Netflix 4K Hits Windows PCs, But With a Few Annoying Catches

by on November 29, 2016

Stephan Jukic – November 29, 2016

The arrival of Netflix content streaming in 4K ultra HD resolution is something we’ve been waiting to finally hear about for a long time now and it has finally arrived as a real consumer option. This is great news for 4K PC users who want some of the same Ultra HD entertainment access on their PCs as they can get on their powerful, cutting edge 4K TVs.

However, as is common with many newly arrived consumer technology innovations, there are three serious little catches. First your PC or tablet/laptop has to be running Windows 10 in its latest version, secondly, your device needs to be running Netflix from the latest version of Microsoft’s new Edge Web Browser and third, you’d better be using a computer that comes packed with the admittedly awesome power of Intel’s latest seventh generation Kaby Lake processors from Intel.

So sorry users of older 4K-capable PCs, sorry fans of Chrome and Firefox (are there any Firefox fans even left?) and sorry fans of other operating systems, at least for now.

The first two catches regarding Windows 10 and the Edge browser are pretty minor since most newer Windows machines come with both or can easily update to have both technologies but that last catch about Kaby Lake is a definite hitch for many people. The new Intel chipset is not only pricey, it’s also still quite uncommon in most Windows machines. In fact, we ourselves have only reviewed one PC device so far with the latest Kaby Lake processors built into it, and this is the new Razer Blade Stealth gaming laptop, which we cover in detail here.

The reason for needing to have Kaby Lake processors in your PC is however fairly straightforward: they come packed with HEVC 4K video compression decoding of the type used by Netflix to compress its ultra HD movie and program streams. In addition to this, the new chipsets come with other features which make them 4K-friendly.


One additional condition for accessing Netflix 4K for those who DO meet all of the above requirements is upgrading your PC subscription with the service to its Premium version, which costs $12 per month and is the only one which offers 4K streaming. This is something 4K TV owners also have to do if they want ultra HD content like House of Cards, Breaking Bad, Gilmore Girls and Orange is the New Black.

We do expect more 4K Netflix (and other content service) compatibility to reach a wider range of Windows machines and eventually even Mac machines further down the road but this may still take a little while considering how slowly many things involving 4K content accessibility sometimes move.

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  • Romey Moore
    November 30, 2016 at 5:32 am

    Additionally, there are currently “NO” desktops that are compatable with the requirements. Kaby lake wont be available for a desktop PC until sometime next year Jan-Feb 2017- if the introduction of the desktop chip coincides with available ready built pc’s. If not, then only the folks that want to build their own will be able to stream 4kuhd from netflix. This seems to be an oversight, but possibly they are prepared for the lack of interest in pcowners not subscribing to netflix 4k. I also wonder if they had taken into account that HEVC decoding is available on skylake just not 10bit and any modern cpu can decode hevc just not as efficiently as on a newer cpu specificially engineered to do so. So now comes the question if this was a bad decision or if someone looked at the options and still decided to restrict it to only the newest. I wonder if there are any consumers that will buy a new pc with the newest chip in order to play a 4k netflix movie on their pc?
    Business decisions sometimes fall into the category of quizzical. Why bother if no one will be there?


    • Larry
      November 30, 2016 at 6:11 am

      Just buy a Nvidia shield tv and be done with it. Do not buy all that crap to watch 4k.


      • Troy
        December 1, 2016 at 11:00 am

        But you can’t hook your “PC” up to the Nvidia Shield, the whole topic of conversation here! There are tons of options for viewing 4K Netflix, just not on a PC and this is what we’re addressing here. Thanks for playing.

        I have a 4K 2-in-1 that I travel with and I’d love to be able to watch 4K Netflix et al, but I have a Skylake processor so I’m SOL. 🙁


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