Netflix is one of the most popular streaming services around. Depending on how you watch Netflix on your PC, you may have performance issues. Everything from whether you use a wireless connection to your Internet speeds to your window size can make a difference in having the best picture quality possible when streaming. This guide will give you some tips on how to optimize Netflix playback on your PC.
1. Wired vs. wireless
Whenever possible, connecting your PC to a wired Internet connection will always offer the best Netflix playback. Wired connections can get up to 100 Mbps depending on your ISP, modem and/or router configuration. Wireless connections, however, can be fickle depending on the weather and interference, and often have performance issues. The wired versus wireless scenario can vastly change the quality of streaming in Netflix.
2. Testing your Internet speed, contacting your ISP
Netflix automatically adjusts playback based on your Internet speed. If you have two computers in your home, depending on the circumstances, one could have better playback than the other. If you notice the picture in particular beginning to degrade as you are streaming, it is possible your Internet speed has slowed below what is required for optimal playback.
Netflix has recommended the following speeds for certain aspects of playback:
- 1 MB/s: Streaming on a laptop
- 2 MB/s: Streaming on a standard definition television
- 4 MB/s: Streaming in HD
- 5 MB/s: Optimal audio and video streaming
Testing your Internet speed through a service like Speedtest.net can give you an idea of what your download speed is so you can see if you meet the requirements of Netflix’s.
If your download speeds are low, you will want to check your hardware first, and then contact your ISP to see if there’s anything they can do on their end to increase it. This could involve a change in hardware or a better Internet plan.
3. Change your Netflix video playback settings
After logging into Netflix, click “Your Account.” Then, click “Manage video quality” under Your Streaming Plan.
Netflix offers users a chance to control how much data is downloaded to offer better streaming quality. You can choose which quality you want; Netflix will not choose one by default for you. If you are not capped by your ISP, you can increase the quality for better overall playback.
4. Finding the right window size for playback
Window size can impact playback for many Netflix users utilizing monitors or screens 20″ or higher. If you are using two monitors or more, this can also affect playback, and at the moment, there is not many ways to combat that issue.
However, you can reduce the window size of Netflix in your browser for better playback. This will take some tweaking, as no two computers will have the same configuration. You will have to play with the Netflix window size to find the right streaming playback.
For example, on my desktop PC, I use two 27″ monitors for my setup. Coupled with the amount of temporary memory and Internet connection I have through Comcast, I have found if I reduce the Chrome browser window to about 1024 x 748 in size, I can get optimal playback as long as my wireless connection is steady.
5. What else is running in the background?
When you stream through Netflix, part of the video you are watching is temporarily stored in your computer’s memory. If you are using a lot of programs, playing games or doing other things while trying to stream, this can impact the quality of playback from Netflix. Ideally, you want to run the bare minimum when streaming Netflix, especially if you want to use full screen mode to watch a program.
There is no catchall solution for fixing Netflix streaming performance that will work on all PCs. It takes some time to find the right setup, but these five tips can help optimize your Netflix playback on your PC.
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