If you want to record professional-grade videos from your screen, then OBS Studio is a solid platform. But the program is a little tricky when setting up. For those struggling with their configuration, here is our list of the best OBS recording settings.
Base (canvas) resolution
Adjust to the size of the video you want to capture – e.g. 1920 × 1080 to match the size of your monitor for ‘full screen’ capture at 1080p.
Output (scaled) resolution
Adjust to fit your output file format or the recommended playback or streaming format for your preferred platform.
Common FPS (frames-per-second)
How to get best-quality screen recording videos in OBS Studio
OBS – Open Broadcaster Software – has advanced features for both capture and streaming. But to get a smooth output, you must know how to set up OBS for recording.
Balance your settings
To optimize for the best recording settings for OBS, you’ll need to pre-configure specific settings that apply to every recording. These base settings help you capture with better quality overall and should remain as a default.
To configure these settings, access the Settings menu by clicking File > Settings. A window will appear that lists options to change settings in a variety of categories like Output, Audio, and Video.
We’ll use these categories to:
Set your video capture parameters
Set your video recording parameters
Set streaming parameters for your screen recording
An auto-configuration tool will pop up when you first open the OBS screen recorder. From here, you can adjust the settings to match the specs on your computer. But if you need to further adjust your settings – as shown in the sections below – you’ll return to the Settings menu.
Follow the instructions in each category to optimize for the best OBS recording settings in any situation.
Set video capture parameters
You can improve the quality of your videos by clicking the Video category from the Settings menu. Here, you’ll find options that allow you to capture the smoothest videos possible within the platform. Adjust the following settings for optimal capture recording performance.
1. The base (canvas) resolution
Represented by width × height, this resolution represents the dimensions of your capture area. It’s best to match it to the settings on your monitor, but you can also create a custom capture window. 1920 × 1080 is standard 1080p HD recording.
2. Output (scaled) resolution
The resolution for your output (Scaled) doesn’t have to match the resolution for your capture (Canvas). But to create better quality videos, it's best to do so. For optimal playback on a specific platform, make sure your resolution settings are compatible. If not, you’ll want to adjust your settings to match the platform's upload standards.
3. Common FPS (frames-per-second)
FPS – also known as frame rate – determines how many frames per second your video will record. This affects the quality of your video, as more frames give you a smoother picture. 30 FPS or 60 FPS are the top settings based on your storage capacity.
60 FPS has a higher recording bitrate and takes up more storage. But if you want your viewers to experience no lag while watching gameplay videos and other high-quality content, this is the best option.
4. Downscale filter
When your resolution output is smaller than your recording, the video must downscale to match the size. That’s the task for this filter. Lanczos provides the highest quality downscaling, but not every computer can handle this filter. Therefore, we recommend sticking to Bicubic, unless your system can handle Lanczos.
Set your video recording parameters
Click Output from the Settings menu. From here, you can choose either Simple or Advanced to change a wide variety of output settings.
There are no actual parameters for this section, as everyone has different recording needs and systems. But we’ll explore those settings in the sections below.
For now, click the dropdown menu next to Recording format and select MP4. It’s the most commonly used video format to date.
Set streaming parameters for your screen recording
Streaming is another area that can have a lot of settings based on your needs – see below. But here are three settings you can use as defaults for most streams, assuming you’re streaming in 1080p full HD at 60 FPS.
To access, click Output under the Settings window. Then select Advanced from the menu next to Output Mode. Click the Streaming tab and use these settings:
Set the Bitrate to 4,000.
Set the CPU usage to veryfast.
Select X264 as your encoder.
The best OBS settings for recording
The section above provides a default list of settings you can use in most recording or streaming situations. Now we’ll explore each Settings category, so you’ll know how to use the best OBS settings for recording based on your project.
The General tab within the Settings window has settings that affect your experience of the platform. There’s nothing on the menu that affects the quality of your audio or video. Explore these settings and see what might be helpful in your video creation process.
We saw this menu earlier, but let’s take a closer look. This menu allows you to customize the encoding and format settings for your videos and streams. To start, click Advanced under the Output Mode dropdown menu and use these OBS high-quality recording settings:
To create a video, you need the program to encode the information in the video into a specific format. And your graphics card determines how fast your system can encode that information.
Many articles on ‘How to optimize OBS for recording’ state that you should use the NVENC H.264 setting. And they’re right because this setting creates the highest quality videos and streams.
But this setting requires an NVIDIA graphics card you may not have installed in your system. That’s why we recommend the x264 as the default recorder.
If you have an NVIDIA graphics card, use the NVENC H.264 setting, and you’ll definitely see a difference when recording or streaming games.
