With the increasing popularity of 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays, 4K streaming services and 4K TVs, the demands on 4K videos are also on steady rise thanks to the breath-taking video quality 4K delivers. Apart from streaming 4K videos online, purchasing 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays, there actually is another way to get more 4K videos, that’s to upscale 1080p videos to 4K, with a 4K upscaler software. How? Reading this article, you will know the answer.

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Section 1. 1080p vs 4K

Technically, 1080p videos refer to the videos with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, whereas 4K videos refer to those of 3840 x 2160 pixel videos. In terms of pixel resolution alone, 4K video is a huge step up from 1080p, with four times the resolution of 1080p, which means more than 8 million pixels compared to just 2 million pixels for 1080p.

You may not see too much difference when playing 1080p videos and 4K videos on ordinary TV screens or on your desktop/laptop displays, however, as the popularity of 4K TVs continue to mount, it’s when you watch 1080p and 4K videos on that 4K screen that you begin to notice the difference. Compared to 1080p videos, 4K videos, when played on 4K screens, deliver more details that make the video images look crisper, sharper and cleaner, especially in rendering of hair, feathers and skins.

Section 2. What does 4K upscale mean?

From the technical perspective, 4K upscale refers to the process of upconverting non-4K videos to videos of 4K resolution. In the case of 1080p videos, it means to increase the pixels of 1920 x 1080 videos to reach the 3840 x 2160 pixel level of 4K videos, either using hardware such as a modern 4K TV or a 4K upscaling software.  

Section 3. Why are we so keen on 4K upscaling?

You probably already have got a 4K TV at home or are going to purchase one soon. However, just because you have a 4K TV, it doesn't mean that everything you watch is in 4K. In fact, if the 4K TV you have does not support hardware 4K upscaling (most of the 4K TVs today do have this feature), you won’t get 4K quality when watching non-4K or the regular 1080p videos on it. And full HD videos/1080p on a 4K panel won't look better, just bigger, without some clever upscaling.

Hence, if you don’t intend to invest on an Ultra HD Blu-ray player and purchase 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray movies on a regular basis, nor do you want to stream 4K contents from Netflix, Amazon or any other 4K TV channels, upscaling your 1080p videos to 4K is the only way left for you to get more 4K videos to make the best out of your 4K TV.

Section 4. Two different ways to upscale 1080p to 4K

How to upscale 1080p to 4K? Like we just mentioned above, generally there are two ways to upscale 1080p to 4K — by hardware or by software. In this section, we’ll discuss this topic in details.

4.1 Upscale 1080p to 4K using hardware

When you visit a physical store to shop 4K TVs or purchasing from online, you will probably notice that most of today’s 4K TVs are labelled as capable of 4K upscaling. The 4K upscale feature in a 4K TV works in this way — immediately after the video single is transmitted to the 4K TV, an analysis begins to determine what type and resolution the received video signal is,  live TV or streaming, HD or full HD, then comes the time for noise reduction. Next, edges, textures and details are analyzed and sharpened accordingly. Finally, the signal is converted to 4K to match the native panel resolution.

So next time when someone asks you the question, does 4K TV upscale 1080p videos to 4K? Well, most of the 4K TVs today do, thanks to the powerful hardware advancement in TV industry, including more powerful CPUs, and the cutting-edge 4K upscaling algorithms applied in the firmware. Similarly, besides 4K TVs, there are other hardware products be able to upscale video to 4K, like the PS4 from Sony, Xbox One S from Microsoft, etc.

4.2 Upscale 1080p to 4K using software

Compared to the native 4K upscaling comes along with 4K TVs, the greatest advantage of using software 4K upscaling solution is that you can always keep pace with the latest AI technology, which can make 4K upscaling much more easier.

4.2.1 DVDFab Video Enhancer AI — Upscale 1080p to 4K with the power of AI

Powered by the cutting-edge artificial intelligence and trained by neural networks plus super-resolution technologies, DVDFab Video Enhancer AI is a top-notch video upscaling software that can help you upscale 1080p to 4K. The best thing about this AI-driven 4K upscale solution is that you don’t need to manually tweak all the video parameters yourself, as the program will do it for you, including the color corrections, adjustment of video contrast, saturation and brightness, and also the deblurring and denoising.

Key features at a glance:

  • AI-powered and deep learning capable
  • Super-resolution and neural networks infilled
  • Upscale low-res videos up to 4K
  • Apply color corrections, remove blurs and noise
  • Improve video image saturation and brightness
  • Automatic upscaling and improvement

Check below to see how Video Enhancer AI, as a professional video enhancement software, helps you bring your old videos to life again:

Step 1 — After installing Video Enhancer AI, launch the program (picture above);
Step 2 — Import your target video using the Add Videos button, or simply drag & drop them into the interface;
Step 3 — Depending your source video genre, choose a proper AI model from the available four options, namely, For Movie Video, For Home Video and For Web Video;

Step 4 — Choose your wanted output format, upscaling level as UHD 2160p and bitrate;

Step 5 — If you want to preview the output video before starting the real conversion, you can press the Preview AI button at the upper right corner of the interface to see if the output video image quality can satisfy your requirement;

Step 6 — Once you’re okay with the preview, then you can hit the Start button to perform the video enhancement process, which might take several hours, depending on your computer configurations.

