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Stream Settings: The Basics

In a perfect world, we’d all stream 1080p video at 60fps, and have no delay or glitches. Unfortunately, this is the Internet; it’s unpredictable and imperfect. So how can you get the most out of your quality settings without adding too much buffer? Let’s take a look at what your settings do.

Contents

A word on Hardware

You can go as big or as small as you want here. Whether you are streaming directly from the Xbox, playing games and streaming from the same PC, or have a dedicated streaming PC, everyone’s setup is going to be a little different. What to buy or how to set it up is outside the scope of this document but this is an important point no matter what your setup is: Start out with the basics. Get a good feel for both your encoding software and hardware. Then evaluate whether you need to add more complexity to your setup

 
Encoding Software

When you are streaming using a PC, you will first need to choose what software you are going to use to stream. The 3 most popular options are OBS Studio, Streamlabs OBS, and XSplit. They each have their strengths, so there really isn’t a wrong choice. If you want a recommendation, we suggest starting with OBS because it is simple and free. If you feel like you need more from your streaming software, you can then explore the other options available.

If you are streaming from an Xbox One, you don't need to worry about encoding software as the functionality is built in for ease of use. See here for more information about streaming from an Xbox One

For more information about encoders, please see Stream Settings: Encoders.

 

Ideal Settings

If you’re just looking for settings to get you started, below are some common configurations. We’ll go into greater detail below, if you want to understand how to tweak them to suit your needs.

Larger resolution, okay quality

Resolution

FPS

Bitrate

Keyframe

1920x1080

30

3000

2

 

Okay resolution, higher quality

Resolution

FPS

Bitrate

Keyframe

1280x720

60

2250

2

 

Low-action, saves bandwidth

Resolution

FPS

Bitrate

Keyframe

1280x720

30

1500

2

Most video games will stream well with 720p, 30 fps, and whatever bitrate your internet can handle. If you've got a video camera on and the quality seems low, or if you're playing a high action, graphically intense game, you may want to boost that to 60fps.

If you're playing a turn-based game, or coding, or anything that won't update the image as often as a high-action game, the low action settings will give you high enough quality without eating up your CPU or bandwidth. 

 

Resolution

This is what size your video is, but of course you knew that. What you may not know, though, is that if you make use of any automatic resizing in your streaming software, you could lose quality in your stream. It may only be a little bit, but it can add up! We recommend that you keep your game window, base settings, and output resolutions as close to the same as possible.

Tips:

  • Most streamers choose either 720p or 1080p, anything else may look weird in the Mixer player. Adjust at your own risk.
    • For example: If you are using an ultrawide aspect ratio (21:9 or 32:9), if you exceed a horizontal resolution of 1920 px, certain platforms with 1080p screens may have difficulty loading the video. 
  • Streaming at 1080p increases your packet size quite a bit, so consider reducing your fps and/or bitrate, to prevent your stream from getting caught in internet traffic and causing buffer.

 

FPS

Your Frames Per Second (FPS) or Framerate is how smooth the motion is displayed. For most games, a setting of 30 fps will be just fine. However, for higher motion games like first-person shooters where running, jumping, and quick camera pans are common, an FPS setting of 60 can help keep things super crisp. Make sure to test things out with any changes and get feedback from your viewers.

Tips:

  • Keep in mind that going from 30 fps to 60 fps can be more taxing on both your computer and internet upload.
  • 60 fps likes a higher bitrate to keep the quality clean. We support up to 10000, and your computer, upload speed, and the internet traffic of the day will determine how high you can support on your side.

 

Bitrate

The bitrate setting can be a bit of a double-edged sword, and not the fun kind you swing at bad guys in games. It contributes directly to the video quality of your stream as well as how much of your upload speed your stream will use. Like with anything Internet-related, it’s not a perfect setting so you may see your actual output go up and down while you’re streaming. This is normal, so don’t freak out.

Tips:

  • Mixer supports up to 10000. It is possible to go above this, but you risk dropping your stream entirely. 
  • Your bitrate setting shouldn’t use more than 75% of your available upload. This is so you can still use other services while streaming like game servers or email.

For more information about bitrate settings, please see Stream Settings: Recommended Bitrate

 

Keyframe

Of all the settings, this one has the least flexibility yet most significant impact on your upload. To put it simply, the keyframe is how often your streaming software should update Mixer that something is different on your screen. So, if you are playing a game of Chess, a higher value like 2-3 may be sufficient because turns can sometimes take a while and Chess pieces remain relatively static. On the flipside of that coin are games like first-person shooters or fighting games. Most streamers will want to set the keyframe interval to 1 and never look back.

Tip:

  • Many streamers leave their keyframe to 0, thinking this is the smallest value. It's actually an "auto" setting, and can cause serious fluctuation in your stream quality or speed.

 

 

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