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How fast does my internet need to be to stream 4K movies?

By 07 Feb 2018
Bandwidth for streaming

With streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Video, and even YouTube now offering 4K content, you might be wondering whether your internet connection is fast enough to cope with Ultra-HD videos.  

You might also think you’re getting 4K because you have a 4K TV and you’re streaming a movie that’s available in Ultra-HD, but the streaming service you're using might only give you 1080p (or less) if that’s the most your internet can handle. 

The minimum bandwidth required to be able to stream a video without it buffering every few minutes is slightly different for each streaming service, because they all compress data in different ways. We'll look at the specific requirements in more detail but generally speaking, if you consistently get speeds of 25mbps or higher, you'll be able to watch 4K content. 

To check your internet speed you can use an online speed checker like speedtest.net, which you can also get as an app for your phone or tablet.

Just remember – if you're checking your home broadband speed, make sure the device you're using is connected to your Wi-Fi and not your mobile network. 

There are loads of streaming services to choose from, and as we mentioned earlier, they all have different requirements. Here are the most popular services and what their recommended minimum bandwidth is for each resolution. 

Netflix

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  • SD (up to 720p) - minimum 3mbps
  • HD (1080p) - minimum 5mbps
  • Ultra HD (4K) - minimum 25mbps

Amazon Video

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  • SD (up to 720p) - minimum 900kbps 
  • HD (1080p) - minimum 3.5mbps 
  • Ultra HD (4K) - minimum 15mbps 

Apple TV

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  • SD (up to 720p) - minimum 3mbps
  • HD (1080p) - minimum 6mbps
  • Ultra HD (4K) - minimum 13mbps 

YouTube

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  • SD (up to 720p) - minimum 1.5mbps
  • HD (1080p) - minimum 3mbps
  • Ultra HD (4K) - minimum 13mbps 

Hulu

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  • SD (up to 720p) - minimum 3mbps
  • HD (1080p) - minimum 6mbps
  • Ultra HD (4K) - minimum 13mbps 

Vudu

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  • SD (up to 720p) - minimum 1mbps
  • HD (1080p) - minimum 4.5mbps
  • Ultra HD (4K) - minimum 11mbps 

Vimeo

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  • SD (up to 720p) - minimum 4mbps 
  • HD (1080p) - minimum 6mbps 
  • Ultra HD (4K) - minimum 22mbps 

Hopefully, that's made the requirements for streaming a little clearer, but if you need help with anything else, you can contact one of our Team Knowhow experts here.

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