  • Available on: Windows
  • Pricing: $79.99/month, $99.99/year, or $139.99 for a perpetual license available at its online store

4.2.2 DVDFab Enlarger AI — Upscale DVDs, Blu-rays and other videos to 4K with AI power

DVDFab Video Enhancer AI is not the only AI-driven 4K upscaling solution among the DVDFab family. There is another one called the Enlarger AI, which, different from the Video Enhancer AI, is a product module packed inside the DVDFab 12 all-inclusive suite. Working in conjunction with DVD Ripper, Blu-ray Ripper and Video Converter modules, the Enlarger AI can upscale 480p DVDs to 1080p Blu-ray standard, 1080p Blu-rays to 4K UHD quality, and other low-res videos up to 4K quality.

Key features at a glance:

  • AI-powered and deep learning capable
  • Super-resolution and neural networks infilled
  • Upscale 480p DVDs to 1080p Blu-ray standard
  • Upscale 1080p Blu-rays to 4K UHD quality
  • Upscale other low-res videos up to 4K
  • Apply color corrections, remove blurs and noise
  • Improve video image saturation and brightness
  • Automatic upscaling and improvement

Refer to the guides below to check out how Enlarger AI, working together with Blu-ray Ripper, upscale 1080p to 4K:

Step 1 — Launch DVDFab 12 after installation, choose the Ripper module from the top menu bar, and then load your Blu-ray source (could be a Blu-ray disc from your optical drive, or an ISO/folder from your computer HDD);

Step 2 — Navigate to the profile library via the "choose other profile" option from the Profile Selection Box, choose the Format > Enlarger AI tab, and then select one of the four available 4K AI conversion profiles;

Step 3 — Click the Wrench icon to open the Advanced Settings panel where you can adjust relevant video, audio or subtitle settings according to your specific needs;

Step 4 — Click the Pencil icon behind the Wrench to open the Video Edit panel where you can trim or crop videos, adjust video brightness, saturation and contrast, add an image or text watermark to your video, or even add an external subtitle stream if necessary;

Step 5 — When you’re all set at the Advanced Settings panel and the Video Edit panel, return to the main interface, where you can also select your wanted audio track, subtitle stream, even only a certain chapter range to upscale 1080p to 4K;

Step 6 — Choose an output directory using the folder icon at the Save to section, and hit the Start button to trigger the upscaling process.

  • Available on: Windows
  • Pricing: $44.99/month, $79.99/year, or $129.99/lifetime for the Enlarger AI module, or $167.99 for a perpetual license of the Enlarger AI Suite containing four product modules of the Enlarger AI, DVD Ripper, Blu-ray Ripper and Video Converter.

As a sidenote: the Enlarger AI module cannot be used alone, you need to at least by it together with one of the three mentioned products.

Section 5. Final Thought

With the fast development of the TV industry and the ever-growing demand on 4K contents, more and more people will jump to the 4K bandwagon. Although most of the 4K TVs are capable of 4K upscaling, not all of them can deliver stunning 4K video quality that can satisfy your picky eyes. Hence, to get the most of your 4K TV, you can either purchase 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays or stream 4K movies from Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Apple or any other 4K content provider. But, if you know how to upscale 1080p videos to 4K using a 4K upscale software, such as DVDFab Video Enhancer AI, or Enlarger AI, then it can save you a good fortune on the streaming fee.

Section 6. FAQs

  • Does 4K TV upscale 1080p videos to 4K?

Yes, most of the 4K TVs on the marketplace today manufactured by the major companies like Samsung, Sony, LG, Panasonic etc. feature this 4K upscaling function.

  • Does PS4 upscale to 4K?

Well, it depends on what PS4 model you are holding. To the owners of the original PS4 and the PS4 Slim, the answer is no. But if you have a PS4 Pro, then you’re better off, because Sony infills the 4K upscaling feature into its Pro version.

  • Does Xbox One S upscale games to 4K?

Yes, it does. If you set your console resolution to 4K UHD, everything on the console will display at 4K, including your home page, all the apps and games. Moreover, 4K content is displayed in its native 4K resolution, and other content (like 1080p content) is upscaled to 4K. To set your resolution and upscale everything to 4K, double-tap the Xbox button to open the guide, go to Settings > All settings, then choose Display & sound > Video output. For TV resolution, select 4K UHD.

  • Why do I still need a 4K upscaling software if my 4K TV can do the 4K upscaling?

Well, the answer is that you don’t necessarily need a 4K upscaling software if your 4K TV already comes with a native 4K upscaling feature. However, the output video quality of each 4K TV may vary considerably from one brand to another, because the manufacturers all have their own 4K upscaling algorithms, some may deliver satisfactory results, other may not. If you are not satisfied with the result, then the only way left for you is using a software 4K upscaling solution, after all, it’s not practical to change for another 4K TV.   

  • Does the Video Enhancer AI is the only product from DVDFab that supports 4K upscale?

Not exactly. Video Enhancer AI is the one you should go with if you want to upscale your 1080p videos to 4K. But if you want to upscale your DVDs or Blu-rays to 4K, then you should go with DVDFab Enlarger AI, DVD Ripper and Blu-ray Ripper; and using the Enlarger AI and Video Converter together, you can also upscale 1080p videos to 4K, or 480p/720p videos to 1080p quality; besides, if you want to enlarge your photos from 1080p to 4K, DVDFab Photo Enhancer AI can help you with that.