X264 vs H264 Which is better & what is the difference ?


Table of Contents

When we explore the realm of online video streaming, we sometimes overlook the intricate processes that occur behind the scenes. Have you ever pondered how videos on popular platforms such as Netflix and YouTube stream without annoying pauses for buffering? This seamless experience is made possible by a technology known as video codecs, and in this blog post, we’ll delve into the distinctions between two significant players in this field: X264 and H264. However, fear not, as we will steer clear of technical jargon and ensure that the information remains easily digestible.

What's the difference between X264 and H264?

Imagine you have a video, and you want to make it work on your computer or your TV. Well, to do that, you need a special tool called an “encoder.” This encoder is like a translator; it takes your video and turns it into a language that your devices can understand.

Now, this language your encoder uses is called the “codec.” It’s like the language your video speaks. So, when people talk about “X264” and “H264,” they’re talking about this translator (X264) and the language it uses (H264).

X264 is a translator that was created back in the early 2000s, and it’s a free tool. Its main job is to take your videos and translate them into the H264 language. This way, your videos can be played on computers, TVs, and other devices.

So, in simple terms, X264 is the translator, and H264 is the language it translates your videos into. Now that we’ve cleared that up, we can move on to the comparison between them.

X264 The Power of Open-Source Video

Let me tell you a story about X264, the superhero of video encoding. X264 has been the go-to choice for encoding videos for a long time, and it’s only gotten stronger in recent years. Thanks to the hard work of the VideoLAN team and others, X264 can now do even more cool things to make your videos look great.

One of the biggest updates to X264 is that it can now work with a special codec called AV1. Think of a codec as a special language that helps your computer understand and play videos. AV1 is like a new, super-efficient language for videos. It makes videos look awesome while using less computer power. X264 can now talk in this new language, so you can make videos that look amazing and don’t slow down your computer.

But that’s not all! X264 has learned some other new tricks too. It’s better at using your computer’s hardware to make videos faster. It also has some new settings that make it easier to encode videos just the way you want them. And, of course, it’s fixed some bugs to make sure everything works smoothly.

So, if you need a powerful video encoder, X264 is the best choice. It doesn’t cost anything, it’s open for everyone to use, and it can do a bunch of cool stuff.

2023 Latest updates of x264

  • It can use the fancy AV1 language for super-efficient videos.
  • It’s better at using your computer’s hardware to make videos faster.
  • It has new settings to make encoding videos easier.
  •  It’s fixed some bugs to work better than ever.
  • optimized for newer hardware platforms, such as Intel Alder Lake and AMD Ryzen 7000 series processors.
  • improved the quality of low-bit-rate video streams.

Lots of Features

X264 is a free and open-source video encoder. It’s like a powerful tool for making videos better, and it can do a lot of cool stuff. People who are just starting and experts both like it. You can use X264 in two ways: through commands or as part of other software. Some software you might know, like MeGUI and StaxRip, use X264 behind the scenes. Others like FFmpeg and HandBrake use it as a helper.

Making Videos Look Better

X264 has some special features that make videos look nicer to our eyes. It uses things called “rate-distortion optimization” and “adaptive quantization.” These make videos seem less blurry or messy, like magic tricks for your videos.

No More Waiting

X264 also has a trick called “Periodic Intra Refresh.” Imagine if, when you ate pizza, every slice was the same size. That’s what this does for video frames. It means you don’t have to wait for special frames, and the video plays smoother.

Does It All

X264 is like a superstar among video encoders, and it’s trusted by some of the biggest companies out there, like Google (which owns YouTube and Vimeo), Facebook, Netflix, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Sony, Samsung, Intel, AMD, NVIDIA, and ARM. They all use X264 because it’s a versatile and powerful tool.

For instance:

  • YouTube relies on X264 to make their videos look good and share them with users.
  • Facebook also uses X264 to make sure your videos look awesome when you share them with friends.
  • When you’re binge-watching on Netflix, X264 is behind the scenes, making sure your movies and TV shows look top-notch.
  • Amazon’s Prime Video wouldn’t be the same without X264, as it helps stream your favorite shows and movies.
  • Microsoft uses X264 to make gaming videos look great on Xbox Live and Mixer.
  • Apple uses it for iTunes Store and Apple TV, ensuring your videos are sharp and clear.
  • Sony counts on X264 for streaming videos on the PlayStation Network.
  • Samsung’s Smart TVs deliver high-quality videos, thanks to X264.
  • Intel, AMD, and NVIDIA make sure their video technologies (Quick Sync Video, VCE, and NVENC) work smoothly with X264.
  • Even ARM, with its Mali GPUs, relies on X264 to encode and stream videos.

Big companies love X264 because it’s free, open-source, and can do it all. Whether it’s streaming on the web or popping a Blu-ray disc into your player, X264 can handle it. Plus, it’s always getting better with new features and improvements.

