FFmpeg and HandBrake are two of the most popular video transcoders today. But many people don't know how to choose between the two. In this regard, we provide a FFmpeg vs. HandBrake guide, in which we discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each program, their similarities and differences, their conversion speed and quality, and more. Hopefully this information helps you decide which software is best for you.

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Michelle Michelle | Updated on Jul 6, 2023
The Complete FFmpeg vs HandBrake Guide:

Part 1. FFmpeg and HandBrake Overview

FFmpeg vs HandBrake

FFmpeg and HandBrake are both excellent programs for video transcoding. They are both free and open-source and available on Windows, Mac OS, and Linux systems. In fact, HandBrake can be seen as a frontend of FFmpeg, for it uses FFmpeg’s libraries under the hood. Hence, they overlap some features, such as using MPEG-4 and MPEG-2 for fast video encoding.

Despite the many similarities, FFmpeg and HandBrake have quite some differences and serve different purposes eventually. Check the following parts for more details!

Hot Search: HandBrake VS MakeMKV

Part 2. Differences between FFmpeg and HandBrake

1. Input Format Support

FFmpeg: All popular digital video and audio formats, many image formats;

HandBrake: All popular digital video formats, Blu-Ray and DVD Video;

2. Output Format Support

FFmpeg: All popular digital video and audio formats, many image formats;

HandBrake: MP4, MKV, M4V, WebM

3. Conversion Speed

In theory, HandBrake and FFmpeg have about the same transcoding speed when using the same output settings. Yet, in reality, HandBrake would perform generally faster than FFmpeg, for Handbrake would always engage all cores for multithreading while FFmpeg usually uses a single main thread.

Nevertheless, since HandBrake re-encodes the video during every video conversion, and FFmpeg can convert videos without re-encoding (called remux), FFmpeg hence boasts a faster speed under this condition.

4. Output Video Quality

Both FFmpeg and HandBrake can output high-quality videos. But since FFmpeg can remux videos, meaning that changing the container only and leaving the video and audio data untouched, FFmpeg can preserve the original quality and hence have a better quality output than HandBrake in this situation.

HandBrake FFmpeg

5. FFmpeg Only Features

6. HandBrake Only Features

7. Ease of Use

HandBrake is, without a doubt, the easier program to handle. It is a GUI (Graphical User Interface) that has simplified all the steps for users to transcode a video. Even newbies can get the hang of it without much effort.

FFmpeg, on the other hand, is a command-line-based service that might overwhelm lots of users. It will require a steep learning curve for inexperienced users to get started.

Part 3. Which to Choose? HandBrake or FFmpeg?

From what we’ve mentioned above, you might get the idea that, though HandBrake and FFmpeg are frequently used to perform various video conversions, they are totally different tools for different purposes in the end. So which one to choose really falls on what you want to do. Here, we provide several situations to show you which software to use.

You Should Use HandBrake When:

  1. You need to transcode videos to MP4, MKV, and WebM;
  2. You need to rip your homemade DVDs and Blu-rays;
  3. You want to complete the conversion process in simple steps;

Tips: Check the HandBrake Tutorial to learn how to use HandBrake for video conversions.

You Should Use FFmpeg When:

  1. You need to convert videos to more formats;
  2. You need to convert videos without re-encoding;
  3. You are a power user who is comfortable with shell scripting;

Tips: FFmpeg MKV to MP4 | FFmpeg Resize Video

Is There a Program Even Better than HandBrake and FFmpeg?

Although both HandBrake and FFmpeg are reputed video processing tools, they do have their obvious limits. One is weak in functions, and the other is esoteric in usages. Do you ever wonder if there is an application that integrates the strengths from the two and rids of their shortcomings at the same time? You bet such software is hard to find. Yet, it does exist. WonderFox DVD Video Converter is what you are looking for!

WonderFox DVD Video Converter

It is an advanced three-in-one program that gives one-stop solutions to all your video/audio conversion, downloading, and DVD ripping issues. What matters more is that it strikes a perfect balance between usability and functionality. Anyone, regardless of their tech knowledge, can handle it hassle-free. Free download Free download it and give it a try!

WonderFox DVD Video Converter
WonderFox DVD Video Converter
Your ultimate solution to:
  • Convert any video/audio to all popular formats and devices;
  • Download videos and music from YouTube and 1000+ sites;
  • Make 1:1 digital copy from DVD with all content preserved;
  • Rip DVDs to MP4 and 300+ presets with super-fast speed;
  • Fine-tune video files with the built-in video editor;
  • Encode videos up to 50x faster with hardware acceleration;
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Compatible with Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, XP and lower Windows, 100% Clean!

Note: WonderFox DVD Video Converter is limited to personal fair use only. We do not advocate or encourage any copyright infringement activity. You shall not use it to download any copyrighted materials or to rip protected DVDs for any commercial use.


That’s all for the FFmpeg vs HandBrake competition and our alternative recommendation. If you find this article helpful, please feel free to share it with others. Thanks for reading!

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