If you are planning to broadcast with OBS from your NVIDIA graphics system, it is a good idea to check out this guide.
The purpose of this guide is to help you understand how to use the NVIDIA NVENC encoder in OBS. We simplified some concepts so that everyone can easily understand the subject.
Bit Rate, Resolution and Frame Rate
Encoding is all about compressing images. The smaller the size of the image, the less we have to compress it. Thus, we preserve the image quality as much as possible. While the same is true for the frame rate, the viewer may actually notice a drop in FPS but not much of the drop in resolution. Therefore, we will always try to stream at 60 FPS.
First, run a speed test (eg Speedtest.net) to determine your upload speed. We want to use around 75% of our upload speed, as other programs like gaming and Discord will also fight for bandwidth.
We will then determine the resolution and FPS we can use for this bitrate. Most streaming sites have recommendations (Twitch, Mixer, Youtube) on what to use. These are the values recommended by NVIDIA:
|Loading Speed||Bitrate Value||Resolution||FPS|
|3 Mbps||2.500||1024 × 576||30|
|4 Mbps||3.000||1280 × 720||30|
|6 Mbps||5.000||1280 × 720||60|
|8-10 Mbps||6.000||1280 × 720||60|
|15 + Mbps||12,000 (YouTube)||1920 × 1080||60|
|20+ Mbps||15,000 (YouTube)||1920 × 1080||60|
|40+ Mbps||30,000 (YouTube)||3840 × 2160||60|
- *Important note for High Motion ContentIf you are going to play scenes with high motion (eg racing games, some Battle Royale games, etc.), we strongly recommend that you lower your resolution. High motion content cannot be overcompressed and may suffer from distortion that causes your stream to appear frame by frame. If you lower the resolution, you also reduce the amount of encoded data, so the resulting image is better for the viewer. For Fortnite, for example, many broadcasters decide to broadcast at 1600 × 900 60 FPS.
- Note for those who want to start streaming on Twitch or for existing streamers: Converting videos allows a viewer to view your video in a different resolution and therefore requires lower bandwidth. Twitch offers guaranteed transcoding only to broadcasters in the Partner program; Non-partners can also receive transcoding, but this is not guaranteed. This is especially important if your viewers are on mobile phones or if their internet speed is not that good. You may want to consider streaming at a lower bitrate and resolution to lower the bandwidth required to view your channel.
Recommended OBS Settings – Simple Settings
Start the software in the first place. Then choose Settings from the screen that appears. A window will open. Switch to the Video menu in this window. Then click on the Dimension Reduction Filter menu and close the menu by selecting the “Lanczos, (finalized sizing, 36 samples) setting and clicking Apply.
- Basic (Canvas) Resolution: Set the resolution you normally play with. That is, your desktop resolution (if you’re playing in frameless mode) or the game resolution you normally enter (if you’re playing in fullscreen).
- Output (Scaled) Resolution: Enter the appropriate resolution for your Upload Speed and Bitrate shared in the previous section.
- FPS: You should choose the appropriate FPS value for your upload speed you see in the table above.
- Output mode: Simple
- Video Bitrate : Enter the Bitrate suitable for your Upload Speed as in the table in the previous section.
- Encoder: Select Hardware (NVENC).
- Enable Advanced Encoder Settings: Unmarked
- Encoder Preset: Quality – This is already the default option. Note that it is visible only if you check the Encode Advanced Encoder Settings option.
- Register Path: This is the directory where videos will be saved. Make sure there is enough space on the hard drive you have chosen.
- Record Quality: High Quality usually works for most users, but if you have enough disk space or are going to shoot short videos (about 60 seconds) you can change this to Indistinguishable Quality.
- Record Format: FLV or MKV
- Encoder: Hardware (NVENC)
There are 2 other things you need to configure for a smooth streaming:
- Windows: Make sure you update to Windows 10 version 20H2 and enable Game Mode. This version includes performance improvements for broadcast as well as an updated Game Mode for broadcast.
- GPU Usage: If your GPU usage is above 95%, Windows will start to prioritize the game over anything else; this may delay your broadcast in some cases. To address this issue, OBS added an option to give priority to OBS Studio over gaming, starting with release 24.0.3. Just run OBS as Administrator and the broadcast will be done with silky smoothness.
If for some reason you don’t want to run OBS in Administrator mode, you can also limit your GPU usage to be below the 95% threshold. To do this, you can:
- Limit FPS in-game, run the game in Borderless Windowed mode, reduce game graphics or resolution, or turn on V-Sync.
- Run all assets at 1080p. To do this, double-click the source in OBS and select Custom under Resolution and specify a resolution below or equal to 1080p.
That’s it! We hope this guide will help you improve your broadcast quality and meet your goals. Leave a comment below if this worked for you or if you would like us to update the guide with other information. Happy posts!
If you want to tamper with all the settings, you can check out our detailed recommendations:
- Output Mode: Advanced. This gives you access to all settings. Let’s start!
- Encoder: Select NVIDIA NVENC H.264 (new).
