Apple TV Slow and Poor Quality Picture

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by Average Pro, Jun 19, 2018.

  1. Average Pro macrumors regular

    Jul 16, 2013
    Over the past few weeks, my Apple TV has performed terribly. I get the spinning wheel whenever I start a movie or tv show (purchased through iTunes). Today, I sat through an entire episode of GOT where the picture never cleared up.

    Here are the specs and what I've done only to find the problem persist.

    (1) Internet speed test from a computer in another room: 315Mbps(upload)/277Mbps(download). I have a fiber optic line directly into my home.
    (2) Apple TV 4k Version 11.4
    (3) 2160p UHD-60HzHDR-10
    (4) Internet wireless router is less than 6 feet from Apple TV
    (5) No gaming (none in the household) or downloading of files during these periods.

    Trouble shooting
    (1) Restart Apple TV
    (2) Forgot and rejoin wifi network
    (3) Reset and Restore Apple TV
    (4) Update

    (1) Netflix
    (2) Reuters
    (3) Vimeo
    (4) HBO

    Prior to this, I found that the more clips I watched on Vimeo, the more buffering would occur. Also, the more trailers (via iTunes on Apple TV) I watch, the more buffering. After the 2nd or 3rd trailer, the loading bar just stops. I would rather wait for the episode/movie to load and watch it in UHD, then run it at a substandard quality. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
  2. 400 macrumors 6502

    Sep 12, 2015
  3. hdrummon macrumors newbie

    Aug 11, 2008
    Aldie, VA

    I would never recommend using wireless connection for AppleTV or any of these type devices. The bandwidth requirements really should point you to choose ethernet. First, your wireless router and it's connection to your AppleTV could be getting signal interference from other routers (neighbors, etc). The router could need a reboot. If it is so close to your AppleTV, then why not run an ethernet cable from the router to your AppleTV to eliminate any bandwidth issues. Just my opinion but ethernet connections are always better by far than a wireless connection.
  4. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    Just start a step-by-step, process of elimination effort to pin down the issue.

    The easiest place to start is unplug, wait, plug EVERYTHING and retest that same show.

    Post #3 is right: wired ethernet is easy to test and rule out interference or other wifi bandwidth-eating demands causing the effect. If those things are going to stay that close together, wired is always better than wireless.

    Swap out cables. Maybe you have a bad cable somewhere.

    Rule out a faulty :apple:TV. Does your TV (or other AV equipment) have some apps? Use the TV app to attempt to stream the same problematic programs you are trying to watch. Does the TV app play them just fine? Now hop back to :apple:TV and try to run the same. Does it show the negative effects? That would imply a faulty :apple:TV or it's cable.

    Would you happen to have an older :apple:TV around (or maybe a friend has one you can borrow for this experiment)? If so, temporarily slug it in without changing anything else and see if it has the same problems. If not, you'll know it's the new :apple:TV. If the other one has the same problem, the problem probably lies in the other links in the chain.

    Another idea: unhook your :apple:TV, take it to a friend's house and temporarily slug it into their setup. Try to play the problematic stream. Does it play well there? If so, :apple:TV is fine and something in the rest of your setup is the problem.

    Basically, it's this kind of "change one variable", step-by-step process of elimination that will ultimately help you figure out what is wrong.
  5. archer75 macrumors 68020

    Jan 26, 2005
    Definitely sounds like a wireless issue. The previous suggestions of running a ethernet cable to the ATV for troubleshooting are spot on.

    Also, just because you have fiber and fast speeds doesn't mean you get consistent speeds. Doing a speedtest takes a snapshot of a single point in time. Your true speeds could be all over the place. I have fios as well and I do see this from time to time.
  6. HobeSoundDarryl, Jun 19, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2018

    HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    Good added advice archer75. And the Speedtest app is available for :apple:TV. Run it to set a baseline. Then try again later. And again. Especially when you see the stuttering in the program, hop right over and run it again then.

