Which Video Codec Should You Utilize on Windows, and Why?

  • Which Video Codec Should You Utilize on Windows, and Why?

You could not know much regarding video codecs, yet there's a possibility you use them in your everyday life. You could be right into streaming, sending out a video you made to others, or have a multi-terabyte HDD full of videos and also want to recover some of its room without deleting any type of documents.

So what are video codecs, how should you choose one, and also how would certainly it affect your produced videos?

What Are Codecs?

If you wish to be technological, the "real" method to mean words is "CoDecs," because the term is a mix of words "programmers" and "decoders." However nobody spells it like that in the real life, so it's fine if you don't mean it by doing this. Windows Media Player is available on its original website. Please check if you wish. Basics about videos and video codecs in Windows Media Player

The "coder" part of "codecs" allows encoding a media stream making use of a particular formula. At the same time, the "decoder" component enables playback of a media stream inscribed with a compatible encoder.

To learn more concerning codecs, inspect our guide on all you need to understand about video codecs, containers, and also compression.

Why Your Codec Selection Matters

When selecting a codec, you should consider its cons and pros and select the very best one for the task:

  1. Compatibility: Equipment compatibility and support are among the significant variables to consider when picking a codec. How are you planning on making use of the media after encoding it? Will they belong to your personal collection, or are you planning on sharing them with others?
  2. Speed: You additionally have to take into consideration encoding speed. AV1 is considered as one of the best codecs available today for long-lasting web content storage. With AV1, a not-too-shabby Ryzen 5900x CPU may work for days to encode a solitary video.
  3. Web Content Type & Result High Quality: Also, since we're chatting "long-term storage space", would you want the encoded documents to look practically the same to the originals, remaining as near to the source as possible? You must skip AV1 because it can not carry out entirely lossless compression. On the other hand, the older as well as less sophisticated H. 265 and H. 264 can.
  4. Editability: Do you additionally desire to edit the video, remix it, cut or include scenes, titles, as well as impacts, and also attempt shade grading? It would be far better if your source videos were encoded in an "editing-friendly" style that's quicker to read for the computer system.

The Best Codecs Readily Available to You

Allow's review the major video codecs you can utilize:

The Best Codecs Readily Available to You

1. H. 265/HEVC

The most up to date extensively readily available "MPEG-based" codec, H. 265, likewise known as High-Efficiency Versatile Coding (HEVC for brief) as well as MPEG-H Component 2, supplies the very best mix of top quality, speed, as well as large equipment support among its peers.

That's why you see it at the top of our checklist: it's slower to inscribe to H. 265 utilizing a specialized software encoder like x265, but that will certainly use you the very best possible quality for your web content. It will certainly still be (much) faster than AV1 as well as likewise plays good with web content with "grain" ( the "sound" you see in cinematic flicks ).

2. AV1

The latest codec in our selection, AV1, is a super-evolved VP9 that provides substantial gains in compression and also high quality contrasted to its ancestor. Where VP9 commonly "traded strikes" with H. 265, AV1 leaves them both behind, achieving also +50% far better top quality at the exact same file size or -50% smaller sized documents dimension for the exact same top quality-- you select which means you 'd choose to go.

2. AV1

It sounds perfect till you realize it can additionally be lots of times slower than numerous options. And also, it doesn't like "noisy" material, so it removes all "grain" by default. It supplies a sophisticated switch as an additional option to unnaturally re-add noise to the content.

Still, perfectionists would truly argue that this is an estimate as well as not the right means to preserve the initial media's look if you're re-encoding your web content for lasting archival.

3. H. 264/AVC

H. 264, additionally referred to as Advanced Video Coding (AVC for short) and also MPEG-4 Component 10, is the forerunner to H. 265. It has much lower hardware demands and has been used for a lot longer.

It's much faster in encoding than both H. 265 as well as specifically AV1 as well as has significantly wider equipment assistance. Even the most inexpensive mobile phones you can purchase today can translate as well as encode H. 264 in equipment.

With H. 264, you get either reduced top quality for the same size or much bigger apply for the exact same top quality contrasted to H. 265 as well as AV1.

4. VP9

Produced as a more open alternative to the pattern-laden H. 265, VP9 was intended to work as H. 264 and also H. 265's replacement online. Although it's in use by several popular websites, this guarantee has yet to appear totally.

While it's supported by web browsers and also almost all PC-based software program media gamers, equipment media players (like Television set-top boxes or an entertainment system you could have in your auto) could skip it.

Regarding rate and also high quality, it rests best between H. 264 and also H. 265, depending upon the encoded web content as well as setups.

5. MPEG-4/ Xvid/DivX

The MPEG4 codec came to the center with its DivX version, which controlled video encoding throughout the Windows XP age thanks to widespread movie piracy.

MPEG4 is almost outdated today. It was optimum when pirates wished to tear a DVD and fit a heavily recompressed copy on a solitary CD to share with friends.

It can be valuable, depending upon your priorities and offered hardware. It's a great option if you only want marginal gains as swiftly as possible. From a quality point ofview, there are a lot better alternatives offered.

