged with 4x the price of HD monitor. Not that 4K monitor alone costs high. The point is, though a TV or computer is equipped with a 4K display, it may lack the support of HDR10, backlight control, 4K 60fps decode technology.

Does that mean we have no possibilities to enjoy the life-like 4K pictures? Absolutely not! There's a silver lining in this cloud. Downscale 4K to 1080P will recreate the true-to-life visual experience.

In the age of mobile, the majority of videos uploading to YouTube are downscaled from 4K to 1080P as the fact that there is only slightly visual difference existed between 1080P and 4K videos displayed on a phone with an only 6-in monitor. The downscaled footages deliver more stunning images with vivid colors and deeper contrast than ordinary 1080P footages, which will definitely provide a visually pleasing experience.

Still Hesitate to Lower the Resolution? There Are Other Benefits

1. Sharp the Footage with Higher Pixel Density

4K resolution comes with 3840 x 2160 pixels or 4096 x 2160 pixels, while 1080P needs only 1920 × 1080 pixels. When we scale down the footage to fit a lower resolution, each pixel has several pixels to reference for what it should be.

2. Crop or Stabilize Your Footage without Blowing it Up

Any editing decision that involves zoom effect, such as crop, applied to a 1080P video comes with the sacrificing of quality. Why? When we crop the video, pixels will be blown up, and repeated or interpolated to fill the blank space.

Things will be different when we zoom in on a 4K video. Before exporting as a 1080P clip, we can zoom even in 200% and still have the same sharpness in the footage because we haven't yet gone below the original pixel density.

3. Save Space of Your Hard Drive

4K video is staggeringly larger than 1080P and as a consequence requires a lot more storage space. A two-minute segment of 4K video takes up around 300MB space on your device. Let alone some hours-long 4K films. Downscaling 4K to 1080P can save immense storage space, and also enables us uploading videos fast.

4. Decrease Pressure to Your Device and Hardware When Editing Footages

4K boasts tons of information. Your PC has to be well-built to handle the enormous amount of data. Lags, stuttering are the common headache we will be facing. But we don't have to be bothered by that problem as over 70% of YouTube watch time happens on mobile platforms.The majority of popular phones are designed with size 6in to 8in. It is hard for that small display to show all details of 4K videos. Since downscaling 4K video to 1080P helps us save a lot of space without any visible quality loss, why not make you life easier by dealing with 1080P?

How to Downscale 4K to 1080P with Top 4 Video Converters

There are a lot of software out there that purport to convert 4K to 1080P. They'll advertise themselves as fast and versatile. But as we're all too well aware, most of these converters are just plain crap. Slowing down the computer, and exporting video in extremely low quality and etc. Moreover, they often come packaged with toolbars or malware which may do great harm to our PC.

In this article, we detail 4 of the best apps for downscaling 4K to 1080P. Each comes with unique features to target a specific purpose. You can choose the one according to demand.

#1 VideoProc Converter – Convert 4K to 1080P without Losing Quality

Meet the powerful engine baked in VideoProc Converter. It adopts a unique motion-adaptive pixel scaling algorithm to ensure lossless 4K to 1080P converting. VideoProc Converter supports a wide range of videos you shot with GoPro, DJI, iPhone, Android, camcorder, or any other 4K cameras. In a nod to beginners, there are 370+ input formats supported and 420+ output presets ready to use. You can use the target format guidance to 1-click select output format with ease, without knowing the nitty-gritty of codecs, video bitrate, audio sample rate, etc.

Highlighted features:

• Lightweight and low CPU usage, runs stably even on low-spec computers.
• Convert DCI 4K, 4K UHD, iPhone/GoPro/Drone 4K HEVC to 1080p without image distortion or quality loss.
• Level-3 Hardware acceleration to speed up the converting process 2-7 times faster.
• Also works as a robust video editor to crop, trim, stabilize, remove fisheye at ease.

How to Downscale 4K Footages to 1080P in 3 Clicks?

Step 1: Click +Video button to import video clip to this 4K video editing software.

Step 2: Click the target output formats.

• VideoProc Converter supports 420+ output formats for different devices and platforms. These formats are user-ready presets to select upon exporting. For instance, if you are going to upload the downscaled 1080p to YouTube, you can select any video format presets for YouTube. These presets help you to process the video with best bitrate, and codec for YouTube, as per the platform requirements.