    WIRE router to :apple:TV. Run Speedtest. Again. Again. When the show stutters, again. That may expose it's your wifi pinching your streams at that time.

    Another good test: shoot some video with your phone/camcorder and store it in iTunes. Stream that video and see how it plays. This rules out the outside pipe bandwidth as it leans only on the bandwidth inside your home.

    Speed to your house is not necessarily speeds within your house. If someone could somehow deliver a Tbps (Terrabyte) pipe to a house, it's still going to get cut down to wifi averages and hardware-driven speed limits within a house. You might have a car in your garage that can go upwards of 120MPH on some open road. But inside your own garage, you can never get it up to that max.
  7. borgranta macrumors 6502


    May 9, 2018
    My fiber optic experience involves it becoming so unreliable that we could not stay connected for more than a few seconds. In fact banks accounts were overdrawn because of the inability to do check bank accounts.
    --- Post Merged, Jun 19, 2018 ---
    AT&T never replaced the original modem despite numerous internet related failures and yet Comcast recently replaced the modem due to it failing to access the internet in the overnight hours.
  8. riffcat macrumors member


    Sep 11, 2013
    Another thing to consider is not just your internet speed. But, the quality of your internal Wirelsss network. A wifi devices performance degrades with each device that is connected to it. The more devices connected will shared the bandwidth of the wireless signal to and from the router. Newer wireless routers are more capable of dividing the wireless signal to each devices connected so that a single device doesn't dominate the bandwidth.

    To test this. Turn off as many wireless devices that are not required to complete the task required. IE, make sure only your TV and Apple TV are connected to your wireless router and see if performance improves.

    If your wireless router is connected to every device in your household (phones, tablets, TV appleTV, et cetera) this can severely degrade performance.
  9. Tech198 macrumors G5

    Mar 21, 2011
    Australia, Perth
    The same I could say then for the Mac..... or any wireless device..

    If its next to the wireless access point, there shouldn't BE any issues IF the network is all good anyway with as less interference as possible: You can usually test this on other devices close proximity, to see if they drop when you move around 'the same room'

    If interference happens even in the same room as the access point, then stop using wirless, or switch to a different channel. I think 1,6 or 11. : ..
  10. Andrewtst, Jun 21, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2018

    Andrewtst macrumors 6502


    Oct 28, 2016
    Actually I facing this slow issue on last two days also but then I notice it is cause by DNS I use. Remove it solve my problem completely.
  11. Average Pro thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 16, 2013
    Thank you for all the suggestions. Looks like I have my work cut out for me this coming weekend.
  12. Average Pro thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 16, 2013
    I spoke to support today and they believe there's two separate problems. Since originally posting this thread, a few other things have popped up.

    (1) Buffering/poor quality picture
    (2) More buffering and poor quality picture the more programs I watch
    (3) Apple TV will not go to sleep. By this I mean the light stays on
    (4) If it does go to sleep, the light will turn back on at random
    (5) Apple remote no longer turns on TV when waking Apple TV
    (6) Half of the TV monitor starts to crackle, horizontal lines appear and then the left side of the screen image freezes. Whatever program is running continues but only on the RHS of the TV. This only happens with Apple TV, not regular cable channel. Exiting out via the menu does nothing. I have to switch the TV input or pull the power from the Apple TV. If I go to cable TV, the issue disappears.
    (7) If I do not unplug the power chord over night, then the buffering appears upon turning on the TV. If unplugged, the picture is crystal clear.

    Support wants me to start by switching the HDMI cable. They also suggested taking the Ap TV to an apple store where they can see if they're experiencing the same problem. Per support, I installed Speed Test. Ran the rest twice and showed rates above 350M and 420M. I also accessed my router to see if anyone was sucking my bandwidth. Nothing. Only saw my components.
  13. 400, Sep 16, 2018
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2018

    400 macrumors 6502

    Sep 12, 2015
    Did you hard wire to the router? Rules out wifi issues, I never trust wifi. Tried swapping inputs with a working device to prove the input?
    Is the TV input able to take 4k correctly and have you tried to set a lower resolution from the ATV?
    Re different HDMI lead, do you have a spare? If support suggest you buy the Belkin one, tell them to jog on.

