Home > Video > Knowledge Center > MPEG2 VS MPEG4

Updated by Kistent Waung - Contact Author

MPEG2 vs MPEG4: Comparison Between MPEG2 and MPEG4

MPEG2 vs MPEG4? What are the differences? Which one is better?

I'm trying to rip my favorite movies DVD to PC hard drive so that I can put them on my iPad and watch them on the journey, but I'm not sure which format is more suitable, MPEG2 or MPEG4? What format would you recommend?

Read MPEG2 vs MPEG4 comparison and learn the differences between MPEG2 and MPEG4 in terms of definition, file extension, compression ability, file size, quality, bit rate, bandwidth, and more.

MPEG2 vs MPEG4: Summary

  • MPEG2 gives better video quality and larger file size compared to MPEG4.
  • MPEG4 shows higher compression ratio.
  • MPEG2 requires much more bandwidth for online streaming.
  • MPEG-4 is a far more versatile encoding format overall compared to MPEG-2.
  • MPEG2 is the encoding method for DVDs, while MPEG4 is for portable devices and online use.
  • For its higher compression, smaller size and extensive applications, so ripping DVD to MPEG4 would be a good choice.
  • MPEG2 and MPEG4 are popular formats used in different domains. Which one is more suitable for you is depend on your specific demands.

MPEG2 vs MP4: Definition

MPEG is short for the Moving Pictures Experts Group who is responsible for the video encoding standards that we often use. Both MPEG2 and MPEG4 codec are widely used audio/video compression standards in many multimedia applications, ranging from mobile devices to DVD players.

What is MPEG2?

MPEG-2 coding format which was developed in 1995 was commonly applied to digital television broadcast, DVD, VCD and similar discs. It uses lossy compression techniques for audio and video files, to substantially reduce file sizes.

What is MPEG4?

MPEG-4 which was created in 1998 was mainly developed with the aim of achieving higher compression, lower bandwidth while providing superior audio and image quality compared to the earlier MPEG-2 format. In brief, its goal is to gain better picture and audio quality with smaller file size. It was specifically developed for mobile devices and online streaming or transmission. Most modern video codecs are based on MPEG4 like DivX and Xvid.

Differences between MPEG2 and MPEG4

MPEG2 vs MPEG4 – Filename Extensions

MPEG2: .mpg, .mpeg, .m2v, .mp2, mp3 are some of a number of filename extensions used MPEG-2 audio and video file formats.
MPEG4: .mp4, .m4a, .m4b, .m4r, .m4v are some file extensions of MPEG4 video/audio.

MPEG2 vs MPEG4 – Compression

Video or audio compression is all about maintaining the same audio or video quality in lesser number of bits. In this respect, MPEG4 is much more compressed than MPEG2 because of the superior compression algorithm used. MPEG2 uses lossy video compression and lossy audio data compression methods. MPEG4 files can be lossless, but commonly, they are lossy to get smaller file size.

MPEG2 vs MPEG4 - File Size

MPEG4 encodes video files with much smaller size as it can produce a full-length movie file less than 1G while MPEG2 can only yield movie files with 5 times the size. You can store MPEG2 files on DVDs for many DVD capacity is larger than 4 GB, but it is not applicable to portable devices. On the other hand, MPEG4 is smaller and makes it possible to buy and download videos online. That also means MPEG4 compression ratio is higher. MPEG2 gives larger file size but better video quality.

MPEG2 vs MPEG4 – Quality

MPEG2 produces flawless quality compared to MPEG4 but it is not made for multimedia applications or online streaming. As mentioned above, MPEG2 can deliver better video audio quality but larger fize size is a payoff. The large size of MPEG2 makes the format impractical for network streaming. While MPEG4 provides better performance when being streamed online.

MPEG2 vs MPEG4 – Bit Rate & Bandwidth

MPEG4 is aimed at low bit-rate video transmission. Files encoded in MPEG4 format have a much lower bit rate ranging from a few kilobytes per second to megabytes per second while MPEG2 is tens megabytes per second. MPEG2 requires much more bandwidth when streaming recorded or real-time videos online compared to MPEG4 because of its large size.

MPEG2 vs MPEG4 – Application

MPEG2 is the encoding method used for television broadcast and DVDs. MPEG-2 is also a video coding formats supported by Blu-ray Disc. But new Blu-ray discs prefer H.264 instead of MPEG2. Blu-ray only supports MPEG-2 video (MPEG-2 part 2), MPEG-2 audio (parts 3 and 7) is not compatible. while MPEG4 coding standard is primarily applied to portable devices, Internet streaming, CD distribution, and broadcast television applications because of its smaller file size compared to MPEG2.

Related: MPEG-4 vs MP4: Definition, Compatibility, Differences

Related External Source for MPEG2 and MPEG4:

MPEG-2: MPEG-2 (H.222/H.262 defined by the ITU) is a standard for "the generic coding of moving pictures and associated audio information. MPEG-2 Wiki introduces MPEG2 main characteristics, history, filename extensions, applications, patent pool and more.

MPEG-4: MPEG-4 is a video coding method of defining compression of audio and video. Uses of MPEG-4 include compression of video and audio for streaming and CD distribution, portable devices and broadcast television applications. Learn more about MPEG4 format background, overview, licensing, MPEG-4 Parts and Level from Wiki MPEG-4.


author - Kistent Waung

Kistent Waung twitter icon

Graduated from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, she employs herself in IT related content creation (since 2013) and happens to perfectly combine her major (computer & science) and her gusto (writing). She's seasoned at offering video audio conversion workarounds and always passionate about new trends, from hot HEVC, 4K to the new AV1 codec.

Home > Video > Knowledge Center > MPEG 2 vs MPEG4


Stay up-to-date with our news, updates, guides.