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h.264 vs h.265, and why should I care?

Charlie98

Diamond Member
Nov 6, 2011
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This thread will dovetail with my GPU question (GTX950 vs GTX960) in VC&G.

I've retired the GTX560Ti 448 from the HTPC, looking to replace it with either a GTX950 or GTX960. The 950 came out way overpriced, so I've tapped the brakes on my GPU purchase... but maybe I'm missing something obvious: Does the GTX960 support the h.265 codec? I was under the impression the 950 was the only card that did that. :confused: That would make my decision easy...

Is the h.265 codec All That and a bag of chips? Really? I transcoded a few movies into h.265 using Handbrake and it really didn't reduce the size of the output file much compared to h.264. I understand it is more efficient, but I can't prove that just yet, and, to be honest, I don't really care... my i3 doesn't struggle with much and I'm not that concerned about power savings.

Can I transcode h.264 video files to h.265, or do I need to transcode from the source disk? My main 5TB storage drive just tapped 3TB of content, so if I can save some significant space by transcoding some large files to h.265, particularly BD rips, my HTPC's i3 can handle that pretty well.

Are there any hiccups with h.265 yet? Just like upgrading to W10, I'm not one to rush in to something just because it's New and Improved.

Is h.265 really going to make a difference streaming HDMI to a 1080p TV?
 

poofyhairguy

Lifer
Nov 20, 2005
14,612
315
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Does the GTX960 support the h.265 codec?
Yes. Exact same decoder as the 950. A 950 is a cut down 960.

Is the h.265 codec All That and a bag of chips? Really?
Yes, I think so. As more content moves to streaming the saved bandwidth is worth a lot. Plus it allows for 4K content at twice the size instead of four times the size.

I transcoded a few movies into h.265 using Handbrake and it really didn't reduce the size of the output file much compared to h.264. I understand it is more efficient, but I can't prove that just yet, and, to be honest, I don't really care... my i3 doesn't struggle with much and I'm not that concerned about power savings.
I am personally not interested in h265 for personal encoding, partially because I don't think the encoders are good enough yet. Also there is the problem that most devices don't have h265 decoding built in, so devices that lack CPU power (like consoles, set top boxes or mobile devices) won't be able to play the files. It is too early for home use IMHO. Also there is the whole question of IF HEVC will be the standard, unlike with h264 there is a lot of industry pushback.

But:

Is h.265 really going to make a difference streaming HDMI to a 1080p TV?
I think so, because a lot of content will start to come that way. But really for most people the codec won't matter, and the h265 streams will come from providers like Netflix on hardware like a Roku 6 with HEVC decoding built in.

If you are into scene content they you will run into a need for HEVC decoding sooner, ESPECIALLY if you are into anime. That scene always pushes codec boundaries.
 

Eug

Lifer
Mar 11, 2000
23,004
523
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Don't transcode h.264 to h.265. It's a big waste of time, and you lose quality. If you want to use h.265, and you have a good encoder, just do it for new files.

Storage is cheap.
 

Charlie98

Diamond Member
Nov 6, 2011
6,212
38
91
Don't transcode h.264 to h.265. It's a big waste of time, and you lose quality. If you want to use h.265, and you have a good encoder, just do it for new files.

Storage is cheap.
Is Handbrake's h.265 encoding decent? I have no idea how to measure whether it's good or bad.

Yes. Exact same decoder as the 950. A 950 is a cut down 960.
All this time I thought the 950 was the only one that could handle 265... :oops:

I am personally not interested in h265 for personal encoding, partially because I don't think the encoders are good enough yet. Also there is the problem that most devices don't have h265 decoding built in, so devices that lack CPU power (like consoles, set top boxes or mobile devices) won't be able to play the files. It is too early for home use IMHO. Also there is the whole question of IF HEVC will be the standard, unlike with h264 there is a lot of industry pushback.
Eug mentioned the encoders, too... interesting.

...and I wondered about streamed h.265 files... as of right now, hardly anything can play them. My biggest streaming concern is Netflix right now, but who knows what will come next.

Who and why are they fighting HEVC? What is the alternative?

If you are into scene content they you will run into a need for HEVC decoding sooner, ESPECIALLY if you are into anime. That scene always pushes codec boundaries.
I have no idea what scene is...
 

Essence_of_War

Platinum Member
Feb 21, 2013
2,650
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...and I wondered about streamed h.265 files... as of right now, hardly anything can play them. My biggest streaming concern is Netflix right now, but who knows what will come next.

