One of the most important factors for streaming is your upload bandwidth. Using this article, you will be able to find out if you have the necessary internet speed for streaming Twitch or Mixer!
Beyond the hardware, the main limiting factor to a high-quality stream is your internet bandwidth. As you are the source of the content stream, you need to send it to the platform to be re-distributed to your audience. This is considered an upload requirement, not a download one. You could have a Gigabit download speed, but if you only have 1 megabit/s upload, you won’t be able to stream a high-resolution feed to Twitch or any other platform for that matter.
And even if you had that monster gigabit upload, you don’t necessarily want to use it to its full capability. If you did, you’d lock out a large portion of people who would be able to watch your streams. They need a Download speed that is greater than or equal to your upload bitrate settings. In fact, For Twitch and Mixer, they both impose upload restrictions to force you to stay at a reasonable bitrate for people. After all, if people can’t watch a stream, they aren’t making money from Bits, embers, Ads, and other sources of income that comes from that.
In the case of Twitch, their maximum outside of a special case is 6000 bitrate. On Mixer, that number is increased to 10,000. Also offered on the platforms is a feature called Transcoding. This feature takes the source feed and downscales it at a few levels using server resources. This means you can provide a maximum bitrate to the platform and still ensure your audience can watch your stream regardless of your upload bitrate setting.
First up: What level of internet speed for streaming Twitch do you need?
The first step you need to take before you can begin streaming is to test your internet speed.
Once you have your test results, you want to take a close look at that “Upload number”. If it is greater than or equal to 3Mbps, then you are able to stream. That said, our recommended minimum upload speed for streaming on twitch is 6-8 Mbps. This allows some headroom for anyone within your household to still have access to some upload for things they may need to do, as well as provide you with a small buffer for when they do. There is also a small buffer in consideration that internet connections aren’t necessarily stable.
That said, the cost of internet access isn’t exactly cheap; and is not equal everywhere. One of my friends who lives in Indiana only has access to 3/3 (Short for 3 Mbps upload speed and 3 Mbps download speed) as their fastest possible internet, and it isn’t cheap! Depending on where you live, you could experience even worse, and thus streaming would be near impossible to do.
In that case, we’d recommend taking to YouTube and offering pre-recorded videos that you can upload at whatever rate you can muster. This way, you can still partake in the hobby or job of videography & Content Creation.
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A word of warning to those considering high resolution streaming
One thing you’ll need to realize is that a vast majority of viewers are on mobile devices, with limited bandwidth at their disposal. 4GLTE download speed under the BEST conditions possible is around 50 Mbps; However, it is far more common to see speeds of around 4 to 12 Mbps. So by streaming at a bitrate of 6000, you are potentially locking out a rather large portion of your potential viewers from watching your stream. If they try, they will be greeted with a buffering freeze-frame at a regular interval as their network struggles to keep up with your incoming data stream. They may even be greeted with “Error 2000”!
In addition to these drawbacks of streaming at a high bitrate, many users use a metered connection. They pay for their data usage, and that data connection is essentially being pummeled by a very angry hulk.
You don’t want an angry hulk smashing your audience’s bandwidth. They won’t like that.
Streaming at a more reasonable bitrate is considerate of those who suffer the tyranny that is metered connections. Personally, we think that the concept is outdated, from time of limited bandwidth capability, and needs to be abolished. Alas, our opinion on the matter doesn’t change the fact that they exist.
Of course, there is transcoding, but unless you are a partner, gaining access to transcoding is a hit-or-miss situation. We should mention that you can apparently start and stop your stream a few times and get it, but that’s not been directly confirmed by us.
What should My streaming encoder be set to?
Your Encoding settings are tied directly to your minimum internet upload speed
Ultimately, this number will go UP over time, especially when 5G hits the consumer markets. For now, considering the spotty coverage of all users who use their phones to watch Twitch, the fact that transcoding is a limited-service; Our recommendation for bitrate is 3800 to 5000 for Non affiliated or -Twitch Partners.
For Twitch Partners
If your upload speed for streaming twitch is fast enough to support a bitrate of 8000, set it to 8000.
Partners are the exception to the output bitrate rule of thumb for affiliates and unaffiliated streamers. Twitch Partners are highly prioritized for the aforementioned Transcoder option. Transcoding downscales the source feed in bitrate and resolution. As such, they are able to stream at a bitrate of 8000 without worry about their audience with slower, or metered connections.
As for what resolution you should stream at, 1080P30 is possible to do with little issue @ 8000 bitrate. However, we still recommend setting it to 864p60 instead for the extra Fps without compromising your image with compression artifacts. In the past, we’d have said 900p, but that has changed to avoid an issue that results from resolutions that are not a multiple of 8. (Black lines appear on your stream.)
