Frequent gamers shouldn’t have to deal with excessive lags or drops in frame rates , but sometimes these glitches do happen. Fortunately, there are a number of precautions you can take and some adjustments you can make to help improve your live stream. Whether you’re on Twitch *, Mixer *, or YouTube, there are a number of ways to diagnose why there are so many delays and to try to figure out how to stop buffering when you stream.
With these tips, you can reduce delays and fix a variety of problems, from other viewers’ complaints about your broadcast to falling frames using a broadcast package like Open Broadcast Studio * (OBS).
Identify the problem
Control the server
Buffering problems are often attributable to something as simple as being connected to the wrong ingest server, which is the server you connect to for streaming. Before logging in to Twitch *, YouTube *, or Mixer *, do a ping test to confirm if you are connected to a server near you. Connecting to a Melbourne server when in New York City will not generate the best ping times.
Check that nothing is running in the background
If you’re diligent about backing up your computer files, or maybe you constantly have a few cloud accounts synced at the same time, try disconnecting that before you start streaming, to help free up bandwidth. Streaming uses a lot of upload bandwidth, which is typically limited on bandwidth connections, especially compared to download speeds. Stopping those processes in the background will free up more availability for when you go live. It would also be good to monitor whether someone else using your network is doing bandwidth-intensive activities.
Control your internet speed
Broadcasting a video game generally requires uploading the video and sound in real time. Sometimes it includes a second video from a webcam that is focused only on you, in addition to the widgets that you may have shown in your streaming program. You will need a lot of bandwidth to display all of that in high quality and without interruptions. In some cases, making this available is as simple as turning off any background software that is actively using the Internet. But, if that doesn’t work, the problem could be your internet speed.
Check how your Internet connection is using a web service like Speedtest.net * to analyze current upload and download speeds. The upload figure, in particular, can serve as a guideline on how to schedule your broadcast in relation to available bandwidth. For example, if your upload speed is around 5 Mbps, that is the amount of data you can send at any given time. With that particular setting, try streaming at 1080p resolution with 30 frames per second first. If you are still having buffering problems, then try going down to 720p resolution with the same frame rate. Uploading with lower frame rates and resolutions requires less bandwidth.
Although there is no general rule of thumb as to what the speed at which you should stream over the internet should be, you can adjust the settings until you figure out what works for your particular settings. In most cases, the lowest resolution you can stream in HD is 854 x 480, so it is possible to do so with low bandwidth.
Keep in mind that a simple speed test might not always provide the best analysis of your upload speed. These tests are general tools to analyze the general good functioning of your connection, in contrast to how you are interacting with Twitch *, Mixer * or YouTube * specifically. Anyway, if you have difficulties with upload speed, that is a very good indicator that you should contact your Internet service provider and increase your upload bandwidth, or work with them to solve the problem.
How to perform a test transmission
If you continue to experience buffering and low frame rates when streaming even after you’ve checked your Internet connection and adjusted the bit rate, try running what some streaming services call a “streaming test” to help you better diagnose the problem. Essentially this is an empty stream, allowing you to actively test your internet connection while connected to live servers. One of the benefits of running a streaming test is that it can help you determine if the issues are related to bandwidth or bit rate, which will help you better diagnose the problem.
This type of test varies by streaming service, but in most cases it takes a little time to diagnose. Twitch ”and Mixer” offer specific tools to help you figure out what’s going on, while YouTube’s * streaming approach is geared toward a more general audience. You can do a test broadcast to help you check how the connected peripherals are working as well, and if you are seen or heard on the broadcast when you are live.
Twitch * users have the Twitch Inspector * , which actively records the operational status of your most recent broadcasts. If you haven’t been streaming in a while and there is no data to rely on, you can do a test stream by placing a bandwidth indicator after the streaming key on an encoder like OBS. The indicator will prevent the broadcast from informing your followers that you are live. Run the test for 5-10 minutes 4or more to gather more data. Internet connections can fluctuate, and you may have to wait a bit before noticing instability. Alternatively, you can monitor Twitch Inspector while testing to see real-time bitrate measurements. Pay particular attention to whether the graph drops, as that can be an indication of the transmission status. You want the graph to look as stable as possible. Twitch Inspector will also indicate the average bitrate figure of the stream in the lower right corner. If you need more help, the helpful “Select a problem” drop-down menu at the top of the screen will guide you through Twitch’s many helpful support pages *.
Keep in mind that a caveat regarding testing the Twitch * Inspector is that it does not detect frame rate errors since the stream is blank. Twitch Analyzer * can help you with this, although it will require the broadcast to be public-facing for that particular data to be collected.
Mixer * users have a similar tool to do a test broadcast. However, it is only available for developer or partner channels. The function will not appear unless you belong to one of these classifications.
If you are a member, the feature is available through the Broadcast Dashboard in the general settings panel, under Test Streams, although it is limited to just five hours of test streaming per month. You’ll see a pop-up bar with a link to stream once you enable Trial Mode, though it won’t go live to your followers. For non-members, they can at least access some analytics on past broadcasts to see breakdowns of demographic information and similar data.
YouTube’s instructions for doing a test stream are a bit more general. YouTube suggests running a separate speed test like the one mentioned above to measure download and upload speeds. If that fails, running an unlisted live stream is another way to test what the stream is like when you’re live, and then read the analytics reports.
When to start monitoring hardware
If you’ve tried all the options presented here to fix the flaw, as well as streaming content at the lowest settings, and still feature video buffering and low frame rates, it’s time to check out the hardware.
It will also help to ensure that your processor is cooled with an air or liquid CPU coolant, and that the thermal paste has been recently and correctly applied .
A great way to monitor the inside of your computer is to run a test transmission while simultaneously running a diagnostic application, such as HWInfo * . An app like that will give you specific metrics about things that are important to monitor like temperature and CPU utilization. Check your CPU documentation to see if the temperature is within the standard operating range. If it isn’t, make sure you’re using a powerful CPU or air coolant, and that the thermal paste has been recently and correctly applied. If you appreciate a high utilization ofCPU, try lowering the encoding presets, or consider upgrading the processor. A current or later generation Intel® Core ™ i7 processor is recommended as a starting point for gaming and streaming content simultaneously.