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What's the Best Codec for 4K Ultra HD Videos

Have you ever noticed that 4K video is all around? You watch 4K videos on your 4K TVs, record 4K videos with your camcorders and even smartphones like iPhone, or you stream and download 4K videos from YouTube, Facebook etc. However, with so many 4K videos around, do you know what's codec of your 4K videos? The answer is no for the majority just as they don't know 4K video formats. But it's really no big deal. In this article, we'd like to discuss the 4K codec details, such as what are 4K video codecs, and a solid 4K video encoder/decoder to process (convert or compress) 4K videos.

Best 4K Video Decoder and Encoder with 370+ Codecs Built-in

MacX Video Converter Pro, a reliable 4K video encoder/decoder, enables you to transcode 4K videos from formats like MP4, MKV, MOV, WebM etc., or compress 2160P 4K codec videos to 1080P/720P HD, 640p/480p/360p SD videos.

Part 1. 4K Video Codecs: What Codec Your 4K Video is Encoded With?

You know, in terms of video formats and codecs, 4K resolutions (3840×2160 pixels) contain four times more pixels than current popular Full HD resolutions (1920×1080), which means that there is lots more data per frame to transmit to your audience. Luckily, there are codecs that are up to the challenge of tackling 4K resolutions and beyond.

HEVC/H.265 - the choice 4K codec for video on demand

HEVC, also known as H.265 and MPEG-H Part 2, is the successor to the current generation of H.264/AVC codec. It fully capable of encoding and decoding 4K resolution videos. And you can find that it comes with most 4K TVs and computers monitors. In H.265 vs H.264 comparison, if you encode with H.265 codec, it will consumes up to 8x -10x more computing power than H.264, being twice high efficiency but in larger size. Video of demand services like Netflix, Hulu, YouTube etc. encode their video content available ahead of time before making it available for viewer. Thus it can afford the additional computing power of course. Therefore, usually the 4K streaming videos from YouTube, Netflix are wrapped with HEVC 4K video.

H.264/AVC - still capable for 4K codec video, but not so effective

At the very beginning that 4K videos emerged, 4K videos are encoded with H.264 codec. And till now, H.264/AVC is still perfectly capable of processing 4K resolution videos. Whereas comparing HEVC, H.264 4K video codec is less efficient, with half data compression ratio and twice larger video size at the same 4K video quality.

VP9 - the current most popular of 4K video codecs for the web

HEVC vs VP9, HEVC goes with the current 4K encoded videos on demand, while VP9 is definitely more ubiquitous royalty-free codec that has gains popularity in web with gradually shift from Flash to HTML5 technology. It's widely implemented in web browsers like Google Chrome, Opera, Mozilla Firefox etc. Besides, you can also find VP9 4K videos on YouTube as well, which offers VP9 video at all resolutions.

AV1 - the future of 4K codec for the web

AOMedia Video 1 (AV1) is an open royalty-free video coding format designed for video transmissions over the Internet. It can be used together with the audio format Opus in a future version of the WebM format for HTML5 web video and WebRTC. Moreover, AV1 improves bitrate effciency by 30% over HEVC and VP9 and is designed for higher resolutions like 4K videos. With the benefits of AOMedia Video 1, it's a fair assumption that AV1 will see rapid adoption by major browsers (Mozilla, Microsoft, Google), content distributors (Netflix, Amazon, YouTube), and device manufacturers.

Part 2. Best 4K Video Transcoder to Encode/Decode 4K Videos

You see, 4K videos can be wrapped in different codecs, so if you find that you cannot play 4K UHD on iPad Pro, iPhone, 4K TVs, Mac computer etc., maybe it's a matter of codec. Thus to make your 4K videos playable, a 4K video codec converter comes to be a must for process 4K videos.

MacX Video Converter Pro is a wise choice since it not only decode 4K videos to different codecs like H.264, HEVC, VP9, but also convert 4K videos to MP4, MOV, AVI, FLV, MKV and 180+ video formats. Better yet, comparing to other competitors, this video converter for Mac delivers a blazing fast speed for 4K videos conversion with multi-core CPU utility and hyper-threading tech. Furthermore, if you convert 4K videos to HEVC or H.264 codec, you're able to enjoy 16X faster speed with quality the same as in the original file, thanks to Intel QSV/Nvidia/AMD technology.

How to Encode and Decode 4K Videos Fast

Step 1: Free download the 4K video encoder for Mac and launch it. Or you can also grab the 4K encoder for Windows to encode 4K video into HEVC, H.264, VP9. Then click on "+Video" to import your target 4K videos.

Step 2: Choose the output codec and format. After you loaded your video, there pops up an output profile window, where you can choose HEVC, H.264, VP9 as the output codec. For example, go PC General Video > HEVC Video.

Step 3: Click Browse button to specify the output folder for the encoded 4K video.

Step 4: After the above steps done, hit "RUN" icon to start to convert 4K HEVC to H.264, HEVC to VP9, VP9 to H.264 etc. at fast speed.

encode 4k into H.265

Note: If you plan to watch your 4K videos on some 4K non-supported player or devices, you can convert 4K to formats that you device supports or compress 4K videos to 1080p, 720p through adjusting frame rate, bit rate, resolution or other parameters. You can make it done after step 2 by checking the gear icon.

Part 3. FAQs about 4K Codec

What codec is best for 4K?

For 4K video, popular codecs include H.265/HEVC, ProRes, and AV1. H.265 offers excellent compression efficiency, ProRes is ideal for professional editing, and AV1 is a high-quality, open-source option. Consider factors like file size, compatibility, processing power, and intended use when selecting a codec.

Can H.264 handle 4K?

Yes, H.264 can handle 4K video. H.264, also known as AVC (Advanced Video Coding), is an older but widely supported video codec that is capable of encoding and decoding 4K resolution video. However, compared to newer codecs like H.265/HEVC or AV1, H.264 typically requires higher bitrates to maintain the same level of video quality. This can result in larger file sizes and potentially more bandwidth usage during streaming. Nevertheless, if compatibility with older devices or systems is a concern, H.264 can still be a viable option for 4K video.

Is H265 4K?

Yes, H.265, also known as HEVC (High-Efficiency Video Coding), supports 4K video resolution. In fact, H.265 was specifically developed to handle higher resolutions, including 4K and even higher resolutions like 8K. It offers better compression efficiency compared to its predecessor, H.264, allowing for smaller file sizes without significant loss in video quality. H.265 is widely used for 4K video encoding and decoding in various applications, including streaming platforms, video production, and consumer devices.

4K codec for Mac?

On macOS, the recommended codec for 4K video is Apple ProRes. It offers high-quality video and is specifically designed for professional editing and post-production workflows. ProRes 422, ProRes 422 HQ, and ProRes 4444 are the main variants available, each offering different levels of image quality and capabilities. Ensure that your software supports ProRes encoding and decoding, and consider the larger file sizes associated with ProRes when managing storage and bandwidth.

author- candice
Candice Liu

Candice's particularly skilled in writing and sharing video-related contents. Her guides cover from deep-seated video/audio parameters, to media entertainment on different platforms. She also enjoys shooting and processing videos by herself for a more reliable basis of informative info with her articles, which are never at the expense of eliminating an entertaining read.