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H.264 Codec Free Download - Get H.264 Codec Pack for Video Playback

H.264, aka Advanced Video Coding (AVC) is a video compression standard based on block-oriented, motion-compensated coding. It's still the mianstream codec for videos even though a great many new codecs like HEVC, AV1, VP9 emerged. Here we'd dive deep for what's H.264, how it works, popular H.264 codec downloads and frequent asked questions about H.264.

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  • Encode videos from other formats to H.264/MPEG-4 AVC codec (H.264 video in containers like MP4, MOV, AVI, MKV, etc.)
  • Support H.264 encoding from HD 1080P, 4K, to even 8K quality in HDR.
  • Support H.264 hardware encoding using Intel QSV, Nvidia Cuda/Nvenc, and AMD.
  • Decode H.264 video (HD/4K/8K at 30/60/120/240FPS in 8/10/12 bit) to H.265, AVI, WMV, M2TS, MPEG-2, FLV, WebM etc.

Table of Contents

Part 1. What is H.264 codec?

H.264/MPEG-4 Part 10 or AVC (Advanced Video Coding) is a standard for video compression. H.264 codec can encode video with approximately 3 times fewer bits than MPEG-2 (the DVD standard). That means H.264 delivers High-def quality with half even quarter of Bit-rate usage.

  • H.264 codec is widely used in applications, networks, streaming formats like HTML 5, Apple HLS, and camcorders.
  • H.264(MPEG-4 AVC) codecis able to support high resolutions like 4K and even 8K videos.
  • H.264(MPEG-4 AVC) codec is supported by GPU hardware accleration using Intel Quick Sync Video.

To make PC, Mac support H.264 video or create H.264 videos, free download H.264 (MPEG-4 AVC) Codec/encoder on Windows 10 or macOS.

Free Download H.264/AVC Codec Windows 10
Free Download H.264 Codec

Part 2. How Does H.264 Work?

H.264 follows the regular process of video compression standard, namely estimation, transformation, quantization, deblocking, and entropy coding, as well as achieves technical innovations in some parts. To be specific, H.264 compression going a process of inter and intra prediction, motion compensation, and deblocking fliter.

I frame, B frame and P frame

A video stream is composed of a reference frame called an I frame, and then changing areas of the image are transmitted and overlaid on the origin reference frame to create the current image of the scene. The frames with changes are referred to as P or B frames.

I frame, B frame and P frame
I frame, B frame and P frame

GOP and GOV Length

An I frame followed by a series of P and B frames is referred to as a Group Of Pictures or GOP. The number of frames from one I frame to the next I frame is referred to as the GOV length, which can be modified for the video stream. The longer the GOP length, the fewer I frames will be present in the stream, naturally the lower the bitrate.

Motion Compensation

In a B or P frame, only moved or changed macro blocks are transmitted. Motion Compensations allows the encoder to transmit motion vector information about the macro blocks that move but which have the same pixel level information. The decoder will move the macro blocks, which have already been transmitted, to their new location using the motion vector data. Comparing to retransmit the pixel information of the macro blocks, this saves a significant amount of bitrate.

Motion Compensation
Motion Compensation

Deblocking Fliter

Deblocking is a default feature of H.264 compression, which removes artifacts associated with very high compression. To put it simple, it's used to smooth the edges between macro blocks for an enhancement of video quality. This feature can be considered a way to further decrease the bitrate of the stream as compared to equivalent quality Motion JPEG or MPEG4.

Deblocking
Deblocking

Part 3. [Updated] H.264 Codec Packs Free Download

In forums like Videohelp and Doom9, you can find a long-winded lists which offers free H.264/MPEG-4 AVC codec download for Windows 10, macOS, and other systems. Here we've selected and recommended some of the best H.264 codecs for free download.

X264

X264 is one of the most popular free video compression libraries. It's released under the terms of the GNU GPL and is a major library of VLC and FFmpeg. You can free download the H.264 codec pack on Windows 10, macOS, and Linux to encode video streams into the H.264/MPEG-4 AVC compression format.

DivX Plus HD

DivX Plus HD files contain H.264/MPEG-4 AVC videos with AAC surround sound audio. It represents a carefully selected balance of features developed in collaboration with our manufacturing partners. It enables both strong compression and interoperability across a huge range of device categories including DVD players, Blu-ray players, digital TVs, set-top boxes and more.

H.264 in QuickTime 7

QuickTime 7 features a state-of-the-art video codec called H.264. Ratified as part of the MPEG-4 standard (MPEG-4 Part 10), it delivers stunning quality at remarkably low data rates. Free download QuickTime H.264 codec, you can get excellent results across a broad range of bandwidths, from 3G for mobile devices to iChat AV for video conferencing to HD for broadcast and DVD.

MainConcept AVC/H.264 Codec Pack

MainConcept AVC/H.264 Codec Pack Windows 10 offers fast encoding and decoding speeds in all profiles and levels supported. It encodes and decodes H.264/AVC video, making it easy to add support for this exciting new format to existing applications. The encoder also includes pre-configured templates for Blu-ray, Sony PSP, Apple iPod, AVCHD, Adobe Flash, Silverlight and other standards. The Broadcast version of the Codec Package even offers AVC-Intra Class 50 and Class 100 support.

x264vfw

x264vfw is the VfW (Video for Windows) version of well known x264 encoder + ffh264 decoder. You can download the free H.264/AVC codec on Windows XP/Vista/7/8. x264 VFW can do both AVC/H.264 encoding and AVC/H.264 decoding on Video For Windows compatible programs like VirtualDub.

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Part 4. FAQs about H.264

1. Is H.264 the same as MP4?

You see, H.264 is a video coding standard that 's used to define the coding scheme of video coding. While MP4 usually refers to video format or a container format. H.264 codec can be encoded in which supports to encode H.264 codec in.

2. Is MPEG-4 better than H.264?

Nope. H.264 is a high compression rate codec. It is about 1.5 to 2 times more efficient than MPEG-4 encoding. This high compression rate makes it possible to record more information on the same hard disk. The image quality is also better and playback is more fluent than with basic MPEG-4 compression.

3. Which codec is better H.264 or H.265?

Definitely H.265 codec. H.265 codec compresses information more efficiently than H. 264, resulting in files of comparable video quality that are about half the size. H. 265 video files don't take up as much storage space, and they require less bandwidth to stream.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

author - Jack

Jack Watt twitter icon

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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