Top 6 Ways to Fix VLC 4K Choppy Issue

By Cecilia Hwung | Last Update:

Can VLC play 4k? Yes, but it can be extremely annoying to watch a super choppy video that hampers the UHD video playing experience. 4k videos not playing or stuttering are common errors in VLC. The footage recorded in 4K at 60fps can be extremely lagging at times if VLC is not configured properly. In this post, we will analyze common causes of VLC 4K choppy error and corresponding fixes.

VLC 4K Choppy

Why VLC 4K Choppy?

• The resolution is too high

If the resolution of the video is too high, then it is possible that while running the video playback, you will have a lagged video that might buffer or stutter at many points.

• The frame rate is too high

The stuttering can also happen if the frame rate is high as well. This is because the GPU takes a longer time to render the frame than it is expected and sometimes it might even skip the frame. Once that happens, the video is bound to give a choppy output. That's in fact the trade off when CPU is overloaded. VLC enables frame dropping to decode less frames, thus causing the choppy video performance.

• Encoding affects the video playback

If the video coding engine is not up to the mark and 60fps video is being run with equal quality and speed, then the lag will be a continuous part of the playback and there will be a workload on the GPU.

• Slow system

If the system is too slow to decode the images, then also the video can be choppy and there can be numerous breaks.

6 Methods to Fix VLC 4K Choppy

To fix VLC 4K video choppy issue, we have 6 possible solutions. They are updating VLC, disabling/enabling GPU Acceleration, changing Cache Time, changing VLC video output settings, amending FFmpeg Thread Settings and Loop Filter Skipping, and changing 4K video file parameters. Check their detailed steps below.

Method 1. Update VLC.

Update your VLC media player to the latest version. In fact, VLC 3.0 and higher versions provide better 4K video support.

Method 2. Disable/Enable GPU Acceleration

This method seems contradictory, but the situation various since users have different systems and hardware environment. Toggle GPU acceleration on or off? Feedbacks from users are divergent. Enabling GPU acceleration works for some users and disabling it works for others.

For instance, StackExchange user harrymac provided his example in the thread How to configure VLC to play 4K content properly. When Hardware-accelerated decoding is not disabled, 4k video freezing issues exists; when disabled, VLC can manager better frame rate, though it requires high end CPU.

You can try to switch it on or off and stay with whatever works for your 4k videos.

Step 1. From VLC menu, click tools > Preferences.

Step 2. Click Input/Codecs, in Hardware-accelerated decoding, select Disable.

Step 3. Save settings, close VLC and restart it again. See if you 4k video playback smoothly this time. If not, follow step1-2 to enable hardware decoding.

Method 3. Change Cache Time

Increasing cache value can improve the smoothness in video playback. You can change the File caching value from 300 (3 seconds) to 1000 for instance. Keep adjusting the value until you find one that suits you. Here are steps to change VLC cache time.

Step 1. Go to Preferences > Input/Codecs.

Step 2. Tick Show settings: All.

VLC preference input codecs

Step 3. Navigate to Input/Codecs advanced section, and change caching time.

VLC change cache time

Step 4. Save the changes, restart VLC and load your 4k video.

Method 4. Change VLC Video Output Settings

Changing output settings from automatic to DirectX, Open GL, and DirectDraw are proved as workable for many users. You can go to tools > Preferences > Video, and switch output settings.

VLC preference input codecs

Method 5. Amend FFmpeg Thread Settings and Loop Filter Skipping

This fix is from VideoLAN official forums, where many users found changing FFmeg settings works to avoid choppy 4k playback. Here are the steps.

Step 1. VLC menu Tools > Preferences > Select All in Show settings to manage advanced settings.

Step 2. Search for FFmpeg in filter box, or navigate to Input/Codecs > Video codecs > FFmpeg.

VLC preference input codecs

Step 3. Change threads from the default 0 to 1, 2, 3, 4 or other numbers.

Step 4. Save, close VLC and restart it. Load your 4k HDR videos.

Tips: You can also tweak loop filter skipping settings for FFmpeg until 4k playback worked.

Method 6. Change 4K Video File Parameters

Don't fret out if none of above method works. If you want stick to VLC instead of switching to default Media Player, VideoProc can help you out. With this tool, you will be able fix 4K videos stuttering when playback, compress unlimited 4K files as well as time-lapse videos. Changing the codec, frame rate, bitrates and so on is 1-click away.

  • Transcode 4k video at full GPU acceleration
  • Compress 4k video while retaining high quality
  • Adjust 4k frame rate, bit rate, playback speed
VideoProc DVD converter

• Change 4K Video Codec and Format

You can transcode 4k video from HEVC to H.264 without significant quality loss. The conversion process can be delivered at fast speed, thanks to full GPU acceleration powered by Intel, AMD or Nvidia.

Transcode 4k video for smooth playback

• Change Frame Rate

Change 4k video frame rate

Click the codec option (Gear icon on your imported video), find Frame Rate section and change it to a desired one. You can play with it until a suitable FPS is found.

• Compress 4k Video without Quality Loss

For smoother 4k playback, you can compress videos using VLC, but it would be demanding on old computers. As one of the best companions for VLC, VideoProc support compress 4k videos at full GPU acceleration, thus delivering a fast and high quality result.

Besides format compression, you can also change video resolution and trim out unwanted clip parts easily. The editing you made is non-destructive for the original 4k video, as you can always save a copy.

About The Author

Cecilia Hwung is the marketing manager of Digiarty Software and the editor-in-chief of VideoProc team. She pursues common progress with her team and expects to share more creative content and useful information to readers. She has strong interest in copywriting and rich experience in video editing tips.

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