Nvidia vs AMD: H.264 Compression Latency Comparison

Nvidia and AMD are long-time rivals for dominance in the Computer Gaming space. They both specialize in providing cutting-edge Graphics for the most demanding Games. They also play a vital role in powering your Game Streaming experience. Which one offers the lowest H.264 Compression Latency?

Parsec recently analyzed the encoding Latency between recent Nvidia and AMD GPU’s on their blog. They were hoping to find that both companies are neck-and-neck in terms of H.264 Compression Latency. The reality is that Nvidia outperforms AMD by more than 3x.

Credit Parsec Blog

Latency Matters

By nature, H.264 compression adds Latency to your Game Streaming session. Every millisecond of Latency takes something away from your Gaming experience. It can make it feel like things are “floaty” and unresponsive in your Games. It is extremely important to minimize every source of Latency.

By default, video encoding is handled by your GPU. Nvidia uses a Hardware Encoder called NVENC. The GTX 1080ti only experiences 3.99 ms of Latency with NVENC while AMD’s VCE Encoder adds 15.31 ms of Latency through their flagship RX480 card. That’s a big difference in encoding times!

Can H.265 save the day?

H.264 is a compression technology that is widely adopted in today’s world. It works by lowering the size of a file by dividing it into Macroblocks. Macrobocks can reduce an image or video into 4×4 or 16×16 block sizes. The end result is that the H.264 algorithm can substantially reduce file sizes which in turn requires lower bit rates for streaming. This is the technology that Game Streaming uses today.

H.265 takes things to a new level. H.265 creates Coding Tree Units which can process as many as 64×64 blocks. This equates to a significant further reduction in file size compared to H.264. For Gamers it means that you can stream the same content at the same quality with substantially lower bit rates.

Parsec is gearing up to enable H.265 in their Streaming App. Users with newer GPU’s and newer Client Devices will be able to take advantage of everything that this technology has to offer. So does it make a big difference for encoding on AMD and Nvidia GPU’s? It definitely does, but early testing indicates that it isn’t lessening the gap between the two companies. Nvidia still has a significant advantage with Encoding Latency.

The bottom line

This article may make it sound like you can’t have a good Game Streaming experience if you’re an AMD user. This isn’t true. There are many Gamers out there that are having a very enjoyable Streaming experience with AMD. The point of this article is that Nvidia is taking things to a new level. They represent the cutting edge of what is happening in the Game Streaming world. Things will get better as H.265 is more widely adopted. Even more Gamers will be able to take advantage of what Game Streaming has to offer.

So what do you think? What has your experience been between Nvidia and AMD? Are you having a good Game Streaming experience with AMD? Let us know in the comments!

Also published on Medium.

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