All You Need to Know About Video Bitrate to Optimize Your Video Quality

When streaming on different online platforms, you should have an idea about video bitrate. It will help you optimize the balance between quality and file size, ensuring your videos look great. Also, different platforms have bitrate settings, and you need to know the right settings for platforms like YouTube, OBS, or Twitch for smooth streaming or uploading.

This comprehensive guide will cover almost every aspect regarding video bitrate. You will get to know the correct settings and proper bandwidth management to avoid the buffering issue in the streaming process. So, read till the end until you have grasped each aspect regarding video bitrate.

video bitrate

What is Video Bitrate?

The video bitrate represents the volume of data being transferred in a particular amount of time of the video content. This factor significantly influences the level of detail and overall quality within a video file. Bitrate is usually measured in bits per second (bps.) However, you can use the larger units for different video qualities. 

Moreover, bitrate denotes the speed at which video data is handled or transmitted. The higher bitrates contain greater detail and deliver superior quality, which ultimately leads to larger file sizes. Also, video bitrate is a different concept from video resolution. The video resolution denotes the number of pixels that create an image on the display.

How is Video Bitrate Measured?

The video bitrate serves as a measure of data transmission within a specific time frame. For example, a video with bitrate of 5 Mbps indicates the transfer of 5 megabits of data per second. Additionally, bitrate can exist in either constant or variable forms. Constant bitrates retain a steady rate across the entire video duration, whereas variable bitrates adapt based on the video’s complexity.

Online calculators simplify the video bitrate measuring process. These calculators address various designs and objectives. For example, specific bitrate calculators are for streamers since the details of streaming demand more understanding of bitrate. You can also calculate the video bitrate level using the formula below:

Bitrate = Resolution × Frame Rate × Bit Depth

How Can Bitrate Have an Effect on Video Quality and File Size?

Bitrate has a significant impact on the video quality and file size. It is actually the amount of data processed in a unit of time. So, if that data is higher, it would also increase the size and quality of a video. A detailed explanation of how bitrate affects video quality is given below.

  • A higher bitrate allows for more data to be allocated to each video frame. As a result, it increases the visual quality of video. This means the video will have more detail, sharper images, and smoother motion.
  • Since a higher bitrate uses more data to encode each second of video, it results in larger file sizes, too. Videos with higher bitrates will occupy more storage space to be processed than videos with lower data.
  • Conversely, a lower bitrate allocates less data to each frame, leading to the compression of a video and loss of detail. This can result in pixelation, especially in scenes with a lot of motion or complexity.
  • Similarly, lowering the bitrate reduces the amount of data used to encode the video, which ultimately results in smaller file sizes. However, this reduction in file size comes at the cost of reduced video quality, too, as discussed in the previous point.

Factors You Need to Consider for Choosing the Video Bitrate

Although video bitrate significantly impacts image quality, there are other factors involved in producing high-quality live videos. Frame rate, resolution, and compression efficiency are essential components that, alongside bitrate, contribute to making a visually impressive viewing experience for the audience. A detailed discussion of these factors is given below.

1. Resolution

When you have higher resolutions, maintaining clarity requires higher bitrates than lower resolutions, such as 720p. For that reason, before choosing the best video bitrate, you need to look for a balanced resolution.

2. Content Complexity

Another factor is the detailed and high-motion video scenes that need higher bitrates to preserve quality. On the other hand, simpler and static content can be played in lower bitrates without significant quality loss.

3. Frame Rate

Frame rate refers to the speed at which images or video frames are shown to create the appearance of motion. Higher frame rates between 30fps and 60fps are commonly applied. These frame rates are necessary for live-streaming events involving fast-paced action, such as sports or music performances. That’s because they contribute to a smoother and more lifelike video presentation.

4. Platform Standards

Platforms like YouTube, Twitch, and streaming software offer bitrate recommendations based on supported resolutions and frame rates. That’s why it is essential to consider these recommendations before choosing the best video bitrate.

5. Bandwidth Constraints

You have to consider the internet speed or the bandwidth of the audience’s network connection. Buffering of the video can occur for viewers with a slow connection if the higher bitrates are applied. By contrast, lower bitrates can reduce the quality of high-speed internet users.

What are the Best Video Bitrates Settings for YouTube/OBS/Twitch/Streaming?

The recommended video bitrate settings for various platforms vary based on resolution, frame rate, and platform requirements. In this section, we’ll cover some common platforms to overview their bitrate settings, including YouTube, OBS, Twitch, or general streaming.

  1. OBS (Open Broadcaster Software)

It is a free software that allows video creators to capture and live-stream videos. Viewers typically select video resolutions based on their device compatibility and available data allowances. OBS offers complete customization for your streaming setup. Let’s explore the other primary configurations you should modify within OBS.

Step 1. First, you need to access the OBS Studio and click “Settings,” which is located at the bottom-right corner. After that, choose the “Output” tab and switch its mode to “Advanced” to access additional settings for streaming quality.

select the advanced output mode

Step 2. Now, start adjusting the settings, and set the Video Bitrate to 4000 Kbps for optimal Full HD streaming at 30fps. Finally, you need to check and modify the “CPU Usage Preset.” Lower values enhance stream quality but put more stress on your device. Adjust this setting based on your hardware’s capabilities for smoother broadcasts.

adjust the other settings

You can use the provided OBS video bitrate cheat sheet to configure your video resolutions effectively. The values of video bitrate according to resolution quality are given below.

