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20 June 2023

H.264 and H.265 encoding standards - AVC and HEVC - What's the difference?

H.265 and H.264 are video coding standards. They were developed by the expert group of the International Advisory Committee on Telephone and Telegraphy (MKKTT, ITU-T VCEG).

Video surveillance technology is growing rapidly, and the H.264 (MPEG-4/AVC) standard no longer meets the demands of higher resolution video coding. Progress is heading toward 4K UHD and 8K UHD becoming as standard as Full HD is today. The compression standard for next-generation video is H.265. It is slowly being introduced into high-definition IP surveillance products, such as HD IP cameras, NVRs.

What is the H.264 (MPEG-4 AVC) standard?

H.264, or MPEG-4 AVC (Advanced Video Codec), is a video compression standard developed in 2003 that is also a widely used high-definition recording format. H.264 is the codec standard for Blu-ray discs and DVRs.

H.264 covers the needs of people working with IP cameras, television and conferencing.

H.264 video resolution:

854 x 480 (16:9 480p)

1280 x 720 (16:9 720p)

1920 x 1080 (16:9 1080p)

640 x 480 (4:3 480p)

1280 x 1024 (5:4)

1920 x 1440 (4:3)


The popularity of this type of encoding was also facilitated by the fact that Apple began actively using it. This means that millions of iPad and iPhone users very quickly switched to this format. Thus H.264 gained 80% of the market and became not just the hegemon, but the gold standard.

By this point, AMD and Intel multi-core processors had entered the market, and real-time HD video decoding was no longer a problem for a wide range of users.

In 2012, H.264 was significantly upgraded. The new standard was called H.265 or HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding). What makes H.265 special is that it uses advanced techniques to improve the relationship between the code stream, encoding quality, latency and algorithm complexity to achieve optimal settings.

The support for frame formats up to 8K (UHDTV) with a resolution of 8192×4320 pixels has also increased significantly.

The advantages of the H.265 standard over H.264 are:

  • increased compression efficiency;
  • increased reliability;
  • error recovery capability;
  • real-time latency reduction;
  • reduced channel capture time and random-access delay, as well as reduced complexity.


Transmission of conventional audio and high-definition video at 1 ~ 2 Mbit/s is provided by the H.265 codec, thanks to algorithm optimization.

H.265 also supports 4K (4096 × 2160) and 8K (8192 × 4320) ultra-high-definition video and is designed to deliver higher quality network video with limited bandwidth.

The quality comparison test shows that for the same image quality, when compared to H.264, H.265 encoded video is reduced by about 39-44%. When the bit rate is reduced by 51-74%, the quality of video encoded in H.265 can be the same or better than that of video encoded in H.264, which is significantly better than the expected signal to noise ratio (PSNR ).

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