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Home > Media Converter > HEVC Codec

By Jordi D. Rodríguez - Contact Author

HEVC Codec: Definition, Download, HEVC vs H264, Solve H265 Video Won't Play on Windows 10/VLC

This is a comprehensive page for HEVC codec, including background information about HEVC definition, HEVC codec download, relationship between HEVC codec and 4K, difference among HEVC, H.265 and x265, and the like.

This page also help you solve problems related to HEVC codec, such as 4K HEVC videos won't play on Windows 10, HEVC/H.265 choppy playback on VLC, HEVC codec missing in Premiere Pro, etc. We believe such a step-by-step troubleshooting page is necessary because the seemingly surefire recipe - downloading HEVC codec pack works for some people, while converting HEVC to H264 is the go to solution for still other people.

HEVC codec troubleshoot page
HEVC codec download / troubleshoot

Part 1 - Basic Info about H.265/HEVC Codec

What is HEVC codec?

  1. HEVC is an abbreviation of High Efficiency Video Coding.
  2. HEVC codec is best known for high coding efficiency.
  3. HEVC is a type of codec format used for video encoding. The same kind of thing you may be familiar with: MPEG-2, H.263, RealVideo, VP8, etc. HEVC encoded video streams then can be wrapped up in video containers like MP4 or MKV with audio streams, subtitles, etc for playback, streaming or editing.

Where and how to download HEVC/H.265 codec?

  1. You can free download HEVC Video Extension free from Microsoft Store.
  2. Or search online and there are various codec packs for you to download, such as K-Lite Codec Pack for HEVC, Media Player Codec Pack Plus (free), Windows 10 Codec Pack (free), x265 Encoder, etc.

Is HEVC codec good quality?

Yes. At the same quality, HEVC saves around 50% of your space. At the same file size, HEVC delivers much higher image quality than H.264.

HEVC video quality

Is HEVC the same as H.265?

Yes. HEVC and H.265 are the same thing, named by different groups, just like AVC and H.264.

Is HEVC better than H.264?

  1. HEVC codec is the successor to H.264. Roughly speaking, HEVC is an updated version of H.264.
  2. As of now, H.264 is more widely acceptable than HEVC. HEVC video won't play error happens from time to time.
  3. Videos encoded in HEVC/H.265 from 480p to 2160p are only half the size of those in AVC/H.264 or so, because of the 35.4% to 64% average bit rate reduction, better still, with comparable quality. No wonder UHD 4K/large videos prefer HEVC codec now.

What's the Difference between HEVC and x265

HEVC is video coding standard while x265 is free and open-source software library. x264 and x265 are developed by VideoLAN (VLC) for video encoding. Both provide API that is used by video transcoders like FFmpeg and HandBrake, as well as free video editors like OpenShot and Avidemux.

Video Coding Standard

Developer

Video Compressor Software

Developer

HEVC, aka H.265

ISO/IEC MPEG, ITU-T VCEG

x265

VideoLAN

AVC, aka H.264

ISO/IEC MPEG, ITU-T VCEG

x264

VideoLAN

VP8 / VP9 [1]

Google

-

-

AV1 [2]

Alliance for Open Media

-

-

Part 2 - HEVC Video Won't Play on Windows 10

Can Windows 10 play HEVC?

It depends. HEVC was natively supported when Windows 10 was released. But later Microsoft dropped the support since a certain Build, leading to HEVC playback error. Windows Media Player won't play HEVC on Windows 10, giving you the message
"Network is too busy to play file at original quality".

While in Movies&TV app, play HEVC codec video and a window pops up saying
"Missing codec. This item was encoded in a format that's not supported. 0xc00d5212."

HEVC won't play on Windows 10
HEVC not playing on Windows 10

How to solve HEVC not playing on Windows 10?

Analysis: Apparently, the HEVC video playback error is caused by missing codec.
Solution: Download HEVC codec pack
Download link: HEVC Video Extension by Microsoft

* This HEVC Video Extension requires system Windows 10 version 17763.0 or higher.

* Make sure you click the download link above so that you can go to the page of FREE HEVC video extension. There is also a $0.99 version, which is exactly the same as the free. Note that the free HEVC video extension is unsearchable in the App store.

