Fix Dropped Frames and Twitch Lag: Tips for Improving Your Stream Quality

Are you struggling to get your Twitch stream to run smoothly? Do you experience buffering, lagging, or dropped frames while streaming with OBS? You’re not alone.

Many streamers face these issues, but the good news is that they can be easily fixed. In this article, we’ll cover the solutions to common problems that can impact your stream quality.

By the end of this article, you’ll have the knowledge you need to ensure your viewers have an enjoyable experience watching your stream. So, let’s get started!

Twitch Buffering and Dropped Frames

If your viewers are complaining about your stream buffering, the first thing you should check is if you are dropping frames. You can see this by looking at the counter at the bottom of the OBS main window.

Dropped Frames in OBS
Dropped Frames Counter in OBS

Dropped Frames means your connection to Twitch or YouTube’s servers isn’t stable. When this happens, OBS has to drop some of the video frames to compensate, which can cause your stream to buffer for viewers or even disconnect entirely.

There are three main causes of dropped frames:

  1. Your internet connection can’t keep up with the bitrate that you set in OBS.
  2. Another device on your network is using up a lot of your upload bandwidth, such as seeding torrents, uploading files, or someone else streaming.
  3. The connection to your router isn’t stable, which is often the case if you’re trying to stream over Wi-Fi.

Thankfully, there are several solutions you can try to fix your dropped frames issues.

Use Ethernet (not Wi-Fi)

First, stop streaming over Wi-Fi. Wireless connections are unstable by nature, so switching to wired Ethernet gives you the stable connection that streaming requires. Plus, it’ll help you maintain a more consistent ping in online games.

Test your internet connection on Twitch

Second, use TwitchTest to perform a full bandwidth test on Twitch. This free, open-source tool allows you to measure your upload speed, round trip time, and connection stability to each Twitch server.

Twitch Bandwidth Test Tool 1.5
Twitch Bandwidth Test Tool

Enter your stream key, set the duration to medium, and uncheck all the regions you don’t live in.

Once the test is complete, look for the server with the highest quality rating. If there’s a tie in quality, select the server with the higher bandwidth, and if there’s a tie again, select the server with the lowest RTT.

You can then manually select that server in OBS by going to Settings Stream Server. While you’re there, change your bitrate in the Output tab to around 85% of the bandwidth result you got in the TwitchTest tool. For example, if you got a bandwidth result of 6,000kbps, 85% of that is 5,100kbps, which leaves some headroom for variance and any other applications that need to send data.

Enable Dynamic Bitrate

OBS Studio introduced a new feature in version 24 called Dynamic Bitrate, which detects when your internet connection becomes limited and automatically reduces your bitrate instead of dropping frames.

This results in temporary lower quality for viewers, but it’s a much better experience than what they see when you start to drop frames. Once your internet recovers from the congestion, OBS will automatically raise your bitrate back up to whatever you set it to.

Dynamic Bitrate Enabled in OBS 3
Dynamic Bitrate stable, no congestion
Dynamic Bitrate Enabled in OBS 2
Dynamic Bitrate drops quality due to high congestion

To enable dynamic bitrate, go to Settings → Advanced → Network and check the box next to the option that says Dynamically change bitrate to manage congestion.

Game Capture Issues

Capturing your gameplay is one of the most important aspects of streaming, but it can also be one of the most frustrating. In this section, we’ll cover some common issues streamers face when capturing their gameplay and how to fix them.

Run as Administrator

There are a few games, both old and new, that require OBS Studio to be run as administrator in order to be captured properly. For example, Call of Duty and Valorant may not be captured correctly without administrator privileges.

To run OBS Studio as an administrator, close OBS, right-click the OBS Studio shortcut and select Run as administrator.

Running OBS without Admin Game Capture Not Working
OBS without Admin, the game doesn’t capture
Running OBS with Admin Game Capture Working
OBS with Admin, game capture works

You can also set OBS to always open as administrator. To do this, right-click the OBS Studio shortcut, select Properties, navigate to the Compatibility tab, and enable the option to Run this program as an administrator.

Always Run OBS as Administrator
Always run OBS as Admin

Fullscreen vs Windowed/Borderless

When you run a game in full-screen mode and alt-tab out of the game, it stops rendering. So OBS will usually either display a black screen or the last rendered frame instead.

