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Free Download HEVC (H.265) Codec for 4K/8K Video Playback

HEVC (aka H.265) earned its reputation from Sep, 2014 when Blu-ray Disc Association and Apple announced HEVC support for their products. Then, this video codec is widely applied to a wide range of fields, operation system (Windows 10, macOS High Sierra or later, Android 6.0 or later, iOS 11 or later), online video (YouTube 4K/8K), graphics card (NVIDIA, AMD) and media software (VLC, HandBrake) and so on.

In this article, we will focus on HEVC/H.265 codec, explaining what is HEVC codec and how to free download HEVC/H.265 codec for 4K/8K video playback.

Looking for the Best Solution to Play 4K/8K Videos Encoded with HEVC/H.265?

WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe - Transcode HEVC to fix incompatible problem on PC/Mac or devices.
It can easily and efficiently convert 4K/8K videos encoded with HEVC/H.265 to 1080P HD in formats MP4, H.264, AVI, MOV etc, for smooth playback on incompatible PCs/Macs, TVs and portable devices.

Part 1: What Is HEVC/H.265 Codec?

HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding)[1], a video compression standard, is developed to have a higher coding efficiency and improved video quality. With double data compression ratio, HEVC only requires half bitrate to keep the same video quality compared to H.264/MPEG-4 AVC. In other words, HEVC delivers better video quality at the same bitrate. Target at next-generation HDTV display and content capture systems, it can support 4K and 8K UHD resolution. >> What You May Be Insterested In: H.265 vs H.264

The Core Technologies That Make HEVC Codec Stand Out

The reason why HEVC codec owns better compression ratio and same high quality lies in the following core technologies it adopts:

  • • Coding tree unit: Subdivides picture into variable sized structures with 64×64 samples (H.264 uses 16×16 ones) to improve coding efficiency.
  • • Intra Coding: HEVC intra coding increases the Prediction directivity to 33 and adds Planar Prediction to produce a smooth sample surface.
  • • Inter Coding: Motion compensation is used for HEVC inter coding to eliminate redundancy in video sequence.
  • • Entropy Coding: HEVC uses the same CABAC algorithm of H.264/AVC High Profile for entropy coding, abandoned CAVLC.
HEVC Codec efficiency
HEVC Codec efficiency

HEVC codec is the software to compress or decompress HEVC video. It can be an encoder for compression only or decoder for decompression only. With H.265 codec, people can create a 4K/8K video or convert HEVC videos to a more compatible format for flawlessly playing on computers or devices.

Part 2: Make Sure Your Device Support HEVC codec.

Now we have better acknowledgment about what is HEVC/H.265 codec. The following issue is that whether your device support HEVC codec or the playback function could be done well by your device.

We could see different attitudes that companies towards this new video codec & its technical deployment. As one of the key participants of the MPEG association, Apple announced its HEVC support to Apple products in the very early stage during the implementation of HEVC/H.265 codec. On the other hand, Google reacting comparatively slow compared to Apple because of the concern that the market share of Google’s VP9 & AV1 codecs could wear away.

In the 2018 Q2 Mobile Overview Report (MOVR), we found the support for hardware-accelerated HEVC decoding is growing among mobile devices. 78% of iPhone and 57% of Android smartphone requests come from devices that support hardware-accelerated HEVC decoding. And still a great number of iOS and Android devices have no support for H.265, which could lead HEVC not playing error.

HEVC support on iOS and Android devices
Generally speaking, Apple devices provided better support to HEVC/H.265 codec than Android

HEVC Support on different platforms:

Apple devices that support HEVC playback:
• An iPhone shipped with Apple A9 chips or better (released Aug 2015)
• Apple MacBook "Core i7" series ( MacBook released after Mid-2017)
• An IPad 5th Gen and later model (Released March 21, 2017 )
• Apple TV 4K series (Released September 12, 2017)

Android devices that support HEVC playback:
• An Android phone that shipped with Snapdragon 610/ Kirin 950 or better processor
• An Android TV box with Mstar 6A928/ Amlogic S905 or better chips

For personal computer domain, in the year 2015 Nvidia released its GTX 960, from then, all PC installed GTX series or higher Nvidia graphic card will sufficiently support HEVC playback. If you don’t have an Nvidia card, a CPU with Intel i7/ AMD Athlon X4 835 or higher grade CPU will handle the HEVC playback jobs. 

Note: If you have installed Windows 10 Fall Creators Update[2], you might be facing HEVC not playing on PCs issues since Microsoft removed inbuilt support for HEVC codec. To play HEVC videos on Windows 10 v1709 and later, you need to download and install HEVC codec manually.

Minimum hardware to decode HEVC on Windows 10:
• Intel 6th generation "Skylake" or newer CPUs
• AMD 6th generation "Carizzo" or newer APUs
• NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950, 960, or newer graphics cards
• AMD Radeon R9 Fury, R9 Fury X, R9 Nano, or newer graphics cards

Common Errors with Inadequate Hardware for HEVC

HEVC videos not playing errors
HEVC videos not playing errors
  • 1. "Video codec is not supported" error message when playing HEVC on Netflix, Movies & TV app, VLC etc.
  • 2. The HEVC video plays fine for the first few seconds then it becomes choppy and finally freezes.
  • 3. The audio is playing while you see a black screen.
  • 4. Your computer goes overheated and the CPU utilisation during playback is around 100%.
  • ...

