MKV V.S. MP4: Which is Better?

MKV V.S. MP4: Which is Better?

Selena Thomas

June 01, 2021 07:50Posted by to Video, MP4

When you download videos from YouTube, websites, or other platforms, you may find the videos are always in MKV or MP4 and sometimes there are issues playing MKV videos. What's the difference between MKV and MP4? Why MKV videos not playing on the computer? Should I download videos in MP4 or MKV?

Actually, MKV and MP4 are video containers, not just like video format, and they contain video files, audio files, images, and subtitles. So their differences lie in the contained files. Read this article, and you can learn more in-depth knowledge about MKV and MP4.


Part 1: MKV V.S. MP4: A Brief Introduction to Them

1. What is MKV?

MKV is the abbreviation of Matroska, a kind of multimedia container that is free and open-standard. The video files contained in MKV are MKV format, the audio files are MKA, and the subtitles are MKS. Because MKV can contain multiple video, audio, picture, and subtitle files, it is always used to store movies, TV series, and so on.

2. What is MP4?

MP4, which is known as MPEG-4 Part 14, is the most popular and commonly-used media container. It also can contain multiple videos, audio, images, and subtitles. Because the video encoder is always H.264, so it is compatible with almost all devices including computers, mobiles, TV, and so on. Moreover, it's a good streaming video format that is easily played on chrome with HTML 5 or Flash player.

Part 2: MKV V.S. MP4: The Differences between Them

Now, you can know that the differences between MKV and MP4 are mainly the encoder of the contained videos, audios, pictures, and subtitles. You can intuitively understand the differences in various aspects from the following tablet.

Containers MKV MP4
Supported Video Encoders Almost all the video codecs, including XviD (suitable for DVD files), VP9 (high quality) MPEG, H.264/x264, H.265, HEVC
Supported Audio Encoders Almost all the audio codecs, including the FLAC with lossless compression AAC, MP3, AC3
Supported subtitle formats SRT, ASS with colors, effects, and different typefaces The text without any format
Supported Media Player Most of the main media players on the computer. All the media players, including the chrome and mobile video players
Pros Sometimes has better video and audio quality than MP4;
Support more codecs for different uses, like XviD for Blu-ray;
Multiple tracks and subtitles for different languages;
Compatible with all the devices and video players;
Easy to spread through the Internet;
Always have a small size with high quality;
Cons Better quality means larger size; Limited video and audio codec;

More tips:

1. The quality of MKV and MP4 files is depended on the codec. Because MKV container has more codec choices than MP4, so some MKV files have high quality than MP4 videos.

2. MP4 is compatible with all the devices while some MKV files even can't be played on the computer, especially some Blu-ray videos. To keep a high quality of Blu-ray videos, they are always saved in MKV files with Xvid codec, which can not be played by Microsoft Media Player.

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Part 3: MKV or MP4: Which is Better? (Common Questions)

Here are some questions about choosing MKV or MP4 when playing or saving videos.

1. Play videos (on Plex), MKV or Mp4?

Q: "I am wondering what is a better format for Plex to watch movies in 1080p and 4K. I have my files in both MP4 and MKV. I am streaming it from a Synology DS 920+. I am not sure if I should convert my MKV files to MP4 for better viewing and transcoding."

A: The movies with high resolution are more suitable for encoding with VP9, which is only supported by the MKV container. As for the playing on Plex, it accepts both of the videos and it will convert it on-the-fly if needed. Thus, you don't have to convert your videos.

But transcoding videos will occupy most of your CPU. If you have a weak CPU but want to have a smooth viewing experience, you can choose to convert MKV to MP4 through Bluraycopys Free Online Video Converter.

An easy-to-use free video converter to convert any video to MP4, MKV, AVI, MOV, 3GP, etc without downloading any software.

When you convert MKV to MP4, you can take the best video settings for Plex as a reference.

Container: MP4

Resolution: 1920x1080 or lower

Video Codec: H.264

Frame rate: 30fps

Audio Codec: AAC

2. Rip Blu-ray/DVD to which format, MKV or MP4?

Q: " I just ripped my MI:2 DVD with makeMKV and in Plex it shows it as 480p, 4.3 GB in size, 5 Mbps. My friend did the same and has an mp4 file and Plex shows it as 1080p, 1.9 GB in size, 2.2Mbps.

So while half the size the mp4 is higher resolution (and it shows with playback), smaller in size, and the sound is better (my subwoofer actually turns on). Is that just the benefit of coming from a blu-ray disc plus some handbrake to go from an MKV to smaller file size?"

A: Actually, the resolution doesn't mean the whole quality of the videos. It's just a part. Although the MP4 container provides higher resolution, the quality must be strongly compressed. Normally, you'd better rip your Blu-ray or DVD videos to MKV files because the ripper will keep the original HDR information after the compression to half size. Bluraycopys Free Blu-ray Ripper is the best choice.

It is a powerful ripper to rip Blu-ray videos to MKV, MP4, MOV, etc with high quality.

As for ripping DVD videos, you can try using Bluraycopys Free DVD Ripper.

Part 4: FAQs of MKV V.S. MP4

1. Why some MKV videos can't be played by Microsoft Media Player?

Because the decoder of Microsoft Media Player can't decode some uncommon codec, like Xvid, which always applied on Blu-ray videos. In this case, you can try using Bluraycopys Free Blu-ray Ripper.

2. Does MKV videos have higher quality than MP4 videos?

No. The quality is not related to the container. The codec of the videos affects the quality. However, since MKV files have more codecs in high quality than MP4, so most MKV videos have higher quality. Convert MP4 to MKV here.

3. Is MP4 better than MKV when playing on mobile?

Yes. MP4 is compatible with all devices including computers and portable devices. That's because the codec used in MP4 has higher compatibility.


After reading this article, you must have known more about MKV and MP4, and the differences between them. And this article has analyzed which format should be chosen according to different situations. If you have more concrete questions about choosing MKV or MP4, please leave your comment below.

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