OBS is an essential part of streaming to get your feed onto Twitch, Mixer, YouTube and everything else. It is the middleman between what your PC or console is producing and what your viewers will see.
There are two things to consider with game streams – how good it looks (fidelity) and how fluid it plays (frames).
A balance should always be struck between the two, however, one thing is certain for frames per second – if it is not constant or over a certain threshold (30, 60) then it becomes jarring regardless of the quality.
A common problem for many OBS users in Windows 10 is frame drops in the software – the streamer may not even notice but the viewers do.
In this meaty guide we talk you through all possible causes and solutions to frame drop problems. Most of this guide is usable even if you don’t have Windows 10.
Generally, one or two will fix the problem for you but each case is different as will be the solution.
What causes OBS to drop frames for streamers on Windows 10.
To summarise, these are the likely causes of OBS dropping frames for Windows 10 users:
- OBS Settings – not optimised for your PC’s power or internet connection
- Hardware – PC is not able to handle running a game and OBS, GPU might be at 100%
- Windows 10 settings
How to fix OBS frame drops on your Windows 10 PC
We want to be able to fix your issue without going in and telling you to get a new PC. First, we will offer some actionable tips on what you can do right now. If all else fails, we’ll recommend new hardware.
Change settings within OBS
Change output mode to advanced.
Update the software
The first thing you should do, is make sure you have the latest version of OBS. At time of writing, the latest stable release was March 29 2.7.24.
Make sure the checkbox inside the General tab for automatic updates is turned on. OBS make frequent updates with many of them related to performance – if you have an old version then this simply task could fix your issue in an instant.
OBS CPU usage optimisation
If you’ve never tinkered with this setting, then it’s probably on very fast which is the most balanced setting. But, if you have an aging CPU running a game it has no right to, then this could help you with your dropped frames. Faster means less quality but better frames, slower means higher quality but uses more CPU and could drop the frames.
OBS competes with your other Windows 10 programs, if OBS doesn’t get enough juice it will struggle.
Try changing the setting by one stage and seeing if that makes a difference.
Set rate control
Rate control in the output tab specifically manages how the bitrate is controlled. The bitrate is how much data OBS is sending to Twitch or your chosen streaming platform.
You have four options, constant bitrate (CBR) adaptive bitrate (ABR), constant quantisation parameter (CQP), variable bit rate (VBR) and constant rate factor (CFR).
These settings all have their uses, but to try and fix dropped frames in Win 10, we want to change it to CBR. This is because CBR keeps the bitrate constant even if more can be used and keeps the stream stable and constant.
This setting won’t work to its best potential without the next section being entered correctly.
Set the bitrate
If the bitrate is set too low and you are trying to stream in 1080p this can drop frames, setting it too high when you just don’t have the bandwidth will not only drop frames but it can periodically freeze and cut off.
The bitrate tells OBS how much data to stream into Twitch, YouTube or Mixer and is an important setting to get right to ensure frames don’t drop. Your first port of call is to find out how fast is your internet upload speed. You can do this a number of ways but we use Google’s too – here.
This will tell you what your upstream speed is in Mbps (megabits per second). OBS bitrate is in Kbps.
Using Streamer Tactics HQ’s speed as an example, our upload speed was 6.75 Mbps, this equates to 6750 kbps. But, we don’t want to put 6750 in the OBS bitrate box as it may not be 6750 ALL of the time (and if it drops a little we might lose frames…), plus, we want to know how much bitrate we NEED.
*note – this test was done on a laptop, on WiFi and without professional streaming equipment.
To find this out, we find out what the output resolution is and then use this table to find out what’s needed.
|Upload Speed||Recommended Video Quality||Recommended Frame Rate||Optimal OBS Bitrate|
|2-3 Mbps||720p||30 fps||2500 – 3000|
|3-4 Mbps||720p||60 fps||3000-3500|
|4-6 Mbps||900p||60 fps||3500-4500|
|6-8 Mbps||1080p||30 fps||4500-5000|
|8+ Mbps||1080p||60 fps||5000-6000 (Max)|
Using the table below, set the bitrate according to the resolution you are using and FPS you are running. If your upload speed is quite low or a little bit spotty, adjusting the bitrate is a surefire way to help OBS maintain the streams frames so they don’t drop.
Setting the bitrate too low will result in a poorer picture quality but smoother gameplay, setting it too high can make it unstable which can cause disruption. Set it in the sweet spot.
Set resolution properly
As we’ve mentioned before, internet speed matters and if your Windows 10 machine is struggling and dropping frames through OBS then lowering the resolution (and therefore the quality) can help greatly.
First, we recommend setting the base and output resolution to be the same.