QualityQuality ResolutionVideo Bitrate
Low480 X 270400kbps
Medium640 X 360800 – 1200kbps
High960 X 540/854 X 4801200 – 1500kbps
HD 7201280 x 7201500 – 4000kbps
FHD 10801920 x 10804000 – 8000kbps
4K3840 X 21608000- 14000kbps
  1. YouTube

On YouTube, you have to ensure high-quality live streaming by selecting appropriate settings that match the reliability of your internet connection. Before the live stream, you can conduct tests according to your planned content. Also, monitor stream health and messages during the event for smooth broadcasting.

YouTube detects resolution and frame rate automatically, which is the recommended setting. However, if you prefer manual selection, you can create a custom key and opt for “Turn on manual settings” under “Stream Resolution.” 

enable turn on manual settings option

After turning on the manual settings, you can adjust the bitrate according to the video resolution. The suggested bitrate settings are summarized in the table below.

Ingestion Resolution / Frame RateMinimum Bitrate setting (Mbps) AV1 and H.265Maximum Bitrate setting (Mbps) AV1 and H.265Recommended Bitrate setting (Mbps) H.264
2160p with 60fps10 Mbps40 Mbps35 Mbps
2160p with 30fps8 Mbps35 Mbps30 Mbps
1440p @ 60fps6 Mbps30 Mbps24 Mbps
1440p @ 30fps5 Mbps25 Mbps15 Mbps
1080p @ 60fps4 Mbps10 Mbps12 Mbps
1080p @ 30fps3 Mbps8 Mbps10 Mbps
720p @ 60fps3 Mbps8 Mbps6 Mbps
240p – 720p @ 30fps3 Mbps8 Mbps4 Mbps
  1. Twitch

You should select the optimal bitrate settings if you want a perfect Twitch Streaming session. The ideal settings vary based on factors such as your internet connection and computer specifications. However, Twitch Studio helps you determine the optimal settings for your system with the help of the following method.

Step 1. Begin by launching Twitch Studio on your system and click on “Settings” to access the stream settings. By doing so, you will reach a new window containing several stream settings options.

tap on settings option

Step 2. After that, choose the “Stream Quality” tab from the left side of your screen. Next, you will have to click on “Re-Optimize Settings” to let the system process optimized settings. 

tap on re-optimize settings

Step 3: Now, you have to wait for the test to finish before clicking the “Apply Settings” button to adopt the optimal configurations for your system.

press the apply settings button

Twitch suggests different bitrate settings depending on the selected resolution and frames per second. Here are the recommended bitrate requirements on Twitch:

  • 1080p @ 60fps: 6000 kbps
  • 1080p @ 30fps: 4500 kbps
  • 720p @ 60fps: 4500 kbps
  • 720p @ 30fps: 3000 kbps

4. General Streaming

When we talk about general streaming, the video resolutions have to match the appropriate video bitrate. In that way, your videos will stream steadily. We have provided a table below elaborating on the right bitrates for streaming on YouTube, Facebook, or any other platform.

Video ResolutionQuality SettingBitrate Range (Kbps)
Full HD (1920×1080)Standard3,500 – 5,000
HD (1280×720)Standard2,500 – 4,000
Full HD (1920×1080)High4,500 – 6,000
HD (1280×720)High3,500 – 5,000

FAQs about Video Bitrate

Q1. Can a higher bitrate always guarantee better quality?

A higher bitrate in a video implies that each frame contains more data. So you will get a clearer and smoother video appearance. However, the quality also depends on factors like resolution, codec efficiency, and source material.

Q2. Why do streaming platforms have bitrate limitations?

Streaming platforms impose bitrate limitations to manage network bandwidth efficiently. They ensure a smoother user experience for a broader audience. In addition, this limitation helps prevent buffering issues and reduces data consumption. By doing all this, bitrate limitations strike a balance between maintaining quality and delivering content seamlessly.

Q3. What happens if my bitrate is too high?

When the bitrate is very high, it enhances video quality and leads to much larger file sizes. As a result, larger files may cause buffering problems for viewers, especially those with slower internet connections. So, you should select the optimal bitrate for the smooth streaming of the video.

Conclusion

Overall, the video bitrate level is essential for content creators wishing to live stream or upload their videos. We’ve comprehensively discussed various aspects of video bitrate, including its factors and measurement. Additionally, we’ve explored optimal settings for configuring video bitrate and offered a simple guide for uploading videos on popular platforms.

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John Doe

John Doe

I am John, a tech enthusiast with a knack for breaking down complex camera, audio, and video technology. My expertise extends to social media and electronic gadgets, and I thrive on making the latest tech trends understandable and exciting for everyone. Sharing my knowledge through engaging content, I aim to connect with fellow tech lovers and novices alike, bringing the fascinating world of technology to life.

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