A wide variety of media players and even wider varieties of media types are available in the market. Admittedly, the answer to the question “what is the best media player for windows“ is a highly subjective.
Windows do come with a media player built-in. Windows Media Player was the default media player in windows 10 and earlier versions. It has been supplanted by Media Player for Windows in Windows 11 (although Windows Media Player is also still available).
These default players are convenient and cost nothing since they are already installed. However, they have limited file format compatibility.
The features available to users are also limited by comparison. For the sake of usability, the default media player in Windows is perfectly adequate. However, one should stop well short of calling them the best media players.
The answer of the absolute best media player might vary depending upon who you ask, and what they need. Today we try to look at the most popular media players available in the market and evaluate each of their utilities to the best of our ability.
VLC Media Player
The media player by VideoLAN is an open-source, cross-platform media player that is very versatile. It is one of the most popular media players available today.
The simple interface is easy to use and navigate. It already has a wide range of codecs built-in, and you would rarely need to install a codec pack.
Additionally, you can create and add skins to customize VLC’s looks to your liking. VLC also checks for updates at startup, so you don’t have to worry about being stuck with an outdated version of the player.
The cherry on top of all these great features is that VLC media player is completely free!
The simplicity and versatility of the VLC player make it one of the best, in our opinion.
DivX Media Player
DivX Media Player has been around for some time, but unlike a few other media players of the era, it has not yet disappeared from the scene.
It supports 4k video playback and DLNA streaming which means it can automatically communicate and share media files with other DLNA certified devices in your household.
The interface itself is easy to use and looks pleasing. It also supports DivX Plus Converter, an add-on that can be used to convert media files from one format to another.
The downside to DivX player is that you get served advertisements if you use the free version. Also, the free version does not support AC3 and DTS-HD audio playback, which might be a problem for some of you audiophiles out there.
DivX player’s support for 4K media playback and add-ons that enable you to convert video formats makes it one of the best currently available.
5K player supports consumption of 360-degree VR video. Admittedly, such videos are niche, and the market is tiny compared to good old “flat” videos, but it is nice that 5K player supports this feature. In addition, it also supports 4K playback and online radio.
On the audio front, this player supports MP3, AAC, APE, and FLAC formats which should score a point with the audiophiles.
Additional notable features are: support for AirPlay and DLNA wireless streaming. The interface is fairly easy to use.
If you are in the market for VR media consumption or want your audio encoded in lossless APE and FLAC formats, 5K player is one of the best you can get today.
PotPlayer is a media player that comes with a wide range of features. The support for available media formats is very wide, meaning it would be able to play media files in any format imaginable currently. It also lets you optimize video format as per the output device of your preference. Additionally, it provides plenty of filters and effects to enhance your visual media consumption experience.
The interface has a pretty minimalistic design, and you can access most of the menu with a simple right-click, which means navigating and tweaking settings is a breeze.
Other notable features include the ability to stream, screen recording, video editing, and tv receiver, which lets you source video from digital and analog (!) television. Pot player supports 8k, 3d, and 360-degree VR videos. It also supports skins to customize its appearance.
We could go on, but we won’t because if drowning under features, in mostly a good way, is your thing, then you cannot do better than Pot Player.
This media player by GOMLab self proclaims to be the number 1 video player. We don’t know if that’s true for sure. However, what we do know for certain is that it is among the best currently available in the market.
In addition to a ton of supported file formats, it also supports a 360-degree VR video playback. Additionally, the player is robust, and if you have a damaged media file that you cannot play with any other players, you have a much better chance of playing such files with GOMP Player. GOM Player also supports screen casting.
GOM Player is an excellent media player that is very robust and supports a wide range of media formats. There is no doubt that this is one of the very best media players.
MediaMonkey is another popular media player that supports many file formats, 4K playback, etc. What differentiates MediaMonkey from other capable media players is its almost unparalleled media organization capabilities.
MediaMonkey lets you view your media collection in the way that is most convenient to you. In addition, it can catalog your collection and remove any duplicates. It can easily handle massive libraries, a collection of over 100,000 titles without lag. It also boasts Volume normalization and Auto-tagging features.
MediaMonkey should be your go-to media player if you are an avid media collector with a sizable library.
Kodi is an open-source multi-platform media player that boasts a giant catalog of community add-ons.
By this point, we already understand that media players are supposed to play media files, which can be video, audio, or even pictures. Kodi does all that. It also lets you watch live TV and record it. Additionally, Kodi supports a large number of emulators. That retro game you always wanted to try out? You can probably play it on Kodi.
Needlessly to say, if being a passive media consumer is not your thing and you’d like to take a break from binge-watching your favorite show from time to time by diving into your favorite retro video game, then Kodi is the best media player for you.
Media Player Classic
Media player classic is a media player that, at a glance, looks like Windows Media Player 6.
Needless to say, MPC is loaded with nostalgia for those who remember the good old bug-filled days of Win XP and earlier versions of Windows (we don’t talk about Win ME, okay?). Back in those days, hardware capabilities were really limited. Pentium II or III systems running on a measly 128 MB of DDR RAM and less than 100 GB of HDD space were commonplace.
And thus, it comes as no surprise that Media Player Classic is a lightweight media player with very robust capabilities. It comes with K-lite codec pack, which means it supports almost all media file formats. It leaves a very small footprint on your system. The interface is simple and easy to use. The trade-off you make is that you won’t be able to use skins and hence customize your player’s looks.
Currently there are two flavors of MPC available: MPC-HC and MPC-BE. MPC-BE is still actively developed and you can expect patches and updates for it. MPC-HE stopped development in 2017 and is currently in maintenance mode.
If you need a simple, no-nonsense, light-weight media player, then Media Player Classic is what we’d recommend to you first and foremost.
MPV is a free, open-source, cross-platform media player that is lightweight and efficient.
MPV is a command-line media player that is extremely minimalistic. MPV Player is so minimalistic, in fact, that they’ve done away with the GUI almost entirely. You get no buttons or menus except for a small controller on top of the video for basic control.
It goes without saying that MPV player supports a wide range of file formats. Additionally, it supports hardware decoding, which can be enabled at runtime on demand. It has Vulcan, OpenGL, and DirectX-based video output capabilities. MPV is capable of video scaling with popular high quality video algorithms, color management, frame timing, interpolation, HDR playback, etc.
Another notable feature is its powerful scripting capabilities. Scripts let the user do almost anything with MPV player. Also, there is a large selection of user scripts available.
In our opinion, MPV player is the most arcane of media players available out there. Its minimalistic design is useful for users looking for a lightweight media player. At the same time, its scripting capabilities can let users do stuff impossible with other media players.
The last contender in our list for the best media player in Windows 10 and 11 today is the CnX Player.
CnX Player is a powerful media player that supports 4K HDR playback. If you have a 7th gen Intel or newer processor, you can take advantage of its 10 bit HDR video playback capabilities. It is capable of hardware decoding of AV1, HEVC (H.265), H.264 (AVC), VP9, etc., video formats. It also supports playback of video streaming.
You can browse the video gallery while playing a video. You can adjust settings such as brightness, saturation, and contrast of the video being played.
However, the best feature of the CnX player is that it lets you child lock your device. This allows you to watch the video without the pesky interference from your cute child, which is a very handy feature if you are watching a video on a device with a touchscreen such as a tablet.