If you manage to become a Twitch affiliate, then you get added to a Priority list over unaffiliated streamers for transcoding. This means you are more likely to have your streams receive access to the transcoding feature. Twitch Partners take that a step further and are pretty much-guaranteed access to this feature, as well as receive a max limit increase on your bitrate to 8000, among many other perks.
However, it is only available when the server load is low enough to pass it down to an affiliate. If the servers are too busy, you don’t get transcoding.
Due to this fickle nature of availability, we recommend streaming at a lower bitrate than 6000 to ensure your audience can actually watch your stream without major buffering every 10 seconds. In this case. 720p60 with a bitrate setting from 3800-5000 would be your best bet.
If you are unable to output 3800 bitrate, we recommend cutting your fps to 30 and setting bitrate from 1800-3500 before dropping your resolution to 480p60.
Streaming at 720p60 Using the X264 encoder
The maximum we’d recommend streaming at is 720P60. This only requires a bitrate of 3800 to 5000, as mentioned above. If you do not use an Nvidia card, then you’ll want to use X264 as your encoder. The encoding speed setting will depend on the processor you have. Here are our settings as an example:
Our processor is an I7 6700k, Which is a fairly powerful midrange CPU and handles up to “Fast” on the CPU usage preset for some titles. I lowered the preset to “Faster” just to make my life easier, as some games were simply too CPU Intensive. This setting determines how long a frame sits in the CPU for compression. The longer it is processing the frame, the better quality the image becomes. However, the longer the CPU spends processing the frame, the fewer resources it has for processing other things. For example, the game being streamed. This results in a high percentage of the CPU being reserved for encoding, and since CPU’s are serial in nature (One instruction at a time) this also increases frame time.
Rocking a Ryzen? Check out our recommendations when it comes to that beast.
If you have a slower processor with an AMD GPU, we’d recommend testing its capabilities starting with “very fast”.
Nvidia GPU Encoding (Recommended)
If you have an Nvidia card that is a 10 series or newer, then you’ll want to use New Nvenc over X264 in almost every case. This is especially true if you have a GTX 1650 Super, GTX 1660 TI, or any of the RTX cards.
This is because the New NVENC encoder performs extremely well, with near-zero performance impact on your system as a whole. For a single PC setup, this is the best route you can take. Just remember to run OBS in Administrator mode to give it some resource priority.
Some notes here are: set b-Frames to 0, and ensure “psycho-visual tuning” is enabled. There are more settings you can modify here to get more out of the encoder, but we don’t have an NVIDIA card handy to test them and make any specific recommendations ourselves. Instead, EposVox has a pretty good breakdown video regarding this that will get you situated.
AMD GPU Encoding
For AMD GPU users, such as the RX480 8GB, RX580, or newer, we don’t recommend using their H264/AVC Encoder (AMD Advanced Media Framework) at this time, as they really don’t perform all that well. If you use an AMD card, We recommend sticking to X264. If in the future this changes, then this information will be updated.
How About the recommended internet speed for streaming Mixer?
The story is much the same, really. Simply adhere to the above-recommended settings for internet speed for streaming Twitch and you should be fine.
We will mention that there is a difference of maximums allowed, specifically 10,000 bitrate maximum, over Twitch’s 6000. We strongly recommend reading this article about what Mixer has to offer you.
The Ultimate Guide to a better stream
There are so many different things about streaming that you need to know in order to be successful. That’s why we wrote this awesome guide to help you along the way!
For Mixer Partners.
If you’re a Partner on Mixer, you alsoc get access to Transcoding options for your audience. However, unlike Twitch, It is a feature that is reserved for partners. If you’re not partnered, you do not have the option of transcoding.
In case you’re wondering, you can tell when transcoding is enabled if you have access to a drop-down selector like this:
Why you shouldn’t stream at 1080p60 in 95% of cases.
We still don’t recommend 1080p60, even at 10,000 bitrate. You’re almost there, but just shy of what you need for a nice, fluid video free of perceptually visible Compression artifacts.
You’ll have much better results streaming at 864p, and the reason for this is that streaming at 1080P60 would require a minimum of 12,000 to look really clear. And yes, many streamers Do stream at 1080P60, and you totally can if you want to. However, we feel you would get better results streaming 864p60 @8,000.
Streaming has a lot of factors to consider; Our article on the best free vst plugins will teach you how to use VST plugins to improve the quality of your audio. Check it out! 😉