The streaming community is continually growing in size and enthusiasm. People are ready to invest a fortune in acquiring the best laptop for streaming on their preferred platforms like Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, and so on.

But purchasing the most expensive laptop, or stacking up additional equipment like a streaming desk, attractive lighting, microphones, and webcams isn’t enough.

It’s a fact that you cannot stream directly through your laptop. You need third-party software to do the job for you.

Many people might think this is bad news. After all, it would involve a lot of hassle, right? But that’s hardly the case. There are tons of software designed specifically for this purpose.

If you are a beginner who wants to stream on Twitch, you can opt to download Twitch Studio. For more advanced streamers, there are other platforms like OBS Streamlabs, XSplit Broadcaster, and so on.

Among these, the most popular, and perhaps the most convenient is OBS Studio. The application provides a wholesome solution to both beginners and professional streamers. It has several advantages over other platforms, like options to customize, and manage overlays, scenes, inputs, and other perks.

But because of this flexibility, some users are often confused about the best settings for streaming via OBS Studio.

In this article, we’ll talk you through everything you need to know about optimizing your OBS settings to stream smoothly on your laptop.

Finding the Right Bitrate

In the digital world, bitrate is the number of bits per second that your system can transmit digitally via any sort of internet connection.

For streamers, choosing an appropriate bitrate is crucial to ensure seamless and unperturbed broadcasting.

You need to determine what quality of streaming is compatible with the capability of your laptop and internet. One way to increase the bitrate that you can support is using an Ethernet connection over Wi-Fi networks as it offers a more consistent internet connection.

There is a general rule of thumb for how much internet speed (stable) you need to run your stream at a particular resolution and frame rate:

  • 1.5 MBPS to 4.0 MBPS of stable internet connection is ideal for running a stream at 720p and 30 fps.
  • 2.5 MBPS to 5.0 MBPS of stable internet connection is ideal for running a stream at 720p and 60 fps.
  • 3.0 MBPS to 6.0 MBPS of stable internet connection is ideal for running a stream at 1080p and 30 fps.
  • 4.5 MBPS to 9.0 MBPS of stable internet connection is ideal for running a stream at 1080p and 60 fps. 

Tip: For Twitch stream who isn’t a partner, the ideal bitrate is around 6,500 KBPS maximum. If you go upwards of that, Twitch will forcefully bring your bitrate down, reducing the quality of the stream drastically.

Adjusting Important Settings

OBS Studio is an open-source and free program, making it a great option for everyone. But what makes it better is that it is highly customizable and offers a lot of flexibility to the users.

By tinkering with the settings and adjusting their layouts, streamers can create their own identities using this software.

You can focus on all that later. For now, you should only focus on getting the most basic settings right. Here’s what you need to do.

  • Open OBS Studio.
  • Find and select Settings.

You will come across various tabs on the left-hand side of the window.

Let’s talk you through this one by one –

General

The General tab isn’t anything special. There aren’t a lot of things that you can change to optimize your performance. The only notable feature that you can trigger is the Dark Mode, which you can use if you’re a fan of deeper shades of grey.

Stream

This is an important tab as this is where you’ll kick-start your streaming career.

  • On the service tab, choose the streaming platform of your liking. For instance, you can select Twitch.
  • Enter your unique Stream Key. You can find this on your Twitch channel.

Please note that Stream Keys are unique for all users and should not be shared with anyone. Having access to your Stream Key will allow anyone to access your Twitch/other streaming platforms easily.

Output

Tinkering with the Output settings is important. There are many changes and tweaks that one can make to optimize their gameplay and streaming experiences.

Before anything else, you first need to change the Output Mode. Set that to “Advanced”, and then you can get access to more settings and more options. Once you’ve done that, you need to make sure that you have selected the Streaming tab. The Audio Track must have 1 selected.

Next up, you’ll have to select an appropriate Encoder. Now, as per experts’ recommendations, here’s how you can decide your encoder if you have an NVIDIA card belonging to the 10, 20, or 30 series. If you have that, you can simply choose the NIVIA NVENC H.264 (new) encoder.

The first reason why we are recommending this is that using this, the system can encode directly on the card. Thus, it will save your CPU from a lot of workloads, especially if you are streaming heavy games on your system.

Secondly, NVIDIA specifically launched this encoded to be compatible with the card without compromising the performance of the GPU. The encoder won’t bother the main part of the GPU card, and will instead work on some isolated parts that do not affect the overall performance.

Note: Using the NVENC encoder will mean that it will be more difficult for the system to achieve high-quality streaming. But if you have a powerful computer, this will hardly be an issue.

Audio

In streaming, audio is more important than the resolution of games. People will hang around if your streaming quality isn’t that great but the commentary is top-notch. Thus, clear audio is key to having a successful streaming career, even if you don’t have a top-notch computer yet.

First, you need to choose the Sample Rate from the two available options – 44.1 kHz or 48 kHz. To get the best possible experience, it’s better to select the 48 kHz option, although the difference is not noticeable. It would also be ideal if you choose the “Stereo” setting for your stream channel.

Next, you need to adjust the Global Audio Devices section. Here, you can choose various devices to work with your desktop audio, microphone, and so on. This will depend on different streamers and the kind of equipment they are using.

Video

The final tab, Video is where you can set the resolution and fps of your stream. You can also use this tab to change the size of your live stream.

The first setting is the Base (Canvas) Resolution. This is easy to choose as all you need to do is set it to the resolution in which you are playing the game.

Next up, we have the Output (Scaled) resolution. If you want to stream at 720p quality, set the resolution to 1280×720. If you want to stream at 1080p, set it to 1920×1080.

Next up, you have the Downscale Filter which assists your system if you need to downscale your resolution. The two foremost options that we’d recommend are Bicubic and Lanczos. The latter is great at sharpening the video while downscaling the resolution. However, it would require a more powerful computer.

For most streams, a frame rate of 60 frames is ideal. However, if your equipment and internet cannot handle that, then 30 frames will do just fine as well.

Final Thoughts

The OBS Studio is one of the most popular Twitch streaming software, and for good reason. It offers a myriad of customizable options, convenient features, and a good, wholesome streaming experience.

However, for it to work well, users need to make sure that they are using the right settings. For different users, their ideal settings would be different based on their setup.

But in this article, we’ve provided the best base settings for all streamers that they can use while starting. They can start to build on it and optimize it later on.