Comparison of Hardware Encoding in MacOS vs Windows

Recently having got my first Mac I’ve been on a voyage of discovery – not all good (see my complaints relating to MacBook Air M3 with multiple monitors).

One task I have to do semi-regularly is rip a DVD from my old collection to make it available on my Smart TV via Plex.

For years, I have used Handbrake to do this on Windows, and I knew this should be fairly transferrable to Mac.

Quality Comparison and Encoder Settings

For the test I used a DVD Rip of Shrek (I know, maybe not the best test, but it’s just what I needed at the time).

All tests were using my standard settings:

  • Video codec: H265 10 bit
  • Audio: Two channels: 5.1 surround passthrough + AC3 160kbps Stereo
  • Frame rate: Same as source
  • Dimensions: Same as source (with black bars cropped out. For DVD this means typically 576p)

The table shows the values used to achieve an output file of similar (subjective) quality using three methods:

Windows – Intel QuickSyncApple – software encoderApple – Hardware (VideoToolbox)
Quality- Constant Quality (CQ)182462
Average Frames per Second (FPS)150175830
File Size1.08GB742MB1.13GB
Time to encode (mins)12.5122


  1. The hardware encoder on the Mac felt blisteringly fast, just compare the FPS values! Encoding a 1.5 hour long DVD in 2 minutes is pretty impressive.
  2. Even the software encoding was fast enough really – the same length as what I was used to for hardware encoding on the older Intel laptop. The benefit is the significantly smaller file size for the same or arguably better quality output.
  3. The way the Constant Quality values work across the different methods is obviously different. I settled on 62 – it was as good quality as the others for a file size similar to that produced by the QuickSync encoder.
  4. I played around with CQ values ranging from 18 to 72 for VideoToolbox. In all cases the encoding time was the same at about 2 minutes, even though the resulting file size and video quality varied drastically. Don’t ask me why. But the upshot is there is no time-saving advantage in choosing a lower value.

The only thing I don’t have for comparison is a software encode from the Intel machine. I never bothered using this because it took hours and so I only ever used QuickSync. To think that in 6 years things have changed from being able to do the same thing in 12 minutes that used to take several hours is quite impressive progress.

Reference Hardware

Old New
Agec. 20182024
CPUIntel Core i5 8265UApple M3
GPUIntel UHD for 8th generation processors.
Support for Intel QuickSync
8 Cores
Support for Apple VideoToolbox via Apple Media Engine