If you’re new to streaming, it’s really quite easy to get overwhelmed. You probably want your stream to look and feel as good as possible so you can find and keep viewers and start building your community.
Improving your stream quality isn’t complicated — you just need a good enough setup, a little extra work, and some perseverance. Taking your time to put your setup together and test it before you call it done is an excellent way to make sure your viewers have a good experience on your channel.
However, as you’re trying to figure out all of the different ways to improve your stream, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. You may find yourself getting inundated with all sorts of questions, including “does your monitor affect streaming quality?“
The quick answer is: yes and no. Let’s explore why below.
Does Your Monitor Quality Affect Your Stream’s Quality?
No, it does not. How good your monitor is won’t really matter. Even if you’re using a second-hand $100 monitor, your stream will look just as good, because your stream’s quality depends on a bunch of other factors completely unrelated to your monitor.
OBS won’t pick up the color accuracy of your display. Your screen could be as off the mark as possible and the colors will still display perfectly to your viewers. You could also have a 60Hz monitor with 5ms response time and your viewers really won’t be able to tell either — though maybe you can.
Your stream’s quality depends largely on a few factors, with the most important ones being your CPU, your GPU, and your internet connection. If you’ve got a solid set of these three, you can stream in high quality to your heart’s content.
With that said, when does your monitor affect your stream’s quality?
Aspect Ratio Matters
The biggest way that your monitor can affect your stream is when it comes to aspect ratio.
An image’s aspect ratio is essentially the ratio of its width and height. It’s expressed just like any other ratio, with two numbers and a colon in the middle. You’ve probably already seen various examples of aspect ratios before. The most common monitor aspect ratio right now is 16:9.
Why is this important to know?
Twitch has its default aspect ratio set to 16:9. So does YouTube and a bunch of other media platforms. So when you go to any stream and explore transcoding options, you have 1080p, 720p, 480p, 360p, and so on. Every single one of these settings are in 16:9.
Although your viewers can’t see your monitor’s color accuracy or response time, what they can see is your aspect ratio. So if you’re using a monitor that isn’t a standard 16:9 aspect ratio, such as an ultrawide monitor or even a 4:3 monitor, it’s going to look really weird on Twitch.
Imagine you were watching a movie on Netflix. Some movies are able to take up the entire screen with no black bars on the top and bottom. However, if the movies are wider in aspect ratio, that’s when you get the black bars to fill the space.
When you’re streaming with an ultrawide monitor, you too will get the black bars at the top and the bottom of your screen if your game is not set at 16:9. Even worse, if you’re streaming with a 4:3 monitor, you’ll get black bars on the left and right side of your stream.
This may not seem like such a big deal — and maybe to some people it’s not — but the truth is… it kind of is.
A big percentage of viewers on Twitch watch their favorite streamers on mobile. This article states that in 2022, that percentage may be as high as 35%.
Not having your stream in the correct aspect ratio makes what these mobile viewers see even smaller. And when screen real estate on a tiny mobile display matters, why would you shrink your game even smaller and make it even harder for viewers to follow?
This aspect ratio issue is essentially why many streamers with ultrawide main monitors end up streaming with their games in Windowed Mode. Doing this allows them to still capture their game in 16:9. This solution will also work for any other aspect ratio monitor — as long as your windowed game is in 16:9!
Note that there are other solutions to this problem, such as specialized software or other workarounds. If you have a non-16:9 monitor, it’s up to you to find the best solution for your situation.
Having One vs. Two Monitors (or More)
Another way your monitor may affect your streaming quality is if you’ve got one monitor instead of two or more.
Although you can absolutely get by with just one monitor, it may affect your ability to engage better with your viewers. The result may be that you might have a hard time creating a more welcoming environment where your viewers feel like they should stick around.
Having a minimum of two monitors is often the streamer “standard,” as your main monitor can be for your game while your second monitor can be dedicated to your streamer dashboard, OBS, chat, and any other tools you use during your stream.
If you don’t quite have the budget to get a second monitor just yet, you can definitely get by with just one. You can just monitor your chat on your phone or tablet (though it may be worth noting that sometimes this method can lag out or you can get disconnected from your chat — so always check!). There may also be other ways to see your chat, such as overlays that can go over your game (but you will need software for this).
There are a ton of factors that can really affect the way your stream looks and feels to your viewer. However, your monitor isn’t truly one of them. The only thing you’ll really have to worry about when it comes to your display is its aspect ratio, because the default ratio for a great majority of streaming and media platforms is 16:9.
Of course, you may find that a less than stellar monitor can affect your gameplay and make you feel a bit more stressed during competitive games, and sometimes your viewers can sense this stress. If you really feel you need a monitor upgrade, you might want to make that your first sub or donation goal!
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