HandBrake HEVC: How to Set HandBrake to Encode HEVC/H.265

[Latest Updated: Jan. 23, 2019 by May Watt to HandBrake]

HandBrake HEVC

HandBrake introduced HEVC encoder in version 0.10.0 and successively improved performance in the following releases. Till 1.0.0, something new was implemented, from the utilization of Intel QuickSync Video for accelerating HEVC encoding speed to the support of high bit depth encoding (10-bit and 12-bit) and quality enhancement. In the latest 1.2.0, HandBrake further boosts HEVC encoding performance through updated x265 2.9 and the support of AMD VCE/NVIDIA NVENC.

HEVC (H.265) features high compression efficiency – twice the ratio of H.264 – resulting in equal quality at a lower bit rate. Therefore, some users try to encode HEVC with HandBrake to get a smaller file with high quality for space saving. How to work with HandBrake HEVC encoding? That's what we will discuss in the following.

HandBrake HEVC/H.265 Settings

1. HEVC Encoders
x265 is the traditional HEVC encoder used by HandBrake – not only for HEVC but HEVC 10-bit/12-bit - to achieve an efficient encoding process. In the latest 1.2.0, HandBrake adopts NVIDIA NVENC to get a faster HEVC encoding speed. Either of the encoders can be enabled. But if your computer doesn't have NVIDIA graphic cards, x265 will be the only selection.
Also Read: HandBrake x265 Settings

2. Quality Adjustment
RF control is used to adjust quality. HandBrake recommends some RF settings for HEVC encoders.

• RF 18-22 for 480p/576p
• RF 19-23 for 720p
• RF 20-24 for 1080p
• RF 22-28 for 2160p 4K

Generally, higher RF value leads to better quality but larger file size while lower value results in opposite result. Variations on RF settings can be made depending on different requirements. For example, a small-sized file is much compatible with portable device and easier/faster to upload online. On the other hand, higher settings can help show crisp image with more details. What's more, quality defect of lower resolution videos become noticeable on a large display while there may be no distinct difference in quality of 720p and 1080p on a small display.

How to Encode HEVC/H.265 with HandBrake

It is suggested to download and install the latest HandBrake and then follow the guide to encode HEVC.

1. Import the source file.
Launch HandBrake and you will be asked to choose the video(s) you'd like to encode. Click Folder to batch import videos or File to open a single file. Besides video files, HandBrake also allows you to encode DVD disc, VIDEO_TS folder or ISO image to HEVC.

2. Set HEVC as the video codec.
HandBrake will scan file(s) and load the title with basic info, like resolution, frame rate, audio and subtitle tracks. It gives a default preset with fitting video/audio parameters like format, codec, FPS, size and more. What you should do is to change the default preset to HEVC.

HandBrake offers ready-made HEVC presets. Go to Presets and click right-arrow to get access to more options. Click Matroska and select one preset from the four H.265 MKV options which vary from resolution and frame rate.

HandBrake HEVC Presets

If MKV is not the ideal format, keep default preset or select any other presets for device, gmail or general video according to your need. Select MP4 as format under Summary tab. Next, click Video tab and select H.265 as codec.

HandBrake HEVC Codec

As mentioned above, you can select H.265 10-bit/12-bit for higher bit depth encoding or H.265 NVIDIA NVENC (which will not be given if you don't run a computer with NVIDIA GPUs) to speed up encoding. And, increase or decrease RF on the basic of recommended settings or customization to get the most suitable quality for later playback.

3. Make personalized settings (optional).
• Adjust size (resolution) and crop video.
• Set filters – deinterlace, denoise, sharpen and more – to optimize image quality.
• Rotate or flip video.
• Add/remove audio and subtitle tracks. You are also allowed to select audio codec, adjust bit rate and select Mixdown (Stereo or Mono).

4. Set output folder.
Click Browse button to save the resulting file to an output folder.

5. Start encoding.
Click Start Encode button to encode the original video or DVD source to HEVC.

Imperfections of HandBrake HEVC Encoding

People choose to encode HEVC with HandBrake for small file size but give complaints on speed and quality.

- "HandBrake tells it will take 25 hours to encode a 2 hours and 20 minutes movie to HEVC."
- "I used HandBrake to transcode DVDs into H.265. The resulting MKVs were ineede smaller but the quality of them was bad."

Although HandBrake has worked to improve quality and speed for several years, problems still exist. HEVC encoding is a CPU-intensive task, which may result in jaggy performance if running on an under-powered computer. HandBrake utilizes NVIDIA NVENC to accelerate HEVC encoding and relieve CPU loads leading to a smoother performance. However, hardware-accelerated encoding sometimes possibly compromises quality.

To achieve the best result of HandBrake HEVC encoding, people need expertise in multimedia programming. Indeed, it is hard for beginners.

Try HandBrake Alternative – Get Better Way to Encode HEVC

VideoProc, is the picked HandBrake alternative, for HEVC encoding. It is all-sided video processor featuring video transcoding, editing, downloading and recording. It builds in hundreds of codecs helping users convert a large range of videos/DVDs to HEVC/H.265 or other popular formats and devices. It takes full advantage of level-3 hardware acceleration with full support of Intel, NVIDIA and AMD graphic cards to greatly speed up processing while preserving high quality, about 98% of original.

WinX DVD Ripper Platinum Box

VideoProc is totally user-friendly. Just a few of clicks, load video/DVD source > select MP4 HEVC as output format > RUN and then you can get a high-quality HEVC file with high quality.

For PC and Mac only. Go to mobile page.

>> Ultimate Guide: How to Transcode Video/DVD with VideoProc

External Sources:
HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding): also known as H.265 and MPEG-H Part 2, is a video compression standard, one of several potential successors to the widely used AVC (H.264 or MPEG-4 Part 10)...
x265: is a library for encoding video into the High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC/H.265) video compression format that was developed and standardized by the ISO/IEC MPEG and ITU-T VCEG...
Nvidia NVENC: is a feature in its graphics cards that performs video encoding, offloading this compute-intensive task from the CPU.

About the Author

Author - May Watt    May Watt@may_w1209

May Watt is a member of Digiarty. She offers a bunch of tips of how to handle multimedia files (DVD, video files, music etc.) and keeps her focus on tech news about Apple, Google, GoPro, DJI and more.

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