What Is Video Bitrate? A Complete Guide

Edited by Nataly Bogorad

March 30, 2021

What is video bitrate? How does bitrate affect video quality? What is the recommended bitrate for different streaming platforms? How to change video bitrate?

If you watch a lot of videos from the Internet or planing to start streaming, you are likely to bump into those questions. Read our article to find the answers.

What Is Video Bitrate?

What is bitrate? Simply put, bitrate refers to the amount of video data being transferred in a particular amount of time. It mainly affects the size and quality of your video. The unit of measurement is bit/s, or bps, which means bits per second. For streaming videos, bitrate is usually described in megabits per second (Mbps), and for audio in kilobits per second (kbps). The conversion is pretty easy: 1000 kbps equals 1 Mbps.

Do not confuse “bitrate” with “resolution”. Resolution refers to the number of pixels that make up an image on your screen. The higher the resolution, the clearer your image is. In sum, bitrate deals with the speed at which your file is being processed, while resolution refers to the clarity of your image. Next time you see the words “bitrate for 1080p”, you will know that 1080p relates to the resolution and the number of pixels in an image.

How Bitrate Affects Video Quality

Video quality can depend on the bitrate. The higher the video bitrate, the higher the quality.

How does bitrate affect streaming? From a streaming perspective, a higher video bitrate means a higher quality video that requires more bandwidth.

Is a higher bitrate better? Usually, but not always. An unreasonably high bitrate can put an additional strain on your computer hardware and data bandwidth, and may lead to glitching. That is why it is crucial to figure out the optimal bitrate for your video. For example, the maximum bitrate for 1080p videos (the HD bitrate) is 10,000—15,000 kbps.

How can you figure out the bitrate that best suits your video? Many online streaming platforms provide you with the information on the recommended bitrate for this or that resolution, for example, a 480p bitrate. There are also online video bitrate calculators you can use.

Video Bitrate Calculator

Online calculators help you to make the process of encoding a video easier. They can differ in design and purpose. For example, some bitrate calculators are created for streamers only. Streaming requires more knowledge on bitrate and its characteristics. Nonspecialized bitrate calculators also exist and may provide additional information on how to calculate the bitrate correctly if you’ve never done it before.

If you’re struggling to figure out the best bitrate for your video, don’t worry. We’ve found some reliable online bitrate calculators – here’s the list:

The Best Video Bitrates

Suggested bitrates for your videos may vary depending on your chosen streaming platform. For instance, the recommended Twitch, IBM Video Streaming, and YouTube bitrates may be different.

The Twitch platform limits the streaming bitrate to 6000 kbps. This way, the streaming process is more stable.

IBM Video Streaming recommends that its users stick to the 1,200—4,000 kbps upload bitrate for 720p videos as the default. However, it is possible to raise the bitrate of a video if the hardware can ensure successful bitrate encoding of a file.

YouTube users just need to remember that the maximum YouTube bitrate is 85,000 kbps, which is considered a good bitrate for 1080p 60fps videos. The platform also has two sets of recommended bitrates for SDR and HDR uploads. SDR stands for Standard Dynamic Range, and HDR means High Dynamic Range. These abbreviations are often used to describe the quality of a photo or a video. Dynamic range refers to the ratio of the highest and lowest possible values any particular digital system can receive and process.

In the tables below, you will find the YouTube recommended bitrate for both types. Note that fps, or frames per second, in the two columns on the right means the number of images being shown in a single unit of time. To get the bitrate in Mbps, divide the given bitrate in the table by 1,000.

SDR Uploads: Recommended Video Bitrates

Type

Video Bitrate 24, 25, 30 fps

Video Bitrate 48, 50, 60 fps

2160p (4K)35,000–45,000 kbps53,000–68,000 kbps
1440p (2K)16,000 kbps24,000 kbps
1080p (HD)8,000 kbps12,000 kbps
720p5,000 kbps7,500 kbps
480p2,500 kbps4,000 kbps
360p1,000 kbps1,500 kbps

HDR Uploads: Recommended Video Bitrates

Type

Video Bitrate 24, 25, 30 fps

Video Bitrate 48, 50, 60 fps

2160p (4K)44,000–56,000 kbps66,000–85,000 kbps
1440p (2K)20,000 kbps30,000 kbps
1080p (HD)10,000 kbps15,000 kbps
720p6,500 kbps9,500 kbps
480p
360p
  • According to the table for HDR uploads, the bitrate for 720p is the last suggested option, so 360p and 480p video uploads aren’t supported.

How To Change Video Bitrate

To easily adjust the bitrate of your video, use Movavi Video Editor Plus. The program enables you to change the video bit-rate and sample rate. You can also edit your videos to your liking: add filters and special effects, record voiceovers, change the background, and more. An easy-to-use interface and helpful features will make your experience of using Movavi Video Editor Plus enjoyable and productive.

Watch the video below to explore the features and benefits of Movavi Video Editor Plus. Learn how easy and fun it is to edit videos with Movavi software.

Download and install the program and start your editing journey with us!

Read our detailed guide on how to change the bitrate of your video using Movavi Video Editor Plus:

Step 1. Install Movavi Video Editor Plus

Open the downloaded setup file for Movavi Video Editor Plus and follow the instructions to install the program. Once you have installed it, launch the video editor.

Step 2. Add Your Video File

Click the Add Files button and choose the video you want to edit. Drag the file and drop it onto the Timeline in the lower part of Video Editor Plus, so that you can start editing your video.

Step 3. Change the Bitrate of Your Video

Click the Export button on the right side of the editing area. You'll see the Export setting window.

Choose the desired format of your video file from the list on the left side of the window. Then specify the quality. To change the video bitrate and sample rate of the audio, click the Advanced button.

The editor enables you to specify the way you want to change the bitrate of your video. Find the Bitrate option in the list of settings. Click the field and choose the desired bitrate from the drop-down list. There are three options to choose from. Auto uses the recommended bitrate for the format of the video you have chosen. Custom constant bitrate enables you to set the same desired bitrate for the whole video. VBR, or variable bitrate, adjusts the bitrate according to the complexity of each frame. After setting the bitrate, click OK.

Step 4. Save Your Video File

Click the Start button to save your edited video.

Now you are ready to upload your file to any online streaming platform without worrying about the quality of your video.

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.