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Updated by Donna Peng - Contact Author

H.265 vs H.264: Which Video Compression Format Is Better to Use?

You will learn: what's the difference between H.265 and H.264, how to convert H.264 to H.265 and H.265 to H.264.

Hot discussion about H.265 and H.264 is underway. The technical content of H.265 was settled on January 25, 2013, while the specification was formally approved as a standard on April 13, 2013.

Apple initially applied next-generation H.265 technology to its iPhone 6 and larger iPhone 6 Plus for FaceTime over cellular in 2014, and introduced HEVC and HEIF as new camera formats in iOS 11 in 2017. And some companies urgently gear up to launch H.265 converters to convert videos from/to H.265.

So, what is H.265? How can it fight against H.264? If you want to figure out these things, this post focusing on H.265 vs H.264 comparison can come in handy. It tells you clearly the definitions of H.265 and H.264, and also the differences between H.265 and H.264 in quality, file size, bitrate, and compression ratio.

Part 1 Definitions of H.265 and H.264

What is H.264?

H.264 (aka MPEG-4 AVC) is a kind of video codec developed and updated by Moving Pictures Experts Group (MPEG) in a period of 4 years. Video code is a kind of algorithm in which we consider the fundamental technology of the video industry that to compress the huge raw clip materials to transmittable format. H.264 is highlighted by its motion-compensated Discrete Cosine Transform (DCT) structure. With DCT, H.264 provides an excellent solution for fast movement and rapid changing frames and provides a space-saving scheme when compressing the videos.

What is H.265?

H.265 is the successor of MPEG's H.264. It inherites all specifications of H.264, expands its efficiency on data save domain, upscales the maximum resolution to 7680 x 4320. Plus, the algorithm has been optimized to better fulfill the needs of online video streaming. With larger sized video presentation and better transmission reliability, a higher hardware requirement is in return for its high performance.

H.265 vs H.264 bitrate
H.265 vs H.264 bitrate

Part 2 Differences between H.265 and H.264: Why H.265 Is Better than H.264

H.265 vs H.264: Bitrate

H.265 uses only about 50% bitrate otherwise used by H.264 when transmitting images at the same quality. This is because H.265 provides more different tools to reduce bitrate.

AVC uses the integer discrete cosine transform with 4×4 and 8×8 block sizes, HEVC uses integer DCT and DST transforms with varied block sizes between 4×4 and 32×32. HEVC expands the pattern and difference-coding areas from 16×16 pixel to sizes up to 64×64. HEVC also has better block size flexibility, supporting block sizes up to 32×32. The followed graph will give you a technical comparison between those two.

HEVC vs AVC
HEVC vs AVC

H.265 vs H.264: Quality

Bitrate is one of the factors that affect video quality. Higher bitrate usually leads to higher quality. If H.265 uses the same bitrate as H.264, it will deliver higher quality video.

H.265 vs H.264 quality
H.265 vs H.264 quality

H.265 vs H.264: File Size

First of all, we need to know that we can calculate video file size by multiplying bitrate by duration. Since we have mentioned above that H.265 uses smaller bitrate to transmit the same quality as H.264, we can conclude that H.265 can export smaller file. An H.265 video can be 1-3X smaller than an H.264 encoded video.

H.265 vs H.264: Bandwidth

Thanks to the high compression ratio, H.265 can reduce bitrate and file size and therefore reduce required bandwidth. For example, H.264 HIGH PROFILE requires 512 Kbps to transmit 720p 30fps image, while H.265 only needs 384 Kbps.

To know more differences between H.265 and H.264 codec formats, check the list below. The list include H.265 and H.264 formats' launch date, bandwidth requirement for 4K transmission, storage, max resolution, frame rate support, and key improvements compared to predecessor.

H.265/HEVC

H.264/AVC

Launch Date

2013 2003

Basic bandwidth requirement for 4K transmission (Lower means better)

14mbps 32mbps

Storage Needs for same quality video

Take only 1/2 of the storage space needed by H.264 Massive waste to storage space compare to H.265

Video block unit size optimization

Combination of Coding Unit/ Prediction Unit and Transition Unit Fixed block size partitioning & inter partitions of blocks

Deblocking Filter

Sample Adaptive Offset (SAO) Loop filter(LPF)

Maximum resolution (in pixel)

7680 x 4320 4096 × 2048(only in 30 or below frames)

Key improvement (compare to their predecessor)

* 40-50% bit rate reduction compared with H.264 at the same visual quality
* It is likely to implement Ultra HD, 2K, 4K for Broadcast and Online (OTT)
* 40-50% bit rate reduction compared with MPEG-2 Part
* Available to deliver HD sources for Broadcast and Online

Support up to 300 fps

Yes No. support up to 59.94 fps only.

Check the H.265 vs H.264 Comparison Video from YouTube

H.265 vs H.264: Conclusion

In general, as the successor of H.264 codec, H.265 is taking advantages in almost all aspects, better graphic displaying, delicate image and bandwidth saving. But H.265 has slower encoding, giving problems when playing back on many devices and players. It's CPU intensive and requires much better hardware for processing. H.264 is a current video standard, provides much faster encoding and plays smoothly on most devices and players. H.264 has better compatibility. So even if H.265 is more advanced than H.264, you may also have to record video in H.264 and convert H.265 to H.264.

Simply put, H.265 is the codec of the future. So, do you want to convert videos files to H.265? In this way, you can downsize HD/4K videos without damaging the quality. So, how to convert videos to H.265? All you need is a H.265 converter to convert videos to H.265.

Part 3 How to Convert (H.264) Video to H.265 - A Way to Compress Videos Without Losing Quality

Among all available H.265 video converters in the market, WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe claims one of the top H.265 transcoders. It can not only convert H.265 to H.264, but also can convert H.264 to H.265 with several mouse clicks only. Now let's show you how to change video format.

Firstly, download and install WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe or Mac version on your computer.

Step 1. Click "+ Video" to load target video file.

Step 2. Choose "HEVC Video" under category "PC General Video" as your output profile. To convert H.265 to H.264 video, you should choose a profile with H.264 codec.

Convert Videos to H.265
Convert H264 to H265

Step 3. Specify destination folder to save H.265 video file.

Step 4. Hit "RUN" to begin converting. Then you're able to play H.265 files freely on computer, mobile, TV and more!

According to H.265 vs H.264 (or HEVC vs AVC) comparison, the superiority of H.265 is evident. And with the help of WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe, we can convert videos files to/from H.265 effortlessly, including converting H.264 to H.265 and H.265 to H.264.

Still have trouble about converting videos to/from H.265/H.264? Please feel free to Email Us >>

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

author - Donna Peng

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Donna Peng's fascination with multimedia began at an early age - shortly after she licked the physical disc and then she's been obsessed ever since. Her decade-long career at Digiarty after the graduation has seen her unmatched expertise in the field of DVD, digital video, software and anything related to home theatre. She is currently fascinated with photography.

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