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PTZOptics Camera Blog


Is live streaming in 1080p or 720p better for quality & performance?

Hello AV & IT Professionals!

When it comes to live streaming the most important thing to optimize for is your audience. More specifically your customers. From the length of time your audience enjoys watching online videos to the average resolution of their potential display it’s important to understand your users.  In the live streaming world, the 1280x720p resolution has become extremely popular. So many everyday live streaming & video conferencing is still done in 720p vs 1080p. Most viewers say it’s “good enough” and prefer “less detail than broadcast TV” look and feel. 720p has its benefits on the hardware side (reducing processing power) and on the receiving end (reduced bandwidth requirements). Today in 2016 we are finally seeing 1080p become a standard on websites like YouTube, Vimeo, Netflix and other video consumption outlets due to adaptive bit rate streaming which optimizes resolutions by device.

Below you will find data from W3 School‘s on browser display statistics on screen resolutions that spans over 15 years! Today most displays are 1080p or greater from the latest data as you can see below.

Date Other high 1920×1080 1366×768 1280×1024 1280×800 1024×768 800×600 Lower
January 2015 32.7% 16% 33% 7% 5% 4% 0.3% 2%
January 2014 34% 13% 31% 8% 7% 6% 0.5% 0.5%
January 2013 36% 11% 25% 10% 8% 9% 0.5% 0.5%
January 2012 35% 8% 19% 12% 11% 13% 1% 1%
January 2011 50% 6% 15% 14% 14% 0% 1%
January 2010 39% 2% 18% 17% 20% 1% 3%
January 2009 57% 36% 4% 3%
January 2008 38% 48% 8% 6%
January 2007 26% 54% 14% 6%
January 2006 17% 57% 20% 6%
January 2005 12% 53% 30% 5%
January 2004 10% 47% 37% 6%
January 2003 6% 40% 47% 7%
January 2002 6% 34% 52% 8%
January 2001 5% 29% 55% 11%
January 2000 4% 25% 56% 15%

Live Streaming in 720 or 1080p?

YouTube Live Resolutions

YouTube Live Resolutions

From these results it would seem obviouis that streaming & recording your videos in 1080p would be the best resolution for the average user displays but in reality most “live streamers” I have interviewed are still streaming in 720p. 720p has become a “High Definition” standard across the industry because it has consistently produced reliable results. My own initial 1080p live streaming tests in 2015 had many hiccups even with our 50MB up/down business class bandwidth service. Even to this day I find it easier to “establish” a live stream connection to YouTube Live in 720p than 1080p (but I now strive for 1080p).

Live Streaming Tip: One of the most important tips I learned in 2015 for live streaming is “keep it short and to the point”. We live in an age of amazing content available on TV, the internet and on-demand. If your going to remain relevant in this world understand the place your content has in a larger context of online media.

What is adaptive bit rate streaming?

Adaptive bit rate streaming (ABS) is “a performance management technique for streaming multimedia over computer networks. Historically, most video streaming approaches were founded on RTP or RTSP; but now most adaptive streaming technologies are built for tranmission over HTTP over large, broad-distribution networks.” (Quote from

Essential this technology allows powerhouse networks like YouTube Live to distribute the exact resolution their users need no matter the resolution that you actually stream to YouTube and optimize for any bandwidth. Therefore YouTube Live will make the best resolution available to your audience up to the resolution you give it. For me this is a big deal because if we don’t provide 1080p YouTube can’t re-distribute it. That being said 720p video resolution do look “ok” on a 1080p display but there are so many Smart TV’s today with YouTube built in it’s definitely a growing market for online viewers. In my opinion 1280×720 should now be considered SD or “Standard Definition” and 1080p is the new standard for “High Definition.”

CPU Usage for a Live Stream

CPU Usage for a Live Stream

So you want to live streaming your next event and recordings? I think it’s a great idea and we do have some helpful tips below. The most important thing to do is test your computer and see what it can handle. Most

Tips for live streaming in 1080p

Our team here at PTZOptics has decided that by 2016 we would switch from 720p to 1080p for our weekly live webinars. After hours of sucessful streaming in 1080p to YouTube live over the past few months with YouTube Live we have decided that it is reliable and here is how we did it 🙂


1. Always hardwire our live streaming computer. Most of the time this a Dell Latitude Laptop with an i7 or a Intel NUC PC with a i7 processor.

Graphics Card:

2. Keep your graphics card up to date! We found that updating our NVidia graphics card signifigantly improved our performance. Also, make sure to enable usages of the GPU for your live production software such as vMix, Wirecast or xSplit.

Computer Processor:

3. Optimize your CPU! Even though your GPU is handling all of our graphics you don’t want to have a CPU hiccups that could potetnailly freeze your entire computer. Try not to run any additional programs for starters.  Also, consider your overall production. Are the files that can be compressed into a .mp4 that are large .avi files? Are there video files your can replace with automated title generators? Replacing some of our larger 1 GB+ animated titles with character generated titles made a huge difference in performance for us.


4. One of the best tips I heard all year was to pick a resolution you want to live stream in and stick with it. If you use multiple resolutions in difference pieces of media such as animated titles or overlays and videos you can actually be making your computer work overtime with upscaling and downscaling. There is usually no reason to use multiple resolutions other than making a “beginners mistake”.

Stay Organized and Enjoy 🙂

5. Organization of your live streaming is essential esspecially as you attempt to try to do more and more cool and exciting videos. Consider organizing your assets into “Pre-Show”, “Show” and “Post Show” categories. Just like the way you can organize and label your email. Think about organizing your video assets in a useable for yourself and everyone you work with. Most live streaming software make providers even make hardware based controls if you would like to label a button system to work from. vMix even has a great web-browser live streaming controller you can use with a iPad or any smart phone! It’s a great way to simplify your control and even allow for multiple operators.

Tune in Every Friday (11AM PST & 2PM EST)

If your interested in seeing us live stream in 1080p you can watch most Friday’s at 11AM PST & 2PM EST and join our interactive video conference! Learn more at

Categories:   Live Streaming