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Last Updated · November 22, 2023

What is Video Bitrate? Here is All You Need

what is video bitrate

Do you know what is a good video bitrate?

Well, today we will delve into what does bitrate do in video, its impact on video quality, its role in adaptive streaming, and how it influences the viewing experience across different devices and internet connections.

Besides, we will also share what is the best video bitrate for OBS and other video-sharing platforms that will clear all your confusion.

Part 1: What is Video Bitrate?

The video bitrate is the amount of data during video playback or streaming. It has a huge impact on video quality and is critical for streaming media that is seeking high-quality content. Bitrate measures the data used to encode video per second.

In broadcasting, data transfer includes uploading and downloading. Uploads involve transferring data from the device to the web after the video signal undergoes compression by an encoder. Conversely, downloads refer to users receiving video data from the web to their devices.

Higher transfer speeds mean more data passing through, while higher bitrates result in better video quality. For instance, a 6000 Kbps bitrate yields excellent video quality for a 1080p resolution video at 60 frames per second. Conversely, a video with a bitrate below 3000 Kbps would be of poor quality, even at 720p resolution or lower.

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Part 2: How is Video Bitrate Measured?

Video bitrate is quantified by the number of bits per second (bit/s), with a 'bit' representing the smallest unit of data processed by a computer and a bitrate indicating the volume of bits transmitted per second.

Due to the small size of bits, video output is typically measured in Megabits per second (Mbps), while audio uses Kilobits per second (Kbps).

To calculate video bitrate, use the formula (bps) = Target pixel count/resolution x frame rate x 1/2/4 (depending on video dynamics) x 0.07.

You must align the resolution closely with the chosen bitrate for optimal results. For instance, a standard full HD video commonly requires a bitrate between 3500-5000 Kbps, whereas the same video with higher resolution would need a higher bitrate, usually ranging from 4500-6000 Kbps.

Part 3: How Does Bitrate Affect Video Quality and File Size?

After learning what is bitrate and how it is measured, it is time to know its effect on the video quality and size of the file.

1. Effect on Video Quality

Insufficient video bitrate can limit and degrade the quality of your video, especially for high-resolution content like 1080p or 4k HD. Thus, to ensure smooth streaming or uploading of your hardware, bitrate must meet the demands of the chosen resolution. Sharing a 1080p HD video with a robust Internet network would be successful if your bandwidth meets the quality requirements for a seamless audience experience.

Using the highest video bitrate available may seem tempting, but it can backfire and lead to buffering, slow loading, or video playback failures. Strive for a balance between high-quality video and enormous file sizes that could strain your viewers' devices. A thoughtful approach ensures a satisfying viewing experience for your audience.

2. Effect on File Size

Bitrate also plays a significant role in determining the file size of both videos and audio. Higher bitrates lead to larger file sizes, whereas lower bitrates result in smaller files. This aspect becomes crucial when streaming content over limited bandwidth or with storage constraints. Adjust the bitrate to maintain a good quality stream without surpassing available bandwidth or storage capacity.

In short, understand bitrate adjustments to balance maintaining quality and managing storage and bandwidth efficiently.

Part 4: Factors Need to be Considered When Choosing the Best Video Bitrate?

For choosing the best video bitrate, here are several factors that you should be careful about to ensure optimal video quality and efficient data transmission:

1. Resolution and Frame Rate

Higher resolutions and frame rates require higher bitrates to maintain video quality. So, check your video content's resolution (e.g., 720p, 1080p, 4K) and frame rate (e.g., 24 fps, 30 fps, 60 fps).

2. Content Complexity

The complexity of the video content, such as fast-paced action scenes or high-motion graphics, may necessitate a higher bitrate to preserve clarity and avoid compression artifacts.

3. Available Bandwidth

Assess the available Internet bandwidth for both the upload (if live streaming) and download (for viewers). Ensure that your Internet connection can sustain your chosen bitrate and your audience. Also, understand your target audience's devices and Internet connections, optimize the bitrate to suit them, and avoid buffering or playback issues.

4. Streaming Platforms and ABR

Adhere to their recommendations for streaming platforms to ensure compatibility and optimal performance. Implement Adaptive Bitrate Streaming (ABR) to dynamically adjust the bitrate based on the audience's Internet connection.

5. File Size and Storage

Higher bitrates result in larger file sizes. Consider the storage capacity for hosting your videos and the bandwidth users need to download them.

6. Encoding Efficiency

Use modern video codecs (e.g., H.265/HEVC) and efficient encoding settings to improve video quality at lower bitrates.

Additionally, assess the budget as higher bitrates may require more powerful hardware and Internet plans. Also, conduct tests with different bitrates to find the right balance between quality and performance.

