Blog | Choosing the Right Bitrate for Your OBS Live Stream

Erikka Innes
7 min readMay 8, 2021

Open Broadcast Software (OBS) is an incredibly powerful tool for live streaming video with a bit of a learning curve up front. Once you’ve got your live streaming running, you may discover you want to optimize it. Today I’ll walk you through how to choose the right bitrate for your OBS live stream

Before We Get Started — Set up OBS!

This section is for readers who want to create a high quality live stream with OBS, but haven’t yet set it up. Here is how to set OBS for live streaming with

Live Stream with OBS and

What is Video Bitrate?

Video bitrate is how much data for your live stream is transferred within a second. If you say bps, you’re saying bits-per-second. Mbps is megabits-per-second. If you say kbps, it’s kilobits-per-second. One bit is the smallest unit of data you can have. Bitrate is how you measure the speed of uploads and downloads of your video. Bitrate is important because it’s tied to video quality. You can capture live video with high resolution and frame rate and your viewer might never receive it in that condition. The reason why would be due to the bitrate and also, the bandwidth.

Bandwidth limits what bitrate you can upload at, and it represents the capacity your viewers have when they download your video. So when you’re wondering how your live stream is sent and delivered, you’ll need to think about video bitrate, and whether the bandwidth allows you to transfer at the bitrate you want to use. HLS is used for streaming because it dynamically adapts to provide the best possible video quality in any situation. If a viewer has slow internet, HLS will deliver content at a lower resolution. This is good because the viewer can continue watching smoothly, but not so good in terms of their experience of video quality. Sometimes it might be all that can be done given the constraints for bitrate. lets you stream with HLS in part because of HLS’s adaptive abilities.

What is Framerate?

Frame rate is how many frames occur per second (fps). So bitrate will determine the size of the video file you’re streaming, that’s about data. Frame rate is about how many images appear per second. Here are a few popular fps:

Erikka Innes

Developer Advocate, Writer, Comedian, and Commander of the Nerd Legion