H.264 vs. H.265: Exploring the Evolution of Video Compression Standards

May 21, 2024

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Video compression standards are important in digital media. H.264 and H.265 (HEVC) are two of the best-known standards. They have been important in the development of digital media. This guide compares H.264 和 H.265 (HEVC)the two video compression standards and helps you make informed decisions about your video or camera module work.


Understanding H.264

H.264, also known as Advanced Video Coding (AVC), is a video compression standard developed by the Joint Video Team (JVT), a collaboration between the International Telecommunication Union (ITU-T) and the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO/IEC). Since its introduction in 2003, H.264 has been widely adopted and has become the de facto standard for a wide variety of video applications.H.264 uses advanced algorithms, mutual prediction, and spatial internal prediction. The units are 16x16 pixel samples that can be further divided into smaller units. the H.264 codec uses less data than its predecessor and is used by many streaming media services.


Key Features of H.264:

  • Improved compression efficiency compared to previous standards
  • Support for a wide range of video resolutions, from 240p to 4K
  • Hardware acceleration for real-time encoding and decoding
  • Widespread support across devices and platforms


difference between h264 and h265

What is H.265?

In 2013, the ITU-T and ISO/IEC introduced H.265, also known as HEVC (High-Efficiency Video Coding). H.265 is an improved version of H.264. It uses Coding Tree Units (CTUs) to process information instead of macroblocks. H.264 blocks were 16x16 to 4x4, but H.265 can use 64x64 to 4x4, resulting in more efficient compression. HEVC also requires more processing power for data compression.


Key Features of H.265:

  • Up to 50% improvement in compression efficiency compared to H.264
  • Support for ultra-high-definition (UHD) video resolutions, including 4K and 8K
  • Enhanced error resilience and improved performance in challenging network conditions
  • Increased flexibility in terms of color depth, chroma subsampling, and bit depth


Difference between H.264 vs. H.265

When it comes to choosing between H.264 and H.265, there are several key factors to consider:

h.264 avc vs h.265 hevc

Compression Efficiency
H.265 is designed to be significantly more efficient than H.264, offering up to 50% reduction in file size for the same video quality. This makes H.265 particularly advantageous for applications where storage space or bandwidth is limited, such as online streaming and video distribution.

Video Quality
While H.264 provides excellent video quality, H.265 can deliver even higher-quality video, especially at resolutions beyond 1080p. This makes H.265 the preferred choice for delivering 4K and 8K video content without sacrificing visual fidelity.

Hardware Support
H.264 has broader hardware support, as it has been the dominant video compression standard for over a decade. However, H.265 support is rapidly increasing, with more and more devices, including smartphones, tablets, and TVs, incorporating hardware-accelerated decoding capabilities.

Licensing and Royalties
H.264 has a more complex licensing structure, with royalties required for both encoding and decoding. In contrast, H.265 has a more straightforward licensing model, with lower royalties that are often waived for certain use cases, making it more attractive for some content creators and service providers.


AV1 is a royalty-free, open-source video compression standard developed by the Alliance for Open Media (AOMedia). It was designed to provide better compression efficiency than H.265 and addresses patent and licensing issues.


Industry Adoption and Future Trends

H.264 and H.265 are widely used because they meet industry needs and are technically advanced. H.264 is the most common video compression standard, used on many devices and platforms. However, the demand for better quality video and more efficient compression has led to more use of H.265, especially for 4K and 8K video streaming, virtual reality, and video conferencing.

As the industry develops, we can expect to see more improvements in video compression standards. New standards like AV1 and VVC could challenge H.264 and H.265 in the future. They could offer better compression and more features to meet the growing demands of digital media.

Is h.265 better than h.264?

The H.264 and H.265 codecs are different in terms of video compression efficiency. Each has advantages and disadvantages, so it depends on your video needs.

If you intend to stream a large amount of videos (like Netflix or Amazon), H.265 may be better for you. If your video needs are limited, H.264 may be your best bet. HEVC has its drawbacks, as does H.264. Consider both for a full picture.



The battle between H.264 and H.265 shows how video compression technology is always changing. H.264 has been the industry standard for over a decade, but H.265 is more efficient. As content creators, service providers, and device manufacturers navigate this landscape, understanding the key differences between these two video compression standards can help them make informed decisions that optimise video quality, file size, and overall user experience. As the digital world continues to thrive, the interplay between H.264, H.265, and future video compression standards will shape the future of video technology.