Part 3: Are There Any HEVC Codec Packs on Windows 10?

Beginners may search HEVC codec on Google or software download sites for having a direct download link. But the random results are quite confused. So, we list the following reliable HEVC (H.265) codecs for your reference.

• x265
x265 is an open-source HEVC encoder application library enabling users to encode video/images into a HEVC bitstream. It is under GNU General Public License (GPL) 2 license and also available under a commercial license. x265 projects aims to provide the best HEVC/H.265 encoder and deliver the most efficient compression, highest encoding speed and visual quality. This HEVC codec has been adopted by many video converters like WinX Video Converter, Handbrake etc.

• DivX 10
DivX is one of the most popular video codecs with implementation of several mainstream video and audio standards, DivX, HEVC/H.265, H.264, MPEG-4 Part 14, MKV, AAC, Dolby, DTS etc. Built-in free DivX HEVC Plug-in, this HEVC codec makes users create and watch HEVC videos up to 4K UHD on Windows (10) PC/Mac.

• K-Lite Mega Codec Pack
Supporting many popular video/audio codecs, K-Lite Codec Pack[3], a collection of DirectShow filters, VFW/ACM codecs and tools, drives users to play more video/audio formats on Windows 10/8/7/XP (64 & 32 bit). Since the version 10.10, the K-Lite Mega Codec Pack added support for decoding HEVC helping watch HEVC videos on Windows without trouble.

WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe - the Best HEVC Encoder and Decoder
  • • Encode/Decode videos from HEVC to other formats (H.264, AVI, WebM etc.) or from other formats to HEVC.
  • • Fully taking advantage of hardware acceleration, it can deliver an ultra fast speed of HEVC transcoding.

Part 4: Download HEVC Codec for 4K HEVC Video Playback on Windows 10

Download HEVC codec extension on Windows 10
Download HEVC codec extension on Windows 10

Step 1: Go this link to get free HEVC Video Extensions from Manufacturer.

Step 2: Click "Install" button to download and install it on your Windows 10 PC.

Step 3: Tap "Launch" button when it done. And you're able to play 4K HEVC videos on Movies & TV app.

Video Tutorial: Download HEVC Codec to Play HEVC Files on Windows 10

Part 5: Will HEVC Be the Next Mainstream Codec?

You see, more and more videos are encoded in HEVC codec or packaged into HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) format in HEVC. Will HEVC be the next major codec? 6 years after being an international standard, HEVC plays in 17.17% of all browsers tracked by caniuse.com, 78% for iOS devices and 57% for Android. In contrast, H.264 plays in 96.96% of all browsers, while VP9 plays in 86.39%. All these are derived from disastrous royal policy of HEVC, hindering it from accessing market on a large scale.

Browser support for HEVC as of Nov 4, 2019
Browser support for HEVC as of Nov 4, 2019

On the other hand, the momentum of AV1 codec and VVC codec[4] cannot be underestimated.

It's not surprising that AV1 plays in 32.02% of all browsers since both Google and Mozilla are AOMedia members. Meanwhile, in Nov, 2018, Microsoft released the beta AV1 Video Extension, which allows AV1 playback on Windows 10 devices.

Being the next-gen (after HEVC) standards-based codec developed jointly by MPEG and the ITU, the quality of VVC codec is 30% bitrate reduction over HEVC at the same perpetual quality. And the BBC found HEVC (HM) and AV1 to be about the same, with VVC (JEM) substantially better than both.

To a great degree, the codec future will be dictated by AV1's royalty-free status. But at present stage, HEVC still plays a crucial part in high compression efficiency.
See More: AV1 vs HEVC - Which is the Codec of the Future?

External Source Links:

1. High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) [wiki]: also known as H.265 and MPEG-H Part 2, is a video compression standard, designed as a successor to the widely used Advanced Video Coding (AVC, H.264, or MPEG-4 Part 10).
2. Windows 10 Fall Creators Update broke HEVC support in Films/Movies & TV app.
3. K-Lite Codec Pack[wiki] is a collection of audio and video codecs for Microsoft Windows that enables an operating system and its software to play various audio and video formats generally not supported by the operating system itself. The K-Lite Codec Pack also includes several related tools, including Media Player Classic Home Cinema (MPC-HC), Media Info Lite, and Codec Tweak Tool.
4. Versatile Video Coding (VVC) [wiki] is a future video compression standard being developed for finalization around mid-2020 by the Joint Video Experts Team (JVET), a united video expert team of the MPEG working group of ISO/IEC JTC 1 and the VCEG working group of ITU-T. At times, it has also been referred to as Future Video Coding (FVC) and as ITU-T H.266. It will be the successor to High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC, also known as ITU-T H.265 and MPEG-H Part 2).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jack Watt

Jack Watt is a sought-after editor at Digiarty. He is responsible for digital and multimedia world, delivering definitive video and audio related software reviews, enlightening guides, and incisive analysis. As a fan of Apple, Jack Watt also brings his experience to more readers and focuses on writing of the Apple ecosystem at large.

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