What is the minimum internet speed required to stream 4K videos?

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I often stream 4K videos on YouTube and sometimes view 4K 60 FPS, which almost bursts my whole internet connection. Still I can do other tasks on Internet pretty smoothly. How?

I use 50 Mb/s FTTH (Fiber to the Home) connection at home and everything just flies. Still to find out what would be the minimum requirement to watch 4K videos.

So I dig in to my wireless router’s settings and adjusted the bandwidth throttle option and started analyzing the minimum, optimum, and recommended internet speed to stream 4K videos.

4K Ultra HD

Minimum: 15-20 Mb/s (Not smooth, but playable; only YouTube works best, Netflix struggles all the time).

I found that my ISP has direct peering with YouTube thus no matter what speed I use it plays everything very smooth. So I checked same with my Mobile network (JIO 4G – 14Mb/s UP & 6Mb/s DOWN) still YouTube was streamable (it buffers at beginning but plays better upon start) so I have to conclude that YouTube works most of the time due to it’s highly compressed video formats.

Optimum: 25–30 Mb/s (Smooth, Netflix struggles on beginning and while dragging the timeline).

Recommended: 50 Mb/s (Smooth, everything is streamable even while dragging the timeline).

Maximum – Depends Upon You! But Anything is Above 50 Mb/s is Best.

Latency is also important here, because you have to wait more in beginning if you have high latency. Thus anything below 50 ms is better and under 20 ms is best.

Before using FTTH I was using local broadband connection and it used to be slow and pings were decent like 10-20 ms and below. Now on FTTH it is almost 1 or 2 ms even on busy hours.

If you are using basic or local broadband then I would only recommended 25 Mb/s as minimum, because local ISP share their backbone with large number of local users and on peak time it may struggle if you are on the slower side. So make sure your ISP provides you the fastest connection possible. Although it won’t be cheaper, but for smoother experience you have to pay extra bucks.

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  1. Akshay Hallur Avatar
    Akshay Hallur

    It was an awesome read! The way you explained is really nice. As internet getting faster day by day, watching 4K videos will surly become a trend.

    I want to ask a question (personal), if you don’t mind: What you do with 50 Mbps internet connection. Isn’t it so fast? I am using fiber to the home connection of 10 Mbps and I hardly touch the full bandwidth unless we are downloading anything.

    1. AtulHost Avatar

      I will never mind Akshay! I generate much more data than a regular user and uses online backup solution for all the important files and projects. Backing up data becomes more crucial if you are dealing with highly important stuff. That is why I am using such a fast internet connection.

      Apart from this, my family is also fan of Amazon Prime and Netflix and they watch some of them in 4K if available. Think if all the device being used simultaneously, things will become quite slow. This is why I am using 50 Mb/s connection.

      I have used broadband earlier but the downtime was horrible, and in India cable cut is the biggest issue if you are using local broadband connection.

  2. Gagan Masoun Avatar
    Gagan Masoun

    YouTube is killer while streaming 4K videos, it uses highest compression technique and they have closest datacenter for every users.

    You are also right about direct peering, as most of ISP do have direct peering with YouTube, Netflix, Steam or many other services.