H.265 vs. H.264: What’s the Difference?

H.264 (AVC) and H.265 (HEVC) are both standards for video compression used in recording and distributing digital video. Why would you choose one over the other? The main difference between H.264 and H.265 is how each processes information and the resulting video file size and bandwidth consumption used with each standard.

(H.264) AVC – An Introduction
H.264 (also called AVC, or Advanced Video Coding) is an industry standard for video compression that allows for the recording, compression, and distribution of digital video content.

It works by processing frames of video using a block-oriented, motion-compensation-based video compression standard. Those units are called macroblocks. The H.264 algorithm can substantially lower bitrates better than previous standards, and is widely used by streaming internet sources like Vimeo, YouTube, iTunes, and more.

What is HEVC (H.265)?
H.265 is newer and more advanced than H.264 in several ways. H.265 (also called HEVC, or High Efficiency Video Coding) allows for further reduced file size, and therefore reduced required bandwidth, of your live video streams.

Unlike H.264 macroblocks, H.265 processes information in what’s called coding tree units (CTUs). Whereas macroblocks can span 4x4 to 16x16 block sizes, CTUs can process as many as 64x64 blocks, giving it the ability to compress information more efficiently. it also means that viewers with H.265 compatible devices will require less bandwidth and processing power to decompress that data and watch a high-quality stream.

Required bandwidth for broadcasting in 4K:

Because H.265 compresses your data so much more efficiently, using it as your video compression tool will drop your bandwidth and storage requirements by roughly 50%. The table below compares the recommended bandwidth for H.264 vs. H.265 encoding.

Should I stream in H.264 or H.265?

Live streaming in H.265 will provide you with a higher-quality image while using less bandwidth. So, if possible, stream in H.265.

Does H.265 reduce quality?

No. It will give you higher quality when the network speed is lower.

Does H.265 use more CPU?

Yes. You’ll use more CPU when you try to stream in H.265 from a computer.

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