x265 vs. x264: Decoding Video Coding Differences

Videos are the most popular content type on the internet nowadays. In fact, 6 out of 10 people prefer to watch a video on the internet than on television. Fortunately, the internet is full of videos with every type of content that satisfy their needs.

It’s predicted by experts that by the end of 2022, 82% of internet traffic will be due to videos, so even video content marketing is booming. This means that this medium is the most popular among internet users.

Companies had to develop complex and intricate technology to support video’s massive popularity. However, there are times when this technology doesn’t work properly and fails. There are times when our video quality gets worse, we all have experienced that.

It’s quite frustrating when you’re watching a viral video, movie, or TV show and unexpectedly your screen freezes or the quality went from high to low in a matter of seconds. 

But now there are some improvements and video technology has advanced so much that we now have solutions to combat the above-mentioned issue. Video codecs are now introduced that play a vital role in video coding. This process reduces the size of the video file, allowing one to play smoothly without any interruption.

The two most popular video codecs that have been at the center of a debate recently are H.265 and H.264. In this article, I’ll tell you the difference between these two codecs to help you understand these codecs better.

The Major Difference Between H.265 and H.264

H.265 and H.264, both are standards for video compression used in recording and distributing digital video. However, there’re a few differences in these video standards.

The major difference between H.265 and H.264 is the way of processing the information and the resulting video file size and bandwidth consumption used with each standard.

H.265 processes information using coding three units. Coding tree units (CTUs) process information more efficiently, which results in smaller file sizes and less bandwidth used for your streaming video. 

On the other hand, H.264 processes frames of video using macroblock. There’s much more about macroblocks, CTUs, and the standards which I will mention later in the article.

H.264 (AVC) vs. H.265 (HEVC) Simplified!

AVC (H.264) – An Introduction

H.264 is also known as AVC, or Advanced Video Coding, this is an industry-standard for video compression that allows for the recording, compression, and distribution of digital video content.

H.264 has its way of processing information, it works by processing frames of video using a block-oriented, motion-compensation-based video compression standard. Those units are known as macroblocks.

Macroblocks usually have 16×16 pixel samples that are subdivided into transform blocks, which can be further subdivided into what are known as prediction blocks as well.

For example, the H.264 algorithm can substantially lower bitrates better than previous standards, and it’s commonly used by streaming internet sources, such as YouTube, Vimeo, iTunes, and much more.

What Is HEVC (H.265)?

H.265 is improved and more advanced compared to H.264 in various ways. H.265, which is also called HEVC, or High-Efficiency Video Coding reduces the file size further and makes the file size much smaller compared to H.264, which reduces the required bandwidth of your live video stream.

H.265 processes information in what’s called coding tree units (CTUs, while H.264 processes information in macroblocks. Moreover, CTUs can process as many as 64×64 blocks, which gives them the ability to compress information more efficiently. Whereas, macroblocks can only span 4×4 to 16×16 block sizes.

Furthermore, the larger the CTU sizes, the better motion compensation and spatial prediction in HEVC compared to AVC. You need to have more advanced hardware when using HEVC, such as Boxcaster Pro so that you’ll be able to compress the data.

Plus, this also means that the viewers using H.265 compatible devices will require less bandwidth and processing power to decompress that data and watch a high-quality stream.

People nowadays prefer to watch a good quality video than to read a document.

Why You Need H.265

You can still use the older, lower-quality streaming methods and technology, such as H.264. But professionals know that video quality should be a paramount concern.

As technology has become more advanced and is developing rapidly, consumers have become used to the best quality image on their screens and they demand to have the best quality videos. Lower-quality videos can be seen as the mark of an inferior product or service.

Consumers want video content to deliver concise, accurate information before they buy it. Good quality and well-produced video can be more engaging and informative than a document or brochure, and it takes less time to consume.

According to a study:

  • 96% of people prefer to watch an explanatory video to learn more about a product or service.
  • 84% of people state that watching a brand’s video has convinced them to buy a product or a service.
  • 79% of people state that they have downloaded an app or software by watching a promotional video.

H.265 is a high-efficiency codec that enables users to broadcast in the lauded 4K resolution, the current gold standard for the industry. It gives the video a sharper and brighter image that helps your video stand out from the competition and convey its message to maximum viewers.

As promotional videos have become an important tool in both marketing and the buyer experience, a good video image, and better quality will make your product stand out. The care and importance that is given to the actual content should be given to the video quality as well.

Gamer playing on his computer
H.265 gives a better quality to your video.

H.264 vs. H.265: Which One Is Better?

When you fully understand the technology behind these two codecs, you can easily decide which one is better than the other.

H.265 is better than H.264. H.265 is more advanced and improved than H.264 and can be considered a better option. The main difference between these two codecs is that H.265/HEVC allows for even lower file sizes of your live video streams. This considerably lowers the required bandwidth.

Another advantage of H.265 is that it processes data in coding tree units. Though macroblocks can go anywhere from 4×4 to 16×16 block sizes, CTUs can process up to 64×64 blocks. This allows H.265 to compress information more efficiently and stream your video without any issue.

Plus, H.265 has an improved motion compensation and spatial prediction compared to H.264. This is pretty beneficial for your viewers since their devices would require less bandwidth and processing power to decompress all information and watch a stream.

Closing Thoughts

H.265 and H.264 are both standards for video compression used in recording and distributing digital video. Both of them have different ways of processing information.

H.265 processes information using coding three units, while H.264 processes frames of video using macroblocks. This is the major and the most important difference between these two codecs. However, H.265 is better than H.264 since it’s more advanced and improved.

If you want to have the best quality videos in the smallest possible format, then you should go for H.265. However, do keep in mind that H.265 is still a less common codec than H.264 in the industry. In the end, it’s your choice which one is better for you and which one you prefer.

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