OBS encoding enhancements come to Nvidia's Maxwell GPUs — GeForce GTX 900 series can now leverage the Twitch Enhanced Broadcasting feature

Twitch Enhanced Broadcasting Feature on OBS, now available in Nvidia GPUs from GeForce 900 series and above
(Image credit: Nvidia)

Popular open-source live streaming software OBS (short for Open Broadcasting Software) has been working on its Twitch Enhanced Broadcasting feature. It now bears fruit for users with the Nvidia GeForce GTX 900 series (via Jacob Freeman) and above graphics cards. This feature was showcased in February and released with initial support for GeForce RTX graphics cards.

The OBS 30.2 RC1 update works with older Maxwell-based GeForce GTX 900-series graphics cards. Apart from having the proper hardware, the streamer must be accepted into Twitch's BETA program. For now, all the encoders on the GeForce cards can have up to eight concurrent encodings, while Twitch accepts five with H.264/AVC encoding at a maximum setting of 1080p60. Naturally, broadcasting client-side transcoding will require the streamer to have a good enough internet connection.

Adding support for older graphics cards has benefits, as not everyone requires the best hardware for the games they stream, including many multiplayer titles. This includes those with GTX 10 series and GTX 16 series graphics cards. Providing such support ensures Nvidia can enjoy exclusivity with Twitch live streamers until it includes Intel and AMD Radeon GPUs, hopefully in the future.

To provide optimal broadcast quality on behalf of its livestreamers, Twitch collaborated with OBS and Nvidia for this feature. Once enabled, OBS creates these transcodes via the live streamer's discrete NVENC hardware encoder on the Nvidia GPUs and transmits them to the Twitch server. Each encoding is optimized for a particular quality and resolution, which is selectively broadcasted to a viewer based on the quality setting they've selected. 

The Twitch Enhanced Broadcasting feature provides the best viewing experience based on the viewer's setting. Additionally, it eliminates the headache of manually choosing a fixed setting in OBS on behalf of users. For example, a high-bitrate setting will cause buffering for those with low-bandwidth internet connections. Still, those with high-bandwidth connections will not get the best possible viewing quality if the OBS uses a lower-bitrate setting. Enhance broadcasting takes care of that process as the GPU transcodes and sends it to Twitch servers, targeting a viewer using a particular setting.

It is uncertain when this option will be freely available for all Twitch streamers without requiring sign-up and approval. It is also unsure whether this will be enabled for Intel and AMD GPUs and even include AV1 to H264 in its transcoding, which is currently exclusive to the RTX 40 series.

It is hard to tell when Twitch and OBS can evolve from the BETA stage without having this feature exclusive to Nvidia. However, once this enhanced transcoding comes out of the BETA stage for both Twitch and OBS, we should have a much larger demographic of live streamers, and their viewers will benefit from it.

Roshan Ashraf Shaikh
Contributing Writer

Roshan Ashraf Shaikh has been in the Indian PC hardware community since the early 2000s and has been building PCs, contributing to many Indian tech forums, & blogs. He operated Hardware BBQ for 11 years and wrote news for eTeknix & TweakTown before joining Tom's Hardware team. Besides tech, he is interested in fighting games, movies, anime, and mechanical watches.

  • Giroro
    I would bet hard money that the number of Twitch streamers who are profitable enough to be allowed to use this feature, and are also using a Maxwell GPU, is exactly 0.
  • LabRat 891
    Is the Maxwell-uArch GM107-equipped GTX 750 Ti name excluded?
    Do folks with Early-2014 GM107/GM108 cards have to VBIOS flash to a 900-series to be used?

    By THG's title, I can only assume that 700-series and 800-seried Maxwell cards are blacklisted for some reason.

    I find it really hard to believe that THG *forgets* that Maxwell hit the market with Q1 2014's GTX 750 (and OEM-only GTX 745 + GTX 800A series).