Download HEVC video extension Windows 10
HEVC video extension Windows 10

How to download HEVC video extension Windows 10?

  1. Click the HEVC codec download link to open the page in Microsoft store.
  2. Press button "Get" to install HEVC video extension for Windows 10.
  3. Once it was done, you should be able to play any HEVC video with Windows Media Player and Movies & TV app.

Part 3 - HEVC Video Playback Error in VLC

Does VLC support HEVC codec?

Releases history in VideoLAN tells us that "2.1.2 allows experimental decoding of HEVC and Webm/VP9", however, my VLC 3.0.7.1 still plays HEVC video with small jumps and artifacts, and sometimes totally freezes.

HEVC choppy playback in VLC
HEVC choppy playback in VLC

How can I play HEVC/H.265 with VLC?

Try our following troubleshooting steps one by one:

1. Update VLC. Sometimes simply updating your player software and restarting your computer would solve the problem. In my case, installing the latest VLC 3.0.8 Vetinari didn't work. VLC still plays HEVC with glitches and blocks.

2. Check HEVC plugin. VLC does support HEVC codec and there should be HEVC related modules installed by default. Check by: Open VLC player -> Tools -> Plugins and extensions -> Plugins -> Search: HEVC.

• If there is no result, simply installing the latest version of VLC would work.

• If you do have those three plugins - HEVC/H.265 video demuxer, H.265/HEVC encoder (x265) and HEVC/H.265 video packetizer, then downloading other HEVC codec pack, like say K-Lite codec pack, won't solve your VLC HEVC playback error.

• Why does HEVC Video Extension not work for VLC? It is a unique HEVC decoding algorithm created by Microsoft for using in Windows 10 default media players only. Once installed, Windows 10 players can apply HEVC hardware decoding whether there is HEVC decoder or not, making it even smooth on low-spec engines. And only HEVC codec packs with DirectShow API can be used by all other media players.

HEVC plugin in VLC
VLC HEVC plugins

3. Keyframe problem. Here is the way to test: pause the video and drag the timeline. If your HEVC video still can't play correctly, then VLC doesn't show correct frame after seeking.

4. Improve decoding ability. If I'm not mistaken, HEVC playback in VLC or any other player software requires that your CPU can natively decode it. The thing is, most HEVC videos are in 4K resolution. To process such large amount of data smoothly, hardware support is essential. That's why VLC can play HEVC video but can't decode HEVC very well, if your computer is not good enough.

Final solutions for VLC HEVC playback error:
1. Buy a better computer, which has CPU or GPU natively supporting HEVC.
2. Or convert HEVC/H.265 to H.264 with a decent video file converter.

Part 4: Convert H.265/HEVC to H.264

If your computer doesn't support HEVC and you don't have a plan to updat it, video transcoding might be a good and obviously cheaper (maybe free) way to go. Also it is a method officially recommended by GoPro.

To free convert HEVC/H.265 to H.264, both HandBrake and Avidemux are good options. But since HEVC codec is always related to 4K UHD, hardware accelerated video encoding/decoding ability should be considered, for faster processing. Try VideoProc for 4K HEVC to H.264 conversion, which supports full GPU acceleration powered by Intel, Nvidia and AMD, providing up to 47x real-time conversion speed.

Free Download VideoProc to Fast Convert HEVC to H.264!


How to convert 4K HEVC to H.264?

Step 1: Open VideoProc and click into "VideoProc - Video" center.

Step 2: Click +Video to load your HEVC video.

Step 3: Choose 4K h.264 in the Target Format section, enable the Hardware Acceleration Engine and RUN.

Tip: How do you know if your computer supports hardware acceleration or not? Find Hardware Acceleration Engine right under the preview window in VideoProc, click Option and then Recheck. You will get all the hardware information later.

Check hardware information
Check hardware information

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jordi D. Rodríguez

Jordi was an amateur tech enthusiast, but now an editor who has published hundreds of stories covering video editing, hardware acceleration, software review and how-tos. He is more like a "tech support" with adventurous soul, eagerly grabbing cutting-edge video technologies off in a professional yet easy-to-understand way. Enjoys gliding, diving, etc.

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