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4K TV Setup Guide

By Joe Supan

Get the Most Out of Your 4K TV

4K TVs offer four times the definition of HD TVs, but the features don’t stop at screen resolution: The best models have HDR video for sharp contrast, a 60 Hz or 120 Hz refresh rate for smooth video, and a wide color gamut that offers incredibly vivid hues. But in order to unlock all those awesome features, you’ll need to have the right setup. After a month of research, talking to experts, and staring at incredibly vivid screens, we found 11 factors that will help you get the most out of your new 4K TV.

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Speakers

For high definition sound, Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio can handle 7.1 channels of uncompressed audio.

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AV Receiver

AV receivers are a major component of creating a true 4K experience. Make sure it can handle the high def outputs from your TV and 2.0 HDMI cables.

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Gaming System

For gaming in 4K, use Game mode to reduce input lag. Currently, PCs, the PS4 Pro, and Xbox One X all support 4K gaming.

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Ethernet Cable

If your device has ethernet ports, run a cable directly to your internet modem. A wired connection is more reliable than Wi-Fi.

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HDR Ports

Make sure you’re using a High Dynamic Range (HDR) port - not all of your 4K TV’s HDMI ports will be able to handle full 4K.

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HDMI Cable

Version 2.0 High Speed HDMI cords are certified for 4K resolution, High Dynamic Range, and 60 frames per second.

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4K Streaming Devices

The most intuitive interfaces often come from separate 4K streaming device like the Amazon Fire TV with 4K or Roku Ultra.

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Blu-ray Player

If you want the best possible picture quality, new Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray players offer up to 10x higher bit rate than streaming services.

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4K Video

The easiest way to access 4K content is through streaming services like Netflix or Amazon’s Prime Video. Simply search for “4K” in the app.

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Internet Speeds

4K video requires a baseline of 25 Mbps download speeds to stream. You’ll need to up that number by 10-25 Mbps for each additional user in the home.

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4K TV

The best 4K TVs will feature HDR video, a 60 Hz or 120 Hz refresh rate, and smart features for built-in streaming apps.

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Internet speeds
You’ll need at least 25 Mbps download speeds to stream 4K video. But if anyone else in the house plans on using other devices at the same time, you’ll need to up that number by 10-25 Mbps for each additional stream. You can use Google’s Speedtest to see what kind of speeds you’re getting currently.

4K video
When it comes to 4K video, the tech is still way ahead of the content. The best way to access 4K right now is through Blu-rays and streaming services like Netflix or Amazon’s Prime Video (simply search for “4K” in the app). DIRECTV has a smattering of 4K sports and concerts, but otherwise, cable and satellite providers are still firmly in the HD era.

Blu-ray player
While streaming has the edge in convenience, Ultra HD Blu-rays provide the best audio and video quality possible. The bit rate for Blu-rays can be 10 times as high as streaming video, which allows it to better process the increased data in 4K video, translating to noticeably smoother and sharper video quality. Unfortunately, older Blu-ray players can’t play 4K Blu-ray discs. New Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray players cost around $100, and can play any type of Blu-ray, along with DVDs and CDs.

4K streaming device
Your new 4K TV might not have the intuitive interface or library of streaming apps that you want. If that’s the case, you can always buy a separate 4K streaming device like the Amazon Fire TV with 4K or Roku Ultra.

HDMI cable
You’ll want to get a Version 2.0 High Speed HDMI cable for your 4K TV. These have been certified for 4K resolution, High Dynamic Range, and 60 frames per second. If you’re not sure what kind of cable you have (and they don’t make it easy to check), it’s worth shelling out 10 bucks for a new one.

HDR ports
Not all of your 4K TV’s HDMI ports will be able to handle High Dynamic Range (HDR) video. Make sure you’re using an HDR port when you connect a gaming console or streaming device. Most TVs label them pretty clearly, but if you can’t find it, the manual should give you more information.

Ethernet cable
Some 4K TVs and streaming devices have ethernet ports that let you run a cable directly to your internet modem. If this is an option for you, do it. A wired connection is always more reliable than Wi-Fi, which means less buffering and sharper video while you’re streaming.

Gaming system
For the best gaming experience on your 4K TV, use the Game mode. This will reduce input lag considerably, which is the amount of time it takes for your controller’s movements to show up on screen. Currently, PCs, the PS4 Pro, and Xbox One X all support 4K gaming.

Speakers
Blu-ray is still king when it comes to audio quality. Most new Blu-rays use Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio, which can handle 7.1 channels of uncompressed audio. Streaming services compress the audio files to fit bandwidth restrictions, which degrades the quality.

AV receiver
If you use an AV receiver to connect your speakers to your TV, Blu-ray player, or CD player, it will work fine with your new 4K TV. You’ll only need to upgrade your receiver if you also use it control your video systems.

Sit up close
Unlike older TVs, 4K looks the best when you sit close — really close. The sweet spot is around seven feet for 55” screens, and about nine feet for 65” ones. You can use RTings.com’s size to distance calculator to help you build the perfect setup.