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What is the Difference Between H264 and H265?

9 min read
What is the Difference Between H264 and H265?

H.264 and H.265 are two different video file formats that have been around for many years, but there is a lot of confusion about their differences and how they should be used. Besides these, there are lots of question arise on the human mind. The most asked questions are: What are h265 and h264? What’s the difference between h264 and h265? H265 vs. H264, which is better for me?

Let’s dive into today’s blog and keep reading to find out all answers!

What is H264 or AVC Codec?

The H.264 or AVC (advanced video coding) is the most widespread current coding standard. High definition owes a lot to H.264 since a good video quality was possible with a much lower bitrate than previous codecs. A video in H.264 occupies almost half of the same video in MPEG-2, H.263 or MPEG-4.

Read more: Video Transcoding: Why is it Important in Livestreaming?

Advantages of H 264 (Advanced Video Coding)

H.264 has many advantages over its predecessor H.263, such as better video quality at the same bitrate. It can be saved in smaller file sizes with lower data rates. This is especially important for people living in countries where bandwidth caps are enforced by ISPs (Internet Service Providers). And because of these reasons, H265 or High-Efficiency Video Coding was designed to meet the demands of evolving high definition displays and applications in an era of shrinking storage capacity by removing redundant information from videos without significantly reducing quality, resulting in less bandwidth requirement than its predecessor h264/MPEG-AVC. Compared with other MPEG standards like MPEG-PS-based encoding methods such as AVCHD, DVCPRO HD etc., it has a much higher video compression standard on average gain up to 50% better image quality at the same bitrates over 1080p content.

  • Variable block size segmentation
  • An integer transformation of reduced complexity
  • Prediction between images of multiple images.
  • Furthermore, its main advantages include the following:
  • H.264 supports resolutions up to 8K UHD
  • It is best known for being the most widely used video encoding format on Blu-ray discs.
  • Regarding video networks and high definition (HD) videos, H.264 offers a beautiful delivery.
  • H.264 has undergone many updates starting from version 2, released in 2004 with several minor fixes. It is currently in its version 26, which was released in June 2019 and had amendments to the information of the light level of the content, the regional packaging, the color volume of the content, the rotation of the sphere and much more.

What is H265 or High-Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC)?

The H.265 is also known as HEVC or High-Efficiency Video Coding, which comes to be translated as “high-efficiency video codec.

With the advent of 4K video streaming, the demand for bandwidth for video playback has increased exponentially. Because 8K is just around the corner, manufacturers have developed a new standard for more efficient video encoding.

The HEVC algorithms maintain video quality while reducing file sizes by up to 50% compared to its predecessor, H.264.

Advantages of H 265- HEVC

Here are some of the benefits of the new H.265 compression:

1. H.265 extends the coding efficiency of the H.264 video compression standard by generating the highest quality images in the smallest video file possible.

2. H.265 essentially offers the same level of image quality as H.264, but with a more efficient codec, so there are less data to manage.

3. H.265 uses only half the bit rate of H.264.

4. HEVC Significantly reduces bandwidth and storage requirements, effectively reducing infrastructure costs and making high-resolution surveillance systems more affordable.

5. HEVC video codecs work with the accelerated decoding power of the GPU in a PC to achieve the required performance at little or no additional cost.

6. When recording H.265, the NVR sees a smaller file to be stored as decoding is not necessary until playback is required.


What’s the Difference between H264 and H265?

A video is a succession of images. For example, most movies are recorded and projected at approximately 24 frames per second (actually 23,976 at home).

In a simplified way, we can say that to reduce the size. The codecs are in charge of comparing two consecutive frames, looking at which parts of the frames are the same and which are different. As the equal parts are the same in both, that information is used from one frame to another, so the codec throws that information (saving space) and keeps the differences with the new information.

Well, that information is not thrown away. If not that the codec keeps a minimum of information that describes the original pixels.

The main technical differences between H.265 (HEVC) and H.264 (AVC) are:

  • In H.265, the information of those original pixels from the previous frame can be divided into different sizes, better suited to each scene. This is the technique known as CTU ( Coding Tree Units ). In this way, the spaces with information from another frame can go in blocks of between 4 × 4 up to 64 × 64, while in H.264, they can only be up to 16 × 16. This makes it possible to take advantage of larger areas of the old frames, saving space.
  • Improvement in segmentation algorithms: The algorithms compare two frames simultaneously and try to take advantage of and share the same information in more frames. This improvement means that the information that does not change can be reused for more frames.
  • Better movement tracking: Normally, the planes have some movement, so the same parts change their position slightly. With an improvement in movement tracking, information can be reused even if it is not in the same part of the screen.