X264 Enhancing Videos Across Popular Software

Let’s take a closer look at how X264, the versatile video encoder, is put to use in several popular software programs:

  1. FFmpeg: FFmpeg is like a digital Swiss Army knife, capable of handling videos, audio, and more. Within the FFmpeg toolbox, X264 plays a pivotal role. It steps in to help convert videos into various formats, such as the well-known H.264, the advanced H.265, and the cutting-edge AV1.

  2. HandBrake: Think of HandBrake as a wizard for transforming video formats. It leans on X264’s capabilities to perform its magic, converting videos into the high-quality formats of H.264 and H.265, ensuring they appear sharp and crystal clear.

  3. VLC Media Player: VLC is your friendly neighborhood media player, capable of handling a wide array of video and audio formats. When it comes to preparing videos for smooth online streaming, X264 steps in to do the heavy lifting, ensuring videos are ready for the internet stage.

  4. MeGUI: MeGUI is like a versatile artist’s toolkit designed for video enthusiasts. Among its trusted tools is X264, which it selects for its ability to enhance video quality. Whether it’s H.264 or H.265, X264 ensures that videos are nothing short of spectacular.

But wait, there’s more! X264 is not limited to just these programs. It’s a valuable asset in many other software applications, including video editing software, streaming tools, and even video game engines.

X264’s strength lies in its power and adaptability, making videos look their best across a wide range of software, ensuring they shine in all their glory.

Lets Explain H264

H.264, also known as Advanced Video Coding or AVC, is a very popular way to make HD videos take up less space. It’s famous for being really good at this, meaning it can make videos smaller without making them look much worse.

It does this by using some clever tricks:

1. Inter-frame compression: Imagine a movie as a series of pictures. H.264 looks at many pictures at once and finds the parts that are the same. This way, it doesn’t have to remember or send as much information.

2. Predictive coding: H.264 guesses what the next picture will look like by looking at the ones before it. Then, it only saves the parts that are different, which saves space.

3. Adaptive quantization: This means H.264 changes how it makes the video smaller depending on what’s in the video. So, if a video is simple, like someone talking in front of a plain background, it can make it even smaller without making it look bad.

Because H.264 is so good at this, it’s used in many things:

– Streaming videos: Websites like YouTube use it to send you HD videos without needing super-fast internet.
– TV shows: It lets TV channels put more HD shows on the airwaves.
– Storing videos: You can save more videos on your gadgets, like phones and tablets, because it makes them take up less room.

So, H.264 is like a superhero for videos, making them small but still look good. That’s why it’s the most popular way to shrink HD videos.

Compatibility Galore: H.264 Video Codec

The reason for this fame is that H.264 gets along with a bunch of different video “containers.” Think of containers as special packages that hold the video, and H.264 fits nicely into these containers. Some of these containers include:

All this compatibility means that H.264 is a top choice for people who make videos. They can use it to put their videos in a format that works on almost any device or software. They don’t have to worry about whether their videos will play or not.

Let’s see how this compatibility helps different folks:

  1. Content Creators: These are the people who make videos. They love H.264 because it lets them make videos that can be played on lots of different things. So, they can share their videos with more people without any problems.

  2. Consumers: These are the folks who watch videos. They can use H.264 to watch videos on all sorts of devices like phones, tablets, laptops, TVs, and streaming gadgets. It’s like a magic key that lets them watch videos everywhere.

  3. Businesses: Companies also like H.264. They can use it to show videos to their customers and workers. For example, they can use it to teach their employees or to show ads to their customers. It’s like a tool that helps them share videos easily.

H.264 Video Quality Presets and Parameters

Video Quality Video Bitrate Width Height Profile
Ultra-Low Definition (240p) 350 kbps 426 pixels 240 pixels Main
Low Definition (360p) 350–800 kbps 640 pixels 360 pixels Main
Standard Definition (480p) 800–1200 kbps 854 pixels 480 pixels High
High Definition (720p) 1200–1900 kbps 1280 pixels 720 pixels High
Full High Definition (1080p) 1900–4500 kbps 1920 pixels 1080 pixels High
Ultra High Definition (4K) 6000–15000 kbps 3840 pixels 2160 pixels High
High Dynamic Range (HDR) 15000–30000 kbps 1920 pixels 1080 pixels High 10

Remember, the settings you choose should align with your content and your audience’s internet speed. Higher resolutions require more bandwidth, so keep that in mind.

The Battle of X264 vs H264

X264 and H.264 are two different ways to make videos. They are like cousins, a bit similar but with some important differences.

H.264 is like a famous movie star in the video world. It was made by a group called the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG). Many devices and computer programs can use H.264, which is why it’s super popular. People like it because it makes videos look good and doesn’t take up too much space.

