On the Internet, I sometimes see lower resolution videos that have a larger file size than a higher resolution version.

Which of these should have a better apparent quality when displayed on a 50'' FHD TV? A 4GB 480p or a 2GB 1080p ???

  • What do you mean by heavier? A 480p is very low res. A 4GB 480p sound a poorly done encoding. I have seen excellent quality clips, 2 hours, at 1080p that took 1.5Gigs to encode, with stereo sound.
    – eLouai
    Aug 10, 2014 at 20:14

3 Answers 3


Well you CAN make rough assumptions. For a live action film a bit-rate of 3-8 Mbit/s is very advisable at 1080p. At 3Mbit/s you will very likely have noticable artifacts, thats usually an advisable bitrate for 720p video. A file at SD resolution 480p/567p that is around 4GB in size you probably deal with a DVD that wasn't trans-coded for archiving.

Which is better is hard to say though, in case of a DVD encode you probably have MPEG2 or MPEG4-v2 encoded video and with HD/Blu-ray you will very likely have h264 which is more efficent than MPEG2/MPEG4-v2/Xvid (h264 is MPEG4-v10). So a low bitrate with h264 is not as bad as a low bitrate with MPEG2/MPEG4-v2/Xvid.

Generally I would probably go with the 1080p with less bitrate if its smaller in size, just because its smaller in size and its very likely that on a 1080p monitor/TV the video will not look worse than the upscaled DVD.


There is no concrete answer to this. It depends entirely on the content of the video. Video compression effectively looks for patterns in video. If lots of patterns can be found, then high compression can be achieved with high resolution and low but rate. If the video is hard to find patterns though, then high compression results in altering the video to make patterns and this produces artifacts that distort the video.

Reducing the resolution of the file in these cases allows for fewer artifacts since less alterations need to be made to the video to find a pattern.

I'm over simplifying here with some technical inaccuracies to make it more accessible, but that is the general idea for compression. If the hd video doesn't have artifacts then the hd video is better, but the sd file is far less likely to have artifacts if similar codecs were used for both.

  • Ok. thanks for simplifying ! so as for you, is there a way to choose? for instance, with the 2 links in the other post, is there a way to know which one to download? Aug 10, 2014 at 15:54
  • 1
    No. Only looking at the files can determine which is better.
    – AJ Henderson
    Aug 10, 2014 at 15:55

That's very strange. Normally, video files with higher resolutions have a bigger file size. That is, if the videos have approximately the same duration?

If they do, the only possibly explanation are very strange bitrates, which might cause this. Even so, I would go with the 1080p file, since a high bitrate doesn't really result in better quality for 480p videos, and 1080p videos still look relatively good with low bitrates. (Also, you could literally count the pixels of the 480p video on a screen that big)

Might I ask where you got these strange video files?

  • I lost the 480p video link. But I was looking in TPB and it seems to be a special case only, in general, 1080 are heavier than 480. Tx for helping ! Aug 10, 2014 at 1:42
  • This isn't strange at all. Bit rates vary hugely based on the quality of the video, the codec used and the amount of motion and complexity in the video. It isn't at all strange to find a high quality 480p file that is much, much larger than an hd file. For example, a standard DV file (480i) is 4.7 minutes per gigabyte, meanwhile a 1080p hd download may be only 2gb for an hour long TV show. That same tv show on bluray would be more like 10 to 15gb.
    – AJ Henderson
    Aug 10, 2014 at 15:41
  • Example here : 1080p : 1.4GB --> thepiratebay.se/torrent/7883584/… 720p : 4.4GB thepiratebay.se/torrent/6782966/… Aug 10, 2014 at 15:52

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