How to Improve Stream Quality with Frame Management


Today I'm going to show you how to spot issues with CPU and GPU usage while streaming, and manage related trouble with lagged, skipped, or dropped frames in Streamlabs OBS.

First of all, it’s important to understand that frame issues are often caused by CPU and GPU overload, and you can identify when there’s a problem by keeping an eye on them in your Windows task manager.

Also note that certain games and applications can be more taxing on the CPU or GPU, and this will vary from different programs.

We’ll talk about three main types of lost frames: Lagged frames, which are caused by a compositor overload, and common with high GPU usage; Skipped frames, which occur when the encoder is overloaded, often with high CPU usage; and dropped frames, which happen when network issues exist and could be caused by servers or equipment.

As we mentioned, lagged frames, or slow FPS, are when your GPU is overloaded. We recommend to try lowering the quality of the game so Streamlabs OBS has some breathing room to compose the frames of the encoder. You can also limit the FPS or use V-sync.

We recommend you consider locking your settings in your game to 120FPS and 120Hz, as this nicely divides for 60FPS and 30FPS streaming.

When experiencing skipped frames, check for high CPU usage. If you’re using software x264 encoding, consider using a faster preset or start using hardware encoding (NVENC/AMD) and this will be less taxing on your CPU to encode the stream.

One of the best things about Streamlabs OBS is that it works to reduce CPU usage by more than 20% while giving you the same video quality. We’ve have also optimized game specific x264 & Nvenc encoder settings.

Poor network or internet connections are often the cause of dropped frames. Try manually connecting to the closest server on the streaming platform you’re using. You can also try to restart your networking gear, like your modem, router, or switches, and see if that helps.

Lastly, you’ll want to also check that the video and audio bitrate is not exceeding your internet upload speed, so be sure to check both of these. There are many internet speed tests websites you can use to check your speed for free.

Now that you know how to identify and troubleshoot issues with CPU and GPU, and have Streamlabs OBS to reduce CPU usage, you’re well on your way to fine-tuning your settings to the best they can be.

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