• MP4 H264 is highly recommended as the output format as it is an HD codec. Besides, VideoProc Converter supports hardware acceleration for H264. It delivers high output speed.

import 4K video

Step 3: Click the blue gear and find the resolution setting options. Choose 1920x1080 as the output resolution.

If necessary, slide the small slider to high quality for a better output image quality.

manage resolution

Step 4: Click Use High Quality Engine and Run to Start Converting.

For your reference, there are several 4K resolutions in the industry. As you can see, besides the standard 16:9 and 4:3 aspect ratio, some 4K resolution corresponds to other less common aspect ratio. 1080P is progressive videos with a resolution of 1920 x 1080, that's 16:9 in terms of aspect ratio. See the table below:

4K resolutions and aspect ratio list

No matter which 4K resolution video you have at hand, VideoProc Converter allows you to set custom or fixed resolutions and aspect ratio upon exporting, catering to all kinds of scenarios even if you encounter a rare video format.

Free Download VideoProc Converter to Downscale 4K to Fit the Screen:

#2 VLC Media Player - How to Transcode 4K to 1080P for Free?

VLC Media Player is not just a handy tool for playing 4K videos. It can also be used to downscale 4K footages to 1080P clips. As open-source software, it is totally free without any limitation or watermarks.
It works great for most videos as well as audios with a wide range of supported formats like MPEG-2, DivX, H.264, MKV, WebM, and WMV. A headache problem is that VLC Media Player lacks support for H265, also known as HEVC, and VP9 codec. But most 4K videos are compressed by H.265 or VP9. Besides, it doesn't support hardware acceleration, so it has weak performance in speed. Despite the cons, it is still an outstanding free converter.

VLC error

Take a look at how to lower the resolution of 4K video using VLC Media Player.

Step 1: Click Media > Convert/Save > Add to import the video and Click Convert.

Step 2: Choose 1080P as the profile setting.

VLC export profile setting

Step 3: Click Browse to choose the output folder position.

Step 4: Click Start to convert.

#3 Adobe Premiere Pro: Convert 4k to 1080P using the Specialized Video Editing Tool

Adobe Premiere Pro enjoys a good reputation in the field of video editing. Powerful editing capability, flexible interface, GPU acceleration make it a top choice for video editing software. For many editing specialists, it is just close to being perfect. To convert a 4K video to 1080P, a branch of editing is absolute without any problem. However, Premiere Pro is not friendly to beginners who know little about video codecs.You may often encounter errors like HEVC missing codec error. Moreover, it needs a strong PC build as a simple convert task may slow down the performance of the computer. To select the right output parameters could also be a long process of trial and error.

Step 1: Click File > import to import the source media.

Note: VP9 may fail to be imported due to missing codecs. H.265 may also fail to be imported in a free trial version.

Adobe Premiere Pro file format not supported

Step 2: Drag the video clips to the timeline.

Step 3: Click Sequence > Sequence settings and Type in 1920 as the horizontal pixel, 1080 as the vertical pixel. Then they will change anything you need to always take this box maximum to render quality and maximum bit depth.

Step 4: Right click the timeline and click Scale to Frame Size.

• Also you can click Effect Control > Motion, then find scale under video effect list. Enter scale as 50.

• Step 4 can be skipped if you don't want to do any editing work to the footage.

Step 5: Click File > Export > Media. And Select H.264 as the export settings format.

export setting of Adobe Premiere Pro

Premiere Pro provides us many ways to downscale 4K to 1080P. We highly recommend Premiere Pro for shrinking 4K to 1080P if you need to apply complicated after effect like adding filters, professional color corrections. However, if simply want to downscale the footage, why not use a hammer to kill a hell. Do not disturb yourself with a daunting tool.

#4 HDconvert – Convert 4K to 1080P Online

Some of us want to convert 4K to HD quality footages without installing any software. A decent online converter can do a big effort. A lot of online converters out there purport to convert video files at fast speed. Among them, HD convert is strongly recommended as it can scale down any video to HD size with high quality and turbo speed. A simple and initiative user interface allows us to spend no time to learn the way to use it.

It is good enough to be the leader of the online converter, but far from being perfect.
It only exports MP4, 1080P, H264, 6.0MBit/s, supports limited support import files. As an online tool, HDconvert relies high on network state.

