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AV1 vs HEVC/H.265 - Which is the Codec of the Future?

Now that 4K and 8K ultra-high definition contents are becoming mainstream, advanced video compression standard, aka video codec, is here to offer better video quality and lower bandwidth costs. The two most efficient codecs today are the High Efficiency Video Codec (HEVC) and AOMedia Video 1 (AV1) standards.

What are the differences between AV1 and HEVC? Specifically, the winner will be the video codec that will tackle the dimensions: compression efficiency, computational performance and compatibility. If you want to dive into the codec fight, we are now gearing up for the AV1 vs HEVC comparison, in performance, file size, quality, and the compatibility.

Hot Search: Does Adobe Premiere Pro Support AV1 Encoding, How to Encode AV1 with FFmpeg

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If you don't want to bother with the detailed discussion, check the AV1 vs HEVC conclusion below:

  • AV1 is royalty-free while HEVC is royalty bearing.
  • AV1 can save up to 30% file size than HEVC for the same image quality.
  • AV1 requires more powerful hardware to decode, and it takes much longer time to decode than HEVC.
  • HEVC is supported by GPU/CPU from AMD, Nvidia, Intel, Apple, Qualcomm, etc. The support for AV1 decoding is already here but the AV1 encoding is by far supported by Nvidia and Intel only.

You may be also intertested in: AV1 vs VVC, HEVC vs VVC, H.265 (HEVC) vs H.264 (AVC)

1. Royalty Fee

Summary: AV1 is royal free while hevc is not.

AOMedia Video 1 (AV1) is the successor to VP9, developed by the Alliance for Open Media, a consortium of the largest tech companies including Intel, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Mozilla, and Netflix (see all the members below). Due to the vague and expensive HEVC licensing structure, AOMedia decided to create a royalty-free standard that is able to provide better performance than HEVC.

HEVC codec is the successor to AVC, developed by Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) and the Video Coding Experts Group (VCEG) for encoding and decoding video streams more efficiently and economically. HEVC has a very complicated and expensive royalty structure. Therefore, the joint shareholders from MPEG LA, HEVC Advance, and Velos Media - which including Ericsson, Panasonic, Qualcomm, Sharp, and Sony, all have different license fees on HEVC. The detailed royalty fees are listed below (Source: Wiki):



Codec Royalties

Royalty Exemptions

Royalty Annual Cap

Distribution Fee



 US$0.20 per unit

First 100k units each year

US$25 million



Region 1:
▪ US$0.40 (mobile)
▪ US$1.20 (4K TV)
▪ US$0.20-0.80 (other)
Region 2:
▪ US$0.20 (mobile)
▪ US$0.60 (4K TV)
▪ US$0.20-0.40 (other)

▪ US$25,000 each year
▪ Most software HEVC implementations distributed to consumer devices after first sale

US$40 million

Physical distribution:
▪ $0.0225 per disc/title (Region 1)
▪ $0.01125 per disc/title (Region 2)
Non-physical distribution:
▪ US$0


tailor-made agreements

tailor-made agreements

tailor-made agreements


Velos Media




Presumed to charge royalty

others (AT&T, Microsoft ...)






Alliance for
Open Media





2. Compression Efficiency

Summary: AV1 codec is 30% more efficient than H.265

According to tests conducted by Moscow State University, AV1 can outperform HEVC by about 28% in the encoding and decoding efficiency. As per the performance graph from the Graphics & Media Lab Video Group, MSU below, AV1 is able to provide the same quality as X264 at 55% of the avg. bitrate while the best HEVC encoder (x265 in three-pass Placebo mode) runs at 67% of the bitrate. In other words, with AV1, distributors can send streams faster and cheaper and we can enjoy higher-definitions via the same bandwidth.

The efficiency gains in AV1 over HEVC makes streaming HDR 4K video with wide color gamuts much more feasible. It can go as far as 8K at up to 120fps, 800mbps. 360-degree video can also use AV1 to deliver similarly high data demands.

hevc and AV1 comparison - MSU AV1 vs HEVC file size

3. Quality

Summary: AV1 codec delivers better image quality than H.265/HEVC

While AV1 has better compression efficiency, is there any quality differences between AV1 and HEVC? As 4K video formats, both AV1 and HEVC has good quality. But small differences still exist. According to the quality chart among four codecs (namely AV1, X265, LibVPx, and X264) based on VMAF rating, drawn by Jan Ozer, a famous streaming and production professional, compared to X265, AV1 can provide better quality at even low bit rate. Overall, AV1 can maintain high quality from low to high data rate. This is also proven in other PSNR tests online.

hevc vs AV1 quality

4. Encoding/Decoding Time

Summary: AV1 codec requires 3x the encoding time of HEVC/H.265

Based on earlier tests, AV1 requires 3x the encoding time of HEVC x265 and LibVPx. Also indicated in the MSU reports, AV1 encoding is about 2500-3000 times slower than competitors while X265 is about 10-15 times slower. Since AMD, Nvidia, Intel, Qualcomm and most hardware manufacturers already support HEVC, a hardware accelerated HEVC encoder can drive the HEVC encoding to about 5x times faster, which will also save more CPU and battery while providing high quality than software processing.

