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Understanding Your Streaming Software: Bitrate and your Upload
Understanding Your Streaming Software: Bitrate and your Upload
Caolan Cregan avatar
Written by Caolan Cregan
Updated over a week ago

Making sure your stream looks as clean and smooth as it can be for the viewer is the goal of every streamer. And it can be a serious task getting your stream to a point that you’re actually happy with. That adventure begins by making sure your bitrate and upload are balanced.

While Twitch offers a max bitrate of 6000kb/s and Mixer caps out at 10,000kb/s, what exactly does that mean for you as the broadcaster?

Let's define the terms we’ll be talking about to better understand them.

Upload: This one is pretty simple and recognizable. It’s the maximum amount of data you can push out into the rest of the internet at any given time.

Bitrate: Measured in "kb/s" and is the amount of data your streaming software is using to broadcast your content.

The first thing to always keep in mind is that it is recommended that your bitrate should not exceed more than 75-80% of your upload speed. So, if you have an upload of 4KB you should ideally have a bit rate of 3000-3500kb/s or less. However, you should always leave yourself a buffer because your bitrate is never steady. It is constantly fluctuating up and down. So a lower bitrate is always safer.

The next thing to remember is that whatever bitrate you are uploading your content at, your viewer has to have an equal or greater download to be able to view the content smoothly and clearly without buffering and skipping. So, if you’re streaming at 9000kb/s bitrate and your viewer only has a 5KB download, they’re not going to be able to watch. If your viewers are having trouble viewing your content, try lowering your bitrate.

But doesn’t the screen resolution have a big effect on bitrate?” Yes and no. Your bitrate should be dependent on what resolution you want to stream at but isn’t exactly necessary. You can stream at a higher bitrate with a lower resolution and still have a very crisp image for your viewer. But, a higher resolution at a lower bitrate can pixilated and look grainy if the bitrate is too low. For an HD stream these are your general ratios for resolution:bitrate:

720p: 1500-4000kb/s

1080p: 4000-8000kb/s

Playing your game and capturing it through your streaming software at 1080p and then broadcasting it at a downscaled 720p can help increase the viewer's experience and still allow you to stream in HD quality.

Now get out there and adjust those settings and get back to the show!

Thanks for reading!

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