YouTube's experimental 4K, 60 frames per second video will crush your computer

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A little over six months ago YouTube did gamers a solid by supporting HD video uploads at 60 frames per second. If you thought that looked amazing, well, you ain't seen nothing yet.

Google's popular video site is now quietly playing around with 4K videos at 60fps. This is only a trial and YouTube's 4K/60fps experiment is limited to just six clips.

The 4K/60fps videos have two different resolutions: 1440p (2560-by-1440) and 2160p (3840-by-2160), the latter being the 4K Ultra HD resolution that TV manufacturers have adopted.


One of six 4K YouTube clips running at 60fps.

Why this matters: Few of us have moved to 4K television sets and monitors, and even fewer of us are able to shoot video in 4K. Nevertheless, the Ultra HD revolution is on its way. YouTube was already way ahead of the game when it introduced 4K streaming in 2010. Now the site wants to move to the next level with souped up frame rates for the higher resolution, a technical achievement the site only recently obtained. As TechCrunch recently reported, changes to YouTube's "codec and processing pipeline allows them to stream...[4K/60fps]...within reasonable bandwidth constraints."

Don't even bother

YouTube's 4K/60fps experiments will really only work if you have a set-up that can handle displaying all those pixels. Not only do you need a 4K monitor, but your system needs to have the guts to handle the high-powered images. Just for kicks, I decided to run one of YouTube's 4K/60fps videos on my Lenovo X220 and (surprise!) the laptop turned what was a beautiful video at 1080p/60fps into a slide show at 4K/60fps.

Even if your system has what it takes to run the silky smooth 4K that still may not be enough. My editor, PCWorld's resident graphics card junkie, tried watching the 4K videos on a system with Nvidia's magical Titan X GPU and an octa-core Core i7 chip hooked up to a 4K G-Sync monitor. You can't get much better than that, but even with all that hot hardware his 25Mbps Internet connection meant the PC choked on the download.

Problems like this are to be expected, however, as it's still early days for YouTube's 4K/60fps streaming. By the time Ultra HD becomes ubiquitous, YouTube should have all the issues worked out for streaming in 4K/60fps.

Check out the entire 4K/60fps playlist on YouTube. To bump up the resolution click on the settings cog after the video starts playing to see all the choices available on these select videos. 

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