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One of the most important factors for streaming is your upload bandwidth. Find out if you have the necessary internet speed for streaming Twitch or Mixer!
Right out of the gate, we’re going to say something you may not like to hear. 1080P60 is something you can not do while maintaining a high-quality experience for your viewers if your streamed content is high action. The reason is the bitrate limit of 6000 imposed by Twitch. And that is assuming you yourself has the internet upload speed fast enough to do 6000.
The story for this changes a bit if you manage to become a Twitch Partner or affiliate. A Twitch Affiliate has a higher priority for transcoding but does not have the upload limit increase. As a partner, your upload limit increases, and you are then able to stream at a maximum bitrate of 8000. Furthermore, you are given a high priority for Transcoding. We’ll explain below.
First up: What level of internet speed for streaming Twitch do you need?
The first thing you need to do before you even start streaming is to test your internet speed.
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 locking out a HUGE portion of your potential viewers from watching your stream. If they try, it will be an unwatchable stutter, wholly unenjoyable content. That is not even considering those still on 3G.
Of course, there is transcoding, which both Twitch and Mixer have…but that isn’t really something you can rely on (There are exceptions, more on that later.). It is a resource that is spread thin by the 4+ million streamers on Twitch. Servers aren’t an infinite resource, and you need server resources for transcoding.
Our Recommended Minimums
Our recommended minimum upload speed for streaming on twitch is 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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For Twitch Partners
The rules for the internet speed you need change a bit here. 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 connections.
Twitch Affiliate Bonuses for Internet Speed
It is worth it to note that Twitch Affiliates also gain access to the Transcoding. 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.
Limit your bitrate maximum
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, and your upload speed needs to be at least 8 Mbps to stream at a bitrate of 6000; Our recommendation for bitrate is 3800 to 5000 for Non-Twitch Partners.
Streaming at 720p60
We are in the process of writing an article covering encoding options in detail. The reason we briefly cover this subject in this article because it is strongly related to the internet speed available.
The maximum we’d recommend streaming at is 720P60. This only requires a bitrate of 3800 to 5000, as mentioned above. The encoding speed 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. 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.
If you have a slower processor, we’d recommend putting the setting to “Very Fast”. Processor struggling at these settings? We recommend instead using your video card encoder to stream instead, as you will get a similar-looking result with a near-0 performance impact.
AMD GPU Encoding
For AMD GPU users, such as the RX480 8GB, RX580, or newer, our only option is using the H264/AVC Encoder (AMD Advanced Media Framework).
These settings were the ones that worked best in our testing with an AMD RX480 8gb(You can’t buy them new anymore, the RX580 is the closest you can get):
We’re certain that you could further tweak the many variables to improve it a bit more, but suffice it to say, it looked worse than X264 in every case.
Streaming at 720p30
Say you have a similar processor to us, but your internet connection is closer to 5 Mbps, we’d opt to drop the frame rate to 30, and your bitrate to 2500. Everything else stays the same.
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.
For Mixer Partners.
The Exception to the rule is Mixer Partners. The reason for this is that Mixer partners have access to Transcoding, which will downscale your stream at lower bitrates and resolution. As a result of Transcoding, your audience who has these slow connections will still be able to see your content.
Let’s not forget then that you can now stream [email protected],000 for your audience with the bandwidth necessary to watch a stream. They will have a little selector like this:
Why not 1080p60?
Well, 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 900p60 @8,000 if you are not yet a partner. (Or even [email protected])
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! 😉