Who and why are they fighting HEVC? What is the alternative?

I have no idea what scene is...
HEVC's patent pool wants A LOT of money for use of HEVC in hardware decoders:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Efficiency_Video_Coding#Patent_licensing

The alternatives are (that come to mind) Daala or VP9 both of which are completely Free and Open Source (BSD licensed). There are free and open libraries for HEVC encode/decode (x265 is either GPLv2 or proprietary licensed) so you can do it in software, but the fight will be over the hardware decoders.
 

Zodiark1593

Platinum Member
Oct 21, 2012
2,232
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Just crammed a Blu Ray rip of Guardians Of The Galaxy into a 2 GB file. There is some degredation, of course, but using the 2 pass option, quality far exceeded my expectation. Prepare to dedicate a night per movie encode though (which honestly is not bad unless you have a lot of material to encode).

As for playback, the GTX 960 does so flawlessly. I tested the file on a laptop with a 1st gen dual i5 (2.53 GHz) and it seemed to be able to brute-force low bitrate HEVC with under 30% utilization. Quality was heavily degraded compared to my desktop though. There is very little in the way of artifacts played on the desktop, but on the laptop, plenty of macroblocks. Not sure why the quality varies so much between the two systems. Perhaps software decode in MPC isn't quite there in quality, or the GTX 960 makes crap input look quite good.

I have my Cardcaptor Sakura series encoded through 1500 kbps AVC (h.264) with two pass, but the quality difference in low bitrates has me considering breaking out the blu ray set for a fresh encode.
 
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Charlie98

Diamond Member
Nov 6, 2011
6,212
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Just crammed a Blu Ray rip of Guardians Of The Galaxy into a 2 GB file. There is some degredation, of course, but using the 2 pass option, quality far exceeded my expectation. Prepare to dedicate a night per movie encode though (which honestly is not bad unless you have a lot of material to encode).
What did you use to transcode to h.265?
 

Charlie98

Diamond Member
Nov 6, 2011
6,212
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I am personally not interested in h265 for personal encoding...
Poofy, this comment keeps coming back to me, because that is largely what I'm talking about. I'm still going to upgrade the GPU, because I'm committed to that already, but hardware-wise I don't expect to change anything else. (The exception would be to add some sort of tuner card, but that's pretty far down the list.) Aside from streaming Netflix, I rip and store movies on the local HDDs.

I also don't like to waste my time. If continuing to rip to h.264 makes sense (I use MP4 files, not MKV, if that makes any difference...) vs a shaky h.265 rip, well, that's an easy pick. And it's not like I'm going to re-rip the 1000+ movies I have stored, but I will put in the time to re-rip my BDs and some of my standard DVDs, primarily the TV series' I have. I'm currently upgrading some of the media to BD rips, anyway, going forward. The advantages of h.265 in that task seem evident... but I don't want to wind up with a video library full of Betamax tapes, if you see what I mean.
 

Essence_of_War

Platinum Member
Feb 21, 2013
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I use MP4 files, not MKV, if that makes any difference...
It shouldn't. Those are just containers and as long as the container supports the underlying raw video file encoded with the codec (in this case h.264) it doesn't matter.
 

poofyhairguy

Lifer
Nov 20, 2005
14,612
315
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Poofy, this comment keeps coming back to me, because that is largely what I'm talking about.
I apologize, I didn't meant to be a thorn in your paw. I am not switching to HEVC for personal encodes yet for the following reasons:

-In my opinion the freely available HEVC encoders are not quite reference quality yet. A lot of progress has been made and I still play with it, but I hate to invest real time until everything is settled

-HEVC really kicks ass in highly bitrate-starved conditions. So if you are trying to shrink a Blu Ray down to some ridiculous sub-4GB size then HEVC will look a lot better than h264. That is why it is such a big deal to streaming services like Netflix. But if you are trying to maintain the full Blu Ray quality (and therefore you have a higher bitrate) than a lot of the advantage of HEVC goes away.

-HEVC decoders are not built into many devices yet, and when they do these devices might stick to a different profile than whatever one I make up today. I would like to see more "official" HEVC content to ape in encoding as fixed function decoders in cheap ARM devices aren't going to support everything under the sun. Just like in the early h264 days my AppleTV 1 plus Broadcom chip choked badly on encodes I made prior to getting that device. I already learned that lesson.