- Force Streaming Service Encoder Settings: Leave this checked. This will ensure that if you accidentally enter an incorrect value, it will be corrected.
- Rate Control: Select CBR – This determines the rate at which frames are encoded.
- Bit rate: Enter the appropriate bitrate for your Upload Speed as mentioned in the previous section. Note that some platforms have a maximum bitrate (i.e. 6000 Kbps for Twitch currently)
- Key Frame Range: Set to 2 – Streaming platforms may limit what you can choose here, and most require 2 settings.
- Preset: Select Quality. You can change this to Maximum Quality to enable 2-pass encoding; this will give you a small quality improvement.
- Profile: Set to High – Profile sets a group setting in H.264 Codec. It does not affect performance and provides access to a number of features that are key to streaming, so this should always be set to High.
- Don’t look forward: Checked. This allows the encoder to dynamically choose the number of B-Frames, between 0 and the number of B-Frames you specify. B-frames improve image quality but consume most of your available bitrate; therefore, they lower the quality in high moving content. Looking ahead provides the best of both worlds. This feature is accelerated by CUDA; Turn this off if your GPU usage is high to ensure smooth streaming.
- Psycho Visual Adjustment: Checked. This enables Proportion Distortion Optimization in the encoder, which greatly optimizes the way you use the bit rate and improves image quality during motion.
- GPU: 0 – If your system has 2 GPUs, you can choose which one to use for encoding. This is not recommended as NVENC is already very efficient and you will lose the small gain you can get from using a second card when you have to copy frames to the second GPU.
- Maximum B-frames: Set to 4. If you uncheck the look ahead option, reduce it to 2 B squares.
- Type: Standard.
- Record Path: This is the directory where the videos will be saved. Make sure there is enough space on the hard drive of your choice!
- Record Format: FLV; or MKV if you are using more than one audio track.
- Sound Track: Leave it at 1 by default; If you use more resources, you can add more audio tracks.
- Encoder: NVIDIA NVENC H.264 (new).
- Rate Control: We recommend CQP, although VBR also gives good results.
- CQ Level (CQ): 15 (you can reduce the number to get higher quality).
- Bitrate and Max Bitrate (VBR): 40.000 Bitrate; 60,000 Maximum bitrate. For higher quality, you can increase them to 100,000 and 200,000 respectively.
- Key Frame Range: 0 or 2.
- Preset: Choose Quality. You can change this to Maximum Quality to enable 2-pass encoding; This will give you a small increase in quality, but may cause problems in limited situations with top-rated GPUs.
- Profile: Set it to High.
- Looking forward: It has been marked.
- Psycho Visual Adjustment: It has been marked.
- GPU: 0. If your system has 2 GPUs, you can choose which one to use for encoding.
- Maximum B-frames: Set it to 4. If you uncheck the look ahead option, reduce it to 2 B squares.
What is NVIDIA NVENC?
NVENC, NVIDIAis the encoder of. This encoder works with a physical portion of GPUs only dedicated to video encoding. This means that your game performance will not be affected while streaming or recording with your graphics card. Other encoders like X264 use your processor to encode, which means you have trouble allocating resources to the game. Therefore, using NVENC allows you to play games with higher FPS and avoid stuttering, giving you and your audience a better experience.
NVIDIA, which made updates to help ensure the best output quality in NVENC in the last two GPU generations, said that NVENC in GTX 10 series GPUs provided superior quality than x264 Very Fast, the most widely used x264 preset; He states that the NVENC in the RTX 20 series is at the same level as the x264 Medium, a preset that requires better and more expensive dual PC setup than x264 Fast.
NVIDIA NVENC Troubleshooting
First of all, we can say that the problem may be bilateral. In other words, errors may have occurred in the viewer internet and your internet or hardware / software. In the first place, according to the recommendations made by the NVIDIA team, it should be your priority to test the internet speed and, if the problem does not appear, to see if the platform you are broadcasting has made a statement about whether there is a problem. However, if the problem is different, you may need to roll up your sleeves for a solution. In this context, you can start by analyzing your data by saying View → Statistics on OBS.
Common Types of Errors
FPS missing error on broadcast: The statistics window will show the missing frames. If there are missing frames while streaming, run Task Manager and select your GPU from the Performance menu. Check the 3D and Video Encode load.
Windows may be prioritizing gaming over OBS, especially if the 3D load is above 95 percent in 1440p or 4K setups. To fix this (if you are using OBS 24.0.3 or higher version) you can prioritize OBS and run it in Administrator Mode.
If the Video Encode load has been maximized, you must reduce the load. If you are encoding 4K60 FPS, make sure your quality setting in OBS is set to Quality, not Maximum Quality. Maximum Quality makes 2-pass encoding (ie encodes twice) that the encoder may fall short of.
The image looks very pale: The most likely problem is trying to force too much quality with insufficient bitrate. Consider lowering the resolution and frame rate (if needed) and try again. If the quality improves, you can continue with your broadcast.
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