H.264 VS H.265 What are they, Comparison, and Differences Between Them?

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H.264 or H.265? Which video compression standard is the best? This article delves deeper into the two video codecs: AVC or HEVC and help you decide which one is the best option to choose.

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The Video Codecs stands for coder and decoder. It is a software program that compresses and encodes, decompresses and decodes a stream of digital video data or a signal.

Codecs play a vital role in playing the video files effortlessly. They reduce the size of the video files by eliminating unnecessary information or redundant data without compromising and reducing the quality of the video files.  They are also essential for streaming services to deliver high-quality and high-resolution video content based on bandwidth and device support over the internet in real-time. Additionally, they are also required to ensure compatibility across various devices and platforms and for better and more efficient storage.

Some of the most widely used video compression codecs are H.264, also known as AVC (Advanced Video Coding), and H.265, known as HEVC (High-Efficiency Video Coding). This article will discuss in-depth the the two video compression standards, what they are, how they work, similarities and differences between them. 

So, without further adieu, let’s jump right into it.

Advanced Video Coding (H.264) Codecs

The AVC, or H.264, originally created and developed by the ITU-T Video Coding Experts Group (VCEG) along with the ISO/IEC Moving Pictures Experts Group (MPEG). Originally designed as a successor to the older codecs such as MPEG2, MPEG4, and H.263. Since its launch in 2003, become one of the most well-known and widely used codecs. Popularly known and acknowledged for its high compression efficiency at lower bit rates and flawless compatibility with various systems, devices, platforms, etc. 

Commonly used for Internet video streaming, video conferences, digital television broadcasting, etc.

It utilizes features like reduced-complexity integer discrete cosine transform, variable block-size segmentation, and multi-picture inter-picture prediction to achieve efficient compression.

High Efficient Video Coding (H.265) Codecs

Similar to the H.264 codec. The H.265, or HEVC codec, was developed by ITU-T Video Coding Experts Group (VCEG) along with the ISO/IEC Moving Pictures Experts Group (MPEG) in 2013. Designed to address the demands for better and superior video quality as compared to earlier and previous compression standards.

This compression standard offers superior video compression and efficiency while maintaining comparable video quality. This means achieving higher and improved video quality at the same or even lower bitrate.

Commonly used in applications like internet streaming, video and security surveillance, ultra high definition television broadcasting (UHDTV), and all other newer devices and platforms.

Comparison between the H.264 VS H.265 Compression Standards

Released Date20032013
Compression efficiencyLowerHigher (up to 50% better compared to AVC Codec)
Video QualityGood (Similar to the HEVC Codecs) Higher and improved video quality, along with sharper and more detailed images at the same or even lower bitrate.
File SizeUsually Higher Compared to HEVC Compression StandardsSmaller file size due to superior file compression
Resolution Supports 4k VideoSupports Both 4K and 8K Videos
BitrateRequired lower bitrateRequired lower bitrate
Frame ProcessingAVC Codecs Use MacroblocksHEVC Codecs use Coding Tree Units
Processing PowerRequired Lower Processing Powers Demands Higher Processing Power to Encode and Decode Video Data
Bandwidth requirementRequires Higher BandwidthDemands Significantly lesser Bandwidth. Which is extremely helpful in streaming videos online with lower internet speeds and poor connectivity.
Internet Connectivity and speedOn slower internet connections, H.264 videos might experience more buffering or lag during playback if the available bandwidth is insufficient for the required bitrate.Since the HEVC Codecs require low bitrate, which leads to lower bandwidth. Thereby, the videos can be streamed smoothly on low internet speed. 
Device SupportSupports a wide range of devices. Especially older ones.Limited device support, especially the older devices, due to resolution support, color depth, etc. 
Cost$0.10 – $0.20/device$0.20 – $1.20/device
Suitable forSuitable for a wide range of applications, including streaming, broadcasting, video conferencing, and moreParticularly suited for high-resolution video applications such as UHD streaming, 4K Blu-ray, and video surveillance.

H.264 vs H.265 Which One to Choose?

Now that you know the difference between the AVC and the HEVC codec. Let’s find out in what scenarios it is best to use these video compression standards for the ultimate video viewing experience.

H.264 (AVC) - When Compatibility Matters

  • Flawless Video Playback on older devices: H.264 supports and is compatible with wider device and software support, making it the preferred choice for playback on older computers, smartphones, tablets, and even some basic media players.
  • Distributing videos with broad accessibility: Since H.264 is compatible with most devices and applications. It makes absolute sense for video content creators to use them for a wider reach without worrying about their device’s capabilities.
  • Preservation of the Existing content: Since many existing videos are already encoded in H.264 format. Re-encoding them to H.265 might not be necessary unless significant storage savings are crucial and needed.

H.265 (HEVC) - When You Prioritize Efficiency, High Resolution and Better Image Quality

  • Streaming high-resolution content online: H.265's superior compression allows for high-quality video streaming (4K, 8K) at lower bitrates. This translates to smoother playback on most platforms like YouTube or Netflix, especially for users with limited bandwidth and lower internet speed.
  • Storing high-resolution videos: When storage space is a concern, H.265 allows for smaller file sizes for the same video quality compared to H.264. This can be beneficial for archiving large video collections or creating downloadable content without using too much storage space.
  • Video editing and production: If you're working with high-resolution video editing projects, H.265 can help manage storage requirements more efficiently. However, ensure your editing software supports H.265 decoding and encoding.

Once you understand these factors and their usage in real-world scenarios, you can make more informed choices about which codec is best suited for your particular video needs. 

Now that you are aware of the H.264 and H.265 Codec. But the question is are those the best video compression standards available for user? Or do we have any other option apart from the AVC and the HEVC compression formats?

Newer Compression Standards:

We are in 2024. The world is evolving at a breakneck speed. Tools and technologies are making significant progress, and all of this is for two main reasons. Better user experience and making human lives easier. 

Below is the list of other newer video compression standards one should be informed about. 


Also known as Versatile Video Coding (VVC), Codec is the successor to the older codecs or video compression standards such as H.264 and H.265. The codec aims to further boost compression efficiency and improve video quality, making it compatible with ultra-high-resolution video content like 8K, 120fps, and beyond. 

This codec uses advanced coding tools and techniques, such as (efficient motion estimation, larger block sizes, improved entropy coding techniques, etc.) to achieve higher compression ratios. 

The H.266 Code is expected and believed to play an extremely vital role in enabling the next generation of high-quality video view experiences.


The AOMedia Video 1, popularly known as the AV1 codec is originally developed by the Alliance for Open Media (AOMedia). This codec was designed to succeed the existing video compression standards such as the H.264 and HEVC Codecs. This compression standard offers the most efficient video compression and better visual quality and is compatible with a broader set of devices; this is an open-source codec and absolutely free.


VP9 is a video compression standard primarily developed by Google. The Codec is an open and royalty-free substitute to other existing Codecs, such as the AVC and the HEVC Codecs. 

Google claims VP9 is a “next-generation video compression format“ developed by the WebM Project. Which is compatible with full range of web and mobile, use cases from low bitrate compression to high-quality and ultra-HD. 

VP9 Codecs use 50% less bitrates as compared to other popularly known codecs. This compression format is usually used by Web Browsers like Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Opera, Smart TVs, and Android Devices.

Essential Video Coding (EVC):

EVC also known as Essential Video Coding also known as MPEG-5 Part 1. Is the newest video compression format. Created and developed by the ITU-T Video Coding Experts Group (VCEG) along with the ISO/IEC Moving Pictures Experts Group (MPEG). 

This Codec is mainly aimed to solve the limitation and shortcomings of the existing codecs including the AVC(H.264) and HEVC (H.265). This Codec is a cross between the AVC and HEVC Codec and other Codecs like VP9 and AV1. Meaning it offers all the necessary features for free (royalty-free) and for widespread adoption among the users.

Low Complexity Enhancement Video Coding (LCEVC):

Low Complexity Enhancement Video Coding (LCEVC) is a video enhancement standard or codec created by the Moving Pictures Experts Group (MPEG). As compared to the standard codec, LCEVC primarily acts as an “Enhancemet Layer” to boost the compression efficiency of the existing codecs like the one’s mentioned earlier.

Low Complexity Enhancement Video Coding video compression format operated by merging the base layer that is encoded with an existing codec with a new enhancement layer of that contains the additional information to improve the video quality. This technique helps in saving bitrates and significantly improving the quality of the video data or file. Therefore, making it extremely helpful in cases of video live streaming, higher quality video conferencing and virtual reality.  

These up and coming video compression standards and formats are developed and continuously updated to address the constantly growing demand for a higher video quality content, increased resolution, improved compression efficiency, and ultimately enhanced and better user experience. All of the progress has played a crucial role in enabling innovative technology and services across various industries, such as entertainment, telecommunications, healthcare, and broadcasting etc. 

About the Author: Molly Owen

Molly is the Lead Technical Specialist with distinguished knowledge and understanding of Mac computers and operating systems. Being a veteran photographer and video recovery specialist, Molly’s expertise in video formats and file repair has helped restore a lot of videos and cherished memories of users. As a technical specialist, she also believes in learning and…