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I am wondering if I get a better graphics card could it speed up h264 encoding on my machine using handbrake?

If so how can I tell what graphics card will support this?

I am aware that the GPU can do hardware decoding of h264, but am not sure about encoding.

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Related: Accelerated Video Compression – in any way, you want to have an NVIDIA card for this and be willing to spend money. –  slhck Oct 3 '11 at 21:01
    
Another related blog post: Encode Your Videos Using Your GPU –  slhck Oct 3 '11 at 21:18
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2 Answers

Using Handbrake the answer would be no. Handbrake is a CPU-only h.264 encoder, though it now is able to use OpenCL for video scaling and has some support for DXVA for video decoding.

The question linked by slhck mentions MediaCoder, but it requires either an Nvidia graphics card or an Intel CPU with a 2nd generation graphics core.

There are a couple of older products that have been obsoleted, specifically Badaboom and the ATi Avivo software.

Badaboom which could use Nvidia and Intel graphics processors to speed up the encoding process but it is now end-of-life and does not support newer graphics cards.

ATi had their own video encoder that used to be called "Avivo" before being merged into the AMD Codec Package which included the AMD Video Converter though it is no longer available.

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So I am using an AMD CPU at the moment, does that mean this is a waste of time for me? Can it be any NVIDIA card - oh so it has to support CUDA? –  peter Oct 3 '11 at 21:09
    
I found this link, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CUDA which suggests that quite a lot of NVIDIA cards support CUDA. –  peter Oct 3 '11 at 21:12
    
I've updated my answer with a link to the AMD software package that may help you use the GPU to encode video, but it requires a HD2000 series card or better. If you have a particularly powerful CPU but a budget graphics card then Handbrake may still be faster. –  Mokubai Oct 3 '11 at 21:50
    
Badaboom is being end-of-lifed as of 4/18/2012. –  HVS Jun 16 '12 at 12:06
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The answer above is not/no-longer correct. –  totaam Sep 4 '13 at 10:04
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x264 now supports OpenCL encoding acceleration. How much acceleration you get will depend on your graphics card's performance, on my GTS 450 I get none and with slower cards it actually slows down encoding. Better cards may help. All you need to do is add --opencl to the x264 command line. I believe handbrake makes use of the same x264 libraries and does offer the same OpenCL acceleration in newer builds.

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