When you run a game in windowed or borderless mode, and alt-tab out of the game, it continues to render. Some games reduce the framerate to save some system resources, but either way, OBS will continue to display the game as it’s rendered.

Some games, such as CS:GO, do not allow OBS to capture using game capture due to anti-cheat measures. When that’s the case, you should run the game in borderless fullscreen mode and use Window Capture in OBS instead.

Using Window Capture in OBS to fix Game Capture not working
Using Window Capture when Game Capture doesn’t work

Laptops using the wrong GPU

Many modern laptops come with two separate GPUs: a low-powered integrated GPU for everyday tasks like browsing the web, and a discrete GPU from NVIDIA or AMD for more graphically intensive applications.

Users can run into issues when Windows assigns either OBS or your game to run from the low-powered integrated GPU, so instead, you may need to specify that OBS and any games use the more powerful discrete GPU.

To do this, close OBS and open the Windows settings app by clicking start button → settings icon, navigating to system → display, and selecting graphics/graphical settings. Select either classic app or desktop app and click browse. Navigate and find your OBS Studio executable. By default, this is C:\Program Files\obs-studio\bin\64bit\obs64.exe. Once selected, click Options under the OBS Studio entry. If you’re using OBS for game or window capture, you’ll want to set this to High performance and click save.

Windows Graphics Performance Preference OBS Studio
Specify which GPU is used for OBS

GPU Overload

Sometimes issues with your stream appear because your GPU becomes overloaded since both the game and OBS require GPU resources.

OBS uses GPU resources to render a scene, adding all those cameras, overlays, and browser sources to be composited together. If your GPU is overloaded, you might experience dropped frames, stuttering, or even crashes.

How OBS Composites Video to Twitch or YouTube
OBS uses the GPU to composite video

Run as Administrator

One solution to try is running OBS with Administrator privileges, as mentioned in the previous section. This can allow OBS to request more GPU resources. However, if that doesn’t solve the issue, you may also want to try limiting the game’s framerate.

Limit Framerate

If you leave your framerate uncapped in-game, you’re demanding a lot of work from your GPU and not leaving many resources for OBS. Simply capping your framerate to your monitor’s refresh rate can make a big difference. Even if you have a high refresh rate monitor, it’s worth the small compromise of capping the framerate if it ensures a smoother stream without your GPU overloading.

Capping the Framerate in Game to Improve OBS Performance
Limit the game’s framerate to prevent GPU overload

Build Simpler Scenes

One of the great things about OBS is how simple or complicated you can make your scenes. However, creating highly imaginative and complex scenes can come at a cost. Every source you add will require some resources, even sources that aren’t currently visible. This is because OBS wants to make sure all transitions between scenes happen smoothly.

If you’re still running into issues, reducing the complexity or number of sources/scenes in your collection can make a difference. Here are three specific things to look out for:

  1. Filters on video/audio sources, some of which are very resource heavy.
  2. Browser sources. Each browser source requires some resources, so try where you can to reduce the number of them in your scenes. This is why many streamers prefer StreamElements’ overlay approach where you make one browser source that contains all of your alerts, event lists, tip jars, etc. Then you only have to add that one browser source into OBS, rather than one browser source for each function.
  3. Scene collections in OBS are a great way to separate out the different types of scenes you may use in different streams. This will reduce the overall complexity as OBS will have fewer scenes and sources to assign resources to. You can easily duplicate your current scene collection and remove all the scenes and sources you don’t need for that specific collection.
Remove Audio and Video Filters to Improve OBS Performance
Remove Video/Audio Filters
Combining Browser Sources using StreamElements
Combine Browser Sources

Performance and Encoding

Encoding video for streaming is a complex process that requires a decent computer and internet connection to do it well. There are four main settings in OBS Studio that heavily impact your streaming performance:

  1. Encoder choice
  2. Bitrate
  3. Resolution
  4. Framerate

Choosing the right settings for your computer and internet connection can be tricky, but there’s a simple way to check if your settings are within your computer’s capabilities. You can run the auto-configuration wizard in OBS Studio, which will run a short test and output recommended settings for your encoder, bitrate, resolution, and framerate.

