How to change the resolution in OBS

The default video settings in Open Broadcast Software (OBS) generally work like a charm in most cases. However, some streamers prefer to manually change the resolution and aspect ratio for a more personalized streaming experience. Fortunately, the software is incredibly user-friendly, allowing you to try out different setups for each session.

Below, you'll find step-by-step instructions on how to change the resolution in OBS, along with a breakdown of the main video settings. We've also included some tips on how to get everything ready for the stream and make your content stand out. So keep reading to learn more about the best OBS setups.

How to change the resolution in OBS

Resolution is a measure used to determine the clarity and sharpness of a particular image. This is one of the most critical aspects of streaming and getting it wrong can seriously hurt your viewers' experience. You want to make sure viewers can see everything that's happening onscreen instead of squinting at pixelated images.

Luckily, OBS offers you different video and output settings for a seamless streaming session. The open source software default configuration is fine. However, there is always room for improvement. You can play around with different resolutions and aspect ratios to find the best setup for your content.

Let's take a look at each video setting and step-by-step instructions on how to adjust it.

Basic resolution

The base or canvas resolution affects the image quality of the entire stream, including overlays and recordings. As this is the primary video source, you need to be careful when adjusting it. Incorrect base resolution can lead to lagging and other annoying issues.

There are two recommended settings for the base resolution: 1920×180 or 1280×720. With 1080p and 720p, the aspect ratio is automatically set to 16:9, which is the optimal solution for most computer screens. However, some streamers prefer the 1600x900 setting as a half point between the two standard resolutions. If you want to try it yourself, here are the steps to change the base resolution in OBS:

  1. Launch the OBS software and scroll down to the "Sources" box. Click the little plus (+) at the bottom of the panel to add a video source.
  2. Next, click on "Settings" in the lower right corner of the screen. The “Settings” window will appear.
  3. In the menu panel on the left side, click on the "Video" tab.
  4. Click on the dialog box marked "Canvas Resolution (Base)". From the drop-down list, select a preferred value.
  5. Check the aspect ratio on the right side, next to the dialog box. Ideally you want to keep it at 16:9, but 4:3 can also do the trick.
  6. Once you are satisfied with the settings, click "OK" to apply the changes.

Another way to influence the base resolution is to change the resolution of your computer screen. It's not entirely necessary, but it can sometimes help improve image quality if all else fails. Here's how to do it with a Windows PC:

  1. Right-click anywhere on the screen to open a drop-down menu.
  2. From the list of options, select "Display Settings" to access the Control Panel.
  3. Under "Display resolution", click on the small drop-down arrow next to the current resolution. Next, select the preferred setting from the drop-down list.
  4. Finally, click “Apply” and “OK”.

And here's how to do it with a Mac:

  1. Click on the "Apple Menu" in the upper left corner of the screen and go to "System Preferences".
  2. Open the "Views" tab and select "View".
  3. Next, click on the “Scaling” option to turn it off. Finally, choose a different resolution from the list.

Output resolution

OBS is not just fantastic streaming software; you can also use it for screen recording. Output resolution is the measure of the image quality of a particular screenshot. Getting it right is essential if your content is primarily tutorial-based.

The output resolution is completely independent of the base resolution, which means you can set the two at different ratios. However, this can sometimes lead to issues, such as black bars appearing on the sides of the screen. This is why it is better to match the two parameters.

Luckily, changing the output resolution is pretty straightforward, so you can fix potential issues pretty quickly. Here's how:

  1. Launch OBS and click "Settings" in the lower right corner of the screen.
  2. A new window will appear. Select "Video" from the menu panel on the left side.
  3. Next, click on the "Output Resolution (Scaling)" dialog box to expand it. Then choose a preferred ratio from the drop-down list.
  4. Check if the aspect ratio is correct. Remember that it must be in 16:9 or 4:3 aspect ratio.
  5. Finally, click "Apply" to save the new resolution.

Downscale filter

Some streamers prefer to stream in 720p, even if the base and output resolution is set to 1080p. OBS has a special filter for downscaling that allows you to do this. Here's how to apply it:

  1. Click "Settings" in the lower right corner of the OBS window.
  2. In the "Settings" panel, select the "Video" tab.
  3. Look for the dialog box marked "Downscale Filter" to access the list of filters. You have several options to choose from. However, the recommended filter is Lanczos. Keep in mind that this can put a strain on your CPU and GPU. If you want a lighter version, try Bicubic. The other two filters, Bilinear and Zone, are somewhat outdated.
  4. Once you have chosen the filter, click "Apply".

Resize Output

There is another feature that you need to enable if you want to stream in a lower resolution than the basic configuration. The resize output will resize the image according to the reduced filter instead of following the base resolution. You just need to activate it:

  1. Open OBS and go to "Settings".
  2. In the menu panel on the left side, click the "Output" tab.
  3. Next, check the small box labeled “Rescaling output”.

The best configuration options for OBS

Since we have pretty much covered all OBS video settings, we will focus on the “Output” tab in this section. As mentioned, the default configuration works for most streamers. However, it also depends on the type of content you produce. That's why playing around with different settings can help improve your streaming sessions and possibly increase your follower count.
If you want to optimize your OBS configuration, it is better to do it with the “Advanced” mode. It will allow you to micro-manage all aspects of the stream, from bit rate to audio quality. Here's how:
1. Launch OBS and open the "Settings" window.
2. Next, click the “Output” tab on the left side.
3. Finally, expand the "Output Mode" bar by clicking the down arrow on the far right. From the drop-down list, select "Advanced".
Once you're done, you'll be able to fine-tune your OBS setup with added efficiency. But for that, you have to become familiar with the different settings. So, let's go through each of them and explore how it affects the flow:
• Encoder. Hardware encoding will help minimize CPU usage, which can be useful if you don't have a powerful computer. But, unfortunately, this can sometimes affect visual fidelity. To avoid this, try the x264 encoder setting.
• Bit rate. The "bits per pixel" rate is determined by the FPS, resolution and download bandwidth. Therefore, you want the audio and video bitrates to correlate with these three aspects. Usually, 1080p resolution requires 6 Kbps video bitrate and 000 Kbps audio.
• Rate control. It determines the consistency of your debits. Generally, CBR is the preferred bit rate, but if you have limited bandwidth, go with VBR.
• Keyframe interval. The recommended setting for live broadcasts is a keyframe interval of two. This means that the software will render the entire video frame every two seconds.
• CPU usage preset. Ideally, you want to set it to "very fast" if you're using software encoding.
• Profile. It's best to keep the default OBS setting because the "main" profile has all the features you need for a successful stream.
• Audio. As mentioned, the recommended setting for audio bitrate is 128 Kbps. However, if you are using more than one track when recording, you can push it to 320Kbps instead.

Get started with OBS

OBS is highly customizable streaming software. While the default settings are quite effective, you also have the freedom to make adjustments and get the most out of your content. You can change the base and output resolution to improve the video quality of your streams and screen recordings, for starters. Additionally, you can use a downscaling filter for the single stream at 720p if that works best for your gameplay.

Thanks to the "Advanced" output mode, you can go even further. If you have the time and dedication to explore the different setups, OBS is incredibly easy to navigate. It won't be long before you get the ball rolling and optimize your streaming sessions.

Do you use OBS for live streaming? What is your experience with the software? Let us know in the comments section below if there's anything we missed.

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