Youtube typically uses for 1080p videos H.264 and VP9.

In theory VP9 was expected to be a successor to H.264 but frankly it failed to live to the expectations especially in videos which aren't starved for bitrate. Additionally mature encoders like x264 didn't help the VP9 cause.

I want do download some videos from youtube but I'm talking about more than one. Those videos are available in both VP9 and H.264. So obviously I don't want to download two videos from youtube (one H.264, one VP9) and then compare the quality of those two.

Can I make some assumptions which will be good for most videos? Can I assume than at a intermediate resolution (1080p) both should be equal or should assume that the VP9 should be superior in terms of image quality?

1 Answer 1


Considering that YouTube will only encode popular videos in VP9 (with a very loose definition of "popular") and keep all those holiday travel videos in h.264, and only offers 4K in VP9, I'd say YouTube thinks that VP9 has storage, bandwidth and/or quality advantages over h.264.

So VP9 probably is the better choice, usually.

Also, just for the record: Note that downloading videos is a violation of YouTube's TOS.

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