Streaming on Discord is one of the better ways to make use of AV1 GPU support

Gigabyte RTX 4070 Ti Gaming OC graphics card
(Image credit: Future)

This GPU generation has introduced support for a new and exciting technology, AV1. This is a video codec that dramatically reduces the amount of data required for high quality video online, which makes it a great fit for live streaming, and now you can take advantage of it over Discord.

Discord's latest update officially incorporates AV1 support for anyone with an RTX 40-series GPU capable of encoding it. You can turn the feature on in your settings, providing you have one such high-end GPU, and it'll be used when you go live on any Discord server or voice call, providing everyone else has the setting enabled, too.

Discord says you'll be able to "live stream in 4K at just 8 Mbps" with AV1 in use.

AV1 dramatically lowers the 'cost' of streaming in high resolutions, including 4K and 8K. It slices the bitrate requirements massively, meaning less data, and importantly less bandwidth, is required to beam detailed video across the web. Once everyone's up to speed with AV1, we'll see a big improvement to live streamed video content quality across the board. 

However, right now, AV1 is a bit more limited in its scope due to the hardware required to run it.

AV1 requires acceleration in order to run so efficiently. This is delivered through specialised circuitry, requiring both encode and decode. Nvidia's RTX 40-series, AMD's RX 7900-series and Intel's Arc Alchemist cards all deliver impressive AV1 support, however, neither AMD or Intel's cards are currently supported in the Discord app. 

(Image credit: Discord)

Discord notes, "more hardware support coming soon," and I'd guess that Intel and AMD support will be incoming in the near future.

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That'll be handy for me on a personal level. Currently I'm finding the only use for AV1 on my RX 7900 XT machine is within the AMD Adrenalin package to snap short video clips. Even then, the lack of AV1 support in other video viewing and editing programs means I'm not often able to do much with these clips beyond that, so I tend to find myself defaulting to more commonly used codecs for now.

At least the popular streaming app OBS Studio supports AV1 across Nvidia, AMD, and Intel graphics cards.

We will see a much wider push to support AV1 on PCs. Unlike the most common codecs on the web today, H.264 and H.265, AV1 is royalty-free. It's created by a consortium of tech companies called the Alliance for Open Media, which includes Nvidia, AMD, Microsoft, Intel, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Tencent, Google, and many more as members—and runs as a non-for-profit. That means no company has to pay for the privilege of using it in their software, and saving cash is usually at the forefront of any company's mind.

Jacob Ridley
Senior Hardware Editor

Jacob earned his first byline writing for his own tech blog. From there, he graduated to professionally breaking things as hardware writer at PCGamesN, and would go on to run the team as hardware editor. Since then he's joined PC Gamer's top staff as senior hardware editor, where he spends his days reporting on the latest developments in the technology and gaming industries and testing the newest PC components.