Let's get started by entering the website of HDconvert

Step 1: Click 1080P as the output file size.

Step 2: Click Browse to enter the source file. Wait for seconds or minutes.

• A stable and fast network is needed or we may fail to upload the footage.

• We may need to wait for minutes or even longer if the source media is large in size.

Step 3: Click File to find the converted file which is also our target video. Click Download to save it on our PC.

I am not a premium member, so the output file is delivered with watermark. Overall, the converting speed is fast, but uploading, downloading speed me some time. Another annoying thing is that there are some ads for unknown apps, we may miss click it and enter the landing page of advertisements.

HDconverter download to export

Can't Decide Which Tool to Use to Downscale 4K to 1080P? There Are Four Aspects to Ponder Over

Each tool has its cons and pros. To choose the right tool to downscale videos by asking yourself: Where the footage will be uploaded? What is the type of source footage? Do you know any knowledge about videos? How's your computer and network? All these aspects should be taken into account. For a better reference, I will compare the test result here.

#1 Output Quality

Quality matters most. You won't want any compromise to quality when converting the high resolution 4k movie to a 1080p clip. Let's have a check about the output quality. Basically, all these four tools have great output quality benefits from a large number of pixels of 4K resolution.

quality comparison

#2 Speed

HD convert (3 minutes) ≥ VideoProc Converter (3 minutes) > VLC (6 minutes) > Premiere (12 minutes)

Both VideoProc Converter and HDconvert have good performance in speed when converting 4K to 1080P. VideoProc Converter takes around 3 minutes to get the work done. HD convert takes only 1 minute to convert, which should be the fastest. But considering it needs around 2 minutes to upload the 4K video to its website, and 20 seconds to download the 1080P video to computer, I don't view HDconvert as the only fastest chose.

If I was in a hurry, I would not chose Premiere Pro to convert 4K to 1080P as it comes with a disappointed speed-totally costs me around 12 minutes. VLC does costs a shorter time than Premiere Pro if we can succeed at one try. But as there are many times of failed. I tried 3 times before succeed. For my first try, there are no pictures in the output file, only frames in black. The second time, there are only a second-long clip output as delivery footage.

#3 Price

The VLC media player is totally free to resize 4K to 1080P as it is an open source if we don't take the cost of time as a consideration. Otherwise, VideoProc Converter is the best choice as only USD29.95 needed for per year or USD42.95 for a lifetime. Adobe Premiere Pro costs USD20.99 per month. The high price can really set us at the bay. HDconvert is sold by the number of files you need to convert. 100 files coast USD99.99. For this turn, VideoProc Converter wins.

#4 Build-in Video Process Toolkit

Premiere Pro > VideoProc Converter > VLC > HDconvert

Besides the capability on converting 4K to 1080P, we also value their additional video processing toolkits. Adobe Premiere Pro, a typical non-linear video editing system, superiors other convertors in video process toolkits doubtlessly. It contains all the tools and features that are needed to professionally edit a video. If there is any need to apply advanced editing decisions, Premiere Pro is definitely the top choice.

On condition that you just need to do some basic edit like cutting, trimming, splitting, merging, cropping, stabilizing and etc., VideoProc Converter is the best option.

VLC Media Player and HDconvert are not advised when comes to edit videos. As both of them can't do the most basic editing tasks.


Acquiring and delivering in 4K may take more time than many think to become ubiquitous. Before that, downscaling 4K to 1080P is the simplest way for us to enjoy a 4K-like visual experience. When it comes to choosing convertors, always keep in mind that the choice totally depends on your requirements. Like if you are a newbie, and all you need is converting some HEVC or VP9 4K videos to 1080P with some basic edit. Then VideoProc Converter is a magnificent tool to try as it is fast, simple, stable and versatile. If you are a professional editor with demand for audiovisual content with transitions, extra elements like boxes and rectangles or other complicated effect, Premiere Pro blows away the competition.


Reuben Zaback

Hi, I'm Reuben Zaback and I've been an award-winning editor of Digiarty for four years. Writer by day and reader by night, I share programs reviews and tutorials, multimedia solutions, latest tech trends, devices tips, etc. I geek out over Apple products, sports cameras, drones, gadgets and always look to learn something new. My spare time is dominated by sports rehab and part-time study.

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