Streamlabs Desktop is a free, open source program that serves as a one-stop shop for streamers to record and broadcast their live stream to Twitch, YouTube, Facebook or any other platform of their choice.
The first and most important step is to optimize the program settings to ensure the best possible speed and quality relative to your hardware. After all, there is no one-size-fits-all formula. Every lineup is different.
This can be done automatically by letting the program scan your internet speed and hardware to determine the best possible settings. However, if you want to fine-tune things yourself, you can do that too.
To find the settings menu, open Streamlabs Desktop and click on the gear icon located in the bottom left corner of the program. There you have access to various options that you can use to optimize your stream.
Best encoder settings
First you should choose an encoder, which you can do by clicking on the output range in the settings menu.
Streamlabs Desktop offers two types of encoders, software (x264) and hardware (NVENC). The difference is that the software encoder uses the CPU while the hardware encoder uses the GPU. The best depends on your hardware.
The software encoder has better output quality than the hardware encoder, so this is usually the best choice. However, the hardware encoder is a good option for those who have extra powerful GPUs or want to lighten the load on the CPU.
Best quality and resolution settings
Next select the output of your video resolution, which can be done in the video section in the settings menu.
Your video resolution output plays an important role in determining the quality and performance of your stream. What works best depends on your hardware and internet speed. The higher the resolution, the more demanding the stream becomes. It’s usually best to leave the base resolution at 1920 x 1080 (1080p) as that is most likely your screen’s resolution. However, it is best to set the output resolution to 1280×720 (720p) as it still looks good without sacrificing performance.
You can increase it if your computer and internet speed can handle it, but the improved quality won’t be particularly noticeable to your viewers and won’t change the overall experience. So while it’s good, it’s not necessary.
Best CPU Utilization Preset
After that, you should change the CPU usage preference, which can be done in the Output section of the Settings menu.
Essentially, it determines the rate at which your CPU encodes the video. The faster it goes, the less CPU is used. Of course, that means it’s best to leave it at “Very Fast,” which hits the nail on the head in performance and quality. It’s the default option for a reason.
Best bitrate settings
Streamlabs Desktop now has a feature called Dynamic Bitrate that allows the program to automatically adjust the bitrate based on the stability of your network. It helps ensure the stream doesn’t drop frames if your internet connection is struggling.
This is a better option than a static bitrate, which drops frames as soon as your internet connection becomes unstable to maintain stability at the expense of quality – something most viewers find frustrating. So it’s best to turn it on.
To do this, click on the “Advanced” section of the settings menu and navigate down to the toggle next to the “Dynamically change bitrate when frames are dropped while streaming” option. Then click on it. If you’d rather stick with a static bitrate, Twitch has a set of guidelines to help you determine what works best based on your needs.
These settings also work when sending to YouTube and Facebook.
If you follow these settings or let the program detect them automatically, you have successfully optimized the program for your streaming needs. Now all you have to do is start streaming!
While updating your hardware, you can always go back and tweak the settings to suit your needs. Still, these are the perfect place to start and might even be optimal given how balanced they are.