The best OBS settings for recording

Edited by Nataly Bogorad

June 11, 2021

Let’s talk about how to set up OBS for recording – so you can create the most professional-looking videos possible without a ton of extra work. In this article, we’ll walk you through how to start recording with OBS, the top settings you’ll want to use, and the best OBS alternatives available today. Let’s get started!

How to get best-quality screen recording videos in OBS Studio

To get started, let’s discuss a few ways to learn how to optimize OBS for recording on your computer.

Balance your settings

First, you’ll need to balance your settings. To do this, select the File menu and click Settings. This will open a new window. In that window, you’ll see options for:

  • General
  • Stream
  • Output
  • Audio
  • Video
  • Hotkeys
  • Advanced

The first time you open OBS Studio, an auto-configuration tool should pop up and guide you through the process of setting up OBS for your machine’s capabilities. If any settings aren’t adjusted, or if you need to increase OBS recording quality, you can come back to the Settings menu to make adjustments.

Set video capture parameters

Whether you’re a new OBS user or a veteran, you can adjust the video settings to capture better quality videos by clicking on the Video option in the Settings window. When you click here, you’ll see options for Base (Canvas) Resolution, Output (Scaled) Resolution, Downscale Filter, and Common FPS Values.

The Base (Canvas) Resolution refers to the dimensions of the window or area that you’ll be capturing for your video. The numbers you see here are the width x height of the video capture. If you’re recording your entire screen, for example, and you know your monitor is 1920 × 1080, you’ll select this option. If you’re capturing a custom-sized window, you can enter the width and height manually.

Output (Scaled) Resolution refers to the resolution of your output video. You can make it the same as your canvas resolution, but you’ll likely want to change it to best fit your output file format or the platform you’ll be streaming or where you’ll upload your video on.

Common FPS (frames-per-second) refers to your frame rate. Check now to make sure that you have it set to the frame rate you want your final video to have. 30 frames per second is usually a good way to go here, but it’s up to you.

Set your video recording parameters

Next, click Output in the Settings window. At the top of the window, you can choose between Simple and Advanced for your output mode. Simple mode lets you choose your video bitrate, encoder, audio bitrate, recording path (the name of your file and where it’s saved), recording quality, recording format, and custom muxer settings.

For most people, simple mode gives enough options and makes the process easier and faster. If you want to use the advanced mode, you’ll notice three tabs: Streaming, Recording, and Audio. Start with the Recording tab to choose your recording path and to change your file format if you want. Here, you can choose to record your video as an MP4, and you can set your encoder, as well. If you’re streaming, we highly recommend using the stream encoder.

Set streaming parameters for your screen recording

If you’re streaming, you’ll want to use the advanced output mode to configure OBS for recording. Go to the Streaming tab and make sure that:

  • Bitrate is set to 12,000
  • CPU usage is set to ultrafast
  • X264 is selected for the encoder

The best settings for OBS recording

As you get used to how to use OBS for recording, it’s useful to understand all the settings – so you know which are the most useful and how best to use them.

General settings

When you opened the Settings window, you probably noticed General Settings at the top. General settings don’t have any real effect on your video or audio. They’re mostly focused on your user experience. Here, you can change the application theme to dark mode, and you can make a few other changes, like activating the System Tray so you can easily launch OBS whenever you need to.

Output settings

You’ll find Output Settings next, just below General Settings in the Settings window. Your output settings will control the quality and size of the video you create with your screen recording and/or webcam recording. You may need to make adjustments to these settings depending on your purpose for your video. For example, if you’re recording conferences or tutorials for internal use by employees at your company, you may not need to produce a high-definition video that takes up a lot of space and processing power. On the other hand, if you’re recording gameplay for games with high-quality animation, you’ll want your video to look as crisp and cool as possible.

When you click on Output Settings, you’ll see the option to choose between Simple Mode and Advanced Mode at the top of the window. Simple Mode allows you to choose the recording path, quality, and format for your video. Advanced Mode gives you the option to customize your video output settings for recording, streaming, and audio output settings.

