How to Stop Dropping Frames During Live Streams
How to Stop Your Twitch Live Streams from Dropping Frames
Streaming on sites and apps like TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitch can be a great way to engage with your community, that is, until your stream starts to drop frames and lag for your viewers. It can seem that your whole stream collapses the second you see the “DROPPED FRAME RATES” warning. But is there any way to stop it from happening? In this article, we will discuss the reasons why your live stream may stutter, lag, and drop frames and provide a few methods to resolve these frustrating issues.
From internet issues to software problems to your computer, the following are ways to stop your live streams from lagging and stuttering. And, if none of these solutions work for you or we help you determine that the issue is caused due to a hardware limitation, there are even recommendations on what hardware you can purchase to prevent your live streams from ever lagging again!
Reasons Your YouTube Stream is Dropping Frames
There are usually four main reasons why your live stream is dropping frames. Below, we will cover each cause and troubleshooting solutions you can try to fix the lag, stutter, or dropped frames on your live stream.
Your Internet Connection is Unstable
All streaming services, TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitch included, rely on a stable internet connection to deliver the best quality video and audio possible. One of the most common reasons you will see live stream drop frames, lag, and stutter, is due to a poor internet connection or you are trying to stream at a quality/resolution that is not ideal for your system and internet connection. When your internet is too slow or is unstable, it can cause latency or buffering when transmitting the data from your machine to the platform you are streaming from, which ultimately causes your live stream to lag.
You can check your internet connection by running a network diagnostics text on your computer or checking your connection in your internet settings. You can also use websites like speedtest.net to check your connection easily. When it comes to live streaming on platforms like TikTok, YouTube, and Twitch, you want to focus primarily on the upload speed of your internet connection as this is the primary determining factor in the quality and bitrate you should choose to stream at for your live streams.
Through our testing using various network speeds, we have found that the best internet connection for live streaming on TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitch is a gigabit fiber connection, providing a substantial amount of upload and download speed. We have also created a chart for you to use as a reference guide based on your internet speed to help you determine the bitrate and quality you should consider live streaming at based on your internet connection.
Recommended Bitrate and Quality for Live Streaming on TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitch
|Upload Speed||Live Stream Output Resolution Quality||Video Bitrate|
|~2-3mb/s||720p @30 FPS||2500-3250|
|~4-5mb/s||720p @60 FPS||3500-4250|
|~6-8mb/s||1080p @30 FPS||3500-4500|
|~8-10mb/s||1080p @60 FPS||4500-5500|
|~10-15mb/s||1440p @30 FPS||5000-6000|
|~20mb/s||1440p @60 FPS||6000|
|~25mb/s||4k @30 FPS||8000 or 6000 for Twitch|
|~50mb/s||4k @60 FPS||8000 or 6000 for Twitch|
If your internet connection meets the requirements we outlined in the chart above, and you are still experiencing live stream lag, stutters, or dropped frames, there are two other elements related to your internet connection to rule out.
Plug Your Computer into Your Modem or Router
By plugging your computer into your modem or router instead of using a wifi connection, you allow your computer to have direct access to your router, making your internet connection far more reliable and, in many cases, much faster. Just plug an ethernet cable into your modem directly from your computer, or if you have an ethernet port in the room you are streaming from that is connected to the modem or router on the other end, you can also plug your computer into the wall ethernet port.
Using ethernet can sound like an old-fashioned solution, but nearly all Desktop PCs and consoles, especially PCs made for gaming, have at least one ethernet plug you can use for this purpose! Unless you are currently using a Wifi 6e or newer router and your computer supports Wifi 6e or newer, you will likely find this method far more reliable than attempting to use a wifi connection.
If your computer does NOT have an ethernet cable, use a USB-Ethernet adapter such as the Cable Creation USB Ethernet Adapter to properly connect your computer to the modem through one of its USB ports. It’s that simple!
Buy a Mesh Wi-Fi System
If your internet connectivity is too weak, consider buying a mesh system to boost your internet signal where you stream. Many companies have created mesh Wi-Fi systems, such as the TP-Link Deco AXE5400 WiFi 6E Mesh System, which are all relatively easy to install.
To install a mesh Wi-Fi system, you will usually need to download an app and create an admin account to control the system. Then, you connect the mesh router to your modem using an ethernet cable before adding the other nodes to the system and setting them up around your space.
If this sounds confusing, do not worry: most apps will guide you through the steps! Some mesh Wi-Fi systems are more complicated to install than others, so be sure to read the reviews on a system before buying one!
