This article helps you to stability test your live encoder. If the hardware you are testing is defective or partially defective, the tests will reveal this. However, in these cases they may also reduce the lifespan of the components. Copenhagen Streaming disclaims all liability for damage or reduced lifetime in connection with these tests. To get the full benefit of this article, it is a good idea to consult an IT-savvy colleague or friend.
When using a software-based live encoder such as Wirecast, vMix, OBS or similar, it is crucial that the system on which the software runs is stable. To do this, you should stress test the hardware thoroughly. A stress test pushes the system to the maximum for a shorter or longer period of time and if all tests run without errors, the hardware is stable and suitable for live streaming.
Below is a list of the software that Copenhagen Streaming uses when stress testing live encoders:
- Dota 2
MemTest86 is a standalone application that you boot into from a USB drive. It stress tests RAM and draws attention to any defects in RAM modules in incorrect configuration in voltage, speed or RAM timings.
Prime95 can stress the core of the system (CPU, RAM and motherboard) and should be run for at least 24 hours. We primarily use the "Blend" test as it is the most effective at spotting the most common hardware and configuration errors.
AIDA64, like Prime95, stresses both processor and memory while providing a good overview of temperature, voltage and speed so you can track whether CPU throttling down due to too high temperature.
FurMark and Dota 2 (which is a game) serve to stress-test the graphics card. Dota 2 has been shown to cause hardware errors and driver issues on graphics cards that FurMark and other stress tests have not been able to detect. It is possible to set up a replay so you don't have to play the game yourself.
Also test in the relevant encoder software
In addition to the software mentioned, it is very important to test with the live-streaming software (Wirecast, vMix, OBS, Digital Rapids, Imagine Communications, etc.) If you edit and live-stream in Wirecast, you can set up a project in Wirecast that puts maximum stress on the system. You can do this by adding multiple outputs and different encoding profiles. Alternatively, you can set up fewer, highly demanding profiles, for example x264 in state 9 "very slow encoding".
Test in the right project
In addition to pushing the system in the relevant software, it's also important to test the real project. If you plan to use Wirecast to live stream to Youtube and Facebook and Wowza Streaming Engine, as well as to record a local recording, set up such a Wirecast project now and test it thoroughly. This way, you'll avoid any details in the workflow that surprise you or the system you're using.
If you use capture cards like Decklink, Matrox VS4 or USB and Thunderbolt variants like Aja U-TAP or Blackmagic Ultrastudio Mini Recorder, set up your project with these and test with the real signals from your sources. There is a big difference in CPU consumption at 720p input compared to 1080i.
Get a stable Wirecast live encoder
If you get errors of any kind during testing, it's important that you fix them before using the encoder to live stream from an event. Whether you are using Wirecast, vMix or a completely different software on your live encoder, it is crucial that the hardware is 100 % stable. Check out this follow-up article where we look at how to fix stability problems. Of course, you are also more than welcome to contact Copenhagen Streaming and get help from our experienced team.
Copenhagen Streaming is ready to help
We have years of experience building stable encoders and stability testing hardware. If you'd like us to help you test your live encoders or fix any errors you've already found, get in touch by sending us a message below.
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Prime95 is software written to find new Mersenne primes. You can set up Prime95 to send results to Mersenne Research, Inc. which is a non-profit organization. However, you can also choose to simply use the software for press CPU, RAM and motherboards without publishing any mathematical discoveries.
At the time of writing, Copenhagen Streaming is using version 29.3 of Prime95.
Prime95 can be downloaded here:
MemTest86 tests the memory (RAM) in a system. The software is installed on a USB stick that is booted from.
At the time of writing, we are currently using Copenhagen Streaming version v7 "Free Edition".
It can be downloaded here:
AIDA64 is a comprehensive software suite that provides a complete overview of the components in your live encoder. The software also integrates a stability test that excels by making use of the instruction sets found in newer CPUs.
At the time of writing, we are using version 5.75.3900 of AIDA64 Extreme. You can download a free trial version at the link below:
FurMark is used to push the graphics card to the limit.
We are using version 22.214.171.124.
FurMark can be downloaded here: