Top 10 Best Free Media/Video Players for Windows 2020

There are so many ways a media player is essential. You need it to play movies, access music, explore contents of pen drives and other stuff. Different users have varied preferences, some need something no-nonsense, others need a whole lot of features, some require a media player for office presentations while others need one to watch movies on the couch. So there are a whole lot of media players in the market, each targeting a few specific needs.

Now we’re not going to ask you to try out scores of apps to find a good fit. So instead, we have a list of 10 best Media Players for Windows 10, arranged in increasing order of recommendation. We begin with the pre-installed Windows Media Player, and every successive player gets more and more awesome. Want to know which ones are our top 3 recommendations? Well, you’ll have to read the article to find out!

How we decided upon the list

Windows Media Player got the tenth place by default, since it comes pre installed on most Windows PCs. If you’re worried that you can’t find Windows Media Player on Windows 8, it’s because they put in a generic app called Videos. More on it in a bit.

Each Media Player gets evaluated on the following standards:

  • Approachability / Ease of Use
  • General Utility, minus complex features it might offer.
  • Popularity, especially online.
  • To break ties, we used the number and quality of higher grade features the player offered.

The result was not easy to compile, but at the end, we wouldn’t rate the apps any differently.

Best Media Player for Windows 10:

1. Windows Media Player 12

Price: Free

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Windows Media Player 12

The base interface in Windows Media Player has remained the same for years now. The same blue-black theme prevails by default (there are ways people change them though). The software plays a fair number of formats. The buttons recede into invisibility when they are not being used, which makes for a more enjoyable movie experience.

The problem with the software is that it is too no-nonsense. It doesn’t break free from the mould at all. Perhaps that’s why Windows 8 came out with dedicated Videos and Music utilities, which were not very well received. Since it comes pre-installed in most Windows PCs and is therefore almost the traditional choice, Windows Media Player 12 serves as the perfect standard to evaluate other players on.

2. DivX Player

Price: Free Trial

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DivX Player
DivX Player can come off as a fancier version of Windows Media Player, though it does have a lot of added capabilities. The most notable among them is the Audio Enhancer which comes in handy in clearing up the dialogues and sounds. It lets you pick file extensions you want to open with the program, which helps keep things organised. Other than that, DivX Player is pretty average. Not many Windows PC users might find it worth subscribing to, and that is reflected consistently in popularity charts.

3. VLC Media Player

Price: Free

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VLC Media Player

The other traditional choice is VLC Media Player, which takes things to a different dimension while still retaining the same flavor. Known to most Windows PC users as the media player with the white background and the much loved keyboard control, VLC is free for all, and also open source, which keeps tech savvy people on their toes designing new mods and skins available across forums on the internet.Benefits of VLC Player are many, and include audio and subtitle syncing, keyboard based controls which are a welcome upgrade from Windows Media Player, and fast seeking. The player is arguably better since it supports rarer file types in addition to the usual extensions.

4. PotPlayer

Price: Free

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Even though the application’s official website doesn’t explicitly say Windows 10, PotPlayer works well on it as well. The app really takes off with users because of how beautiful it looks. But it’s not just looks the app fares well in. Multiple settings can be accessed and toggled with the help of simple pop-up menus and buttons. PotPlayer supports 3D viewing as well. Plus, the app makes it really easy to browse videos on services like dailymotion and viki!

PotPlayer lets you have a preview of the scene at the point you’re going to seek a la YouTube, supports OpenCodec and even lets you bookmark your videos to resume watching from where you left off last time. It is objectively a significant improvement over VLC Media Player.

5. SMPlayer

Price: Free

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SMPlayer runs virtually every video format and is free. That is enough to put most expensive media players out of business. But there’s more to the app still. The SMPlayer has built in codecs, which means you don’t have to browse the internet to install addons. There are several player orientations and display themes you can use, arranged according to common interfaces, spanning Nokia phones to monochromes. Add to this customisation of skins, styles and individual icons, and you have a highly customisable player in your hands.

To add to it, SMPlayer also helps you download subtitles quickly, generate thumbnails and access all your content from a centralised interface.

6. Plex Media Player

Price: Free, with Plex Pass Subscription (optional)

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Plex Media Player
Taking things a notch higher in complexity as well as utility is Plex Player, whose USP is the cloud service it puts your media in, so you can access it across several devices. This is helpful because if you have a video or a song on one device, you effectively get it across all the devices you have Plex logged in on.

Yes, of course, Plex Media Player requires you to login to the service, but accounts are free. Get Plex Media Server, and you can run it on Dropbox, Google Drive as well as OneDrive, and this way access your multimedia with ease. Once installed, Plex scans and then indexes media to organise it and have it available to you when required.

