The H.265/MPEG-H High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) standard provides a significant increase in coding efficiency compared to its predecessor, the H.264/MPEG-4 Advanced Video Coding (AVC) standard, which however comes at the cost of a high computational burden for a compliant encoder. Motion estimation (ME), which is a part of the inter-picture prediction process, typically consumes a high amount of computational resources, while significantly increasing the coding efficiency. In spite of the fact that both H.265/MPEG-H HEVC and H.264/MPEG-4 AVC standards allow processing motion information on a fractional sample level, the motion search algorithms based on the integer sample level remain to be an integral part of ME. In this paper, a flexible integer sample ME framework is proposed, thereby allowing to trade off significant reduction of ME computation time versus coding efficiency penalty in terms of bit rate overhead. As a result, through extensive experimentation, an integer sample ME algorithm that provides a good trade-off is derived, incorporating a combination and optimization of known predictive, pattern-based and early termination techniques. The proposed ME framework is implemented on a basis of the HEVC Test Model (HM) reference software, further being compared to the state-of-the-art fast search algorithm, which is a native part of HM. It is observed that for high resolution sequences, the integer sample ME process can be speed-up by factors varying from 3.2 to 7.6, resulting in the bit-rate overhead of 1.5% and 0.6% for Random Access (RA) and Low Delay P (LDP) configurations, respectively. In addition, the similar speed-up is observed for sequences with mainly Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI) content while trading off the bit rate overhead of up to 5.2%.