Twitch Inspector – What Bit Rate Should I Use?

The Twitch Inspector will help us figure out what bit rate you should use.  You can use it to analyze your streaming bitrate and troubleshoot internet connection or encoder related issues.

Twitch just released a new tool that allows us figure out what bitrate we should use while streaming. It can also help you troubleshoot connection or encoder related issues. An encoder is basically something like OBS Studio or XSplit. In this post we’re going to talk about how to run some bit rate tests and we’ll go over what everything means. We’ll also learn how to troubleshoot different issues. This tool is fairly new, so make sure to check back for any future updates about it.

Using the Twitch Inspector

Head over to the Twitch Inspector page and click the login button. Authorize your main channels account to proceed to the next screen. When you first log in you won’t see very much if you’re a new streamer. If you’ve streamed before you may see some of your past broadcasts in the main area.

Let’s start from square one and take a quick look at the interface. In the top right we can add additional accounts that we’d like to test if needed. Below we can see a button to run a stream test. There’s also a view tips button that is extremely helpful in answering common questions about bit rate and encoding troubleshooting. The main area will eventually show us the breakdown of our tests.

Twitch Inspector

Let’s go ahead and click run a stream test. The popup here basically tells us to do the following:

  1. Get our stream key from the Twitch Dashboard
  2. Open your encoding program (OBS Studio, XSplit, etc.) and add ?bandwidthtest=true to the end of your stream key. It will look something like live_0000000_xxxxxxxxxxxx?bandwidthtest=true
  3. Start streaming

So, let’s go ahead and grab our stream key from the Twitch dashboard and then open up OBS Studio. In settings then stream paste your stream key into the stream key area. Click show so that you can see exactly what you’re typing. At the end of the key simply add ?bandwidthtest=true .

In the output tab make sure that your video bit rate is at 3,500 kbps, which is the highest that Twitch specifies to use. I’ll talk about server selection at the end of this post, but for now just select the one that is closest to your location.

Inspector Settings

After this is complete, hit start streaming and then go back into the inspector tool. After a short while we’ll see a couple of things change on this page. Once your connection has been established we’ll see the dark box in the top right corner turn into a live chart that displays average bit rate. You’ll also see information about what your connection is currently stable at.

Bit Rate Chart

I recommend leaving this test running for at least 5 to 10 minutes if you can. The longer, the better. The problem with some online speed tests is that they’ll only measure a short amount of time. With this tool, be can take an in-depth look at what’s happening with our bit rate.

What Bit Rate Should I Use?

So what should you set your bit rate at? You want to set it to the average bit rate from your test. You can monitor your current connection on the main page, but let’s get some more detail in the test by clicking one of our current or past test streams in the main area.

We’ll be presented with a full chart of our bit rate that shows the average, max, and minimum bit rate. So in my case, I’ll be safe to set mine around 3,400 kbps. This means I can safely stream at 1920 x 1080 resolution. If you’re not sure what resolution to set in OBS Studio you can check out this article.

Back on the inspector page we’ll see more information in the sidebar, as well as a view troubleshooting tips area at the bottom. If you click this it will show you different types of graphs and what they mean. If you don’t have a stable graph, then you’ll want to compare these graphs to your own, in order to better troubleshoot your problems.

Inspector Analytics

To go back to the main page we can click all broadcasts towards the top.

While the tips are still open I want to mention that if you’re a new streamer you should consider taking the time to read through these different sections. As I mentioned before this area will contain information to help you quickly identify different problems, and it will answer a lot of common questions.

Troubleshooting Dropped Frames

They even has sections about troubleshooting dropped frames and delay. The common factors here would be an issue with your upload speed, a need to lower your bit rate, or changing your ingest server.

Earlier in the post I mentioned picking the server closest to you. While this is generally the best thing to do -it’s not always accurate. As explained in the tips there can be issues with how your ISP routes your traffic. This means that sometimes the geographically closest server isn’t the best. For this reason, I still recommend using the Twitch bandwidth test tool. I made a video about using this tool, which I highly recommend watching.

For any streamer, I’d recommend using the test tool to determine the best servers for your stream. Then, I think it’d be a good idea to use the Twitch inspector to get a better understanding of what’s happening with your bit rate. This will help you figure out what’s really causing your dropped frames.

Hopefully in the future Twitch makes a first party tool that helps you select a server in an easier way. For now, I still think the inspector is pretty awesome, and very powerful. If you have any questions about this post, make sure to leave them in the comments below.