AVC vs. HEVC: What’s the Difference and is One Better?

video compression codec

AVC vs. HEVC: What’s the Difference and is One Better?

Video compression technology has advanced significantly in recent years. Videos may now be compressed to a considerably smaller file size while keeping good quality, thanks to developments in codec technology.

AVC and HEVC are two of the most widely utilized codecs nowadays. AVC, also known as H.264, has been the industry standard for a long time and has been used in most global video streaming. HEVC, or H.265 as it is sometimes referred, is a newer, more advanced codec with better compression efficiency, improved video quality, and new streaming capabilities.

It’s important to understand the pros and cons of each one to determine which codec is the best for your needs. So, what is the distinction between them, and which is superior? In this post, we’ll look at the differences between AVC and HEVC and compare their performance to help you decide which is best.

Let’s jump in!

  AVC vs. HEVC: Side-by-Side Comparison

Full NameAdvanced Video CodingHigh-Efficiency Video Coding
Year of Release20032013
Motion PredictionSpatial MedianAdvanced Motion Vector Prediction Spatial + Temporal
ResolutionUp to 4KUp to 8K
Intra Modes935
Inter Modes724
Prediction Unit16×16 to 4×464×64 to 4×4
CompatibilityWidely compatibleLimited compatibility
Popular UsesStreaming, DVD, Blu-rayUltra HD Blu-ray, online streaming, broadcast TV
Block Size16×1664×64
Color Depth8-bit10-bit
Transform Unit8×8 to 4×432×32 to 4×4

What is AVC?

MPEG-4 AVC, often known as H.264 or Advanced Video Codec, is a video compression standard launched in 2003. Since then, MPEG has become a popular format for compressing, recording, and distributing high-quality videos. The H.264 codec has become the standard for Blu-ray discs, so all Blu-ray players must be able to decode it. Moreover, AVC is the principal codec most modern video recorders (DVRs) use.

AVC compression requires a block-oriented, motion-compensation-based strategy to process video frames. Macroblocks, the fundamental units of compression, usually comprise 16×16 pixel samples, which can be broken down into transform and prediction blocks. This approach enables efficient video frame compression without sacrificing image quality.

While that may sound complicated, here’s what you need to know: the H.264 algorithm, commonly utilized by streaming internet providers such as YouTube, iTunes, and Vimeo, can significantly reduce bitrates better than earlier standards.

What is HEVC?

The most current video compression standard, High-Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), often known as H.265, was introduced in 2013 and is already gaining popularity. It has become the preferred codec for many modern video streaming services and devices. HEVC promises considerable video quality improvements at half the bandwidth of its predecessor, AVC (H.264).

The fact that HEVC can handle resolutions up to 8K UHD makes it the ideal choice for Ultra High Definition content. This new codec’s superior features include enhanced coding effectiveness, greater color resolution, enhanced spatial resolution, enhanced temporal resolution, and improved lossless encoding effectiveness. Moreover, the codec supports multiple video streams in a single file and has several scalability levels.

By offering higher-quality videos at lower bitrates, HEVC often surpasses AVC in terms of performance. This allows streaming videos over the internet at faster streaming rates and less buffering. Moreover, HEVC has been demonstrated to offer greater compression rates than AVC, making it the best choice for data storage.

AVC vs. HEVC: What’s the Difference?

Advanced Video Coding (AVC) and High-Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) are two major video coding formats for streaming video. Both formats offer efficient compression of video content, but some key differences between them could influence your choice when selecting the right encoding format for your streaming service. The video compression technology in both codecs has varying impacts on the video quality and file size.

Let’s look at the different features between AVC and HEVC so that you can make an informed decision.


HEVC is a video compression standard that significantly reduces the bandwidth and file size needed compared to its predecessor, AVC. Thanks to its strong compression ratio, HEVC effectively lowers bitrates, allowing for less bandwidth use without sacrificing video quality.

For example, to transmit a 720p 30 FPS image, AVC high profile needs 512 Kbps, whereas HEVC only needs 384 Kbps—significantly reducing the necessary capacity. HEVC is a great option for video transmission across networks with constrained bandwidth because of this improvement.


One of HEVC’s biggest benefits is that it transmits images at the same quality while requiring only around 50% of the bandwidth of AVC. This remarkable increase was made possible using various new and improved technologies to lower the bitrate.

