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H.264 vs H.265: Innovative Live-streaming advances3 min read

April 28, 2020 3 min read
H264 VS H265

H.264 vs H.265: Innovative Live-streaming advances3 min read

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Diving deep into the differences between H.264 vs H.265

As general as the saying may be, technology is always advancing to become more convenient for users. Sometimes those differences can be huge, while at others, almost minute. But in the ever-expanding world of live video, these differences can either make or break a stream. Take for example video compression and how it can affect a user’s viewing or streaming experience. Right now, the big topic of conversation is the fight between the h.265 vs h.264 methods of compression. At first glance, it can seem like a no-brainer to switch to the more advanced video standard. After looking at this comparison, however, you may just find that the answer is a little more complicated than you think.

H.264: Its Impact on the Industry

Advanced video coding (AVC) or H.264, without exaggeration, changed the landscape of video compression. It enabled many platforms like YouTube and Twitch to bring livestreaming to the masses.

AVC is so ubiquitous that most cameras today are still sold with this feature staunchly embedded into them. It allowed for higher megapixel cameras to become consumer-friendly.

Lowered bit-rates, when compared to previous video compression technology like H.263, is the main advantage of AVC.

H.265: The Future is Much Smaller

High-efficiency video coding (HEVC) or H.265 takes all the foundation set by its predecessor and builds on them. 

Taking it to a more technical level: H.264 used what is called macroblocks to find redundant parts of the frame. These samples would be sized from 4×4 to 16×16 and then used as predictive samples.

 HEVC takes this tool and expands it even further with coding tree units (CTU). Instead of being limited to 16×16 block, it can now go up to 64×64 making compression more efficient.

H.264 vs H.265 on Castr 

H.265 vs. H.264: The Big Differences

If it came down to efficiency, H.265 would come out as the winner of this fight. But as with many things in the tech world, the codec does have its drawbacks.

While HEVC can take a 4k stream and make it more manageable for the streamer and the end-viewer, the codec isn’t as ubiquitous as H.264. It’s such a cutting edge technology that tons of browsers haven’t rolled out support for it.

This is because HEVC is new and its licensing fees are prohibitively expensive.

AVC, on the other hand, draws its advantage by being the industry standard. All the major browsers support it along with every video streaming site available. Camera manufacturers also make sure to advertise that their products support the codec. 

Couple that with the rise of fiber and faster internet speeds, it seems like H.264 will be around for a while longer.



It’s easy to dismiss this fight and call H.264 the winner. Since it’s available on all browsers and streaming sites the need for change doesn’t seem so urgent. But if we rewind the clocks a bit, you’ll see that AVC wasn’t always as deeply rooted in the industry as it is now.

It took years before H.264 became the standard in video codecs and this fight boils down to the same thing. As the need for more efficient ultra high definition streams rise, HEVC will slowly take the reigns from its well-traveled predecessor.

When you look at the battle between H.265 vs. H.264, you can start to see it as less of a fight and more of a transition. Eventually, browsers and video streaming platforms will have to move on to a more effective tool. The best you can do right now is to get ready for the shift and learn more about HEVC and how it’ll upgrade your streams

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