So, that was about the factors you must check before choosing a bitrate. Now, let us move to several bitrate settings for video streaming platforms and answer what video bitrate should I use for OBS.

Part 5: What is the Best Video Bitrates Setting for YouTube/OBS/Twitch/Streaming

Below are recommended bitrate settings for each streaming platform:

1. Best Video Bitrate Setting for YouTube:

YouTube supports a wide range of bitrates, but for optimal results, consider the following settings:

  • Resolution: 1080p (1920x1080) or 720p (1280x720)
  • Frame Rate: 30 or 60 fps
  • Bitrate: For 1080p, use a bitrate between 4000 to 8000 Kbps. For 720p, use 2500 to 5000 Kbps.

2. Best Video Bitrate Setting for OBS (Open Broadcaster Software):

What is the best video bitrate for OBS? For most scenarios, the following settings work well:

  • Resolution: Match your output resolution to your video's native resolution.
  • Frame Rate: 30 or 60 fps, depending on the content type.
  • Bitrate: For 1080p, use a bitrate between 3000 to 6000 Kbps. For 720p, use 1500 to 4000 Kbps.

3. Best Video Bitrate Setting for Twitch:

Twitch has recommended bitrate guidelines based on your affiliate/partner status:

  • Non-affiliate/Non-partner: For 1080p, use a bitrate between 2000 to 4000 Kbps. For 720p, use 1500 to 3500 Kbps.
  • Affiliate/Partner: For 1080p, use a bitrate between 3000 to 6000 Kbps. For 720p, use 2000 to 4500 Kbps.

4. Best Video Bitrate Setting for Streaming (General):

What bitrate should I stream at? A good rule of thumb is:

  • Resolution: 720p is popular as it balances quality and bandwidth requirements.
  • Frame Rate: 30 fps is sufficient for most content, but use 60 fps for fast-paced gaming or action content.
  • Bitrate: Use a bitrate between 2000 to 5000 Kbps, depending on your available upload bandwidth and desired quality.

Besides, keep your Internet connection and the capacity of your hardware in mind when selecting the bitrate to ensure smooth streaming and a great viewer experience.

Part 6: FAQs about Video Bitrate

Q1: What is the bitrate for 1080p video?

The bitrate for 1080p video depends on the desired video quality and content complexity. A recommended range for online streaming or uploading to platforms like YouTube is between 4000 to 8000 Kbps. This range preserves video quality and ensures smoother playback for viewers with varying Internet connections. Higher bitrates result in better video quality and larger file sizes, which may impact streaming performance, especially for viewers with limited bandwidth.

Q2. What is a good bitrate for 1080p 60fps?

For 1080p video at 60 frames per second (fps), a good bitrate falls within the 6000 to 10000 Kbps range. The higher frame rate requires more data to accurately capture smoother motion and fast-paced action. A higher bitrate ensures the video maintains quality during fast movements, minimizing motion blur and compression artifacts. However, it's crucial to consider the available bandwidth for the streamer and viewers to avoid buffering issues during live streaming.

Q3. What is a good bitrate for 4K 60fps?

For 4K video at 60 fps, a good bitrate ranges from 20000 to 50000 Kbps. 4K resolution demands significantly higher bitrates to maintain the level of detail and clarity expected at this resolution. The higher bitrate ensures the video is sharp and reduces the risk of visual distortions caused by compression. However, streaming 4K content requires a robust Internet connection for the creator and viewers.

Q4. Does reducing bitrate reduce quality?

Yes. Bitrate directly affects the amount of data used to encode each second of video, and lower bitrates mean less data available to represent the visual information accurately. As a result, the video may exhibit compression artifacts, loss of detail, and decreased overall clarity. However, reducing the bitrate can lead to smaller file sizes, which is excellent if you have limited bandwidth or storage capacity—balance bitrate and quality better as per the resolution and content complexity.

Q5. What is a good video bitrate for 720p?

For a 720p video, a good video bitrate falls within the range of 1500 to 4000 Kbps. Compared to 1080p or 4K, this lower resolution allows for more efficient compression without sacrificing significant quality. A bitrate in this range ensures a good viewing experience for the audience, and clear and smooth video playback, especially when combined with a frame rate of 30 fps. Again, match the available Internet bandwidth, storage capacity, and the preferences of your viewers for the appropriate bitrate for 720p content.


Hence, we are finally at the end of our article on what is video bitrate and how it impacts file size and image quality. This article also answered what bitrate should I stream at for various platforms, including YouTube, OBS, Twitch, and general streaming. Lastly, we shared the best live stream camera, called the OBSBOT Tail Air.

We hope this post served you in learning what is my bitrate and how to get the maximum quality out of your live stream.