Auto Configuration Wizard in OBS How To Switch From Streamlabs 6 Steps
Results from OBS Auto-Configuration Wizard

Of course, you can also tweak these settings individually from within OBS Studio’s settings. As a general guide, you should use hardware encoding such as NVIDIA’s NVENC if you have a compatible graphics card. And your bitrate shouldn’t exceed 85% of your TwitchTest result or Twitch’s bitrate cap, which we covered earlier in this article.

Lowering your output resolution can also have a meaningful impact on performance. Remember that 1080p has more than twice the number of pixels in each frame versus 720p, and depending on the bitrate you can achieve, it may not be wise to stream in 1080p anyway. You can experiment with different resolutions to find the sweet spot between quality and performance for your specific hardware and internet connection.

Audio/Video Desync

Audio and video desync is a common problem that streamers face when the audio and video are out of sync with each other. This can happen for a variety of reasons, but there are a few solutions you can try to fix it.

Device Timestamps

Some audio devices don’t send proper timestamps, which can cause audio desync. To fix this, you can try disabling device timestamps in OBS. To do this, click the gear icon next to your audio source, select Properties, and then uncheck Use device timestamps.

OBS Use Device Timestamps
Uncheck Use Device Timestamps

Sync Offset

If you need to delay your audio sources, you can go to Edit Advanced Audio Properties and adjust the Sync Offset (ms) field. This allows you to add a delay to your audio sources to better sync them with your video.

OBS Sync Offset Audio
Advanced Audio Properties – Sync Offset

Video Delay

If you need to delay your video sources, you can add a Video Delay (Async) filter. This allows you to add a delay to your video sources to better sync them with your audio.

OBS Video Delay Filter
Video Delay Filter

Render Delay

For other sources such as Window/Game/Display Capture, you can add a Render Delay filter and adjust as necessary.

OBS Render Delay on Game Capture
Render Delay Filter

By using these solutions, you can ensure that your audio and video are synced up properly, providing a better viewing experience for your viewers.

OBS Log Analyzer

If you’re still experiencing issues with your stream after trying the solutions we’ve covered so far, there’s another tool you can use to help diagnose the problem: the OBS Log Analyzer.

The OBS Log Analyzer is a web-based tool that analyzes your OBS log files and provides detailed information about your stream’s performance. To use it, you’ll need to generate a log file from OBS Studio. To do this, go to Help Log Files Upload Current Log File in OBS Studio. This will upload your current log file to the OBS Log Analyzer.

OBS Upload Current Log File
Upload Current Log File to Log Analyzer

Once you’ve uploaded your log file, the OBS Log Analyzer will analyze it and provide you with a detailed report of your OBS settings, performance, and any issues that were detected. You can use this report to identify any problems with your stream and make the necessary adjustments to fix them.

OBS Log Analyzer
Example results from OBS Log Analyzer

Some of the information that the OBS Log Analyzer provides includes:

  • OBS Studio version
  • Operating system and hardware specifications
  • Encoding and streaming settings
  • Performance metrics such as dropped frames and network congestion
  • Any errors or warnings detected in the log file

By reviewing this information, you can identify any issues that may be impacting your stream’s performance and make the necessary adjustments to fix them. For example, if the OBS Log Analyzer detects that you’re dropping frames, you can adjust your bitrate or other settings to reduce the load on your system and improve your stream’s performance.


Streaming on Twitch can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it can also be frustrating when you experience technical issues. This article has provided you with several solutions to common OBS Studio problems that can impact your stream quality.

By following these solutions and experimenting with your settings, you can ensure that your stream looks great and runs smoothly, providing your viewers with an enjoyable experience.

If you’re interested in learning some more advanced OBS tips and techniques why not check out our guides on how to Separate Audio Sources in OBS or how to Remove a Green Screen in OBS.

Video Guide

As with all of our guides, below we have included a full video tutorial if that is your preferred method of learning.

Why Your Twitch Stream SUCKS (and how to FIX it)

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The founder of Gaming Careers with a borderline unhealthy obsession for cameras, microphones, and all things streaming. He gets mistaken for Stephen Merchant at least 5 times a day.

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