    Sounds like a duff ATV though.

    Edit. In your situation I would take a known working 4K source if available (4k bluray or another 4K streaming device) and use the ATV lead to test the input to the TV with that known working source.

    e.g. My 4K Blu-ray player, transfer the Apple TV HDMI lead the 4k player to connect it to the same ATV input on the TV. If that works with 4K then either next conversation with support is everything else works OK except the ATV or back to the shop with the ATV informing them other sources work fine give me a new one please.
  14. mmomega macrumors 68030


    Dec 30, 2009
    DFW, TX
    Two things, wifi is not always better being extremely close.

    I have had numerous experience with devices having much better send/receive speeds being 10-20 ft away from a router than essentially right on top of them.

    2, If you have the normal AT&T fiber modem you could be experiencing NAT issues.
    I have several fiber installs at different locations and have had to get all of my modems swapped because of crap NAT issues.
    Meaning the NAT doesn't clear out at a normal rate, fills up and when is around 75% and up of its allocation the service begins to slow to a crawl and then unusable to where no websites will load but the modem will still appear to be functioning.
    When I was having the issue I could login in to the modem, clear the NAT tables, within 15-20 seconds my service would be back to "wide-ass-open" again.

    Look at the label on your modem and it should list the default login IP and device access code. Then Diagnostics tab then NAT Table.
    My older modems were set to 2400 NAT total, this could not be changed whatsoever without switching modems.
    Around 1900-2000 the internet started becoming practically not usable until it went completely out.

    The new modems they swapped me with have an 8,000 NAT table. Mucho better.

    If you have a lot of devices or have several sites, apps, programs running on your network it can easily fill the NAT tables up to the point of crashing the modem. Look here when the service starts turning to trash.
  15. dbalone45 macrumors newbie

    Feb 3, 2014
    Just to add my similar experience. I have the 4K one. About one month ago my Apple TV also started to act up. Similar issues. Most notable was the streaming. Got so I could hardly stream anything. Netflix and PS Vue were getting to the point that I could not watch anything. Some days it would be a little better and then one day I could not do anything. Even when I was able to stream the quality just did not seem as good. Reset router, reset TV, reset Apple TV. Nothing. I just happened to have an older APTV 4 in other room and switched it to my room and the same problem occurred. Moved the one that was causing the issue to the other room and it worked fine. Just about went and bought a new one. I finally switched HDMI cables and BOOM. Problem solved. It has been fine every since. I would have never thought that the cable would solve streaming and streaming quality but it did. The issues had been slowly getting worse and worse too.
  16. rhett7660 macrumors G5


    Jan 9, 2008
    Sunny, Southern California
    Did you hardwire your ATV?
  17. Average Pro thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 16, 2013
    I ordered the recommended HDMI cable along with CAT7 ethernet cables. I'll provide an update after I install the new wires.

    For clarification, everything is hardwired. Wiring is as follows: Router to APTV to TV. Nothing else, no games, DVD, etc.

    When the rep first brought up the HDMI cable, I rolled my eyes. Then I recalled the days of USB cables and how an inferior cable could bring about the most unexplained errors.
  18. 400 macrumors 6502

    Sep 12, 2015
    There is no mystery with a standard length HDMI cable if it is correctly bought. "High Speed" or "Premium" would have done. Have they sold you the Belkin?
  19. Average Pro thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 16, 2013
    I installed the Belkin HDMI and CAT7 cables on 26 September 2018.

    The buffering issue disappeared for Netflix and Vimeo. Also, when I put the ATV to sleep manually, it stays asleep until awakened. The split screen issue has not returned. However, the buffering issue continues on any movie purchased or rented from iTunes after June 2018.

    I'll provide this information to Apple, but I know what they'll want me to do. Take the ATV to a store and see if it replicates there.


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18 June 19, 2018