How to select the correct Aspect Ratio for your Recording/Stream

You probably used a term like 16:9, 1080p, 1080i or similar yourself, but you maybe never felt the need to resize a picture or video and think about what aspect ratio will be suitable for the resize. Now some programs like OBS allow you to choose a downscale value which will keep the input aspect ratio intact. But sometimes you might wanna reach a different value which is not available with a downscale. Why is this even important you might ask? Take a look at this picture:

Aspect Ratios

 If you choose the wrong Aspect Ratio your picture has to be stretched to fit its new resolution or you will see black borders. Stretching is VERY BAD as it distorts the picture. It can even hurt your eyes over time (depending on the footage). Shapes loose their form and faces can look squished or stretched. Text will look blurred/worse. Thankfully we have a lot of available Resolutions for all kinds of Aspect Ratios.

First of all you have to know your input resolution to find its aspect ratio (if you are not sure). Wikipedia helps us with the latter part, some research might have to be done for the first part. Older consoles often use a resolution up to 720×576 which is 4:3, newer consoles normally work on 720p which is 16:9 and your computer might work at any resolution between 640×480(4:3) or 1600×1200(16:10) or 1280×1024(5:4) or the current “standard” 1080p which is 1920×1080(16:9). Check your monitors manual, computer settings, Wikipedia for consoles, etc. to find your current Resolution. The OBS Logfile also lists your Monitor settings of Windows in its log file, for example:

monitor 1: pos={-1920, 0}, size={1920, 1080}
monitor 2: pos={0, 0}, size={1920, 1080}
monitor 3: pos={1920, 0}, size={1920, 1080}

As you can see I am using three Monitors at the moment, all on 1920×1080 resolution. The next step is to find the Aspect Ratio. You could of course calculate this, but I extracted the table of many commonly used resolutions from Wikipedia to this Page. Find your current resolution in the list. On the left are the height values, on the top the resulting Aspect Ratio. Now you can note down the correct resolutions for your Input. I will use 16:9 – 1080p as an Input example (changed the left and right column for better reading):


As you can see, most downscale values of OBS can also be found on this table. All these resolutions will give a good looking picture in terms of the Aspect Ratio. Which resolution is the best for your PC/Internet connection? Test, tweak your bitrates, check your CPU usage and test even more!

Assuming your monitor uses a 4:3 Aspect Ratio you might want to think about doing a 16:9 stream, but of course, without stretching or distorting your picture. I listed some Ideas and gave a quick how to in this guide.