Macs Need T2 Security Chip to Play 4K HDR Netflix in macOS Big Sur

Apple's upcoming macOS Big Sur operating system introduces HDR video support and allows Netflix users to watch content in 4K HDR for the first time. However, it turns out that only Macs with an Apple T2 Security chip are compatible with Ultra HD streaming.

macosbigsur
Apple Terminal spotted a recently updated support document on Netflix's Help Center that now includes hardware requirements for viewing 4K HDR content in Safari on macOS Big Sur.

According to the web page, viewing Ultra HD content can only be achieved on a "select 2018 or later Mac computer with an Apple T2 Security chip." In addition to that, every monitor connected to the computer on which Ultra HD is streamed must be a 60Hz 4K capable display with a HDCP 2.2 connection.

It's not clear why Macs need a T2 security chip to play back 4K HDR content, given that Windows machines obviously don't, but it could be that this is Netflix's way of ensuring that viewers aren't trying to stream the high-definition content on older Macs, which could result in less-than-stellar performance.

The following Macs have the Apple T2 Security Chip, and can therefore stream Netflix in Ultra HD on macOS Big Sur:

  • iMac introduced in 2020
  • ‌iMac‌ Pro
  • Mac Pro introduced in 2019
  • Mac mini introduced in 2018
  • MacBook Air introduced in 2018 or later
  • MacBook Pro introduced in 2018 or later

macOS Big Sur is now up to its ninth public beta, and is likely to officially debut sometime this month.

Tag: Netflix
Related Forum: macOS Big Sur

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Top Rated Comments

farewelwilliams Avatar
49 months ago
T2 has hardware acceleration capabilities for video. That’s why it’s required.

With Windows, it’s possible but you’re going to lose out on performance and battery life since it’ll probably use software decoding. Apple thinks that’s bad UX so they put a requirement on.

EDIT: for those who don't believe:



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Score: 48 Votes (Like | Disagree)
fromsixtozero Avatar
49 months ago

T2 has hardware acceleration capabilities for video. That’s why it’s required.

With Windows, it’s possible but you’re going to lose out on performance and battery life since it’ll probably use software decoding. Apple thinks that’s bad UX so they put a requirement on.
Well at least they could give me the choice to lose battery life or performance and display a pop up "Your mac is old, performance might suck, switch to full hd"

Still don´t believe macs from 2015/2017 couldnt play it, when my medicore TV from 2015 can.
Score: 29 Votes (Like | Disagree)
farewelwilliams Avatar
49 months ago

terrible explanation....T2 has nothing to do with playing video. the decoding is all handled with the GPU , intel gpu's all have hardware decoders. matter in fact. i just tried this on both my macbook pro's one with t2 and one without. the cpu load was the same.

bs.
Stupid comment. T2 literally has a hardware HEVC codec built right in. Please educate yourself next time before calling "bs".


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Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JoelTheSuperior Avatar
49 months ago

Stupid comment. T2 literally has a hardware HEVC codec built right in. Please educate yourself next time before calling "bs".

The T2 chip does have a video encoder built in, and it is genuinely fantastic, but it is by no means required for the DRM on Netflix's 4k content which works just fine on a Windows PC with an appropriate video encoder, either on the Intel CPU or an Nvidia graphics card.
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Sebosz Avatar
49 months ago
*laughs in 2018 macbook pro*
But for real though, that's a pretty ****** move. My "old" Asus from 2017 could do this...
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
farewelwilliams Avatar
49 months ago

Or is it a DRM limitation, not necessarily performance?
both

Safari’s FairPlay DRM uses an AES algorithm which is accelerated by T2’s built in AES crytpo engine
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)