Second, we recommend for lower powered machines or slow upload speeds to lower the resolution, if you have a 1080p monitor, try going for a 720p output. Remember, a smoother video with higher frames per second is much preferable than better graphics and sluggish gameplay.
Set common FPS values
You have multiple options, but we should only look at 30 and 60. Of course, the higher the better for smoother gameplay but what we’re trying to achieve is an uninterrupted game stream and not the best possible fps. If this is set to 60 and your Windows 10 PC just can’t keep up then changing this setting to 30 can make all the difference.
Lowering it will reduce the bitrate (if your internet isn’t up to scratch) OBS sends to Twitch and it will lighten the load on your CPU/GPU. If your frames are stuttering on 60, give 30 a try and see if that resolves things.
It is not ideal to go to 30 when you want to be at 60 but as any viewer will tell you – it is better to have a smooth stream than a high quality one.
Change game settings
Before you start, make sure your game is updated to the latest version. Then, make sure you have the latest drivers for your graphics card – sometimes this alone can fix many common problems including frame drops.
If you normally play a game offline and it runs fine, it doesn’t mean adding OBS on top won’t make a difference as it does use up some CPU/GPU and network resources, as detailed above. Dropped frames and intense graphics do go hand in hand unless you have a PC that is wildly more powerful than the game demands.
Sub-optimal graphics settings does the following:
- Can lower the base frame rate
- Takes more resources from the CPU and the GPU
- Increases the bitrate needed to hold the frames on OBS
If you’re having some frame issues, try lowering your game’s graphics settings by one level – go from very high to high for example. Lowering the resolution is also advisable, especially if you’re used to playing in 4K offline and you’re trying to stream that resolution on Twitch.
Changing Windows 10 Settings
Run OBS as Administrator
Running OBS as an administrator used to be much more common to resolve problems such as frame drops. It is rare now but certainly worth trying. Running the app as admin can help open broadcast software get a hold of more of your Win 10 PC’s resources – in effect it wasn’t able to demand more to keep its performance optimal without being in admin mode.
To run OBS as an admin in Windows 10:
Right click on the app and select Administrator. That’s it!
Turn on Game Mode
Windows 10 and Windows 11 come with a feature that can be enabled called ‘game mode‘. Game mode helps to allow resources to be diverted to the games you’re playing and not other processes that Windows are running. This can help you not have to bother with task manager (below) or tinker with anything too technical.
If your Windows 10 machine is slightly behind the performance you need to run OBS without dropping frames then turning on game mode may give you that slight edge.
To tuen on game mode, launch Settings then go into the (newish) gaming category.
Turn off intensive tasks in task manager
If your PC is struggling, check the task manager and close any CPU/RAM intensive tasks.
An obvious reason for open broadcast software to struggle holding the frames is that your PC just isn’t powerful enough to run the game at the current settings AND OBS. We’ve gone into detail about tweaking settings to adjust to the low performance in previous points.
Does your Windows 10 gaming PC handle the game perfectly fine in offline mode? If it does, then it’s probably a software issue.
But, if you struggle with the game offline then adding OBS on top isn’t a good mix.
Sometimes, adding some extra RAM may help a little but the reality is you’d need a better GPU and CPU – if you get to that point it might be better to just get a new PC. Easier said than done, we know, especially if you are new to streaming and just don’t have the cash for it.
Alternatively, you could just not stream that particular game and got for something older – we have made a list of good games for new streamers. For seriously underpowered PC’s, you could always turn to retro or console gaming.
Pro tip: Create a wish list and put it in your bio. Let loved ones know what you’d like for your birthday/Christmas.
Move to a dual PC set up
Many streamers, especially experience streamers, run a dual PC set up – one gaming PC runs the game, the other runs OBS and Twitch.
This is an expensive and technical choice but it does simplify a lot. This is what that looks like
Change stream server
On rare occasions, the stream server you originally connected to might have become overloaded. You can use TwitchTest to see your connection options and find the one you have the best connection to.
Windows Firewall/Windows Defender/Anti-Virus
On rare occasions, certain Windows programs or anti-virus may be interrupting the connection or throttling it. To make sure this isn’t the cause of dropped frames you can add obs32.exe/obs64.exe into a safe list or exception list to ensure it can get all of the resources.
How to do this varies between the brands you use for your internet security so please visit their respective websites to find out ‘how to add exceptions’.
Update network drivers
Make sure to have the latest drivers for your network card.
Are you new to streaming and using a WiFi router a distance away from your PC, or perhaps using a router that is a little old and not up to the task? This might be the problem. Do a internet speed test periodically and see how stable it is.
Remember that bitrate table we made? Does your speed test sometimes come back with wildly different results? If your router is struggling to maintain a good upload speed for you then it will leave OBS with a very hard task of maintaining your frames on stream.