Home » Best Way to Play 4K MKV Video on Mac

Best Way to Play 4K MKV Video on Mac

Watching choppy video playback is like sailing choppy waters: rough, frightening, and may lead to nausea. While modern hardware can handle most tasks you can throw at it, every so often you'll encounter an issue. Choppy video playback, whether through built-in monitor or external monitor, happens. Very recently, we've received several emails inquiring how to play 4K MKV video on Mac smoothly:

I just downloaded a 50 GB 4k mkv-file to my 2017 non-touchbar mac. I tried playing it with vlc on my 4k-monitor, but I only got like 0,2 fps and a lot of grey-ish pictures. I searched the web for other video players, but I found none that supports smooth 4k on mac. Please share your suggestion with 4k mkv on Mac. -----Reddit

I am trying to play 4K H.265 MKV files on my MacBook and they all stutter. In VLC, MplayerX and IINA. Has anyone else run into this issue and found a work around? I tried playing the file on the built in SSD and 8TB hard drive. ------MacRumors Forum

Still fail to play 4K MKV files on a Mac? In this post, we would like to introduce you 2 ways to play 4K MKV video on Mac smoothly. Check them now.

About 4K MKV Video and Mac

Some people wonder what is 4K MKV and the differences between 4K MKV, 1080P MKV and average 4K video files. Actually, it's very simple to understand. A 4K MKV, aka MKV 4K, Ultra HD MKV and UHD MKV, is in fact an MKV video file that has a resolution of at least 3840×2160 pixels (some MKV 4K video may contain 4096 x 2160 pixels). A video player that could play MKV videos can also play 4K MKV video theoretically, but the video quality differs between different MKV video players.

Which Macs support 4K?

The new 4K Retina 21.5in iMac and the 5K Retina 27in. The resolution of the 4K 21.5in iMac is a full 4K, 4096×2304, and the 5K 27in iMac has a resolution of 5120×2880. Both are 60Hz. They also support external 4K displays using Mini DisplayPort adapters via Thunderbolt.

Note: If you have an older computer that doesn't officially support 4K displays, what a pity, you may need to buy a new one.

Other Apple computers support 4K external displays using either the built-in HDMI port and/or using Mini DisplayPort adapters via Thunderbolt. The resolutions and refresh rates are not the same for each machine though. Here’s a breakdown:

Mac Pro (Late 2013)

MacBook Pro (Retina, 13in, Late 2013 and later)

MacBook Pro (Retina, 15in, Late 2013 and later)

MacBook (Retina,12in)

You can use 4K displays and Ultra HD TVs at the following resolutions and refresh rates via the built-in HDMI port of your Mac:

3840 x 2160 at 30Hz

4096 x 2160 at 24Hz (mirroring is not supported at this resolution)

The MacBook (2015 and later), MacBook Pro (2016 and later), and iMac (2017 and later) support these resolutions and refresh rates over HDMI 1.4b when using the USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter with macOS Sierra 10.12 or later:

Up to 1080p at 60Hz

3840 x 2160 at 30Hz

Since so many Mac computers and video players support 4K playback, why playing 4K MKV on Mac not a child's play? The highly possible reasons might be: 

1. MKV is incompatible with Mac default player QuickTime player.

Solution: Find a 4K video converter to convert MKV to MOV/MP4 format for playback.

2. If it is smooth when playing 4K MKV on the built in monitor, but VLC player plays 4K MKV with various problems, including VLC not playing MKV properly, MKV choppy/stutter in VLC, MKV files lagging in VLC, that most likely due to the large size the 4K MKV.

Solution: Open up Activity Monitor and check your CPU usage while you're playing 4K MKV. If it's close to 100%, you might need to compress the 4K MKV to 1080p or 720p files.

Best 4K MKV Converter & Compressor for You to Use

To convert or compress 4K MKV, Pavtube video Converter for Mac will be your dream video converter/compressor. It is a handy and versatile Mac video converter for 4K UHD videos, HD videos, and SD videos like MKV, MOV, M4V, MP4, MPEG, AVI, WMV, etc. No matter you want to convert 4K videos to Mac supported formats or compress to popular devices friendly formats, you can finish it in a simple way.

On top of that, it provides many basic but distinctive video editing functions such as 4K video trimming, cropping, splitting, merging, parameters adjusting, watermarking, subtitle inserting, color effecting to help enhance your video to a high level.

For converting and compressing 4K MKV on Windows, you can get Pavtube Video Converter. Just download and install the software to experience its wonderful benefits.

Quick Guide: Convert or Compress 4K MKV for Playback on Mac in 3 Clicks

Click 1. This software is easy to install and use, open it and enter the main interface which is user-friendly, you can click "Add Video" button to load 4K MKV video to the program. Also you can add multiple video files to a folder, then load the folder to this software for batch video conversion.

Click 2. Click Format, you can find 200+ video formats are here. Find “Common Video” and target “MOV - QuickTime (*.mov)”. If you wanna convert MKV to MP4, select "MP4" as output file format.

Compress 4K to 1080p or 720p.

Open "Profile Settings" window, click "Size(pix)" to select 1920*1080 or 1280*720 as the final resolution for output video. Many other advanced parameters like Bit Rate, Video Codec, Channel etc are also available for you to further customize your output file.

Click 3. After the video format and settings are finished, you need to go back to the main interface and hit "Convert" button, magic 4K MKV conversion process will be done in few minutes. Then you can play 4K MKV on Mac without any choopy problems.

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