Digital video is widely used in the mobile applications, where video compression technology is necessary to store or transmit the videos. High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) achieves the highest compression ratio while it costs huge computational complexity, in which rate-distortion (RD) cost calculation takes the majority. This paper presents a low-complexity RD estimation method for HEVC intra prediction by the following schemes. 1) The transformed coefficients rather than quantized coefficients are used to do the RD estimation. 2) For the rate part, the position after the last non-zero quantized coefficient is considered to improve the accuracy of estimation, and a header-bit estimation method is presented to save about 82% complexity on header bits calculation. 3) For the distortion part, the scaling parameter of quantization is modified to the exponential of two so that the bit depth of multiplication can be reduced from 15 to 5 in the worst case. 4) In transform unit 4×4, we consider transform skip mode which is neglect in the prior research. Our proposal could achieve 72.22% time reduction of rate-distortion optimization (RDO) compared with original HEVC Test Model while the BD-rate is only 1.76%.