This adaptive bitrate setting is new. Whats the difference?
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The Adaptive bitrate presets have been around for several years and will generally provide you a higher quality file since they take the source resolution and frame rate into account. Both sets of presets use variable bitrate (VBR) encoding, but the non-adaptive presets will encode at the same bitrate no matter what the source file is. The Adaptive presets will choose a higher bitrate if you are trying to encode, say, a UHD video vs. an HD video. Give it a try and you'll see what I mean!
SO WHICH ONE IS BETTER AND WHICH ONE IS FASTER?????
The adaptive presets are the more modern ones. As I said above, Medium bit rate will be the same regardless of what your original source is and the adaptive preset will pick a bit rate it thinks is appropriate based on your source file. As for speed, just do some tests to see.
From my testing Adaptive is much fastrer, but I've no idea why!
How much faster Adaptive is could give you a clue. If it's significantly faster then I'd guess it's using Hardware Encoding under the Video tab, which will use GPU acceleration to encode. You could compare the two presets to see if the old one uses Software Encoding, although they both should be using Hardware encoding if your machine supports it.
If one is slightly faster then it might depend on the video content. Perhaps Adaptive is using a lower bit rate than the fixed value of the regular Medium preset. A lower bit rate is going to encode more quickly because you're throwing away more data. Remember, the Medium Bit Rate is set to a fixed value of 3 Mbps, so if the Adaptive preset one feels your video could use a lower bit rate, it will likely encode faster.
I just did two tests on the same video:
Adaptive Medium Bitrate picked 3.3 Mbps: 33 seconds to encode
Medium Bitrate is set to 3 Mbps always: 30 seconds to encode
These were very similar times and bit rates so I switched to the High Bitrate presets.
Adaptive High Bitrate still picked 3.3 Mbps: 33 seconds to encode (because the preset didn't feel my video needed a higher bitrate).
High Bitrate that I then manually chnaged to 50Mbps: 56 seconds to encode
So as you can see, it depends on the video content and your settings.