Simple Guide to 4K Video Conferencing

Alina Krukova
July 17, 2018
Alina Krukova

Right now 4K is one of the hottest buzzwords in the tech world. This relatively new resolution is now supported by an increasing number of devices and software vendors. TrueConf demonstrated world’s first 4K point-to-point video call in 2015, always being at the forefront of 4K technology. Today, sharp 4K video conferencing is no surprise for all our users.

4K (aka Ultra HD or 2,160p) has enough pixels to fill four Full HD (1,080p) displays, so you can fit a number of conference participants on the same screen keeping the picture crisp and clean.

Can’t wait to try it yourself? Good news: if you are using TrueConf client app, 4K point-to-point video calls do not require any additional licenses or support programs. What you really should consider beforehand is your hardware: cameras, screens and, oddly enough, cables. This article is explaining what equipment you need to ensure smooth 4K video conferencing in point-to-point mode.

Please note that this article covers UltraHD point-to-point video calls only. Don’t confuse them with less demanding UltraHD group video conferences: TrueConf already supported them in 2014.

Get Yourself Video Conferencing Software

To ensure 4K video conferencing, first thing you should do is to find right software supporting 4K video conferencing. However strange it may seem, there are still a few vendors on the market who provide Ultra HD video conferencing, and even fewer of them provide free solutions.

But don’t you worry: for many years we’ve been offering TrueConf Server Free, a free version of the most popular video conferencing server in Eastern Europe. TrueConf Server Free is more than enough not only for a small company, but also for 4K video calls.

This software doesn’t require a powerful PC; you can easily install it on a PC that we’ll be used as a 4K endpoint. Read more about how to install TrueConf Server Free in our guide.

What Equipment to Choose?

We have matched a set of highly affordable 4K communication equipment which also works nice with TrueConf solutions. We hope that our recommended devices will save you from any unexpected problems you may encounter. Needless to say, this set is just an example we find useful. If you are planning to hold TrueConf meetings, you can select any equipment of your choice that meets our system requirements.

Dream Set:

  • Intel NUC mini PC with 7th generation Intel Core processor (at least Core i5);
  • 4K Logitech BRIO webcam;
  • Any 4K TV or monitor;
  • HDMI 2.0+ cable;
  • Windows 8+.

Essential requirements:

  • Network connection at least 8 Mb/s;
  • TrueConf 7.2.1+ client application.

Intel NUC

Intel Next Unit Computer is an affordable series of portable desktop computers that support high-quality hardware encoding and video decoding thanks to Intel Quick Sync technology (a part of Intel HD Graphics integrated in all Intel processors) implemented in TrueConf applications.

All 7th generation Intel Core i5 processors and some 6th generation i7 CPU are suitable for 4K calls. We recommend using Intel NUC NUC6i7KYK PC with 6th generation Intel Core i7-6770HQ processor, or Intel NUC NUC7i5BNK with Intel Core i5-7260U processor, or any other 7th or 8th generation PC with a higher clock frequency.

What if you don’t have such a PC? Consider NVIDIA GTX1050+ video card! These video cards support NVIDIA NVENC technology that allows encoding 4K video stream without loading the CPU.

Intel Quick Sync and NVIDIA NVENC, both technologies for encoding and decoding 4K video, are supported in TrueConf client application. Technology to use is chosen automatically: you don’t need to configure anything.

Logitech BRIO

Logitech BRIO is a modern webcam that supports 4K resolution at 30 FPS. It provides adjustable field of view, two omnidirectional microphones, 5x HD zoom and much more. Logitech BRIO isn’t the best choice for large or dim-lit meeting rooms (don’t forget that this is still a web camera, and its main advantage is an affordable price), but it provides true 4K resolution and is quite suitable for our purpose.

Any 4K TV or Monitor

To see the real difference between FullHD and 4K video, get a video wall or a screen big enough (at least 65-inch).

How Much Does 4K Video Conferencing Endpoint Cost?

Solution Price
Intel NUC 7i5 (+ SSD, RAM, and Windows license) $720
4K 65-inch screen or larger (e.g. LG 65UJ620V) $1000
Logitech BRIO $200
Phoenix Audio Duet $139
Total $2059

All in all, you can equip two meeting rooms with 4K video conferencing for about $4,000, which is about the price of one HD legacy video conferencing endpoint without a screen. Make your choice!

How 4K Video Call Works

Transmitting and receiving 4K video in real time is a complex process which requires simultaneous operation of different systems.

Camera records and transmits MJPEG video to a computer (for correct transmission use USB 3.0). Each video frame is compressed separately by JPEG technology, and an interframe difference (main advantage for efficient video compression) is not taken into account at all.

Thus, your computer should be able to convert video from MJPEG to H.264 format compressed enough to transmit 4K video over the network. CPU decodes video from MJPEG. To quickly convert video to H.264 you will need either Intel Quick Sync or NVIDIA NVENC technologies.

Of course, there is also a reverse process: incoming video stream needs not only to be decoded from H.264 (which is not much easier than encoding), but also to be displayed. This is also the responsibility of the graphics processor.

How to Set Up a Call?

If you already have right equipment, making 4K calls with TrueConf for Windows is extremely easy. You don’t even need to set 4K quality in TrueConf settings — our application adapts automatically.

First of all, you need to install TrueConf for Windows 7.2.1+. Don’t forget that 4K mode is enabled automatically when the Internet speed reaches 8Mb/s. To set this speed, open the app and go to Settings > Network. Select Network > Limits and raise incoming and outgoing bitrates.

Once you are connected and selected the necessary equipment in the TrueConf settings, you can make a video call. During the call, right-click the app and select Full Screen in the pop-up menu to maximize the image.

Wait for about 30 seconds, while the stream is accelerated: resolution increases gradually. To check current resolution during your call, go to Settings > About the System.

4K Configuration Case

TrueConf 4K video conferencing has been showcased at various expos and conferences.

Check out our 4K stand at Integrated Systems Europe 2018.

Happy video conferencing with TrueConf Server!