AVI vs. MP4 Comparison

What are the main differences between AVI and MP4? Read on to learn!

  • What are the AVI and MP4 formats
  • Advantages of AVI and MP4
  • Differences between formats
  • Comparing features one by one

Edited by Pat Bitton

January 19, 2021

AVI vs. MP4: Which Video Format Is the Best

You may not make any headway in the AVI vs MP4 battle without a sufficient background of these two popular video formats. The MP4 vs AVI debate continues to rage among media producers and consumers on the basis of quality, file size and formats. So, in the MP4 versus AVI debate, which one will emerge the winner?

What is AVI?

AVI stands for Audio Video Interleave file, a multimedia container developed by Microsoft in 1992. This format enjoys full compatibility with Windows-based players, and other programs with related codecs. AVI files carry both audio and video data, saved with the .avi extension.

Pros

  • High-quality audio fidelity
  • Can be used to make playable DVDs
  • Does not need special hardware or software to run
  • Supported by many codecs to achieve the desired AVI audio output format
  • Suitable for promos, short movies and ads because of its familiar format and compression capabilities
  • Best for master files since it's good at maintaining its quality over time

Cons

  • Can be quite large compared to other file formats if uncompressed, forcing you to trade disk space with quality
  • Compression beyond certain limits may lead to decline in quality
  • Does not support user interactivity
  • Not reliable for supporting softsubs because it is not possible for AVI playback to incorporate subtitles with video during playback

What is MP4?

Short for MPEG-4 Part 14, this multimedia container was developed by Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG). Most MP4 files save with .mp4 extension though some come with .m4a or m4p file extensions.

Pros

  • Works across multiple platforms, thus, easier to distribute and use
  • Can contain metadata and Extensible Meta Data Platform, including subtitles
  • Can integrate with 3D graphics and menus, and other user-navigation options
  • More versatile compared to AVI
  • Possible for a high degree of compression to produce smaller sizes suitable for streaming audio-video files on online platforms
  • Supported by many open-source media players, such as VLC, which provides complete support for MP4. It even works on Linux operating systems

Cons

  • Codec compatibility issues may result in audio drifting out of sync with video
  • Editing requires lots of computing power since both audio and video in this format are in a single file
  • Lossy format – a higher degree of compression may cause a flop in the audio and video quality of the output
  • Prone to illegal distribution of copyrighted content due to its popularity and portability

MP4 vs. AVI: Comparison

Quality

The first thing you look at when it comes to the output video is its quality. Both AVI and MP4 are video wrapper formats but AVI uses the DivX codec while MP4 works with the MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 codec. This implies that AVI has better quality compared to its MP4 counterpart. However, the quality difference between AVI and MP4 may not be quite apparent to the naked eye since both are available in HD.

Compression

Since it uses less compression to store video and audio files, AVI files occupy much more space compared to MP4 files. You can create MP4 without compression as well, but it generally takes less space compared to AVI. MP4 also uses the AAC compression algorithm for its audio, while H.264 or MPEG-4 technique applies on its video output.

File Size

When it comes to file size, AVI files are considerably larger than MP4. But you can compress AVI files to make them smaller, or convert them to other formats such as FLV or even MP4. Mp4, on the other hand, is a lossy video container occupying less space than its AVI counterpart.

If you wish to convert your AVI files to supported formats that take less space, you may consider the many media converters available online. You can download free converters, or go for premium converters for a better conversion result. You could consider Movavi Video Converter to convert your files to more than 180 output formats without loss of quality. Take advantage of the free version if you want to have a feel of its premium features before you commit to a full purchase.

Comparison Table

File typeAVIMP4
DeveloperMicrosoftMoving Picture Experts Group
ProsHigh-quality audio fidelity; can be used to make playable DVDs; does not need special hardware or software to run; supported by many codecsWorks across multiple platforms; can contain metadata and Extensible Meta Data Platform, including subtitles; can integrate with 3D graphics and menus; versatile
ConsCan be quite large if uncompressed; compression beyond certain limits may lead to decline in quality; does not support user interactivity; not reliable for supporting softsubsCodec compatibility issues may result in audio drifting out of sync with video; editing requires lots of computing power since both audio and video in this format are in a single file; lossy format
Video formats supportedH.263, VC-1, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, othersMPEG-2, MPEG-4, H.264
Audio formats supportedAAC, WMA, MP3, FLAC, AMR, othersAAC, ALAC
Supported codecsDivX, XviDMPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, H.264/AVC, H.265/HEVC, WMV/VC-1, Real Video, Theora, MVC, VP8, and VP9
Compatible devicesMicrosoft devices, Mac OS X (with extra software)Windows, Mac, Android, iPhone, iPad, etc.
Supported media playersWindows-based media playersAlmost all media players
Best forTV, master filesSocial media platforms and browsers

Does the AVI vs MP4 debate provide a clear winner? Well, AVI and MP4 have their strengths and weaknesses, and they could be a deal breaker. While AVI seems to be the better media container for quality, it uses very large file sizes, hence, may require compression to smaller file formats. MP4, on the other hand, uses smaller file sizes and works with almost all media players, but has an inferior video output quality compared to AVI. However, use AVI file format for TV production and a bit of YouTube, and MP4 for everything else.

Frequently Asked Questions

MP4 is a lossless media container since its compression has no effect on the quality of its video and audio output. However, it can also become lossy if compression goes beyond a certain degree.

Both AVI and MP4 are suitable for YouTube, but MP4 does a much better job since it can be compressed without losing its video and audio quality. AVI has a better output resolution but has to be compressed to a smaller file size, which leads to loss of quality.

  1. Try a different media player, and if the problem persists, update your Windows Media Player and be sure to tick the checkbox for AVI files.
  2. You have updated the Windows Media Player, but the AVI video still does not play? Install the K-Lite Codec pack, and it should play the files now.
  3. If the previous options don’t work, try converting your file to a widely supported format, such as MP4. But even the conversion may fail, signifying that your AVI files may be corrupt or broken. If this is the case, you may consider re-downloading the files if you had extracted them from online platforms.

If you’re looking for a reliable video converter for your AVI and MP4 files, try using Movavi Video Converter. With this app, you can change the format of your files in a matter of minutes thanks to the SuperSpeed mode. Movavi Video Converter supports all popular video and audio formats and has ready-made presets for devices.

Movavi Video Converter

The ideal way to get your media in the format you need!

  • Convert video, audio, DVDs, and image files
  • Enjoy lightning-fast conversion without quality loss
  • Improve quality, adjust sound, trim and join files before converting
  • Save video and audio clips for easy mobile access