It happens to the best of us. You’ll be streaming, everything will be going fine. Then, a little red message pops in the bottom of your OBS screen, reading encoding problems. Your stream starts to lag and your quality is hurt. Don’t worry. You’re beautiful gaming PC isn’t to blame. OBS uses the best video encoding library right now (x264) so it produces the highest quality product possible. The settings are off and need to be adjusted for optimal performance! Let’s get into the main reasons why you could be getting these problems!
Downscaling: Not a bad thing
Don’t view Downscaling as something that can be bad. Resolution has the highest impact on your CPU usage and can cause your CPU to really heat up during tough sessions. The higher the resolution, the higher number of pixels that your CPU has to encode to output the video. This will cause stuttering and freezing in your stream, which is something that you do not want! Go into Settings –> Video –> Resolution Downscale to set how much of a Downscale you want.
It’s best to play around with this setting to see how high you can really set it before you start to get the encoding message. Do a “Preview Stream” and keep changing the settings on this until you don’t see the message again. Try to run around in the most graphical intense game that you own while you test this so you know your limits.
FPS: Higher isn’t always better
I know that I’m going to get grief on this but heed my words before you start to post about this. Yes, a higher Frames-per-second (FPS) is always an awesome thing. The human eye of a fighter jet pilot can actually process 1000 frames per second, which is absolutely amazing. You, on the other hand, will most likely not be streaming to a viewer base of fighter jet pilots. You will be streaming to casual gamers, hardcore gamers, and everyone in between. Having a PC that can put out 60+ FPS while streaming and playing the game is optimal but not necessary to make your stream successful, especially in the beginning stages of your streaming career. Do yourself a favor here: If you are struggling with producing 40+ FPS, lower the setting to 30. Yes, I said 30. Why? It will allow your CPU to take a load without over working itself and it will produce a decent quality stream without freezing or stuttering. I feel I speak for everyone when I state that I prefer to watch a stream that is smooth and 480p rather than the stuttering/freezing mess that is trying to push 1080p.
x264 Presets: Your Shortcut to Optimal Settings
In Settings –> Advanced –> x264 CPU Preset, you can work with the settings of the x264 and optimize it for your PC. OBS standard for CPU usage is veryfast, which is how “fast” the encoder will run. Faster presets will use less CPU at the cost of quality and visa versa. A good example would be if you set your CPU usage to superfast or ultra fast, the x264 would actually skip CPU cycles, allowing you to retain your resolution or FPS but your image would be pixelated. This is why I suggest you only use this setting after fully exploring the two settings above this one. Even moving this setting one preset up or down can truly make a huge difference in the quality of your stream.
Are you only running necessary things?
I know this may sound funny, but are you turning most of your programs that are not needed off when you stream? It could really make a huge difference. You are playing a game, most likely one that has an effect on your CPU, and also using OBS, which has a huge effect on CPU. Make sure that other programs don’t hurt your stream. Turn everything but the necessary off. Also, in Settings –> Advanced, you can use the “Process priority” to make sure that OBS is a top priority for your system. This way, resources are managed thoroughly.
The hard part of this whole guide is when you’ve done everything and you finally get to this step. It’s not a bad step but a necessary one if you are running an older PC. Anything below an i5 or an AMD 6-core is not recommended for streaming, as the extra cores that come with these processors are the backbone to every streamer’s PC. The GTX series in the 700s or above is highly suggested for more intense games, although I have seen very good streams with just a 680. The more that you can pump into your PC for equipment, the better the output that you can expect. You can also look into overclocking parts on your PC if it allows it. Overclocking can bring new life to parts that otherwise may not make the cut. Make sure you look up if the part CAN be overclocked before you do so and look onto YouTube for a guide into overclocking.
Streamer/Writer for Streamer Square