Cracking the Code of x264 Presets

Like most compression geeks, I’m a big fan of the x264 codec, which is widely considered the highest quality H.264 codec, winning the prestigious University of Moscow codec shootout year after year. Though the codec has a comprehensive range of configuration options, I recommend that most users simply choose a preset and let it go at that-no tinkering required (as shown in Figure 1, I usually use the slower preset and no tuning). But I’ve always wondered how each preset is configured, though never enough to actually search for this information.

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Figure 1. Presets and tuning options from Sorenson Squeeze.

Well, this morning, the info fell into my lap when I was playing around with the Handbrake encoder. You can find complete descriptions of the configurations used for each preset and tuning option here. If you’ve ever had similar questions about how each preset and tuning option are configured, now you can find the answers. Enjoy!

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Figure 2. Here are the options used in the ultrafast preset (which I never use, but made for the best screenshot).

About Jan Ozer

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I help companies train new technical hires in streaming media-related positions; I also help companies optimize their codec selections and encoding stacks, and evaluate new encoders and codecs.

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