If you are setting up your Twitch stream and keep experiencing lag or dropped frames on your stream then you may need to adjust your Bitrate in your streaming software. In this article we are going to break down what your bitrate is and what you should set your bit rate to depending on your PC and internet.

Let’s jump in and get started.

What Is Your Bitrate On Twitch?

Your bitrate is essentially the amount of data you are sending to your streaming platform per second. This is the definition that Twitch provide:

“Your ingest bitrate is the amount of data you send to Twitch when you stream. A higher bitrate takes up more of your available internet bandwidth. Increasing your bitrate can improve your video quality, but only up to a certain point– our recommended bitrate settings have been tested to optimize video quality without wasting bandwidth.

How To Determine What Bitrate You Can Handle?

The Bitrate you can handle will depend on two main factors.

  1. Your Internet Speed
  2. You PC Performance

A good PC and fast internet are key to streaming at a high bit rate. If you have a modern PC that can play Triple AAA titles, you shouldn’t have any bottle necks when it comes to increasing the bitrate. If you are on a budget build I would recommend streaming at 720p 30fps with a 3000 kbps and if that is still causing problems move down to 480p 30fps.

When it comes to your internet speed you will need a good upload speed to stream at a high bitrate. To check your internet speed you can use Speedtest.net. When you run a test

If your upload speed is over 10 Mbps then you should be fine to run at 1080p 60fps with a 6000kbps bitrate. You can check the table below to see what internet speed you need for a certain bitrate.

When you are trying to determine what bitrate your internet can handle you also need to take into account that online gaming is going to need some bandwidth as well. You should leave about a 3Mb buffer to dedicate to gaming.

This means that if you have a 10Mbps upload speed your should dedicate anymore than 7Mbps to streaming.

Other Factors To Consider When Selecting A Bitrate

When you have determined your internet speed there are two other factors that will determine how much bandwidth you need to use.

Resolution

Your resolution is the quality you are streaming in. 720p is HD and 1080p is Full HD. You will also hear people talking about 4k however it’s not really popular to stream in 4k currently.

While you might think that streaming in the highest resolution possible is the best idea, it might not be. Lots of people stream in 720p and their streams look great. Usually this is more than enough even if you have great internet and a powerful pc. Streaming at a high resolution will require more bandwidth for both you and your viewers. If you are not an affiliate or partner on Twitch they will not downscale your stream meaning that some viewers may not be able to watch (more on this later).

FPS

The FPS you can stream in will also determine your bitrate. 30fps streaming will require a lower bitrate than 60fps.

FPS stands for frames per second. The more frames per second the smoother the stream will look. If you play fast paced first person shooters like Warzone streaming in a higher fps will be better for viewers.

However if you are playing a slower paced RPG like Skyrim then streaming in 30FPS is just fine and will use less resources on your computer.

Recommended Bitrate Table

The resolution and FPS you want to stream at will determine the Bitrate that you need to stream. For example, if you want to stream at 1080p 60FPS you will need a higher bitrate than streaming at 720p FPS.

Below is a table of recommended bitrates depending on the Resolution and frame rate you want to stream in.

ResolutionFrames Per SecondRecommended Internet Upload SpeedRecommended Bitrate
1080p60 fps8+Mbps5000 – 6000 kbps
720p60 fps6+Mbps3500 – 5000 kbps
1080p30 fps6+Mbps3500 – 5000 kbps
720p30 fps4.5+Mbps2500 – 4000 kbps
480p60 fps3.5+ Mbps1500 kbps
Recommended Bit Rates For Streaming

Is PC Performance Affected By Bitrate

Yes, the higher the bitrate that you stream at, the more strain will be put on your CPU. If you have a high end gaming/streaming PC streaming at a 6000 kbps should be completely fine as long as your internet can handle it.

If you’re on a lower end PC then a higher bit rate may cause performance issues in both your stream and your game. If you are experiencing issues, it’s better to lower the resolution and bitrate to increase the performance of your stream. We put together a full article on the best settings for streaming on a low end PC.

What Is The Maximum Bitrate You Can Stream At?

The maximum bitrate on Twitch is 6000kbps. This means that there is no benefit to setting your bitrate any higher than 6000kbps in your streaming software.

The Case For Not Maximising Your Bitrate

Even if you have amazing internet and a power house PC it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should stream in 1080p 60fps and 6000kbps bitrate.

On Twitch if you are not a partner or affiliate, your viewers sometimes cannot change the quality that they watch the stream at. This means that people with poor quality internet will not be able to watch your stream as their internet cannot handle 1080p60fps.

We actually recommend streaming in 720p 30fps no matter how good your PC or internet. This gives you a reasonably high quality stream while not maximising your viewers resources. This means more views for you. If someone comes to your stream and it is lagging they are just going to leave.

Where Do I Change My Bitrate In OBS Studio?

To change your bitrate in OBS Studio follow the steps below:

  1. Open OBS Studio and navigate to the settings page
  2. Go to the output section on the left hand side
  3. Under the streaming section you will see bitrate about half way down the screen
  4. Input your bitrate and click OK to save your settings

Wrapping Up

Now you know how to choose the best bitrate for your streaming setup. In conclusion having a smooth stream that doesn’t lag is the goal. People will much rather watch that over a laggy 1080p stream. If you want great performance for you and your viewers, we recommend streaming at 720p30fps and 4000kbps bitrate.

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Author

James is a marketer by day and gamer by night. He loves sharing his Marketing background in the world of streaming. When he's not working on campaigns he's likely to be spotted in Verdansk.

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