The rate control setting tells your system how you want to allocate the bitrate you’re using. CBR puts out consistent, quality video clips, doesn’t stress your motherboard, and gives you complete bitrate control.
However, if you have an NVIDIA graphics card installed, then CQP is the setting with the highest quality. Just know that this setting puts out large video files, and is mainly used by those recording videos in 4k.
You can always set custom bitrates to match the quality of the video you want to put out. Just remember that when you increase the bitrate, you increase the size of the file. If you have the storage space and a good internet connection (in case of streaming), you can set a high bitrate like 8000 for full HD recordings to get a crisp video.
But if you’re recording videos for tutorials or conferences, and potentially only playing back in 720p, you can lower things down to 6000.
Adjusting your audio bitrate correctly is beneficial for both streaming and recording. Audio bitrate affects overall bitrate and should be set according to available disk space, internet connection speed, and desired audio quality. Higher bitrate means better sound. If you record a video in full HD, it’s better to set the audio bit rate in OBS to 320. For 720p, 192 is just enough.
Audio is important for both your stream and recording, so it is important to always have the best possible audio quality.
Both Base (Canvas) Resolution and Output (Scaled) Resolution depend upon your output needs. You can always match the settings to the size of your monitor to get the full screen, but you don’t have to. However, this is best practice to get the highest quality video output. Remember to set your bitrate to either 30 or 60 FPS.
Let’s determine the best audio settings for OBS, starting with the Settings menu in the bottom-right corner of the main screen.
Under the Output tab, you can change the Audio Bitrate that directly affects the audio quality and the size of the output file.
Go to the Audio tab. Sample rate defines the number of samples per second taken from a continuous signal to make a discrete or digital signal. The higher the sampling rate, the more accurate the sound wave representation will be. Select the Stereo option from the Channels list. Having two audio channels is enough for most recordings.
OBS audio settings can also be found in the Devices section. If you’re using your computer's internal audio output, select Default next to Desktop Audio. And if you’re using an external mic, then select your mic from any of the four Mic/Auxiliary Audio options.
Set the bitrate to the maximum of 320 kbps
Set the sample rate to the maximum of 48 kHz
Set the Channels to Stereo
Using advanced settings for OBS
The last two settings categories are Hotkeys and Advanced. Hotkeys doesn’t really affect your video output, so let’s look at Advanced. Here, you’ll want to incorporate the following settings for high-quality videos:
Set your processing priority to Above Normal.
Set the renderer to Direct3D 11.
Set your color settings to NV12, 709, and full.
How to optimize OBS for recording
How to set up OBS for game recording
To record gameplay, you’ll click the + sign under Sources and select Game Capture from the menu. From here, you can choose whether you want to record your full screen or a specific window.
If capturing a window, be sure that your Base (Canvas) Resolution matches the resolution in the game’s window. And be sure to visit your Audio settings if you’re using an external mic for narration.
How to set up OBS for low-end or bad computers
Many of the settings above are for modern, higher-powered computers. If you’re working with a low-end computer, then you’ll want to set things up based on the specs of your system to create the smoothest possible video.
The best way to adjust for this is through the resolution. Go to your Settings menu and then click Video. Then, drop your resolution settings until things smooth out. Your video quality will be lower, but at least you’ll lower the chance of lag and create a fluid viewing experience.
How to set up OBS for online conferences and lectures
For lectures and conferences, it’s better to choose Display Capture from the Sources menu. Again, you’ll want to adjust the Base (Canvas) Resolution to match your display.
If you’re recording your own lecture, then use a mic for the best sound. Just be sure to set things up in the Audio settings first.
How to set up OBS for streaming
For streaming, the settings in the previous sections will work for most scenarios. To optimize your streaming, you’ll want to focus on your bitrate and FPS. This is where your internet speed comes into play. You’ll need a faster internet connection to put out higher-quality streams with higher bitrates.
Here’s a short guide you can use to set up bitrate and FPS for streaming:
720p video at 30 frames per second – 1,500 to 4,000 kbps
720p video at 60 frames per second – 2,500 to 5,000 kbps
1080p video at 30 frames per second – 3,000 to 6,000 kbps
1080p video at 60 frames per second – 4,500 to 9,000 kbps
Top alternatives to OBS
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Not a fan of OBS? Below are our breakdowns of some top alternatives.
Best for: Recording lectures and general online content
OS: Windows and macOS
Price: Free trial, $42.95/year, and $59.95/lifetime
G2 rating: 4.5 out of 5, 50 reviews
With Movavi Screen Recorder, users have an easy, convenient platform for recording their screen. Use the program to record things like online tutorials, events, lectures, and conferences. Set up is quick and easy, and the program has a lot of superb features to help you edit videos after you capture.
