Encoding on CPU can be done via:

ffmpeg -i input.mp4 -vcodec h264 -crf 23 -acodec copy h264.mp4

GPU's alternative for the codec is h264_nvenc. How can I pass the same options to it?

I googled and came to following command:

ffmpeg -i input.mp4 -vcodec h264_nvenc -rc constqp -qp 23 -acodec copy h264_nvenc.mp4

But the file I get is much larger. And with other options quality is much worther.

PS: Same question in Russian.

3 Answers 3


CRF != CQP. The former may have variable QP but tries to maintain quality. CQP is a cruder form of rate-control.

For nvenc, use -rc vbr_hq -qmin 0 and add -cq X where X sets a quality level; range is 0-51. Smaller is better.

  • ffmpeg -i input.mp4 -vcodec h264_nvenc -vcodec h264_nvenc -cq 1 -acodec copy 25962-1.mp4 with values 0, 1 and 23 produce the same binary file having bad quality. With 51 file is 3 times smaller and quality is worther. So the parameter is not ignored.
    – Qwertiy
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 13:46
  • Edited cmd. Values below 26 will produce about the same quality.
    – Gyan
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 14:01
  • No, still bad quality.
    – Qwertiy
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 14:16
  • nvenc will not match x264 quality at the same bitrate.
    – Gyan
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 14:34

from reading:

ffmpeg -h encoder=h264_nvenc

and the nvidia nvenc examples at (https://devblogs.nvidia.com/nvidia-ffmpeg-transcoding-guide/), I've arrived at:

ffmpeg -vsync 0 -hwaccel cuvid -c:v h264_cuvid -i test_input.mp4 -c:a copy -c:v h264_nvenc -b:v 0 -cq 1 test3.mp4


-b:v 0 over-rides the default 2mbps bitrate as noted by Gyan
-cq 1 means target quality level 1 (highest)
 range of 0-51. 
 0 means automatic (in my case around 15mbps)
 1 gives about 15mbps, 26 results in around 5mbps, 51 results in 0.5mbps

If you don't specify bit rate yourself, FFmpeg will assume a default bit rate of 256 kbit\s, you have to unset it with -b:v 0.

  • 1
    The h264_nvenc encoder has a default bitrate of 2 mbps. But in any case, the cq mode does not look at bitrate.
    – Gyan
    Commented May 8, 2019 at 5:32
  • Can you show the full command, please?
    – Qwertiy
    Commented May 8, 2019 at 7:39

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