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Posted by Matthew Watt - Sep 09, 2021 | Contact Author

[Solved] How to Fix Plex Won't Play 4K HEVC/H.265 Video Files

"Plex won't play 4k h265 10bit: I have a 4k version of Narcos and Better Call Saul, but Plex isn't playing them. I've installed those k-lite codecs and it plays fine in VLC or Media player classic. Is there any way I can play this in Plex without it transcoding it down or straight out not playing?"

An increasing number of users are using Plex Media Server to take control over your digital media library. Generally, it does organize all of your files and let you view them from virtually laptops/desktops to phones to HDTVs. Thought Plex claims to support 4K HEVC playback, the errors like "playback 4K HEVC with audio but no video" or "4K HEVC not transcoding via Plex" still come from time to time. Why won't Plex play some HEVC/H.265 videos smoothly? Why 4K HEVC not transcoding via Plex arrive at the same time? Follow this article to find out why 4K HEVC MKV/MP4 playback fails on Plex and how to play HEVC/H.265 files via Plex without transcoding.

Possible Reasons for Plex Won't Playing HEVC/H.265

Generally, the problem can be caused by various reasons. To be specific, there are three major potential scenarios how Plex not working with 4K HEVC/H.265 files.

Reason 1. The 4K HEVC/H.265 video is unaccepted.

According to the plex.tv, to achieve 4K HEVC direct playback, your 4K content need to match the following properties:



Frame Rate

Bit Depth

3840 x 2160 or lower
8 bit

This means if your HEVC video meet the properties above, it should be able to direct play on Plex. Given this, Plex will not play incompatible HEVC file, like HEVC MKV, 4K HEVC 60fps, HEVC 10-bit. Other trouble may caused by the device you want to play on. Currently, 4K HEVC videos can be only watched on - TiVo Roamio & Bolt (Series 6) devices, 2016 or newer Tizen-based Samsung models, VIZIO televisions – via Plex.

Reason 2. Your computer is not powerful to handle 4K HEVC videos

Although HEVC features a high compression ratio delivering high quality at a lower bit rate, its incompatibility with Windows and Plex often results in playback issue like glitches, lags, black screen and so on. Why? High system requirements are required to play HEVC, especially for 4K HEVC videos. A computer wrapping powerful processor and graphic cards is quite necessary to watch HEVC videos smoothly with Plex.

Glance at Minimum System Requirements of 4K HEVC Playback:




Intel Kaby Lake or newer
Integrated Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 4200 or better/AMD A10-7800 APU
8 GB
Discrete Graphics: GeForce GTX 650 or better/AMD Radeon HD 700 Series or better

Reason 3. The HEVC transcoding speed is very slow.

If your HEVC videos which don't meet meet the above-mentioned properties, Plex will automatically transcode them to 1080P via Plex Media Server instead of direct playback. Transocding is a CPU-intensive task leading to horrible performance to handle other tasks unless you have a sufficient CPU. And, slow transcoding speed can kill everyone's patience. Plex Media Server uses hardware acceleration to offload transcoding to GPUs with the purpose of getting a faster performance and lowering CPU usage. The new problem is that video quality may be compromised.

And you probably find the HEVC transcoding process stucks owing to underpowered hardware, especially when you're trying to play 4K HEVC files on Plex from NAS. Most NAS media are based on ARM CPU, which is not powerful enough to transcode 4K videos.

Plex Won't Play 4K HEVC/H.265 Files

The Most Efficient Solution to Fix Plex Won't Play HEVC/H.265

If you don't have a compatible and very qualified device, or you don't want to spend hundreds of dollars on hardware upgrade, the easiest and the most efficient solution to fix Plex won't play HEVC/H.265 issue is converting HEVC/H.265 to H.264 or other Plex supported formats. Plex Media Server offers auto-transcoding helping you watch 4K HEVC via Plex successfully, but slow speed or poor quality may bother you a lot, let alone some 4K HEVC footage cannot be transcoded thru Plex.

In this case, you can take a try the easier-to-use yet powerful video converter and decoder - EaseFab Video Converter. The program is a dedicated HEVC video transcoder for desktop. It excels at video conversion with support of virtually all mainstream formats, like HEVC MP4/MKV, H.264, MTS, AVI, WMV, MOV, FLV, 3GP and more. It also presets hundreds of device profiles enabling you to directly convert HEVC to iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Android, Windows Mobile, Xbox, PlayStation etc.

With the hardware acceleration technology, this video converter takes full advantages of GPU and eases the burden of CPU, boosting a 30x real-time faster speed performance for HEVC encoding, decoding, processing, frees up CPU for multi-tasking, but preserves 98% of original quality. Moreover, EaseFab Video Converter comes with a straightforward interface and simple manipulation.

EaseFab Video Converter - The One-click Way to Convert Incompatible Videos for Plex and More.

● Accepts nearly all types of videos, regardless of video formats, codecs and resolutions.
● Convert HEVC H.265 to Plex, Samsung Smart TV, Sony TV, Apple TV, mobiles, Chromecast, PC, Mac, NAS, Plex, 420+ profiles pre-programmed.
● Tweak x265 4K to 2K/1080p, lower 60FPS to 30FPS, adjust 12/10bit to 8bit, change bit rate for smooth playback, virtually no quality loss.

Now just download and install the program on your computer and then follow the steps below to transcode HEVC to H.264 MP4 or adjust video parameters to reduce computational burden to fix Plex HEVC playback issues.

Simple Steps to convert problematic HEVC/H.265 files for Plex

Step 1: Click Add Video button to load your H.265 video from local media library.

Note: Batch conversion is supported, so you can load more than one file to save time.

Load 4K HEVC Videos

Step 2: Now click the Profile icon to reveal output panel. Find "Common Video" category and then select MP4 as output format.

There are several other categories listed for you, device profile, online video profile, common audio profile and more. You can select any desired format from certain category.
If you want to compress 4K to 1080p, click "Settings" button and set the resolution as 1920*1080p
If your device can play HEVC videos without any trouble and the problem is caused by the higher bitrate, resolution, etc, you can also select "HEVC MP4" as the output format and adjust the video resolution, frame rate, bit rate, aspect ratio, audio settings, etc. to match Plex's explicit requirements for achieving 4K HEVC direct playback.

select output format

Step 3. Click Folder button in the Output bar to define a new folder to save resulting H.264 files. At last, click Convert button to start converting HEVC to H.264. After the process is done, destination folder will pop up. Play the resulting H.264 files via Plex. There's no trouble any more.

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Matthew Watt

Matthew Watt is an amateur tech enthusiast, but now a sought-after editor at EaseFab. He is responsible for writing contents on DVD, digital video, audio, software reviews, new digital contents etc. He continues enjoying painting and comics, and is currently fascinated with photography.

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