NVENC vs x264 in 2023: Which is the Best Quality OBS Encoder?

Which option should I select? Nvenc or x264? What exactly is an encoder? As you all know, live streaming has become incredibly popular lately, but that doesn’t imply that setting up a live stream is technically simple.

One aspect that numerous new streamers may have been pondering about is the encoding capabilities of your streaming software like OBS or Streamlabs.

This article will delve into the process of selecting your encoder based on your PC specifications, determining the optimal choice. Furthermore, we’ll assist in comprehending how they function and the disparities between them.

NVENC vs x264: GPU vs CPU Encoding

nvenc vs x264 in processing moving image
Venturebeat – Nvenc vs x264 vs nvidia

The first question that might arise within you is, perhaps, “What are the real differences between NVENC vs x264?”

The big difference between these encoders is how they use your PC’s resources.

In simple terms, NVENC encoding relies on your graphics card’s (GPU) computational power, while x264 puts the emphasis on your processor (CPU).

So, when it comes to picking the better encoding option for your next streaming adventure on Twitch, YouTube, Facebook Gaming, or even Kick, it’s actually pretty straightforward.

If you’ve got an NVIDIA GPU, going for the NVENC encoder is a smart move. It lets your processor handle other tasks while you’re live streaming, giving you that extra processing power.

But what if you’ve got a beefy CPU but no GPU to match? Well, in that case, choosing x264 encoding would be more beneficial for you.

Now, here’s the million-dollar question: What if you’ve got both a powerful graphics card and processor? Which one should you go with?

Let’s break down the pros and cons of each encoder and find out.

NVENC Encoder: Best Encoder for NVIDIA Graphic Card User

EncoderProsCons
GPU Encoding (NVENC)Utilizes GPU for encoding, relieving CPULimited performance on older NVENC models
Allows CPU to focus on other processes during gameplayLimited frame rate and resolution in older models
Improved game and stream performance
High-quality video encoding with modern Nvidia GPUs
Superior rendering of fast-paced games with rapid image changes
Precise encoding of in-game texts for legibility

Nvidia’s Nvenc encoder utilizes the GPU for encoding, freeing up the CPU for other tasks. This improves game and stream performance.

The new Nvenc, especially with RTX cards, produces high-quality frames at a high frame rate, surpassing other encoders.

Nvenc vs x264 specs
NVIDIA official – Nvenc vs x264 gaming

It excels in rendering fast-paced games with intricate details and produces sharper video quality compared to x264.

Moreover, Nvenc accurately renders in-game text, ensuring legibility, while x264 may result in dropped frames and illegible text. Nvenc is the superior choice for achieving a professional stream quality.

x264 Encoder: OBS Default Encoder That Utilize Processor

EncoderProsCons
x264Renowned for consistent performanceOther encoders perform better in certain areas
Compatible with OBS settingsCPU can become overloaded with multiple processes
Differentiates better between bright and dark colorsNuances may not significantly impact stream quality
nvenc vs x264 obs

The x264 encoder has a reputation for consistent performance, but it faces competition from Nvenc in the gaming and streaming industry. Unlike Nvenc, which utilizes GPU for encoding, x264 relies on CPU.

While this CPU encoding method is considered reliable for transferring precise frame data and works well with OBS settings, it can strain the CPU when running multiple processes during streaming.

Nvenc vs x264 reddit
Nvenc vs x264 benchmark

This strain can significantly lower the quality of the stream, particularly in games with high-motion scenes. However, if you have a powerful CPU, x264 can achieve similar performance to Nvidia Nvenc. It excels in differentiating between various shades of colors, making it suitable for capturing nuances in game environments.

Nevertheless, GPU encoding is generally more efficient for gameplay streaming, especially at lower bitrates.

Nvenc vs x264: Which One is Bettter?

Both are pretty even. But Nvenc really have the edge for livestreaming video. But X264 is also the best in some things. For comparison, we’ll try to record at a bitrate of 6 Mbps, both use High profile, and keyframe interval of 2.

  • X264 does better with bright flashes
  • Nvenc is better at handling rapid changes
  • Nvenc makes text more legible

Conclusion

In conclusion, when selecting between Nvenc vs x264 encoders for live streaming, consider your PC specifications and needs.

If you have an NVIDIA GPU, Nvenc is recommended, offering better performance and quality. It excels in rendering fast-paced games and legible text.

x264 relies on CPU encoding and is compatible with OBS, but can strain the CPU during streaming. Choose based on the balance between your GPU and CPU capabilities.

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