The Definitive Best Settings Guide for OBS — OBS Mythbusters

EDIT 12/12/2020 — Hey folks, just a couple notes on this article! While the information is all up to date, even in the most recent version of OBS, I just want to give you a heads up that this is the direct copy of the script from the video version. As such, the structure includes all the usual video trappings, such as an introduction, call to subscribe, etc. It’s wildly popular, so thank you very much for reading it.

Welcome to OBS Mythbusters. My name is Jessica, known online as tielqt, and I’m a support volunteer and moderator for the OBS Project, and I help out with all kinds of issues in the OBS Discord server.

All around YouTube, searching for anything related to OBS is bound to get you a few “best settings” videos. They say that their settings will make your recordings or streams lag free and high quality, and yet one look at the comment section on their videos will prove otherwise.

In fact, in many of these “best settings” videos, the creators are actually making some of the most common mistakes people can make with OBS.

Most of these videos will tell you to use the advanced output mode instead of simple, a change that the OBS team doesn’t recommend without a specific need for it. Many also tell you to record to MP4 in spite of OBS displaying a big warning. You can even see the warning in the videos! I’ve already covered why this particular choice is a bad idea in another video, in fact.

So what’s gone wrong here?

The answer’s pretty straightforward, actually.

The idea that there are “best settings” which work for everyone is simply untrue. Not only do people have very different computers with different power levels and capabilities, they have very different needs.

For example, let’s say we have two people: one of them wants to record Let’s Play videos in 4K and upload them to YouTube, and the other wants to stream to Twitch and keep an archive of those streams. These people have very different things they want to accomplish, and so they’re going to have very different settings that they use in OBS. They also have very different hardware requirements, because encoding at 4K is going to be much more intensive than the streamer’s 1080p or 720p stream. The “best settings” for both people are going to be radically different.

In the words of fellow support volunteer and OBS expert Matt, otherwise known as WizardCM, “If there really were ‘best settings’, don’t you think OBS would come with them?” Matt is of course correct. If there were “best settings” that worked for everyone, they would be the defaults for OBS and everyone’s problems would be solved!

So, instead of talking about what the “best settings” are, let’s talk about finding the ones that work for you. It’s going to take some testing, but luckily OBS Studio has a nifty tool to help get you started: the Auto Configuration Wizard, or if you’re like me and like short names for things, the “AutoConfig”.

To quickly explain what this does, everything you can do in OBS is going to be determined, and sometimes limited, by your hardware. The AutoConfig will try and figure out what will work for your hardware, based on a few factors, such as the power of your CPU, and if your GPU supports hardware encoding.

OBS Studio opens up the AutoConfig when it’s run for the very first time on your computer, but you can run it again at any time using the option in the Tools menu at the top of OBS.

As you run through the AutoConfig, you’ll be asked a couple of questions about what you want to do with OBS Studio.

First, you’ll be asked if you’re going to be streaming or recording with OBS. No matter what you choose here, the actual functionality of OBS won’t be changed; you can always change your settings to start streaming or recording at any time.

Next, you’ll be asked what base resolution you want to use, and the framerate you’d like to target. Generally speaking, your base resolution should be the same resolution as the monitor you’ll be streaming from. Nowadays, this is *probably* 1920x1080, but if you’re running OBS for the first time, it’ll be set up as your monitor’s resolution.

Next, if you said you want to stream, you’ll be asked what service you want to stream to. As of OBS Studio 23.0, if you use Twitch or Mixer, you can even connect your account to get access to chat and stream information right in within OBS!

After that, you’ll be given baseline settings based on your choices and hardware. Done!

So, now that you’ve gotten a baseline, where do you go from here? Into testing, of course!

Recordings and streams are very easy to test.

To test out a recording, just make one and watch it back. Don’t know where to find them? You can find them by going to File > Show Recordings.

The OBS team recommends using VLC Media Player, another excellent free and open source project, for watching your recordings to make sure they’re played back accurately. Link to download VLC in the description.

If you’re planning to stream and want to test what your video looks and sounds like, you can do so without ever going live. In the Recording section of Settings > Output, if you set the Recording Quality to “Same as stream”, you can record a video with the exact same quality as your stream, giving you the chance to make changes without needing to go live. Don’t forget to change this back to your original setting if you record in higher qualities than your streams.

If you plan to stream to Twitch, OBS contributor R1CH has developed TwitchTest, which will allow you to see how your network will perform under realistic streaming conditions. You can use this tool to get an idea of your maximum bitrate, and how stable your connection is. When you open it up, set the test’s length to Medium and run it on servers in your region.

When looking at the results, use servers with the highest quality rating, not the highest speeds, and remember that Twitch only allows normal streams to use 6000kbps at most.

If you’re not streaming to Twitch, the same level of testing doesn’t quite exist, so you can use a normal speedtest and estimate that your “stable” upload speed is about 70–80% of your total speed. Make sure to know the limits of your streaming service though, or turn on the “enforce streaming service encoder settings” option to have OBS take care of this for you.

If you’re primarily going to be recording and want to get the best possible quality, you will want to choose the “Indistinguishable Quality, Large File Size” option in most cases. I personally use this setting for recordings, and I could not tell you the difference between a game rendered in real time and a recording of it.

Keep in mind that files recorded with this preset will be quite large, so if storage is a concern, I’ve found that the High Quality preset produces very nice results as well, at considerably lower file sizes.

Thanks for reading this script! I hope I’ve helped you understand why “best settings” are a myth, and gotten you on the way to finding your own best settings. If this helped, please consider giving a like and maybe even subscribing.

EDIT 12/12/2020: Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this article, please consider sending a tip through ko-fi, or following me on Twitter. ❤

And lastly, if you need help with anything OBS Studio, you can visit to find the OBS wiki with a ton of guides and information, as well as the forums, Discord, and more.

Cheers, and see you in the next video!~



Streamer, OBS Project Support and Community Manager. she/her or they/them

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Jessica Alouette

Streamer, OBS Project Support and Community Manager. she/her or they/them