Your Computer’s CPU is Overloaded
Did you know that any software on your computer can use up your CPU even when idle? This “ghost usage” can overload your computer’s CPU, which will cause your stream lag. Luckily, there are a few ways to make your computer go under less stress while you stream on YouTube.
Signs that your computer’s CPU is under heavy load include your software lagging, your CPU maintaining high temperatures, and the CPU cooler or radiator fans on your computer constantly blowing at high speeds.
Close All Unnecessary Software Before You Stream
Using your task manager or activity monitor, force quit all software that you are not using while streaming, whether it be internet browsers, chat software, or even your music streaming application. Something additional to consider regarding your browser is pinned tabs; in many cases, your system will reserve memory and CPU performance to keep these tabs pinned. This may not impact you too greatly, though, unless you know you are using an older CPU to stream, so try closing the browser first and if things don’t improve, then try closing your pinned tabs as well.
Afterward, double-check using advanced mode on your task manager to ensure the software has truly quit and is not just idly using your CPU. If the latter is the case, make sure the software you are about to close is not critical to the operation of your system, and if not, force quit the idle software too.
Change the Settings of Your Stream
By default, your streaming software may be set up to deliver audio and video in a way that your computer can not reasonably support. Most streaming software has a setting tab that allows you to optimize your stream to your computer’s limitations, so try a few practice streams and see what settings give off the least lag. At ModernGamer, we use and recommend using Streamelements OBS Live or OBS Studio by itself as these are the most lightweight and reliable streaming programs we have tested.
Most mainstream streaming software will save your optimized setting or even optimize your computer’s streaming capabilities automatically. How to do this depends on the software you decide to use, so check your streaming software’s instructions on how to do that if necessary. If you choose Streamelements OBS Live or OBS Studio, the program will choose these settings by default.
Reboot Your Computer Right Before You Stream
The old saying is true: “Turn it off and then back on again” fixes far more than we give it credit for. To ensure that none of your idle apps are running while streaming, if you’ve been using your computer before going live, try and reboot your computer right before you start.
After you reboot, only open your streaming software and whatever game or program you want to stream before going live. If you continue to experience lag, stutters, or dropped frames after this, we have a few other items to cross off the list.
Your Streaming Software is Out of Date
Using outdated software is another potential issue when live streaming on TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, or Twitch. If the software you are using to stream with is out of date, there is a chance the stream will lag or may not work at all.
Most mainstream live streaming software will check for updates upon launching the program; however, if you want to be sure, you can check if your streaming software is outdated by clicking “Check for Updates” in your software’s settings. Doing this should tell you if your software is updated to its latest version or if an update is required. You may have to uninstall and reinstall the software if the update fails, which we will cover in the next section.
Uninstall and Reinstall Your Streaming Software
If your software is not working properly or cannot be updated, try to uninstall it, then reinstall it. Much like the turn it off and then turn it on method mentioned above, the same rule applies to your streaming software; as with many in the technology world, sometimes a clean install can fix several problems. We also recommend that you export any scenes you have built out for your stream before you uninstall and reinstall to help ensure you don’t have to completely rebuild your custom scenes.
Before reinstalling the software, ensure all files related to it are deleted from your computer. Occasionally, there are files that will remain after you uninstall the app that can cause problems during reinstallation.
Alternative Solutions to Stop YouTube Streams from Lagging
If none of the above solutions work, your next best option is to replace whatever is causing your TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, or Twitch streams to lag. Turning things off and on again will not work forever, and at some point, you just have to cut your losses and move on.
If your streaming software is the problem, download a new one; if your computer is the problem, try and get a new one; if your Wi-Fi is the problem, get a new router for your internet.
Luckily, there are plenty of options for streaming software, computers, and routers that are inexpensive, high-quality, and built to handle regular streaming.
Best Streaming Software for YouTube Streaming
If your current streaming software doesn’t seem to help you overcome lag, there is no harm in using an alternative. Here are the three top-rated streaming software that are popular with TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitch streamers:
OBS Studio and StreamElements OBS Live
Completely open source and free to use, Open Broadcaster Software (or OBS for short) is a streaming software that gets funding from top streaming websites, including TikTok, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch.
It allows you to tweak every stream feature, from its resolution to its audio levels, to make it perfect for you and your unique needs.
However, the interface can be confusing to those not experienced with streaming software, and it makes you unable to see the stream chat unless you have it on a browser or use OBS Plugins to add these features, which can tank your CPU if you are not careful.
Stream Elements offers a branded version of OBS studio with several common features and plugins built in that give nearly all of the functionality that the other platforms mentioned in this list provide while still maintaining the things about OBS Studio that creators love, such as its lightweight application that does not put anywhere near the CPU strain on your PC and the familiar user interface that content creators are familiar with from OBS Studio.
