Twitch Streaming on Low Powered Computers – An OBS Setup Guide

For the first 18 months of my streaming journey, my stream was run on the computer this post was written on – a 2013 MacBook Pro. Whilst a great machine for so many reasons, it’s not the best for streaming. Eventually the streams began to chug and splutter a bit, frames were being dropped and it sucked the life out of my stream. Changing computer was still a bit away, so I had to make do with what I had.

This post will discuss the changes I made to my OBS setup to get a stream working. You may have success or not with this.


For most of these it can help if you have access to the logs. To access the logs, go to Help > Log Files > Show Log Files. That will show your log files based on when you go live.

Start With a High Bit Rate

First off, this was quite a surprise to learn but having a high bitrate helped. I believe it is to do with the fact that we would stream video directly with the bitrate we set it in, rather than spend computer processing power to reduce the size of the video.

Generally you need to set your video bitrate the size of your upload speed, and this does take a bit of playing around with.

To play around with this, go to OBS > Preferences > Output and set your Video Bitrate, located under Streaming.

You can also at this point set your encoding as “Superfast”, so any encoding you do do is limited, and make sure the Audio Bitrate is pretty standard, but this is less important.

Pick a Lower Stream Quality in Both OBS AND Your Capture Card

The most obvious way to run a successful stream on low power is to run it at a lower resolution. This can happen in two places – the first is setting it in your OBS. If you head to the Preferences page and go to Video, you can set your FPS and resolution here.

However, there is another place – within your capture card. If you use another system such as OBS Link, you will need to set the capture resolution, as if you don’t there’s a chance processing power will be used to reduce the video size for OBS.

To do this in OBS Link, go to Preferences and set the output format.

Have Simple Streams

The first time I noticed the stream being slow for me, I checked what was on my layouts. Unfortunately, I’d recommend for you if you are on a low powered computer you’d tone down the bells and whistles. Towards the end I had the captured stream, three widgets, 1 image and my webcam. Also – with images, make sure they match the resolution of your screen. Don’t put print quality images on your stream as you don’t need them!

Switch off Everything

Likewise, before I stream, I ended up restarting my computer. That way I made sure every available CPU Cycle was dedicated to streaming. I’d also may sure that apps that run on your computer, like Dropbox for example, are disabled.

If it Aint Broke – Don’t Fix It

I then…well…left it. I found playing around with things did result in things breaking, so just leaving things as is even if there’s a small amount of slowdown helped. If you do have problems, running a test stream and looking at your logs can really help.