-Any time you re-encode ANYTHING it is worse off quality-wise than it was originally. That effect can be mitigated somewhat, but it is always a factor. Nowadays I do less and less re-encoding and more and more just dumping the disk's stream into a mkv file as is. I even stopped re-encoding my telecined 480i MPEG2 DVDs because my playback devices in 2015 can do SUCH a good job fixing up or de-interlacing the content at time of playback. Hard drives get cheaper and cheaper, as are powerful playback devices, which ended my era of re-encoding everything to save space or to optimize to my playback to my client devices.

but I don't want to wind up with a video library full of Betamax tapes, if you see what I mean.
I think the danger is slight, but it does exist. x264 got NO real competition in the first HD boom. Only VC1 came close and it wasn't very close. But big companies are putting real resources into a competitor for HEVC, so there is a chance that something else might win the 4K codec war.

More likely is that content playback becomes fragmented for a while until SoCs can decode all the competing standards. By then we should have disks full of HEVC 4K content that hopefully will be rippable, and I am planning on waiting for native HEVC content before I make a decision about which direction I will go.

Don't let me hold you back though, that is my decision. HEVC has an obvious performance advantage that will be hard to beat by any competitors. The upcoming FireTV will playback HEVC, so the devices are coming. I am just very conservative and picky about my video library.
 

Aikouka

Lifer
Nov 27, 2001
29,582
469
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All this time I thought the 950 was the only one that could handle 265... :oops:
To note, a lot of the GPUs can handle h.265. The difference is how much is handled in hardware or software. The thing about the 950 and the 960 is that they're the only two GPUs that handle h.265 solely in hardware. Although, to be fair, I believe Skylake's iGPU also does h.265 in hardware along with VP9.

-HEVC decoders are not built into many devices yet, and when they do these devices might stick to a different profile than whatever one I make up today. I would like to see more "official" HEVC content to ape in encoding as fixed function decoders in cheap ARM devices aren't going to support everything under the sun. Just like in the early h264 days my AppleTV 1 plus Broadcom chip choked badly on encodes I made prior to getting that device. I already learned that lesson.
I think it'll pick up steam once you see some of the bigger players start to push it. The two most important will probably be Netflix, Apple and maybe YouTube. Netflix and YouTube are the biggest streaming services, but the reason why I lean more toward Netflix being the bigger player is that it's mostly used on weaker devices that rely on dedicated decoding blocks. Apple is an interesting situation, because while I don't think they seem like a contender with their smaller marketshare, their huge advantage is that they control so much of the content chain. This allows them to determine when they want to make that leap to a newer codec. Unfortunately, given that the iPhone 6S and new AppleTV both don't support h.265, it looks like we'll be waiting at least another year.
 

Charlie98

Diamond Member
Nov 6, 2011
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It shouldn't. Those are just containers and as long as the container supports the underlying raw video file encoded with the codec (in this case h.264) it doesn't matter.
I thought so, but it seems like when newer tech emerges, it always seems to leave something in it's dust. I know MP4 (et al) is just a container... but stranger things have happened.

I apologize, I didn't meant to be a thorn in your paw.
Not at all... that's why I'm axing questions now... instead of when I have 200 BD rips that look like dog crap.

but I hate to invest real time until everything is settled
...then you and I think alike.

-HEVC really kicks ass in highly bitrate-starved conditions. So if you are trying to shrink a Blu Ray down to some ridiculous sub-4GB size then HEVC will look a lot better than h264. That is why it is such a big deal to streaming services like Netflix. But if you are trying to maintain the full Blu Ray quality (and therefore you have a higher bitrate) than a lot of the advantage of HEVC goes away.
That's the best argument I've seen to stick with 264 for right now, but still upgrade the GPU to a 960. That really lays it out. Storage is cheap (well, not really... I've had to go from 2TB drives, to 3TB drives, and now a 5TB drive...) I want good quality rips from my BDs, and I want to be able to stream whatever Netflix throws at me (and anyone else, eventually.)

Don't let me hold you back though, that is my decision. HEVC has an obvious performance advantage that will be hard to beat by any competitors. The upcoming FireTV will playback HEVC, so the devices are coming. I am just very conservative and picky about my video library.
I figure in 5 years, when W7/WMC's time on Earth run out, there will be something that just plugs into the side of the TV (or something already built INTO the TV) that will do what my HTPC does now... and I won't have to worry about it.

