(See the QuickSync H.264 Encoding Performance and Quality Test article for a speed and quality analysis and comparison to x264, and the new Haswell Lookahead Addendum for new information about the new Lookahead rate control method.)

Introduction

Welcome to the q264™ encoder home page. q264 is a Windows command-line program that uses Intel® Quick Sync Video hardware to encode video using the H.264 (AVC) encoding algorithm.

The latest version is 0.5.0. See the Download section below to download the installer. Please send feedback and questions to ryan@TetrachromeSoftware.com

Here are the 0.5.0 release notes:

Changes in 0.5.0:
-------------------
- Upgrade to Media SDK in INDE 2015 Update 2.1 (API version 1.16).
- Upgrade to Visual Studio 2015 runtime.
- Stop including Media SDK software dll (libmfxsw32.dll) due to apparent bug in loader.
- Upgrade libav* libraries. This may be a breaking change as the new versions are only compatible with AviSynth 2.6.0 or newer.
- Improve error message for .avs load failure.
				

q264.exe displays the release notes in response to the -rel argument. You can see the full release notes here.

Note that your use of the H.264 encoding algorithm may be subject to licensing concerns. See the MPEG-LA site for more information.

Neither Tetrachrome Software LLC nor this project are affiliated with Intel® Corporation.

Features

The following are primary features of q264:

  • Very fast H.264 encoding using Intel® Quick Sync hardware.
  • Relatively low CPU load during encoding.
  • Reads .avi, .avs (avisynth.org), raw NV12 and YV12 files, .m2v, .mkv, .mp4, .m2ts, and many more formats.
  • Supports the following input color formats: RGB24 (RGB3), RGB32 (RGB4), NV12, YV12, I420, YUY2, and YUV422P.
  • Lets you control the low level Quick Sync parameters for flexible encoding.

This uses the FFmpeg libraries (libavformat, libavcodec, etc) under the LGPLv2.1 to read non-raw input files. FFmpeg supports a very large number of input file formats, and relatively few have been tested in q264, so they may or may not work. See ffmpeg.org for more information about the FFmpeg project.

Platform Requirements

q264 is a command line program built with the Intel® Media SDK to use the special Quick Sync hardware built into newer Intel® CPUs. Only 2nd and later generation Intel® Core architecture microprocessors (Sandy Bridge, Ivy Bridge, and Haswell) have this capability. See the Wikipedia article and the Intel® web site for more information.

This has only been tested on Windows 7 and 8 64-bit so far, but has some chance of working on Vista as well. Please let me know if it does or doesn't work on other versions of Windows.

If you are looking for a command-line encoder that does not require Intel® Quick Sync hardware, then you may want to take a look at x264.

Usage

Here is part of the usage that q264.exe displays:

Usage: q264.exe [options] -i inputFile -o outputFile
q264 Version 0.5.0 Built: Dec 11 2015 21:02:06 
Path: C:\Program Files (x86)\q264\q264.exe 
Copyright (C) 2012-2015 Tetrachrome Software LLC 
libav* versions: libavcodec: 57.15.100, libavformat: 57.18.100, libavutil: 55.8.100, libavfilter: 6.15.100
This is an H.264 video encoder that uses Intel Quick Sync Video hardware available on recent Intel CPUs (Sandy Bridge and newer). The tested input file types are .avi, .avs, raw (NV12, YV12, or I420/YUV420P/IYUV), .m2v, .mkv, .m2ts, and .mp4 but more probably work due to libav* libraries. The output file is generally a raw H.264 file, but can also be an mp4 file (see muxing below)
...
   

There is much more, you can see the full help here.

FAQ

This will contain frequently asked questions and their answers.

1) When running from Windows PowerShell, q264.exe fails silently. What is going on?

q264.exe requires several DLLs that are installed with it. If the required DLL's are not in the path, the command fails silently when run from PowerShell. Try running from cmd.exe, because in that case when it can't find a DLL it pops a dialog with the DLL name so you can see what's going on. The installer modifies the path to include the directory in which q264.exe is installed, and that is where the required DLL's should be.

2) How does this compare to x264?

x264 is awesome. But due to Quick Sync hardware q264 is faster and on the newest generation Intel CPUs (Haswell) it approaches x264's quality.

Download

See the EULA that is included in the installer for the official disclaimer of warranty.

Version Release Date Link MD5
0.5.0 December 12, 2015 q264-setup-0.5.0.exe FFB43AC76508D7D656345A612C91F28F
0.4.4 April 29, 2015 q264-setup-0.4.4.exe D6174AC70512A130C4736114F70D7511
0.4.3 April 20, 2015 q264-setup-0.4.3.exe 37FED9876FDBC6265DE60E7C70031E64
0.4.2 March 5, 2015 q264-setup-0.4.2.exe D6048EE6227931AD0F69002AE8781907
0.4.1 March 3, 2015 q264-setup-0.4.1.exe E60FE19137EF70AAF118C5428254B476
0.4.0 February 4, 2015 q264-setup-0.4.0.exe D640829729E0D6A37CE584630E429DF3
0.3.9 (beta) Sept 22, 2014 q264-setup-0.3.9.exe 97CEBAA88C967C63C6CE08E88351138A
0.3.8 (beta) April 14, 2014 q264-setup-0.3.8.exe F6B01EAF37C29210F3B8BD3C8A8FDFE5
0.3.7 (beta) January 28, 2014 q264-setup-0.3.7.exe 6CCD0F557BED164F631E5C857AEE37D4
0.3.6 (beta) January 24, 2014 q264-setup-0.3.6.exe C9EDF3070A135E6F1F1843F338B99DED
0.3.5 (beta) January 1, 2014 q264-setup-0.3.5.exe CB7202788C8F891C4B04CDDBD50A8E26
0.3.4 (beta) October 27, 2013 q264-setup-0.3.4.exe 3652349729DF1DF40E9510208D22D372
0.3.3 (beta) September 20, 2013 q264-setup-0.3.3.exe 6D71C0F5D811AC8CCBEC049056C449C0
0.3.2 (beta) August 25, 2013 q264-setup-0.3.2.exe 6544FA7E060AC69F89903A579A189008
0.3.1 (beta) August 23, 2013 q264-setup-0.3.1.exe 15EAF663D4464DCB6AD6A2C9630D2722
0.3.0 (beta) August 5, 2013 q264-setup-0.3.0.exe D4DE0BBD221396BC599B5A60325ECDBA

Currently Windows 8 SmartScreen blocks the q264 installation due to the fact that not many people have installed q264 yet. Windows 8 shows a SmartScreen dialog that indicates that the installation has been blocked, and unfortunately by default it does not show you the option to proceed with the installation. You have to select the details button to see the option to allow the installation to continue. There is no malware in this installer and you can check it with various web-based virus scanners like the one linked below.

As a new program, there is the possibility that virus detection strategies (in addition to SmartScreen) that rely on a history of successful uses may be triggered, despite there being no malware in q264. There are free services such as VirSCAN.org that you can use to scan files for malware.