Plex recently acquired Watchup and has reported plans to bring in news service to the player for users’ convenience as well, which should get a lot of coverage since Plex doesn’t fare badly in terms of popularity.

7. Media Player Classic Home Cinema

Price: Free

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Media Player Classic Home Cinema
Media Player Classic Home Cinema is neat and organised, as one would expect. The player arguably scores less than many other apps in terms of features, there are no fancy servers to which your content is uploaded and indexed, you cannot chromecast videos and the keyboard control game isn’t strong either. But the app stands out for its effective ease despite being a non-conventional application. MPC-HC is extremely lightweight, which makes it a great choice if you’re trying to be frugal with the space on your PC’s memory. It is also Open Source, which helps you find mods and skins to make your video watching experience even better.

The application also boasts being free of spam and spyware. They recently launched their latest version after a gap of almost one and a half years, which is a testimony to how consistent their popularity charts have been. Awesome features to try include rotating videos, DXVA capabilities and taking screenshots of the video.

8. Real Player

Price: Free with Paid Enhancements

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Real Player
There’s not much special about Real Player on the looks of it, it looks like a run of the mill application with the same dull, plasticky grey shades. But Real Player has a lot in store for the user. A welcome feature is the PIN access, whereby it helps you keep sensitive videos private, away from children and other inappropriate audiences by putting a PIN Password access condition. Real Player is also perhaps the only media player for Windows PC which allows video conversion to suit your device, be it a phone, PC or tablet. This comes in handy when you’re storing videos for later on your devices, like before a road trip.

Real Player streams your content to other interfaces, like for TV, including Roku, Chromecast and XBox One. Also, the application doubles up as a nice video downloader for PC, getting your web videos from almost any video streaming site you fancy.

9. KM Player

Price: Free

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KMPlayer is really like VLC Player on steroids. Despite hearing complaints from people who last used the app two years ago about frequent crashes and corruptions, we decided to try out KMPlayer (albeit we used the latest versions). And boy, were we surprised. KMPlayer deserves every bit to be in the top 3. This is the only player we found to be capable of playing UHD prints, be it 2K or 4K, KMP never disappoints. It also supports 3D playing. It even lets you edit subtitles!

The player stands out in its use of dark colors and pairing it with purple (who would have guessed?), to make a scintillating interface that is responsive, easy to play around with and efficient. The arrangement of options is exemplary in terms of convenience and intuitiveness. 3D videos need 3D glasses to watch (and you might have to fend for them yourselves, though any cheap ones you buy off the internet work well), but the results are spectacular. Fun fact, the app is available in as many as 35 languages!

Not so amazing is that the player automatically sets itself as the default player for music and video content, which feels a bit overzealous and presumptuous on its part.

10. GOM Player

Price: Free

Download Here

GOM Player
If you’re a fan of Android apps like MX Player, GOM Player will probably interest you quite a lot.

The first thing that stands out in GOM Player is the manual control afforded when it comes to managing video brightness, contrast and saturation, as well as subtitles, audio, play speed and more, all through the same menu labeled Control Panel. Then, you get to modify aspect ratio, screen size and output formats in Video preferences, run the app in multiple windows, and even choose to pause the video automatically when minimised (great for when you’re watching some sensitive content that you might not want others to see).

Also included are support for multiple skins and logos, changing subtitle font and position, and choosing which extensions you want to be accessible through GOM, a feature that might seem counter-intuitive, but can help you keep video content from certain sources organised and better accessible according to the programs of your preference. There are a lot of nifty keyboard shortcuts for virtually every action you might want to perform, in addition to a video menu available on right-clicking the video.

There are really no disadvantages to this program, save that perhaps there are too many options in the video menu which make the whole thing look cluttered and confusing. But if there are never too many options for you, this might be the best media player you fall in love with.

Media Players aren’t all alike. They’re each made at different times with different target audiences in mind. So if you think an app that deserved to make the list didn’t, or maybe some of them should be placed differently, we welcome your opinion in the comments below. Our evaluation was made keeping the most active media player users in mind, which are college students aged 18 to 26 and young adults, both groups limited to the USA. Preferences change almost completely when we move up or down age groups; both younger kids and seniors seem to prefer using simpler players like VLC or DivX. DivX also seems to have a slightly upward trend of popularity among the financially well off audiences of higher age which do not desire a lot of complexity in watching their favorite TV shows.

With the arrival of online streaming services like Netflix, Crackle, and apps like Vidmate taking the lead in providing entertainment to the masses, Media Players are prone to fall out of favor of users out of sheer disuse. Apps like KMPlayer have already begun to appear on Smartphones as a result, and that seems to be the only way out for them to survive. As for Windows 10, touted to be the pinnacle of Windows’ expertise, things are not likely to turn sour soon. And so, the market for only the Best Media Players for Windows 10 remains strong.