Streaming with h265 format will allow us to get a higher quality video, but at lower bitrates. This is because the compression and encoding process of this type of codec results in less data being sent over the internet which means we don’t need as much bandwidth for viewing it on our devices. In contrast, the most widely used H264 tends be more demanding when it comes down content delivery. To get the best video quality, it requires higher bitrate if you want smooth playback without experiencing any buffering or lag time. You can check the optimal bitrate for your live video using this bitrate calculator tool.

Converting between H.264 and H.265: When and Why to Convert

H.264 and H.265 are popular video compression standards for encoding and decoding high-quality video content. While H.265 offers better compression efficiency and reduces file sizes compared to H.264, there are several situations where you may need to convert your H.265 video files to H.264 format. 

One of the primary reasons to convert from H.265 to H.264 is when you want to play a video on a device that does not support the H.265 codec. H.265 is a relatively new standard; not all devices have the necessary hardware or software to play H.265 videos. In such cases, converting the video to H.264 format is a viable solution, as H.264 is widely supported across devices and platforms. 

Another reason to convert from H.265 to H.264 is when you need to reduce the file size of the video without compromising too much on the video quality. While H.265 offers better compression efficiency, it may not always result in a significant reduction in file size. In some cases, converting the video to H.264 format can reduce the file size without compromising too much on the quality. 

Fortunately, many tools allow you to convert between H.264 and H.265 for free. Popular video conversions software such as HandBrake, WinxDVD, and FFmpeg offer free options to convert between these two codecs.

H264 vs H265: H.264 the present, H.265 the future

All these video compression algorithms have a problem: they need more computing power to process a video. Therefore, if we encode the same video in H.265 and H.264 with the same hardware, the new codec will take much longer, as it has to do more calculations.

Approximately HEVC / H.265 requires 10 times more calculations than H.264.

As hardware improves, the H.265 codec will spread.

As with H.264, which came out in 2003, it has become popular in recent years.

H264 vs H265: H.264 the present, H.265 the future

Should I Use H264 or H265? Is H265 Better than H264?

It’s a common question “Which is better, H264 or H265?” The answer to this question can be pretty complex, as many factors decide which video codec is best for you. The first thing a person needs to consider when comparing H264 and H265 is what device they will use their videos on. If someone wants to watch the content on an HDTV with no other devices connected, then H265 would be pointless because it doesn’t support 1080p resolution or higher resolutions yet.

On the other hand, if someone only plans on watching their videos from apps like Netflix or YouTube (or any app) and won’t ever play them outside of those platforms, then choosing between H264 and H265 will come down primarily to how much data they’re willing to share with these companies.

If someone plans to play their videos from apps and play them elsewhere, then H265 typically provides better quality for the same file size. It’s because it can encode video at a higher resolution with less data than H264. For instance, if you have an output of 1080p in either codec, your files will be about half as large using H265 but won’t provide any additional benefits to watching this content on anything other than an HDTV (or big screen). If they plan on viewing these videos anywhere else besides those platforms or devices mentioned earlier, they should get more information before making this decision.


In a word, the difference between H264 and H265 is video compression efficiency. H265 provides more efficient bandwidth and resources on both the encoding and storage devices (HDDs/SSDs) than H264. This efficiency leads to less strain put on servers hosting content or for storing media files, which gets back to reduce costs that can be passed down onto customers–a win-win all around!

As mentioned above, there are some drawbacks with the new standard, such as potential compatibility issues with legacy equipment like TVs from past years. However, these drawbacks should not dissuade anyone from adopting this new technology as we advance. In addition to increased resolutions available at lower bitrates through HEVC’s intraframes feature, this codec also provides wider color gamuts, so picture quality is vastly improved with this new standard.

If you are currently using H264 codecs for your video streaming or video content projects, now would be the time to transition over to HEVC and reap the benefits of higher efficiency-especially if you have a high volume of content being streamed!

About Castr

Castr is a company that offers comprehensive live video streaming solutions for businesses, broadcasters, gamers, educational institutions, religious organizations, and many other users. Castr’s cutting-edge innovations enable powerful live streaming, multistreaming, and video hosting.

Castr recently announced the launch of a new product, LiveAPI – an API platform that enables developers to build live video streaming apps with ease. The product offers an end-to-end experience that includes live streaming, video on demand, encoding, playback, analytics, etc. 

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