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Chrome’s New Video Renderer Aims to Play 4K Videos Smoothly

new-youtube-app-logoIf you long to able to stream 4K video smoothly on your Android device or desktop PC, Google Chrome hears ya’.

The Chrome Dev Channel on Android and Canary Channel on Windows and Mac OS X, are both hiding experimental support for a new video renderer.

Google’s François Beaufort says the new video renderer is capable of playing 4K video content without stuttering.

Caveats apply here, naturally. You need a super fast processor but you also need a super fast internet connection to play ultra HD video.

If your phone, tablet or laptop screeches to a halt when you play any kind of 4K video on YouTube don’t assume the new rendering algorithm will drastically change things. It may, assuming your processor and graphics are fairly modern, manage a bit better with the feature enabled than without.

Just don’t expect wonders on a Chromebook from 2011 or a low-end tablet running Jellybean.

Enable New 4k Video Renderer in Chrome

To try the new 4K video renderer out on Android you’ll need to install the Chrome Dev app from the Play Store.

Open a new tab and go to:


Hit the ‘Enable’ option and restart the browser when prompted.

To try the new 4K video renderer in Chrome for desktop you simply need to be running the latest Dev or Canary channel release on Windows, Mac OS X or Linux as it the flag is enabled by default.

When enabled, find a 4K, 4K (60FPS) or 1080p (60FPS) video on YouTube to see if there’s an improvement.

  • ChromeDude

    Another important requirement of watching 4K is an actual 4K screen – as of yet I can’t think of any mainstream android phones (or even tablets) that have close to a 4K display.

    • David Li

      You don’t need a 4k screen to decode the video though. Downsampling makes videos look better than native video and higher res YouTube videos have a higher bitrate.

      • ChromeDude

        True – thanks for that.

    • Degru

      1440p phones.. also you get better bitrates and quality even if you’re just downscaling the video.

      Although on a 1440p phone I don’t think it makes a difference if you choose 1440p or 4k, since the pixel density is so damn high.

  • Mi Pen

    Well my quad core arm Chinese tablet is near 3k and handles the demo video easy.

  • Drew Ciccotelli

    My FIOS powered Chromebook Pixel runs it like a breeze. I have never seen this kind of detail.

  • Degru

    The main issue with 4k content on Youtube is not my GPU. It can handle 30fps 4k H.264 decoding no problem. It is because Google keeps trying to push the VP9 codec. While this codec does decrease bandwidth, it is only decoded on the CPU, with Intel only just now adding rudimentary support for it into their latest eGPUs. My Ivy Bridge U-series Core i3 cannot handle 4k decoding at all, VP9 or no, and this is where the problem is.

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