I think it'll pick up steam once you see some of the bigger players start to push it. The two most important will probably be Netflix, Apple and maybe YouTube. Netflix and YouTube are the biggest streaming services, but the reason why I lean more toward Netflix being the bigger player is that it's mostly used on weaker devices that rely on dedicated decoding blocks. Apple is an interesting situation, because while I don't think they seem like a contender with their smaller marketshare, their huge advantage is that they control so much of the content chain. This allows them to determine when they want to make that leap to a newer codec. Unfortunately, given that the iPhone 6S and new AppleTV both don't support h.265, it looks like we'll be waiting at least another year.
I can see Netflix... but not YouTube. I just don't take YT seriously, but maybe I err.

I also don't see Apple paying the kind of royalties (as mentioned in the article in Essence's post above,) rather, coming up with some sort of proprietary shortcut of their own, or going without.... or, probably better yet, finding a way to charge the customer.
 

Essence_of_War

Platinum Member
Feb 21, 2013
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I can see Netflix... but not YouTube. I just don't take YT seriously, but maybe I err.
Why would you not take them seriously?

YouTube is enormous. They are probably the top tv/video website in the entire world. They serve something like 15 billion users a month, and they bring in ~6 billion USD in ad revenue every year. If anybody has an interest in getting "the best" video codecs to serve up content, it is youtube.

I also don't see Apple paying the kind of royalties (as mentioned in the article in Essence's post above,) rather, coming up with some sort of proprietary shortcut of their own, or going without.... or, probably better yet, finding a way to charge the customer.
I don't think Apple cares which codec come out on top, but considering that they're a patent holder in both the MPEG-LA and HEVC-advance pool, and iOS devices are both ludicrously popular and ludicrously profitable, they do have some vested interest in HEVC.

Note that organizations like Mozilla, Google, and Microsoft who are NOT members of the HEVC advance pool are among the teams heading up the alternative free and open codecs.
 

Charlie98

Diamond Member
Nov 6, 2011
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Why would you not take them seriously?

YouTube is enormous. They are probably the top tv/video website in the entire world. They serve something like 15 billion users a month, and they bring in ~6 billion USD in ad revenue every year. If anybody has an interest in getting "the best" video codecs to serve up content, it is youtube.
Meh... I've always considered YT a motley collection of home videos and '15 minutes of fame' videos... and I rarely go to YT. But, as I say, maybe I'm wrong.... the economic metrics seem to prove it.
 

Essence_of_War

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Feb 21, 2013
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Meh... I've always considered YT a motley collection of home videos and '15 minutes of fame' videos... and I rarely go to YT. But, as I say, maybe I'm wrong.... the economic metrics seem to prove it.
Yeah, I certainly understand that impression, and it is certainly true that the usual power law statistics come into play (I recall seeing somewhere that something <33% of youtube's videos results in 99% of its views), so a lot of is almost literally "unwatchable". But it is huge. And it consumes an enormous amount of bandwidth. And it is a direct advertising line into several coveted marketing demographics.
 

Charlie98

Diamond Member
Nov 6, 2011
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Here's something odd...

I just reripped disk 1 of Band of Brothers off BD. My 264 rip was just over 4GB, the 265 rip, using the same settings, just changing the codec to .265... resulted in a 6.7GB file. Uhhh....

...and my GTX760 can't play it (or, perhaps more correctly, WMC can't play it.)
 

Essence_of_War

Platinum Member
Feb 21, 2013
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What are you using for the rips and what are you using for the encoding?

Have you tried playing it with VLC?
 

Charlie98

Diamond Member
Nov 6, 2011
6,212
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What are you using for the rips and what are you using for the encoding?

Have you tried playing it with VLC?
I break the disk with AnyDVD HD and Handbrake to encode to MP4.

I don't have VLC on the HTPC, I think I have it on the desktop... I'll have to play with it. I only have the 2500's iGPU in the desktop right now, though...
 

hoorah

Senior member
Dec 8, 2005
755
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I've noticed that a few torrented TV shows are showing up as H.265. One of my media center PCs seemed to stutter a bit on playback at the beginning but then smoothed out later. It didn't seem to be peaking the CPU, might have just been a corrupted encode at the beginning.

I have a fairly old GPU in that machine so it likely wasn't getting much help from the GPU. Most of my hardware on the HTPC side is aging so I'm very interested to see what the next step in 265 shakes out to be (both on the hardware side and on the industry acceptance).
 

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