[Guide] Streaming with Intel Quick Sync in OBS


So you want to stream with quick sync? This is the guide to help with setting up your stream to use Intel Quick Sync and to dispel some of the myths associated with quick sync. If you ask just about anyone in the streaming community about quick sync you will usually get one of two responses. Either they have no idea what it is or they will say it looks terrible. I can’t blame them for not knowing what is because using CPU via x.264 or using NVENC has been ingrained into everyone’s mind since all of the ‘big’ streamers do it. Secondly the earlier versions of quick sync did look pretty bad and this is what most people will base their experience with it on. I was on this train too and not until I switched my Plex server to use Quick Sync based on @JDM_WAAAT’s recommendation did I see the light.

If you’ve spent much time streaming you will see that many people who are more advanced or doing it full time will use a two pc setup. This is where you play your game on one pc and the second pc encodes the stream to send to Twitch, Mixer, etc. This definitely has advantages where the encoding process doesn’t use any of the cpu horsepower from your gaming pc, you can restart the gaming pc without ending your stream, and it allows for some more custom advanced options with audio and video settings. While these are great there are also a lot of downsides to it as well. Firstly it is much more expensive as you need to have two pc’s. You will also need some type of mixer whether that be a standard audio mixer or something more advanced like a GoXLR to get the audio mixed from both pc’s. On top of that you will also need a capture card to get the video signal from your gaming pc to your stream pc. All of this can add up to quite a bit of extra money especially if you intend to take streaming seriously down the line.

So what is Intel Quick Sync and why do I want to use it?

Quick sync is where you use the iGPU portion of your Intel processor. This feature is only available on 2nd gen and newer Intel processors, but looks massively better on newest 8th and 9th gen processors. So much so that I would not even try it on anything older than 7th gen. This also should go without saying, but it is not available on AMD processors. This portion of the processor will go unused by your computer if you have a graphics card which does all of the graphical processing. By using the igpu portion of the processor to encode your stream you can do your gaming and streaming all off one machine. This will drastically cut down costs versus a two pc stream and the best part is that it has only a minimal impact on your cpu. While streaming 1080p 60fps I max out at only using 4-5% cpu for enconding. The rest is all offloaded to the iGPU on the chip and has no impact on gaming or streaming performance. This 4-5% is also a bit on the high end since I use a fair amount of graphic overlays and other things in the background which can have an impact on cpu usage. Based on your stream setup and overlay usage your mileage may vary.

How to setup Quicksync in OBS?

Firstly you will need to enable Quick Sync from your bios settings. This can be on by default in some cases, but you will need to confirm it is on. This will serve as a general guide for how to get the right settings for quick sync in OBS. These same settings can be used across other stream programs like Streamlabs OBS or Stream Elements OBS.Live plugin.

First you will want to open settings in OBS. Than go down to the Output tab and under Output Mode select Advanced from the drop down menu. Under the first streaming tab we will begin making changes. Firstly click the Encoder drop down menu and select QuickSync H.264. Than check the box which states ‘Enforce streaming service encoder settings.’ I stream and play at 1920X1080 so I do not need any rescaling options. For Target Usage you will want to select the option ‘Quality’ and under Profile select option ‘High’. Regarding bitrate that will vary for everyone dependant on a few factors. If you have the internet to handle it and you are a Twitch affiliate the max you would go for is 6000Kbps. If you notice that you are dropping frames during a stream you will want to lower it until you can stream without losing frames. The remainder of the settings I leave as default on this page.Based on these settings you can begin streaming after setting up the other options in OBS to match your needs.

What do I do if I don’t have a newer Intel processor or I am using an AMD processor?

There is still hope if you don’t have an intel CPU that supports quick sync or an AMD processor. Building a new gaming pc is pricey and new builds can add up fast. Luckily there are much more economical options. As we discussed earlier, many streamers lean towards a two pc setup which you can do here, but for much cheaper than a standard one which uses the CPU to encode and not the iGPU portion. There is a wide market of used machines which have a great processor to use Quicksync and an open pcie slot to grab a cheap capture card. This a lot of times is much cheaper than building a brand new machine and is a great second choice. This will also require things like an audio mixer, but if you are looking to save some money you can do all of that over a software option like Voicemeeter Bananas. Like any guide if you have questions feel free to ask them either here or in the Serverbuilds Discord. We would be happy to help you with your build, software settings, or finding a used machine to use.