To get the most out of your viewing and streaming quality on Twitch, it’s important to have a full understanding of how bitrate works.

In short, bitrate directly affects the speed and overall quality of a video on a platform.

The capabilities of your bitrate depend on various factors, and on the Twitch platform, the bitrate you ingest is the amount of data you send to the platform while streaming.

It can be a bit more complex than that, and this article will offer a complete guide on everything you should know about Twitch bitrate.

How Does Twitch Bitrate Work?

When streaming on Twitch, bitrate has a direct correlation between your streaming setup and the Twitch platform.

As you start up a broadcast, you immediately start sending data through your network, and your bitrate will affect the quality and performance of your stream.

Your bitrate is determined by the bandwidth and speed of your internet. For example, a bitrate of 1,000 is equivalent to an upload speed of 1 Mbps.

With a higher bitrate, you can expect most of your internet bandwidth to be taken up.

Although increasing your bitrate can offer better streaming and video quality, it’s still limited to some degree.

Twitch provides bitrate suggestions to help users optimize their video and streaming quality, but users can also set their bitrate settings to their discretion.

Twitch provides detailed information on the bitrate you can expect based on the technical specifications of your equipment.

A bitrate of 6,000 kbps will support a resolution of 1920×1080 and a framerate of 60 or 50fps.

On the low end, a bitrate of 3,000 kbps can deliver a resolution of 1280×720 with a framerate of 25 or 30fps.

Although bitrate is a key aspect regarding the overall quality of your stream, your encoding performance is equally important.

What is Encoding Performance?

Twitch

Known to have a significant impact on system performance, having the right encoding settings is vital for a quality experience on Twitch.

With an encoding performance of x264, you’ll experience a lower FPS, and it’s bound to use quite a bit of your CPU.

You also have the option of GPU encoding, which uses a dedicated encoder in the GPU.

This allows you to stream and play without negatively impacting the performance of your game.

Twitch gives you the flexibility of experimenting with these settings so you can find a sweet spot that works best for your needs and technical specifications.

Encoding quality is a bit more specific, as it’s determined by the generation of the encoder and the capabilities of your CPU.

Nevertheless, most current technology, such as the NVIDIA Encoder, can offer great quality overall.

Even older generations of encoders like Kepler and Pascal are still able to provide a very fast to fast encoding quality.

Choosing the Best Twitch Bitrate

Bitrate-for-Twitch

You might think that the highest bitrate is always the best option, but this may not be true depending on the equipment you’re working with.

First, you want to consider the available bandwidth of your internet, as this will be a deciding factor in which bitrate is best for you.

Of course, you can always adjust your bitrate to test out different settings, but there will be a bitrate that offers the best quality based on your bandwidth.

If you want to stream with a high-definition quality of 1080p, you’ll want to set your bitrate to 6,000 Kbps.

You can also stream at 1080p with a bitrate of 4,500 Kbps, but you’ll only achieve an FPS of 30 in this case.

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It’s important to note that if your bandwidth isn’t sufficient to handle a bitrate of 6,000, you’re bound to encounter some quality issues with your stream.

For those who can’t successfully stream at 1080p, your next option is one step down at 720p. This may not be considered high definition, but it’s still satisfactory for the most part.

It won’t provide as much detail for viewers, but it still delivers a sufficient viewing experience. Considered to be a medium streaming quality, 720p and 60fps require a bitrate of 4,500. 

You can also achieve 720p at 30fps with a bitrate of 3,000.

Streamers will want to take into account what kind of gameplay they want to offer their followers and viewers.

A rule of thumb to keep in mind is that fast-paced games will need a higher FPS to provide a suitable viewing quality.

To find out which bitrate is best for you, there are various specs about your internet and equipment that you’ll want to review.

What’s the Upload Speed of Your Internet?

First, you’ll want to check the exact capabilities of your internet’s upload speed. You can easily work with a bitrate of 6,000 if your upload speed is around 5 to 6 Mbps.

If you have a lower upload speed, such as 3 Mbps, you’ll want to select a lower bitrate of 3,000.

If you choose a bitrate that’s outside of the capabilities of your internet speed, you’ll more than likely run into complications with your frame rate, resolution, and overall video quality.

Hardware Capabilities

Higher bitrates will have a more significant impact on your CPU, which means your hardware needs to be up to the task.

Even if you have a stellar internet connection, if your hardware isn’t up to par, you’ll still encounter quality issues with your stream.

You’re not entirely out of luck if you don’t have the best equipment, as you can simply choose a lower bitrate that’s sufficient for your hardware’s capabilities.

Choosing Resolution and Frames Per Second

It’s understandable to want the highest quality stream possible, but that doesn’t mean it’s entirely necessary.

For streamers who require a higher frame rate, it only makes sense to increase the bitrate.