Audio Settings

Below Output Settings, you’ll find Audio Settings. This is where you’ll set your audio output. If you’re using your computer’s output audio, you’ll choose a Desktop Audio option. If you’re using an external microphone, you’ll choose one of the four Mic Audio options. Select the right option and move on to Video Settings.

Video Settings

When you open Video Settings, make sure that your Base (Canvas) Resolution and Output (Scaled) Resolution are set to the parameters you want. Remember, Base Resolution is where you set the dimensions of the video you’re capturing, and Output Resolution is where you set the dimensions of the output video file. This is also where you’ll set your bitrate (Common FPS Values).

Using advanced settings for OBS

Below Video Settings, you’ll find two more settings categories: Hotkeys and Advanced. Hotkeys are just keyboard shortcuts that you can set to streamline the video capture and recording process. In Advanced settings, make sure that your processing priority is set above normal, and set your renderer to Direct3D 11. To ensure that you have the best-looking video possible with a full range of colors, set your YUV color range to full, code format to NV12, and YUV color space to 709.

How to set up OBS for streaming

Now, let’s talk about how to use OBS for recording streaming videos, gaming, online conferences, and how to succeed using a low-end computer with less processing power.

How to optimize OBS for recording

How to set up OBS for game recording

When setting up OBS for gameplay recording, set your video capture settings to Game Capture. If you aren’t playing in full-screen mode and you only want to capture the game window, be sure to set your Base (Canvas) Resolution to match the dimensions of your gaming window. If you only want to record the gameplay audio, you can set audio to Desktop Audio. You can also choose from the Mic Audio options if you want to include your narration as well.

How to set up OBS for online conferences and lectures

To record and stream online conferences or lectures, set your video capture to Display Capture and adjust your Base (Canvas) Resolution accordingly. Be sure that your output resolution is set to what you want, and go to Audio Settings. If you’re streaming and recording yourself giving a lecture, choose the appropriate Mic Audio to get the best audio for your video clip. If you’re recording a speaker giving a lecture in an online conference, choose Desktop Audio.

How to set up OBS for low-end or bad computers

When working with a computer with less processing power, your goal should be to make the smoothest video possible, and avoid lag and get the best quality video possible within the limits of your equipment. To do this, go into your Settings menu and reduce your recording resolution to 16:9, 720p, or 480p. If you’re recording gameplay, go into your game’s settings and adjust them down to a lower resolution as well. Essentially, your picture quality may be a little lower, but you’ll still be able to create an enjoyable and/or educational experience for your viewers.

The best OBS alternatives for recording and streaming

Now, OBS Studio isn’t the only option available for screen recording and streaming. Let’s take a look at a few alternatives that you might want to consider.

Movavi Screen Recorder offers an easy way to record all or part of your screen for online conferences, lectures, events, and tutorials. Users can easily set up recording and output parameters, record both audio and video, and edit captured videos for later use.

Gecata by Movavi is a free-download application for recording and streaming games. It offers a straightforward and user-friendly solution for gaming streamers who want to capture and stream in-game play. It also has options to record with your webcam, as well, so you can create window-in-window videos that show your reactions and narration while also showing the game itself. It also has the capability to capture audio from your desktop and your microphone at the same time.

Windows 10 Game Bar

Windows 10 Game Bar is a built-in default application in Windows 10 computers. If you are running an older PC, you may have trouble finding and running a compatible version. It also has some recording and audio limitations, and some users have reported that the video output doesn’t always work.

Summary

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.

Nataly Bogorad

Nataly Bogorad is a seasoned content creator and web text editor with 7 years of experience in commercial writing and website UX. In 2012, she graduated from Universität Kassel with a bachelor of arts degree in English and American studies and art criticism. At the same time, Nataly had worked as a project assistant for Regionalmanagement Nordhessen GmbH where she wrote and managed the content of the company website. An advanced speaker of English and German, she specializes in writing SEO-optimized and user-friendly content.

Frequently asked questions

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.

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
  • Encoder: x264
  • 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 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.