However, the latest version AOM-AV1 3.5 has much more efficient CPU encoding. It features a new API and features to improve the speed and momery optimizations. Testing showed a 34% encoding time reduction for 1080p videos at best on a 16-thread CPU and 18-20% encoding time reduction for 2160/4K resolutions on a 32-thread CPU. Therefore, streaming software can offer better experience with AV1 than HEVC.

On the hardware side, AV1 has less support than HEVC. Therefore, there is a long way to go before AV1 become widespread for streaming (below is the decoding and encoding time of AV1, X265, and main competitors, video: 2k trailer, souce: texpion).

hevc and AV1 comparison- AV1 vs HEVC encoding time

The dull hardware support of AV1 technology ends up the result that the AV1 playback & encoding will take longer time than HEVC. Let's see the AV1 encoding and decoding:

Don't worry about the AV1 decoding as it's already supported by major silicon players like AMD RDNA 2 GPUs, NVIDIA GeForce 30- and 40-Series GPUs, Intel Xe and Arc GPUs, as well as mobile chips like the Samsung Exynos 2100 and 2200, various MediaTek Dimensity SoCs, and Google's Tensor processor.

The hardware encoding of AV1 is not as bright as HEVC. By far, Intel's new Arc Alchemist A Series graphics cards are the first graphics cards on the market with GPU AV1 encoders. The NVIDIA just released it's newest graphic card, GeForce RTX 40 Series GPUs, which feature the 8th-generation of Nvidia video encoder - NVENC, also brings the support for AV1 encoding. According to the tests performaned by Nvidia, now the new AV1 encoder can deliver 40% inscreased efficiency with higher resolutions and quality.

(Below is the encoding speed tests conducted by Nvidia with Nvenc AV1 vs HEVC predecessor H.264.)

hevc and AV1 comparison - The new NVIDIA GPU with AV1 encoding

As for ordinary consumer, that could be a strong signal for more tech giants get in & with their efforts to push forwards the application of AV1 in the internet video sharing. Considerably a brighter future will be promised with the joint of big company like NVIDIA and AMD.

5. Compatibility

Summary: Hardware and software support for AV1 codec is still not as good as HEVC

iPhone, iPad, Samsung, Google Note/Pixel, Ximao, LG, HTC mobiles, and TVs from Sony, LG, Samsung, etc. all have builg-in ability to decode HEVC. Leading hardware manufacturers like Qualcomm, Intel, Nvidia,Microsoft, Apple, Broadcom, Ambarella, etc. all add support to HEVC codec. Most modern cameras, such as GoPro, DJI drones, Canon, and some other DSLR record videos using HEVC codec. HEVC is also supported by various software programs, like edtiors FCP X, Premiere Pro, DaVinci Resolve, and web browsers. However, sometimes error may occur like VLC can't play HEVC files, VLC won't support HVC1 codec, etc.

As of writing, AV1 codec is mainly used by web browers Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. It's not compatible with Safari, Microsoft Edage, and Opera. Windows 10 enables AV1 video playback on condition you install AV1 video extension beforehand. Even VLC can't play AV1 very well.

While compared to HEVC, AV1 is not as widely used, its future looks increasingly optimistic. There is growing hardware support for the AV1 codec:

  • All Android tablets and phones that need to run Android 14 are required to support AV1.
  • Netflix mobile app for Android and iOS is already distributing AV1 streams.
  • NVIDIA has worked with OBS Studio to add AV1 support to its new software release, which has added support for HEVC/H.265 to increase the video compression rates by 15% across a wide range of NVIDIA GPUs in the OBS 28.0 release.
  • Discord is enabling AV1 end to end for the first time.


AV1 vs HEVC, which is the better codec for the future? When the 50%-more-efficient H.265 comes out, H.264 didn't become obsolete. Even though AV1 has 30% better performance, it's in early stage now. That means, most devices now support HEVC only. That said, we believe AV1 is more promising, especially for online streaming of large-resolution content.


author - Kaley Torres

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Kaley Torres is a self-motivated, creative editor with eight years of marketing and SEO experience, specializing in writing on DVD, video, audio, images, new digital contents etc. With a partiality DVD collection, Kaley also enjoys digitizing DVD and is keen to share her DVD video conversion solutions as well as video sharing tips on social media.

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