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What's Difference Between x264 and x265? Which Is Better?

Have you noticed that HD and ultra HD videos gradually take the place of SD videos these days? The fact that X264 and X265 come to compatible with hardware devices turns out to the strongest evidence. For example, since iPhone 6S first supported 4K UHD video recording, Apple initiatively support HEVC (X265) on iOS 10 and macOS High Sierra. Provided that you're able to play both x264 and x265 videos, x264 vs x265, which is better? And what's the difference between x264 vs x265? Scroll down and you'll find the definition of x264 and x265, differences based on quality, file size, bitrate etc., pros and cons, context of use and so on.

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x264 vs x265: Definition

What's x264(H.264/AVC)?

x264 is a free software library developed by VideoLAN for encoding video streams into the H.264/MPEG-4 AVC format. Usually we confused x264 with H.264, which is not wrong, but not accurate as well. Actually, H.264 is a specification for compressing video, aka MPEG-4 part 10 or AVC; while x264 is a very high quality encoder that produces remarkable quality H.264 compatible video-stream. It is almost exclusively used by all the open source video platforms like ffmpeg, gstreamer, handbrake etc. In short, H264 is a format, and X264 is a software library to create H264 files.

What's x265(H.265/HEVC)?

And x265 is a free software library and application for encoding video streams into the H.265/MPEG-H HEVC compression format, and is released under the terms of the GNU GPL. From the definition, we got to know x265 is a successor to x264. Similarly, there are also confusion with x265 and H.265, which goes the same with x264 vs H.264. However, in daily life, it's not that exact for x264 vs x265 and H.264 and H.265. That is to say, we usually lumped together H.264 vs H.265 and x264 vs x265 comparison.

x264 vs x265: What's Difference Between x264 and x265?

Now H264/x264 is the major video format, applying in everywhere, mobile streaming, youtube, many online sites and so on. And H.265/x265 is the successor to H.264, which was designed to be efficient at video encoding by utilizing about half of the bitrate(kbps), matching and improving on the fidelity of a H264 image. Go further to see what x264 differs with x265:

x264(H.264/AVC)

Introduction: MPEG 4 Part 10 AVC (Introduced in 2004).
Progression: Successor to MPEG-2 Part
Specification: Support Up to 4K (4,096×2,304); Supports up to 59.94 fps; 21 profiles ; 17 levels.

x264 Features Overview:
- Provides best-in-class performance, compression, and features.
- Achieves dramatic performance, encoding 4 or more 1080p streams in realtime on a single consumer-level computer.
- Gives the best quality, with advanced psychovisual optimizations.
- Support features necessary for many different applications, such as TV broadcast, Blu-ray low-latency video applications, and web video.
- x264 forms the core of many web video services, such as Youtube, Vimeo, and Hulu. It is widely used by television broadcasters and ISPs.

Key Improvements:
- 40-50% bit rate reduction compared to MPEG-2
- Led the growth of HD content delivery for Broadcast and Online.

Drawbacks: Unrealistic for UHD content delivery due to high bit rate requirements. Frame rate support restricted to 59.94.

x264 vs x265
X265(H.265/HEVC)

Introduction: MPEG-H, HEVC, Part 2 (Approved in Jan 2013 ).
Progression: Successor to MPEG 4 AVC, H.264
Specification: Up to 8K UHDTV (8192×4320); -upports up to 300 fps; 3 approved profiles, draft for additional 5 ; 13 levels.

x265 Features Overview:
- Provides next-generation compression and codec.
- Fast and excellent quality.
- Completly free and libre software, ensuring freedom for everyone.
- The APIs are similar to x264 APIs
- Parallel encoding on multiple CPUs, both frame-level and wavefront parallelism
- Apply to web video services, such as upload HEVC to YouTube, Facebook etc., or next generation HDTV, Satellite TV

Key Improvements:
- 40-50% the bitrate reduction compared to H.264
- Potential to realize UHD, 2K, 4K for Broadcast and Online (OTT).

Drawbacks: Requiring more compute power to decode, devices using batteries will run out of power faster and it is expensive to license.

x264 vs x265

A Quick x264 vs x265 Comparison When Encoding the Same Video File

World of Warcraft: Legion alpha | 30fps, 1920x1200 resolution, 33 second video. Ps. I encode this video file with Handbrake H.265 encoder.

NO Original Video x264 Encoded x265 Encoded

Encode Time

N/A

57 Seconds

1 Minute 52 Seconds

Video Info

File size: 3.91 GB
Duration: 33s 567ms
Bit rate: 999 Mbps
Width: 1920 pixels
Height: 1200 pixels
Frame rate: 30.000 fps
Bits/(Pixel*Frame): 14.453

File size: 85.0 MB
Duration: 33s 567ms
Bit rate: 21.2 Mbps
Maximum bit rate: 28.5 Mbps
Bits/(Pixel*Frame): 0.307

File size: 67.4 MB
Duration: 33s 567ms
Bit rate: 16.8 Mbps
Maximum bit rate: 26.5 Mbps
Bits/(Pixel*Frame): 0.244