Now, let’s talk about X264. It’s like the cool cousin who shares some traits with H.264. X264 is special because it’s free and open-source, which means anyone can use it for free. It’s a version of H.264 that some video lovers and professionals really like. They say it makes videos look amazing and can do some things that H.264 can’t, like working with a thing called AV1.

So, in simple terms, H.264 is the famous one that many devices can use, and X264 is like the free and cool version of it that some experts really enjoy using. They both help make videos look great!

Feature H.264 X264
Codec type Proprietary Free and open-source
Compression efficiency High High
Video quality Good Good to excellent
Device and software support Wide Good
Additional features Limited Many

H.264: The Efficiency King

Meet H.264, the champion of efficiency! Let’s find out why it’s the best at being efficient:

1. Hardware Acceleration: Imagine you have a powerful assistant (hardware) to help you do your work faster. That’s what H.264 does! It works great when it has hardware support. This means it lets your computer’s brain (CPU) take a break and does the hard work of making videos faster. It’s perfect for things like live streaming and when you want things to happen right away.

2. Streaming and Online Power: If you want lots of people to watch your videos online, H.264 is your go-to buddy. It’s like the best tool in your toolbox. It squishes your videos into small packages that travel smoothly on the internet. So, whether you’re sharing on YouTube, Netflix, or social media, H.264 makes sure your videos look great and play without any hiccups.

3. Saving Space Like a Pro: Sometimes, you don’t have much space to store your videos. That’s when H.264 comes to the rescue. It’s like a magician that makes your videos smaller but still keeps them looking good. So, if you’re using a phone or need to save room on your computer, H.264 is the one you want. It’s like having a big closet that somehow fits all your stuff neatly.

X264: Where Performance Meets Quality

X264 is a powerful software that does a special job: it turns videos into a format that’s easy to store and share on computers. Imagine if you had a big, complicated puzzle, and X264 helps you put it together quickly and make it look really good.

  1. Unparalleled Performance

    X264 works super fast, like a speedy race car. It’s perfect for tasks that need video work to happen in real-time. This means you can use it for things like live video streaming, where you want the video to look great and not lag behind.

    X264 can use the power of many computer brains at once (we call them cores) and even the fancy graphics part (GPU) to make it work even faster. So, it’s like having a whole team of experts working together.

    What’s really cool is that you can change how X264 works to fit your needs. It’s like being able to tweak a recipe to make your favorite cake taste just right. You can fine-tune X264 to make the video look exactly how you want it to.

  2. The Quality King

    X264 doesn’t just work fast; it also makes videos look amazing. Even when you need to make videos smaller (like fitting a big movie on your phone), X264 keeps them looking sharp.

    It has lots of special tools to make the video quality top-notch. It can smooth out rough edges, remove grainy spots, and make sure everything looks just perfect. Think of it like a magic wand for your videos.

    And guess what? X264 can handle all sorts of video styles, from super clear high-definition videos to those with fancy colors and brightness (called high dynamic range). So, it’s not picky – it can handle all kinds of videos.

  3. Versatile Support

    X264 is like a friendly guest at a party – it gets along with everyone! It works smoothly with all sorts of computer programs and gadgets, like media players, streaming devices, and even your mobile phone.

    Many big websites that share videos love X264 because it does such a great job. So, it’s like the star of the show for making videos look fantastic online.

  4. Making Complex Simple

    Imagine you have a big, complicated instruction manual, but X264 can translate it into simple steps you can follow. It has things like “presets” that give you a head start, so you don’t have to figure out everything from scratch.

    It also helps you control how fast or slow it works and keeps the video looking great (we call this “rate control”). Plus, if you really want to keep everything exactly the same as the original, X264 can do that too (we call it “lossless encoding”).

The Future of Video Codecs

Imagine the world of video technology as a constantly moving river. As time goes by, new and better tools emerge to make videos look great while taking up less space. One of these tools is called H.266, or Versatile Video Coding (VVC).

H.266 is like the newest kid on the block when it comes to video compression. It’s like a super smart upgrade to its older friends, H.264 and X264. Let’s see what makes H.266 special:

Better Compression: H.266 can make videos much smaller without making them look bad. It’s like having a magic wand that makes videos fit into smaller spaces while still looking fantastic. This is because a lot of smart people spent a whole decade figuring out how to make it work better.

Faster Work: H.266 can use lots of computer parts at the same time to get the job done quickly. Imagine it as a superhero with multiple arms, doing lots of tasks all at once. This means you can make your videos faster if you have the right computer.

But there’s one thing to keep in mind. H.264 and H.266 have some rules about using them, and you might have to pay money to use them in some cases. So, if you have a lot of videos and you want to save money, H.264 might be a good choice sometimes.

choosing the right codec

  • H.264: This one is like a reliable old car. It works well, and lots of people use it. If you want to stream videos, put them online, or save space, H.264 is a safe bet. Many devices can play H.264 videos.

