Guidelines for 4K Plex streaming
Updated over a week ago

Since 4K videos are growing more and more popular, we are doing our best to provide 4K streaming services. But that being new technology, also requires quite a lot of computing power on the server side, as well as much higher internet speeds in order to have it working as expected.

Please follow this guideline and rules to get the best of the 4K streaming! Not listening to these advices might lead to a worse 4K experience than intended.

What does 4K ready mean?

We have a lot of customers that are using their seedboxes for streaming purposes. In that manner, our Stream plan is currently the most efficient plan when it comes to streaming in 4K. Customers do expect to have high-quality videos without any delays. During this time, our Stream plan has shown its effectiveness for high-resolution streams having no interruptions.

Therefore, these are the main capabilities for transcoding on Stream seedbox plan:

  • 4K resolution 20mbps HEVC (h265) codec transcoding, CPU is capable of doing that

  • Potential problems (local internet speed + device compatibility)

  • Avoiding audio transcoding (that means avoiding Dolby 5.1 codecs and using them when you have the hardware)

  • Way to diagnose exactly why it is transcoding

  • Basically, push as many clients to direct play (which is what we want)

  • We have witnessed many customers having issues when turning on "burn-in" or embedded subtitles. In that case, we strongly recommend either remove subtitles (set the setting to None as shown in the screenshot below) or just disable the embedded subtitles (avoid transcoding to "burn-in" when using subtitles for streaming).

  • Last but not least, we have a tip for using one of the tools especially when it comes to debugging your Plex streaming. We strongly recommend installing Tautulli and PlexIt (both available in the One-Click-Installers). Tautuli is a great monitoring and tracking tool for Plex Media Server which allows you to observe what you're currently watching; whether or not it's a direct stream; if it's transcoding, etc. On the other side, PlexIt is a Chrome extension that will queue up videos from supported web sites and store the details to your Plex Account for playback on Plex Apps.

Device compatibility

Note that we highly suggest you to use Plex app instead of Web browser!

Web browser

For best performance and experience:

  • Download h264 4K video content

  • Use MP4 format as it has much greater support among the browsers and less CPU power is required

If for some reason you were unable to find video content you want to download in h264, you should download then h265 video, but please refer to our guidelines for h265 video content.

One of the aspects for the better experience is your device:

  • Enough powerful CPU for 4K decoding without delays

  • Fast internet(minimal requirement for watching 20mbps video is at least double of that, otherwise you might experience buffering)

  • It’s recommended for device to be connected via cable and not wifi

Is my video been transcoded or directplayed?

You can easily determine that...

For example when you start playing video in your browser go to the bottom right corner, there should be a list of buttons.

Click on the equalizer button (playback settings) marked yellow on the picture, and a new dialog will be opened.

  • If your device has capabilities to play the movie without transcoding to other formats, you will see something like this:

Quality : Original

  • If your devices does not have capabilities to play the movie in original format you will see something like this:

Quality: Convert

  • This means that video has been transcoded to a video codec that your device supports.

Guidelines for 4K transcoding (what to expect)

  • Furious plan is recommended if you are transcoding

  • 4K videos of 20megabits per second require at least 40mbits download Internet speed

So if you experience buffering of any sort please:

  • Please check actual bitrate of the HEVC movie

Bitrate should not exceed 20000kbps in order for the Plex server to have enough CPU power to transcode to h264.

  • Check your device CPU usage, open Task manager and observe CPU and GPU usage

  • Check your network speed, also if possible switch from WIFI to ethernet cable or at least use 5GHz WIFI. (in many cases your home WIFI simply cannot transfer at speeds required)

Please use to check speed of your network

If all these check out, please contact support and ask them to check the seedbox if it is having potential issues.

Android TV box

Here, the situation is much better as almost all newer generation (2018 and up) boxes pretty much support all video formats and containers.

  • To make sure that you have all codecs you need and they are all supported, please try to install this app on your STB.
    This will list all codecs supported on the device, please check the VIDEO list for MPEG-4 AVC(H.264) and HEVC presence. Both should have at least DECODER capabilities next to them. This would mean that almost all video content would be watchable without transcoding.

  • If your TV is 4K resolution also please make sure that you use high quality HDMI cables that support this kind of resolution and bandwidth.

  • Android TV box should be connected via ethernet cable.
    If you cannot use ethernet cable to connect your device to the internet, please try to switch to 5GHz WIFI.

  • If you are for example watching a 4K HEVC movie that is 20mbps, please have in mind that you would need to have at least 40mbps of download speed to watch a movie without “buffering” periods.

  • Also you should know that Plex application for Android requires a 5$ activation fee to remove trial, this will allow you uninterrupted playback.

Plex desktop application

Here the situation depends much on your graphic card and whether it supports HEVC(h265) decoding or not.

  • Intel iGPU’s starting from 6-th generation should all support HEVC decoding

  • All NVIDIA GPUs starting from 2016 should support HEVC decoding, please refer to the link below to confirm you have a HEVC compatible GPU.

  • All AMD products starting 2017 should support hardware decoding of HEVC(both APU’s and GPU’s).

If for some reason your system does not detect hardware decoding for HEVC, in your playback settings you will have “quality” set to “convert” instead of “original”

How to tell if you are streaming the video without transcoding?

Ideally, you should stream without transcoding involved... That way you ensure that you get original quality of the video content and you put less stress on the seedbox and your device while watching the video.

But how to tell? It is rather simple really...

It does not matter which device or platform you are using to watch Plex on, you should have settings for quality.

This is was taken from web browser streaming video from plex, it is located at the bottom of the screen.
Please click on the equalizer icon marked yellow, it should open your playback settings.

Please note that quality is set to Convert(Maximum), what that means is that Plex server on the seedbox is transcoding video to a format that your device is able to play. Please click on that setting and try to find in list option "Original".

This will ensure you get maximum quality and almost guarantee you that you have no issues at all when playing video content.
If for some reason you can not find "Original" setting in Quality, this means that Plex server has determined that your device is not compatible with the video format you are trying to play, and Plex is trying to convert it to a video format that your device supports.

What to do if my device is not able to playback h265(HEVC) content?

In that case we suggest you find exact video format that is compatible with your device, in most of the cases this is h264 codec.
Also you can contact our support team they will be able to guide you what exactly can be done in this case.

What internet at home do i need to have to be able to play 4K content?

Well, if you open up video information, you will see that this particular 4K video has 18142kbps bitrate(18mbps) which is suitable for our Furi plan to transcode and stream.

1) We really recommend having at least 50mbps home internet for playing video that is 20mbps bitrate.

2) We also recommend that you avoid WIFI on the device you are playing the videos simply because in many cases home wifi cannot achieve speeds that are needed for video content to play without interruptions.
If you can please switch to ethernet cable, if not, please use 5Ghz WIFI for your device.

So yes, many things can potentially affect your viewing experience, and your home internet connection is one of them.

I don't know what to do next...

If you need any assistance, let us know by opening a chat in the lower right hand corner of your screen. We're here to help 😄

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