On the other hand, if you don’t need 60fps to provide a quality viewing experience, then you don’t have to choose the maximum bitrate possible.

Everyone loves a high-quality stream, but it isn’t always required to deliver a satisfactory experience to your viewers.

Variables That Can Affect Your Stream

Regardless of the capabilities of your internet and hardware, there are numerous factors that can affect your experience on the Twitch platform.

Before anything else, you’ll want to review the parameters of the broadcast channel. 

The normal video parameters on Twitch include the following specs:

  • 2,800 Kbps = Source
  • 1,400 Kbps = High
  • 700 Kbps = Medium
  • 500 Kbps = Low
  • 200 Kbps = Mobile

If you happen to encounter an unstable internet connection, the quality of your stream will suffer as a whole.

An unstable internet connection is considered to have an upload speed that’s less than 3 Mbps.

Of course, your hardware could also pose an issue, and it has a direct correlation to the bitrate settings you need to be working with.

In other circumstances, a virus on your computer could cause disruptions in your performance on the Twitch platform.

You may also experience issues from Twitch, as they could have trouble with servers from time to time.

It’s evident that numerous factors can affect your stream, but with due diligence, you can ensure the best quality possible every time.

The Pros and Cons of Streaming Resolution

Depending on the capabilities of the resolution you’re working with, there are unique pros and cons you can expect to come across.

There isn’t a guarantee that your experience will always be the exact same, but there are a handful of ups and downs that correlate to different resolutions.

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ResolutionProsCons
480p (Low upload speed)– Low streaming bitrate requirements- High-end PC hardware not required– No detail in overlays- Will stretch pixels for full-screen viewers- Minor details in graphics and text can be hard to see
720p (Most common)– Known to be the Twitch standard- Doesn’t require fast download speeds- Can offer substantial quality within bitrate limits– Might stretch pixels on high-resolution displays- Small texts can be difficult to read
1080p (Highest quality)– Perfect for fixed-video streams- Good choice for streaming with minimal on-screen motion- Great quality for stream chat– Comes with a limited data rate- It’s possible that your video could be compressed to compensate for streaming quality

Improve Your Upload Speed for Better Streaming Quality

Your internet connection and upload speed are bound to fluctuate a bit, but there’s plenty you can do to improve your upload speed.

A good starting point is to close out all other programs and applications on your computer. These use internet traffic, whether you’re actively using them or not.

Next, make sure that you don’t have any browser windows or tabs open, as they can cause discrepancies in the quality of your stream.

It’s also advantageous to turn off any automatic updates on your computer, as these can trigger in the middle of your stream and run in the background without you knowing.

To avoid any potential delays in your stream, you want to avoid any automatic updates for the time being.

If you have any active downloads running, you’ll want to either pause or cancel them during your session. 

Other suggestions include minimizing the number of connections on your network and following the steps above for any other connected devices.

If you still happen to encounter connection issues after following these steps, it never hurts to restart your Wi-Fi router.

This may seem simplistic, but it’s known to help from time to time.

In the instance that your internet simply isn’t able to offer the quality you need for your stream, you may want to look into upgrading your service or changing ISPs altogether.

A good bitrate is a vital component of your streaming quality, but there are many other factors that play into your streaming experience and what your viewers see on the other end.

Understanding the Capabilities of Your Hardware

Twitch

Your internet is only one part of the equation, as your hardware is just as important.

Whether you’re working with internal or external audio and video equipment, you want to ensure the quality of your stream’s display and the audio are on par with each other.

Thankfully, Twitch provides plenty of tools to test your equipment before you start up a stream. You can adjust your settings before going live.

If you’re new to the platform, it may take trial and error to discover what’s optimal for your internet and PC hardware.

You don’t need top-tier hardware to provide a good experience to your viewers, but you should understand its capabilities and limitations.

More than anything, knowing the limitations of your hardware will help you make the right choice for your streaming settings.

There’s also the route of customizing a PC to your desired specifications, but this isn’t a requirement by any means.

One core component that matters is your CPU. There are a variety of processors on the market.

Twitch suggests having a CPU with 6+ cores if you’re looking to stream at the highest quality possible.

Once again, you can stream on Twitch with less, but many users and their viewers prefer to have the best resolution at all times.

Twitch is suitable for a decent range of internet and hardware capabilities.

Everyone enjoys a high-quality stream, but many people aren’t too worried about the resolution as long as it covers the basics.

Once you have a grasp of what your internet and hardware are capable of, you can then optimize your settings on Twitch for the best possible experience.

If you ignore the details mentioned in this article, you may have a harder time finding the best settings for your particular situation.

Final Notes

Overall, Twitch provides its users with more than enough tools to refine their live streams while educating them on what’s best for their hardware and internet speed.

Before diving into the platform head first, run a few tests on your Twitch bitrate with different settings to discover what looks the best from a viewer’s perspective.