6. ProRes

Extensively taken into consideration "the Apple editable video style", ProRes does not supply the best compression, yet that's because it focuses on quality and also editability.

( If ever ) utilize ProRes for playing media or pressing them for archival or distribution, you'll seldom (. As well as yet, it's almost compulsory if you're an expert in the post-production stage, handling scenes in Last Cut Pro X or coloring in Davinci Resolve considering that it's straightforward, fast, and, much more significantly, thought about a requirement.

One consumer-friendly case where you could stumble upon it is videotaping premium video with among the current apples iphone (from 13 Pro as well as on) in video setting.


ProRes "much more consumer-friendly cousin" works largely if you're importing web content from older analog tools into your PC, through a video capture solution, for more modifying. That's because it's ultra-fast in looking for, as well as you can work with each frame working as a keyframe instead of having to handle series of frames.

MJPEG is far from the most advanced algorithm: it takes care of to minimize video dimensions by encoding all frameworks as JPEG photos.

JPEG compression is really lossy in high quality, making MJPEG only beneficial in the particular case we mentioned: ultra-fast seeking in imported content that didn't have the best quality to preserve in the first place.

8. MPEG2

If your PC has an optical drive and you try reading a DVD with it, you might still meet MPEG2. The VOB data in many DVDs include streams inscribed with MPEG2 video and also AC3 audio formulas

The extremely fact most PCs today do not even have an optical drive is telling on MPEG2's usefulness in the modern-day technology landscape.

Just how to Select a Codec

We saw why codec choice issues, as well as just how the major codecs vary pertaining to high quality and rate. However still, which one should you select, when, as well as why?

1. Picking a Codec for Streaming

If you're streaming to systems like Twitch and YouTube, you'll possibly want to make use of H. 264. It's faster than H. 265 and AV1 in encoding while having a lot lower hardware demands.

Keeping the equipment pressure down is really important, particularly if you want to run various other requiring software in parallel (like the latest triple-A games) without taking a toll on performance.

Assisting a lot more, mostly all GPUs from a minimum of the last two "generations" from Nvidia and also AMD feature support for hardware-accelerated H. 264 encoding. This allows you to inscribe your video streams in real-time with a marginal hit in efficiency ( believe 5% to 10% of your GPU's sources ).

2. Selecting a Codec for Archiving

For archiving, the best codec choice relies on the material you intend to save and if you wish to maintain its top quality or minimize storage space demands.

2. Selecting a Codec for Archiving

AV1 offers the best quality-to-size ratio, H. 265 is still a better option if you want to compress "cinematic" videos (especially if they're "noisy") while keeping all details. They'll still be smaller sized than if stored with the majority of other codecs except AV1.

AV1 is the far better selection if you do not mind its much slower compression speeds, and also even more so if re-encoding "smooth" material, like anime and also animations.

3. Picking a Codec for 4K+ web content

All codecs approximately H. 264 were made for sub-HD resolutions. H. 264 was the very first codec developed to store full-HD material (at resolutions as much as 1920 x 1080). Nevertheless, today we additionally have 4K and also Ultra HD web content, as well as H. 265, AV1, and also VP9 are better for much higher resolutions.

4. Choosing a Codec to Maximise Compatibility

The rule of thumb is that the older the codec you'll make use of, the greater its compatibility with even more gadgets. If you want your videos to play almost anywhere, opt for MPEG4. It's old, outperformed by all newer options, but it's also natively sustained even by ten-year-old Televisions.

4. Choosing a Codec to Maximise Compatibility

If you only appreciate more recent tools, H. 264 can service virtually any media-playing tool released within the last five years, consisting of gaming consoles and smartphones.

We 'd recommend you skip H. 265, AV1, and VP9, because each has its very own "peculiarities" and is better supported specifically communities. VP9 is playable in most modern browsers but only by a few standalone media players.

5. Picking a Codec Centered Around Equipment Encoding

Hardware-accelerated encoding seems like magic as well as could impact your choice of codec. Still, you ought to remember that hardware-accelerated encoding serves largely for real-time usages, like streaming. That's why we have actually suggested you use GPU inscribing in our short article on just how to maximize video game streams utilizing OBS Workshop.

5. Picking a Codec Centered Around Equipment Encoding

Unlike software-based encoders like x265, hardware-accelerated encoders do not attain higher speeds totally because of a GPU's committed equipment: they also use "structured" variations of the very same formulas. Those focus on rate and compatibility over top quality.

Because of that, a hardware-encoded H. 265 documents might also have even worse quality than a software-encoded H. 264 data, even if they have the same dimension.

Therefore, you should pick the very best codec sustained by your GPU's hardware-accelerated encoder if streaming, with Intel's Arc's GPUs even supporting AV1. At the same time, you need to stay clear of using them for long-term video storage space, particularly if you prioritize high quality.

Why Your Codec Options Matter

Your option of codec is the most impactful. Still, its variables and options can likewise dramatically impact the generated outcomes.

Why Your Codec Options Matter

Picking a Codec Based on Content

Each codec dealt with the requirements of a certain time and certain media styles.