H.264 uses integer Discrete Cosine Transform(DCT) with 4×4 and 8×8 block sizes codec to compress the video data. Contrarily, HEVC uses discrete sine, and integer discrete cosine transforms with block sizes ranging from 4×4 to 32×32. Thanks to the greater flexibility in block size choices, HEVC can better represent complicated picture patterns using less data.

In addition, HEVC increases pattern and difference-coding area sizes from 16×16 pixels to 64×64 pixels. This improvement makes it possible for HEVC to encode video footage with varied degrees of complexity more effectively, significantly lowering the needed bitrate.

The crucial advantage of HEVC is its improved block size flexibility, which supports block sizes up to 32×32. This capability enhances the encoder’s ability to represent different aspects of an image, making it better suited for high-resolution and high-fidelity video footage.

video compression codec
HVEC is better for high-resolution images and high-fidelity videos compared to AVC.


Video Quality

The bitrate is an important aspect in determining video quality. The quality of the movie will improve with a greater bitrate. Even at the same bitrate, H.265 (HEVC) encoding can produce videos of higher quality than AVC. This is so that higher-quality videos may be produced using lower bitrates due to HEVC’s greater encoding efficiency and superior compression rates. Moreover, when used at the same bitrate as AVC, HEVC can enable higher-definition videos because it needs half as much data. Therefore, consider applying HEVC encoding to raise the quality of your films.

File Size

The size of a video file is calculated by multiplying its duration times its bitrate. In comparison to AVC, HEVC transmits video at a lower bitrate. Hence, HEVC encoding allows videos to be exported in smaller file sizes.

Due to its sophisticated video compression technique, which considerably reduces the data needed to represent the video image, the HEVC codec has this unique capability. With HEVC encoding, a video can be compressed to a substantially smaller file size than AVC while maintaining the same excellent visual quality.

It’s worth noting that the decrease in file size can change based on the complexity and content of the video. An HEVC video can typically be up to three times smaller than an AVC-encoded video, saving significant bandwidth and storage space, especially when working with large video files.

AVC vs. HEVC: 5 Must-Know Facts

  • Both codecs are widely recognized as specifications for encoding and decoding video.
  • AVC is the older codec with basic specifications, while HEVC is an advanced version featuring improved capabilities and video qualities.
  • HEVC compresses video files into smaller, more easily transferrable sizes than AVC.
  • HEVC has better resolution than AVC.
  • Because of the small file sizes, HEVC only uses half the storage AVC uses, while AVC files occupy large spaces.

AVC vs. HEVC: Which One Should You Use?

The answer to which video compression codec is better depends largely on the application. AVC is utilized for broadcast and DVD standards and was created as a replacement for MPEG-2. HEVC is used for streaming applications like 4K Ultra HD TV broadcasts.

AVC and HEVC differ from one another in a few significant ways. Files compressed with HEVC require less storage space than those encoded with AVC because HEVC offers much higher compression rates than AVC. Moreover, HEVC handles high-definition footage like 4K Ultra HD video well and can handle 8K video with a few small adjustments. AVC doesn’t provide the same efficiency level as HEVC, even though you can use it on devices with less processing power than HEVC.

Ultimately, the application will determine whether to use AVC or HEVC. Although AVC may still be preferable for broadcast and DVD standards, HEVC is typically the best option for streaming and 4K content. Evaluating each application’s needs and selecting the most appropriate use for each case is the best course of action.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is HEVC better quality than AVC?

HEVC is a next-generation compression standard that improves AVC in several ways. HEVC compression is 50% more efficient than AVC compression, meaning the same video quality can be maintained at half the bitrate or doubled at the same bitrate.

What do HEVC and AVC stand for?

HEVC stands for High Efficiency Video Coding, a more advanced video codec with better capabilities. AVC stands for Advanced Video Coding, the older standard for encoding and decoding video.

Do I need to convert HEVC to AVC?

If you need to improve your video quality, you can convert HEVC to AVC. However, you need powerful software to ensure you don’t lose quality. 

Should I use HEVC or not?

HEVC is in the distribution of HDR media files or other files delivered over cellular networks. It reduces data traffic while maintaining image quality. Since all current browsers support HEVC, there is no significant advantage to using HEVC for media creators sharing files on social media.

Is the AVC video good?

Yes. AVC is one of the most extensively used video codecs today, and it is widely used in streaming, broadcasting, and live video applications. It is capable of encoding high-quality video at low bit rates and latency.

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