Stream Elements OBS Live and OBS Studio are the preferred streaming software at Modern Gamer, and would be recommendations we provide when asked which streaming software is the best to use for live streaming if you are currently experiencing lag, stutters, or dropped frames when streaming on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitch.
Based on the OBS software, Streamlabs OBS is another free streaming software popular with streamers such as Pokimane and Ninja.
It has all the features OBS has and also allows you to log in using your YouTube, Facebook, or Twitch credentials, integrate live chat (so you do not have to rely on watching the streams themselves for comments), and even set custom alerts for events that happen on stream such as follows, subscribers, member notifications, and several other built-in tools to build out your custom stream. It is also one of the only platforms that supports streaming to TikTok if you have unlocked the “go-live” feature on your TikTok channel.
However, some of Streamlabs OBS premium features are behind a $19/month or $149/year paywall at the time of writing. So if you want to stream to multiple platforms, use special graphics, or get sponsorship opportunities through Streamlabs, then you will need to pay for a Prime membership to get access.
The primary downside and complaint we hear among Streamlabs OBS users are that this software has a tendency to use far more of your PC’s resources than the other options, so if you know you are already running into performance issues with the software you are currently using, switching to Streamlabs OBS may not be the best solution for you to try; however if your PC is not currently running into any performance bottlenecks, Streamlabs OBS is an excellent streaming software to use.
XSplit Broadcaster stands out with all the features it offers! It allows you to host a professional-quality live stream without lag and lets you stream to almost every possible website, including YouTube, Twitch, and Facebook. It even has an OBS-compatible webcam extension you can use to hide your background.
However, XSplit does not come for free. At the time of writing this article, to unlock this software’s full feature set, you have to pay a premium of $10 a month, $35 for a year, or $115 for lifetime use. It’s also not available for the Mac yet, unlike OBS and Streamlabs OBS.
Best Computers for Live Streaming on TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitch
If it seems as if your favorite PC has reached the end of its lifetime and is the source of your streams lagging, a new computer may be in order. Here are three great computers from CyberPowerPC for different budgets, all of which will support your unique live-streaming needs:
Best Entry Tier Streaming PC
If you are looking for a quality starter gaming and live-streaming PC, we recommend this version of CyberPowerPC’s Gamer Xtreme VR Gaming PC. This PC is a great starter for someone looking to get into live streaming, and because it uses the same socket as some of Intel’s newer CPUs, it has great upgradeability for the future. This current iteration comes with a 12th gen Intel i5-12400F, 16GB of Ram, and an RTX 3050, which allows you to use Nvidia’s latest video encoder technology (NVENC H.264), which offers excellent quality while reducing the load placed on the CPU during streaming and instead uses your GPU to encode the video.
Best Mid Tier Streaming PC
If you are looking for a quality mid-tier pre-built gaming computer and have the budget for it, we highly recommend CyberpowerPC’s Gamer Xtreme VR Gaming PC i7-12700KF as a great choice. This PC will provide you with plenty of CPU and GPU processing power to stream at 720p and 1080p on most games without issue as long as you have the network speeds to handle the stream. This current iteration comes with a 12th gen Intel 12700KF, 16GB of Ram, and an RTX 3060, which, like the RTX 3050 in the entry tier above, also allows you to use Nvidia’s latest video encoder (NVENC H.264).
Best Top Tier Streaming PC
If you have the budget for the best of the best and you are looking to stream and game in the highest possible quality, then this version of CyberpowerPC’s Gamer Xtreme VR Gaming PC is the system for you. This PC is built with the latest 12th-gen Intel i9 12900KF, 16GB of Ram, and an RTX 3080ti. Like the two aforementioned PCs, this machine also allows you to use the new NVENC video encoder in your streaming software and will allow you to play games in 1440p and 4K while easily streaming 1080p or 1440p simultaneously. This system is ideal for gaming and streaming setups and will allow you to double this machine as a quality workstation machine for content creation and video editing.
Above, we covered how you can stop your TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitch streams from lagging, as well as possible reasons why this issue happens in the first place. We also discussed the different types of software and hardware you can use if none of the solutions above seem to do the trick.
Dealing with laggy streams and dropped frames can be frustrating, but don’t worry, technical issues happen; even the most popular streamers sometimes have to suffer technical faults and glitchy graphics, so you are not alone in that boat. Hopefully, one of these solutions will work for you, and if not, hopefully, getting better equipment will help you prevent laggy live streams in the future!