Show your keystrokes
Capture your screen and webcam
Record only audio
Works fast and seamlessly
Lots of interactive controls
Offers free version, but you have to pay to use all features
Best for: Video game recording and streaming
Price: Free trial, $35.95/lifetime
Steam rating: 6 out of 10, 43 reviews
Gecata by Movavi is the company’s recording and streaming solution for serious gamers. The platform is user-friendly and allows users to optimize high-quality videos for their viewers.
You can record both video and audio, in-game or through an external mic. The program can also add webcam recordings into your video to show narration and your reactions to what’s happening.
Two-way sound capture
Full capture controls
4K video recording
No performance loss
Offers hardware acceleration
Video and audio recording
Not available for Mac
Watermarks on the free version
Windows 10 Game Bar
Best for: Quick solution
PCMag rating: 3.5 out of 5
The Windows 10 Game Bar is already built into any PC with Windows 10 installed. The program is fickle with its functionality, but Microsoft has given it some upgrades over the years. It’s a solid tool if you need a quick solution for video recording or streaming, but there are better options available.
System performance monitor
Can play music from Spotify
Works for games or any application
Works well when it works!
Already built into Windows 10
Game Bar doesn’t always appear when you want it to
Setting up OBS to record for streaming, gaming, and video conferences is fairly straightforward. With the tips and tricks we’ve discussed here, you should be able to create quality videos by recording your screen and/or webcam activity. If you’re looking for a good alternative to OBS Studio that will help you make high-quality videos, we recommend trying out Movavi Screen Recorder or Gecata by Movavi.
Movavi Screen Recorder
Disclaimer: Please be aware that Movavi Screen Recorder does not allow capture of copy-protected video and audio streams.
Frequently asked questions
What are the best settings for OBS recording?
For many users, the best settings for OBS recording are:
Video file format: MP4
Audio track: 1
Bitrate: 40,000 (or 15,000-25,000 if you’re working with a lower-end computer)
How do I set up OBS for recording?
When you first open OBS Studio, you should be prompted to go through the auto-configuration process. If the Auto-Configuration Wizard tool doesn’t automatically pop up, you can find it in the Tools menu at the top of your screen. Run this tool to let OBS automatically check your system’s requirements and attempt to find the settings appropriate for your computer. This should include the settings for your recording, resolution, encoder, bitrate, and other settings.
Once you’ve run the auto-config tool, check that OBS is set up for your preferred audio device. You can do this by clicking Settings > Audio. Then verify that it has the right audio device selected or change it if you’re using another device.
Next, you’ll need to add your video source(s). Find the Sources box at the bottom of the screen and click +. This will give you several options, including Game Capture, Window, or Video Capture Device (for capturing webcam video). Select the appropriate video source(s), and you’ll be set to start recording.
How do I set up OBS for recording games?
To record gameplay with OBS, go to Settings > Audio to ensure that your audio output is set correctly to your internal computer audio or to an external microphone if you’re using one. Next, go to the Sources box at the bottom of the screen. Click + and select Game Capture. This will ensure that you record the window for your game and no other video sources.
Why is my OBS recording laggy?
If the video you’re capturing isn’t lagging, but your OBS recording is, you likely need to reduce your bitrate and/or turn down your resolution settings for your game. If the problem persists, and you know that your computer is not lagging, you might want to try an alternative video capture application, like Movavi Screen Recorder.
Check out this overview of no-lag screen recorders:
What's the best recording format in OBS?
We recommend setting FLV as the recording format in OBS. Picking FLV has a great advantage – if OBS crashes during recording for whatever reason, everything you’ve captured before that will be saved. In terms of format support, your best choice is MP4 since this format is most commonly used.
What are the best OBS settings for 720p 60fps?
For streaming or recording in 720p, the two main options are bitrate and resolution. For 720p video at 60 frames per second, the recommended bitrate range is 2,500 to 5,000 kbps. The Canvas Resolution should be the size of the window you want to capture. The Scaled Resolution should be 1280 × 720 for a 720p stream or video.
Which OBS encoder is the best?
It depends mostly on your hardware. If you have an NVIDIA graphic card, you can use the NVIDIA NVENC H.264 codec that provides better quality than x264 encoder, but doesn’t have its custom options. On the other hand, x264 encoder uses CPU and might be a better choice for streaming. If you are an advanced user, there are OBS custom x264 encoder settings you can utilize that aren’t present in NVIDIA NVENC H.264 codec.
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