  • X264: If you care a lot about video quality and have a powerful computer, X264 is like a professional camera. It’s great for when you need videos to look amazing.

  • H.266/VVC: If you want the latest and greatest in video tech and you have a modern computer, H.266 is like the newest sports car. It can make your videos smaller without losing quality, which is awesome if you want to save space.

So, just remember, the choice depends on what you want to do and what tools you have. Whether it’s the trusty H.264, the high-quality X264, or the cutting-edge H.266, there’s a video tool out there for everyone.

What i suggest and think

I’ve been diving deep into researching video codecs, and let me tell you, it’s absolutely fascinating how these digital tools have completely transformed the way we interact with video content. Video codecs, in my opinion, are the unsung heroes of our digital world. They work quietly in the background, making sure we can stream, save, and share videos without a hitch. And in this constantly changing landscape, the development of new and improved video codecs is nothing short of mind-blowing.

H.264$1,000 – $10,000 per year
X264Free and open-source
H.266/VVC$10,000 – $20,000 per year

Now, let’s talk about the latest video codecs that have been making headlines recently – VVC (H.266) and AV1. These codecs, in my view, represent a monumental leap forward in how we compress videos, making them look way better while taking up less space, compared to their older counterparts like H.264 and H.265. It’s incredible to think about how these advancements are reshaping the way we experience video content.

So, what’s the impact of these new codecs on the future of video? Well, from where I stand, it’s profound. With VVC and AV1, we’re entering an era where streaming and storing ultra-high-definition (UHD) and even 8K videos will become the new norm. This means we can look forward to incredibly sharp and detailed video content that was once beyond our wildest dreams. Moreover, in my opinion, these codecs are opening doors to new and innovative video applications, such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). Just imagine experiencing immersive AR and VR content seamlessly – it’s a total game-changer!

However, it’s important to acknowledge that the journey to adopting these new codecs isn’t without its challenges. Putting technical hurdles aside, there are significant business and legal challenges, particularly concerning patent licensing fees. Overcoming these barriers is, in my view, absolutely crucial for ensuring that these remarkable advancements benefit everyone.

Now, let’s zoom in on some specific aspects of video codecs. Streaming platforms have become my go-to source for entertainment, and video codecs, from where I stand, are at the heart of this revolution. They’re the ones responsible for delivering high-quality content to my screens, whether I’m binge-watching the latest series or catching up on viral videos. And with the latest codecs, they’re taking my streaming experiences to the next level, providing me with smoother and more immersive viewing.

Mobile devices are another area where video codecs are making their mark, and personally, I couldn’t be happier about it. Our smartphones and tablets are now capable of capturing and playing back stunning high-quality video. This has paved the way for innovative mobile video applications, from video calls to mobile gaming. I can’t stress enough how important video codecs are in making all of this possible.

Lastly, let’s not forget about the professional applications of video codecs. From my perspective, in fields like video production and broadcasting, these codecs are the absolute backbone of the industry. The latest advancements are changing the way content is created and distributed, allowing professionals to work with higher quality video and reach broader audiences.

Now, when it comes to choosing a video codec, it’s important to consider your specific needs and requirements. If you’re on a budget like me, you’ll be happy to know that there are free and open-source encoders like X264 available. However, if you need a high-performance encoder with technical support, you might have to dip into your pockets a bit more. So, as I see it, go with what suits your needs and your wallet best. That’s the smart move.

At Last

As I delve into the world of video codecs, it’s become evident that the choice of the right codec is like choosing the perfect tool for a specific job. It’s a bit like picking the right paintbrush for an artist or the ideal ingredient for a chef. Let’s break it down in a way that’s easy to understand for all you codec enthusiasts out there.

First off, if you’re looking for a codec that’s widely supported and won’t strain your budget, H.264 is the dependable choice. It’s like that trusty old friend who always comes through when you need them. It’s cost-effective and gets the job done efficiently.

Now, suppose you’re aiming for the absolute best video quality, as clear and sharp as a crystal. In that case, X264 is your go-to option. It’s like having a professional photographer capture your moments – it ensures the highest level of video quality.

But here’s where it gets interesting. If you want a codec that combines efficiency with top-notch video quality, you might want to consider the newer kids on the block, like H.265 or H.266/VVC. These codecs are like the tech-savvy wizards of the video world. They strike a balance between squeezing your video files to save space and keeping the picture quality pristine.

So, when you’re making your choice, think about what you’re aiming to achieve. Are you after efficiency, the best quality, or a bit of both? Your decision should match your specific needs in the realm of video encoding and playback.

In the end, it’s a bit like choosing the right tool from your toolbox. Each codec has its unique strengths, and your job is to pick the one that best suits the task at hand. Happy encoding!

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