In my opinion, XviD is the greatest overall, and most balanced video codec. It's the open and more refined version of DivX. Both are MPEG-4 based, but because XviD is open, a lot of different developers have tried to perfect it. This has resulted in some great block smoothing advances in XviD which DivX lacks.
For people on PowerPC hardware (even as low as a G3 350MHz), XviD gives you the ability to have a respectable playback system with stock 13-14 year old hardware. Something h.264 could never dream of. DivX gives the same CPU efficient results as XviD but lacks some of the clarity.
I used DivX a lot myself in Handbrake for years, until I really took the time to see the visual advantages of XviD. XviD in Handbrake 0.9.3 with a 1500+ kbps bitrate, and a 2-pass encode, can compete with h.264 of similar size. The 1500kbps and 2-pass encode are key to that.
DivX in Handbrake is called FFmpeg, aka DX50, aka DivX 5. Handbrake still retained FFmpeg in versions past 0.9.3, but dropped XviD and .avi wrapper support. For these reasons, Handbrake 0.9.3 is the best overall version because every version after it is more limited. I covered the same point in part 3 of the Video on PowerPC series.
A lot of the video industry has turned its back on XviD, but for us PowerPC users it's our best friend. XviD makes 720p HD playable on a G4 under 1.0GHz. Although I typically rip 400p XviD so that it will also play well on my slowest 400MHz CPU if ever needed. 400p XviD at 1500-2000kb in a 2-pass encode can compete with 480p h.264 for quality/clarity.
The main things that increase CPU use (after the codec of course) are resolution and framerate. Bitrates under 3000kbps all use about the same amount of juice. This is the key to making a low resolution look better than it is. Keep the framerate at or under 30fps for best results on PowerPC hardware. DVD are typically 24fps, but most video is 25-30. If you rip something where the original is over 30fps, be sure to set your rip to 29.97 for best playback results.
Handbrake 0.9.3 needs Leopard, but if on Tiger then use 0.9.1. Again, any version past 0.9.3 doesn't have XviD support.
Even those running modern Macs or any newer hardware can benefit from XviD. XviD only consumes 1/2 to 1/3 of the CPU resources vs h.264 of the same resolution. That means energy savings in your home for desktops, and longer battery life for portables vs. h.264. Handbrake 0.9.3 runs perfectly on 10.6/10.7/10.8, but the version I link to below is PowerPC only.
The lesser appealing XviD is the mainstream stuff. Most is only ripped around 1000kbps which is the main reason most who dislike XviD do, whether they realize that or not. Once you get under 1300kbps it looks like a lesser codec. Higher bitrates do equal bigger file sizes, but that is why I have almost 12TB of storage. Storage is infinite, CPU resources and energy aren't.
You could even say that XviD is a green alternative to h.264.
MP3 audio is typically best with XviD, but you can experiment with AC3 and AAC also if you desire. 128kbps for heavy dialogue, 256kbps for content with a lot of music.
Remember, 1500kbps+ and 2-pass = perfection!
Download Handbrake 0.9.3 for Leopard
Download Handbrake 0.9.1 for Tiger
This is how I would summarize the 3 codecs found in Handbrake 0.9.3 and 0.9.1:
DivX - rips fastest, efficient playback, looks the worst of the 3
h.264 - rips slowest, inefficient playback, quality only slightly better than HQ XviD
XviD - rips about 30% slower than DivX, efficient playback, quality only slightly lower than h.264, best of both worlds
Published on Sunday, December 22, 2013