Tested: Microsoft Edge is the only browser to run Netflix in 4K

But if you absolutely positively refuse to run Edge, yes, there is another option.

IDG

IDG

In 2016, Microsoft made headlines by boasting that Microsoft Edge was the only major browser to run Netflix in 1080p. As part of the Windows 10 Creators Update, Edge has now made the jump to 4K, and it’s the first major PC browser to do so.

To test the feature, we fired up Netflix within Chrome, Opera, Firefox, and Edge. Edge—as well as the Windows 10 Netflix app that you can download from the Microsoft Store—appears to be the only way to run 4K Netflix content on your PC.

Still, there’s a catch: Besides the fact that you’ll need either an external 4K monitor or native laptop display, your PC or laptop will need to have an Intel Kaby Lake CPU. Fortunately, we have such a laptop: the lovely HP Spectre x360 15, with a Core i7-7500U chip inside and a true 3840x2160 display.

netflix 4k in edge edit Windows 10 Creators Update IDG / Mark Hachman

Using the diagnostic tools within Netflix, we can see that Edge is streaming in 4K. (Unfortunately, it seems that DRM or other technical limitations block screenshots, so we used a camera instead.) Click the picture to zoom in.

When properly configured, Netflix will fill that display with some truly beautiful pixels. Just make sure you’ve upgraded your Netflix account to a plan capable of 4K, which costs $11.99 per month instead of the usual $8.99/mo. You’ll also need a high-speed data plan from your ISP—if you enlarge the graphics accompanying this story, you’ll see that Netflix was pushing a whopping 269Mbps of video data in our test. That’s about the limit of Comcast’s Extreme 250 internet plan, which costs around $70 per month in the San Francisco Bay Area.

And if you choose not to run Edge? Well, then it’s back to a lowly 720p experience for you, sorry to say. In our tests, using the hidden menu options within Netflix, I was able to confirm that Chrome, Opera, and Firefox all rendered Netflix, but only at a maximum resolution of 1280x720. 

opera in 720p in Netflix IDG / Mark Hachman

Though Netflix is still feeding the browser 4K levels of throughput, Opera, Chrome, and Firefox are only able to output Netflix at 720p.

Edge skeptics should note, however, that Microsoft's browser has continued to improve. I've personally gone from being critical of Edge to now seeing it as a competent-to-good browser. (See more about my Edge assessment in our Windows 10 Creators Update review.) Fortunately, you don’t have to do a single thing to get Microsoft Edge—if you own Windows 10, you automatically own the browser.

Why this matters: Microsoft has worked hard to convince users that Edge’s early performance problems were an anomaly. Microsoft Rewards will “pay” you for using Edge, Cortana’s baked right in to the browser, and Edge now supports e-reading EPUB books, too. Providing 4K Netflix support is just the latest way Microsoft hopes to convince you to switch browsers. Sure, Chrome, Firefox, and Opera have their own advantages. But these sorts of “exclusives” probably help Edge’s reputation the most.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags MicrosoftWindows 10Microsoft Edge

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Mark Hachman

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?