Question / Help x264 -- Worse quality than I was expecting

Good morning!

I've been streaming a lot more, recently, and I'm having a general quality concern. Last night, I was streaming with my Elgato HD60 (USB 2.0) in OBS with a webcam + image box overlay along with a couple browser sources. With my setup, my CPU (i7-7700K) was always around 60%, which I expected. I was playing some Mario Kart 8 to get a feel for how the encoding would handle a faster-moving video source. I am going to be streaming a bunch of Smash Bros. this weekend, and I wanted to make sure it didn't look ugly. When I watched the stream back, I was disappointed to see how muddy things looked given my output settings.

Here is a timestamped video URL of what I'm talking about:

Here is a picture of my output settings, and here is a bulleted list:

Video tab:
  • 1920x1080 canvas
  • 1280x720 output
  • Lanczos
  • 60fps

Output tab:
  • x264
  • CBR at 5,000kbps
  • Medium preset
  • Main profile

I guess my main question is: does the quality of my output match my settings? I've streamed some Mega Man 11 at 1080/60 in the past at 4,500kbps, and it looked so much better than this video. Granted, Mega Man 11 hardly has any camera movement to befuddle an encoder. Smash will be a similar, lower-movement game, but I just want to make sure that I'm getting the best quality from my setup.

And I'm sorry that I don't have a log file right now. I took that screenshots this morning and forgot to upload the log to my dropbox as well.
I think part of the problem is that this video was uploaded in 720P rather than 1080P. 1080P will always produce a higher quality than 720P.

but always keep in mind that Youtube will also compress the video after it has been uploaded and processed.

let me ask you this, how does the video look on your actual hard drive when you play it back? (cus I also notice that your video output is 720P instead of 1080P)


Forum Admin
Any reason you're using main profile? It won't make a huge difference though. For a high movement game at 5mbps this is about what you should expect quality-wise. 1080p will only make things worse.
you don't need a slower preset to do 1080P, you could have the fastest preset and still do 1080P, all you need to do is change the resolution that OBS will stream at from the video tab, I believe
you don't need a slower preset to do 1080P, you could have the fastest preset and still do 1080P, all you need to do is change the resolution that OBS will stream at from the video tab, I believe
Thanks, but I'm not interested in 1080p streaming right now. I can't go above 5,000kbps with my ISP currently, so this isn't a 1080p issue.
I don't really have a reason for why I'm using 'main'. Are you suggesting that I use 'high'?
As @R1CH pointed out, the difference is minimal but there is a quality difference between Main and High.

Video encoding is a rabbit hole of information most sane people would avoid. Profiles define the "rules" the encoder needs to follow, because some devices cannot support certain encoding features, I know Twitch used to recommend Main but those device restrictions are dated.

Main Profile (MP, 77) This profile is used for standard-definition digital TV broadcasts that use the MPEG-4 format as defined in the DVB standard.[38] It is not, however, used for high-definition television broadcasts, as the importance of this profile faded when the High Profile was developed in 2004 for that application.

High Profile (HiP, 100) The primary profile for broadcast and disc storage applications, particularly for high-definition television applications (for example, this is the profile adopted by the Blu-ray Disc storage format and the DVB HDTV broadcast service).

Theres a fancy little chart show what each profile does.

Give high a shot, but what cadcTV said about youtube is correct -- youtube will compress your source encode to match its own bitrate settings, and 720p doesn't get as much bitrate as 1080p for youtube.

You should only refer to your own actual recording playback, or the twitch VOD on source quality to determine your actual quality.

Also... side note... 60fps Mario Kart is a LOT of fast moving image complexity to encode, so smash will likely look much better than your MK tests.