The Best OBS Settings For Live Streaming

Want to stream like a pro right from the start?

Then configure your OBS settings optimally. After years of tinkering with my settings, I finally discovered the PERFECT configuration, one that has worked without problems for years now. Finding these settings seemed impossible, so let me save you the headache and share them!

It’s common to see streamers tweeting for help figuring out – why they are “dropping frames” or – why the new version of OBS is eating up their CPU or – what is the best encoder for their OBS. I’ve been known to tweet such things, but not anymore. I felt like Goldie Locks always struggling with settings that were too much or too little, but now my settings are just right.

OBS has advanced significantly since 2015 when I started. The settings were minimal back then and there was no double verification to start streaming. Nowadays, when I click “start streaming,” OBS pops up an extra box to verify that I indeed wish to begin streaming and I must click “yes” to proceed. Back in the wild days of OBS, you or your cat could accidentally click a hot key for “start streaming” and 1000s of people would tune in to see you sleep, and you wouldn’t know until you woke up! That actually happened to me, so I was elated when they added the pop up verification.

Quick tip: I never update my OBS. My current version works, so why risk updating? In 2017, I updated OBS and it messed up my system severely. My CPU usage quadrupled, and I was troubleshooting all day. I finally reverted to an older version, after suffering dearly. I’ve been on that same version of OBS since 2018, and I don’t plan to update anytime soon. Other streamers don’t update OBS for this same reason. Because I’m operating on an older version, my settings may look different than yours but they are close enough. The newer versions of OBS offer more options, but I think I will pass on that lol.

General: Make sure you have “Show confirmation dialog when starting streams” checked and “Automatically record when streaming” checked. All other options are not as critical and are automatically checked or unchecked.

Stream: I point my service to Twitch. You can point yours to whatever platform you stream on. I use the Salt Lake City server as my dedicated server and have hardly dropped frames with this server. You can select “Auto” and it will point you to the best server based on your location.

Tip: if you drop frames while streaming then shut off your stream and switch to another server. This will often fix the dropped frames problem if it is not related to your ISP.

Output: I have my output mode set to “advanced” because I like more control over OBS. I use NVIDIA NVENC H.264 encoder. I recommend this, and I have no problems with my setup. The games run smoothly on OBS and my frames are consistent. If frames drop, there is always a work-around. My streaming bitrate is 5000. I’m allowed to have a higher bitrate because I’m partnered on Twitch. On my previous computer, I ran a 2500 bitrate with no problem and produced quality streams. My “Preset” is Quality, and my “Profile” is High. For recording streams, I use a higher bitrate at 8000 and record in an mp4 format. My recorded VODS are quality and I pull YouTube quality videos by saving files as mp4, using my NVIDIA NVENC H.264 as the encoder, and having 8000 as my Bitrate. Experiment with higher bitrates, but 8000 has been sufficient for my needs. I set my Preset here to Quality and my Profile as Main for recording. My Max B-frames is set to 2. For my audio bitrate under the audio tab, I use 192.

Audio: My “Sample rate” is 44.1khz and my “Channels” option is set to stereo. Here, the GoXLR makes a night and day difference! I’ll do another blog on my GoXLR settings, but it makes my OBS audio settings so simple. All I put for “Mic/Auxiliary Audio Device” is Broadcast Stream Mix, which then routes to my GoXLR, and it handles the rest! I LOVE THIS PIECE OF EQUIPMENT! Otherwise, I’d have to set my “Mic” to the particular mic I’m using and my “Desktop Audio Device” to whatever I want to use for audio output. This then becomes a tangled web of audio issues I avoid because my GoXLR spoils me. Here, I don’t do anything else in audio settings. You can use the push-to-mute and push-to-talk settings OBS offers, but I haven’t explored them enough to offer guidance.

Video: Video settings in OBS is where you specify the stream output quality your audience sees. I stream in 900p60, which a lot of streamers do. By setting my Base (canvas) Resolution to 1920×1080 and Output (Scaled) Resolution to 1600×900, this results in 900p60. You can stream in 1080p60 by changing the Output to 1920×1080. I’m happy with my quality settings, but do what’s best for you and your content.

Advanced: Here I check “Enable new networking code” and “Enable Browser Source Hardware Acceleration” I suffered dropped frames on stream, and checking these two options helps.

This covers my OBS settings. It can be difficult finding the optimal OBS settings, but these have been solid for me and my setup. I’d suggest playing around with different settings until you find the best for your setup. I hope this OBS setup tutorial guides you to the perfect stream quality you desire!