  1. Old video clips: If you have adequate storage room and deal with video clips approximately Full-HD resolutions, you can use MPEG2 with a high bitrate and take pleasure in blistering quickly encoding rates when compressing residence videos or old movies.
  2. Flicks & modern-day video clips: To preserve the Full-HD goodness of modern videos, use either H. 264 or H. 265, relying on if you prioritize encoding rate or top quality and also smaller dimensions.
  3. Cartoons & anime: For computer animated web content, AV1, complied with by H. 265 and then VP9, can maintain the crisp visuals, lines, and also contours of the majority of animations. Nonetheless, they can likewise cause "banding", an impact where smooth gradients between two shades "obtain un-smoothed" and also appear as crude areas with "colored actions". To prevent that, you can use H. 264's, H. 265's, and also AV1's 10-bit versions, which compress video with a broader color palette, via an app like Handbrake. For even better, H. 265 additionally supports 12-bit shade.

Picking a Codec Based Upon Bitrate

The "bitrate" is "the quantity of information an encoder can utilize to encode each frame". The higher this worth, the much better the output quality.

At the same time, the greater the bitrate, the larger the generated data. As well as with a high-enough bitrate, an inscribing formula likewise preserves details you wouldn't mind missing out on for more reliable encoding and smaller sized data.

With the current codecs, however, like H. 264/H.265 and also VP9/AV1, you usually will not need to manage bitrates and also deal with encoder presets/levels and (C) RF worths.

Choosing a Codec Based Upon Encoder Presets/Levels & (C) RF Values

Each encoder uses a mix of various encoding functions when compressing video. Modern encoders include presets/levels to aid with all this intricacy, where those attributes are "bundled" under a simpler selection.

Those "packages" work as a sequence of performance-to-quality degrees, allowing the user to pick the degree of formula attributes they intend to use. The more attributes used, the better the result high quality and also the smaller the produced file dimensions, yet additionally the greater the needs on sources as well as the slower the encoding.

Another vital setup with modern video codecs, the (C) RF Value works as "a top quality slider", allowing the user to modify the quality-to-size ratio of an encode.

Picking a Codec Based Upon Bitrate

So, encoding thirty minutes of Full-HD video with the AV1 (SVT) encoder in Handbrake, with a Constant Quality RF worth of 21, as well as the Encoder Preset readied to 6, may take from 10 to thirty minutes, encoding the video nearly in real-time or faster on a Ryzen 5900x. The very same video, with the exact same settings, yet the Encoder Preset set to 3, might take 3 to 6 times longer to encode, with the encoder's framework rate going down to an average of 5 to 10 FPS.

In contrast, maintaining the Encoder Preset static as well as changing only the RF value will certainly transform the last file's high quality as well as dimension yet won't considerably affect encoding rate.

Choosing an Editor/Encoder

Codecs are just valuable when you use them alongside suitable software application:

In our modern always-on globe, you can make use of on-line file and also video compressors for such tasks. Dedicated "offline" apps usually produce much better results, and you don't have to share your files with third parties.

Several of the best apps you can make use of to inscribe your videos with different codecs are:


Handbrake is just one of the most cherished video encoding remedies, and also rightfully so, since it walks the fine line in between subjecting one of the most crucial attributes while being relatively simple to utilize.


Rather helpfully, Handbrake comes with lots of premade presets, which include different use situations of the most popular codecs (like for inscribing extremely HQ 2160p 60FPS 4K content with AV1), however also lots of popular tools ( from Amazon.com's Fire tablets to Xbox consoles ).


StaxRip makes network-based inscribing easy, permitting you to utilize several Computers in your local network to go "clear" an inscribing line up much quicker than with a single computer system. It also reveals almost all vital options for codecs like H. 264 as well as H. 265.

Still, all this likewise means that it's not as very easy as options, and also you'll need to customize each encode's setups separately to attain ideal results.


It doesn't support multi-video encoding, and you can only use it for basic editing of single videos, VirtualDub is light and exceptionally fast if you need to encode or edit content using MJPEG or MPEG4.


Final Cut Pro/Vegas Pro/Davinci Resolve

Do you need to work with MPEG4, ProRes, H. 264, or H. 265 sources? To re-align scenes, add transitions, and improve your video's looks?


Do you wish to edit and transcode your video clips using commands, automate the procedure by composing sophisticated manuscripts, or perhaps create your own video modifying and compression GUI? FFMPEG can aid, serving as the engine that assists in all the cutting, pasting, and transcoding in between numerous media layouts.


A Codec for every single Job on Windows

Inscribing priceless family members video clips with a lossy, old codec and also sub-standard setups can wreck your memories past recovery, turning those moments right into a pixelated or blurry mess.

In contrast, if you want to badly lower the dimension taken by a number of old kittycat video clips that you would love to maintain however not actually look after, making use of something like MJPEG "to press them" might have the opposite outcomes as well as increase them to eat up your storage space-- all of it. How to Keep a Windows Laptop Awake With the Lid Closed.

Your option of codec depends on your needs, priorities, and also choices. Still, even if you 'd choose to stay clear of overthinking your video encoding, selecting the proper codec (as well as settings) can make or damage the process as well as lead to perfect or atrocious results.

Now, however, you recognize how to select, based on the task you wish to deal with.



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