H264 vs H265 – What is the difference?

What is the difference between H264 and H265 really? In this article we'll go more in-depth about each so that you know which one suits your needs.
H264 vs H265 – What is the difference?

Video content is engaging, popular, and up to 1600% times more successful than other forms of media. It’s also annually increasing, showing a near-unlimited potential for industry growth.

After all, people watch 16 hours of video a week on average —a number that’s increased by 52% just within the last two years.

Countless creators and companies have jumped on the video-creation trend and begun developing content covering a wide range of topics.

These days, it’s simple to do a quick YouTube search and discover yoga tutorials, financial how-tos, commentary, and anything in between.

Investing in high-quality video for your streaming is an absolute necessity. And while many people associate expensive cameras and sound equipment as the only must-own video creation technology, the right method of video compression can make all of the difference in the quality of your streaming.

Two codecs currently at the center of video technology are H.264 and H.625. Think of codec as the way that video signals are stored and converted so that you can watch the video on your screen.

Both video compression systems improve video quality, yet each provides different features to streamers.

Learn all about the need-to-know basics of H.264 and H.265, easily compare between the two codecs, and see which video compression system is the real winner by reading on!

What is H264?

The classic image of video compression codecs, H.264 is an industry-standard beloved by creators in various industries. Also known as Advanced Video Coding (AVC), or even MPEG-4 Part 10, this codec helps users record, compress, and most importantly, stream.

H.264 is able to be played by almost any device and delivers viewers great video quality at a lower bitrate. By utilizing multiple processes, a H.264 bitstream is created which processes frames of video content. H.264 uses a block-oriented standard that divides video into macroblocks.

These blocks can be as big as up to 16x16 pixels. After the video has been divided, the video decoder prepares the file.

Now that we’ve taken a closer look at the H.264 and how it works, let’s check out another favorite codec used by streamers and content creators all over!

What is H265?

In comparison, H265 is an up-and-coming codec option that offers some sizable improvements to H264’s weak areas (namely, video compression at high-resolution quality). Also called High-Efficiency Video Coding (HVEC), this method of video compression is still not as widely used as H264.

However, that might change in the future as more and more streamers recognize the benefits offered by H265.

Because H265 is more recently developed with the new generation of high-speed internet and technological advancements in mind, it offers some serious perks.

Such as 25-50% better data compression to start. That’s a serious advantage offered by H265. Plus, it keeps video quality the same, making sure that no streamer has to compromise between compression and quality.

H265 also supports up to 8192x4320 resolution. And yeah, that includes 8K UHD. Those are stats that H264 can only dream of.

By utilizing newer technology, H265 can offer streamers all of these additional benefits. The most beneficial feature of H265 is the new encoding method. H264 breaks down data pixel squares called macroblocks.

While effective, it’s nothing compared to the coding tree units (CTU) used by H265.

How does it work exactly?

Essentially, by using CTUs (coding tree units), coding efficiency increases. This is because the CTUs can handle bigger blocks of information —up to 64x64 pixels— which streamlines the coding process. The results of this new technology are providing many advantages to streamers across countless different platforms.

What is the difference between H264 and H265?

So, now that you’ve got a better understanding of H264 and H265 codecs, it’s time to pit the two compression systems against each other and determine the best codec for creators. By comparing two key features of both codecs —video quality and file size— plus other additional components, determining whether H264 or H265 comes out the winner will be simple.

After all, if 78% of people watch videos online every week —and 55% watch videos every day— it’s vitally important to stream using the best method of video compression.

First, let’s start with video quality.

To put it simply, H265 is able to provide better video quality. It can achieve better results thanks to the new data-processing technology used.

To start out with, much like H.265’s lower file size, the method of how H.265 processes data also compresses information that increases efficiency. Processing data in coding tree units, instead of the macroblocks used by H.264, allows H.265 to handle up to 64x64 blocks of data.

Compared to H.264’s simple 4x4 or 16x16 blocks of data, the difference is huge.

File size is another important factor to consider when streaming and compressing videos. A smaller file size for your stream can have a big, intensely positive impact on upload speeds. That’s because a lower file size also lowers bandwidth requires. In some cases, where H.264 might require 32 mbps internet speed, H.265 can do it in just 15 mbps.

And, when it comes to creating smaller files, H.265 takes the cake.

H.265 also possesses other features that make it distinctly more superior than H.264. For example, motion compensation in H.265 performs better than in H.264. For streamers, this allows your viewers to use less bandwidth and processing power when watching.

Having a smother stream can set you apart from others in your niche, as well as ensure happy viewers.


If you’re searching for the best method of video compression, H265 is the obvious winner. While H264 still provides adequate video quality and is accessible on nearly all devices, H265 is the better choice for streamers and content creators looking to upload professional content.

However, that’s not to say that the H264 is without its merit. Therefore, everyone interested in streaming should carefully consider their own unique situations and determine which method of video compression best suits them!

Keep in the loop

Subscribe to the Streampal newsletter to receive the latest video business insights, strategies and promotions straight to your inbox.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Start monetizing your video content today.