Streaming has been one of the fastest-growing industries in the world today. Streaming ranges from various things such as gaming, chatting, cooking, among many other things. Tons of people earn money through streaming, with the biggest names such as Ninja and Shroud earning millions every year.
If you want to get into streaming yourself, there are a few things that you have to consider. This ranges from what platform you should stream on, if you need a single PC or multiple to have a dedicated game and streaming PC, what other equipment you need, and many more.
This guide will help you decide a ton of these things, including whether it’s worth it to get a dedicated streaming PC.
Single Streaming PC vs Dual Streaming PC Setups
The first thing that you have to consider is whether you need a dedicated streaming PC or not. Today, modern hardware is powerful enough to be able to stream and game on the same PC.
With that being said, it is not always a good idea to stream on the same PC, especially if you are playing load-heavy games such as AAA games that put a lot of stress on your hardware which can make your stream a little choppy or can make your game lag. Though there are times where you can get away with simply streaming and gaming using a single PC.
Single Streaming PC
Streaming with a single PC is definitely possible because streaming with the right settings will usually only take up a small amount of your PC’s hardware. However, you’ll need to have a relatively powerful PC in order to pull this off without any major problems.
The good thing about using a single PC is that it’s always going to be way cheaper than running a dual PC setup. You’re essentially buying double the hardware if you go with a dedicated streaming PC which can cost you a lot.
Everything you need to stream is found on a single PC which makes it easier to set up and run. Plus, it also takes a lot less space so you can get up and start streaming with just a single table.
Unfortunately, streaming with a single PC has its downfalls. For starters, you can run into stutters and FPS drops while gaming which isn’t going to bode well, especially in competitive games such as Valorant and League of Legends.
Aside from that, in the event that your PC randomly crashes or restarts, your stream is going to go down with it. Unlike when using a dedicated streaming PC your stream goes on as long as your dedicated streaming PC still has power.
A good idea when building a streaming PC is to build one with an Nvidia GPU since they have an encoder that has a very small effect on performance. Next is to ensure that you have enough RAM to play the game and handle streaming as well, a good start is to get at least 8GB but 16GB of RAM would be ideal.
Lastly, get a good processor to round things up. A new quad-core CPU should be able to handle gaming and streaming well, but if you can get a processor with higher cores and threads you should no doubt do it.
It is almost necessary that you have a dual monitor setup since it will definitely help you a lot when switching scenes, reading chat or comments, and just making sure that your stream is running smoothly.
Dual Streaming PC
Now having a dual streaming PC setup is the dream for most streamers. Most popular streamers have a dedicated streaming PC, there are even others like Dr. Lupo who took it to the next level and has an insane triple streaming PC setup.
This just ensures that you have enough power dedicated to your game and enough power dedicated to your stream which will result in an enjoyable experience for you and your viewers at all times.
One of the best arguments for having a dedicated streaming PC is that you won’t run into any stutters or frame drops as long as your main gaming PC has good hardware that can support the game you are playing. You can essentially crank up the game settings to max and it won’t affect your stream at all.
It also ensures that if ever you run into any problems with your gaming PC the stream won’t end abruptly and you can advise your viewers with the technical difficulties you are experiencing.
Probably the main factor that’s stopping people from getting a dedicated streaming PC is the costs. It’s expensive enough to build a single PC, building two is just gonna cost thousands.
Though you can always get a cheap streaming PC since it’s not going to be doing that much aside from streaming. It also takes up a lot of space since you basically have double the hardware.
When building a dual streaming PC, in most cases you should only spend about 1/3 of your budget on the dedicated streaming PC and the remaining 2/3 on your gaming PC. You should do this in order to get the best possible hardware for your main gaming PC while also spending enough money on your dedicated streaming PC.
Building Your Streaming PC
Now that you know the difference between using a single streaming PC and a dual PC setup, let’s move on to what components you need to build your streaming PC.
First of all, building a streaming PC is quite easy and would only take you around an afternoon to set up.
If you are building a PC whose sole purpose is to only stream the content, you have tons of options and have a lot of freedom in your budget. However, if you plan on gaming and streaming on the same PC you’ll probably have to spend quite a bit more.
Streaming and Gaming PC
For both streaming and gaming PC setups, having a multi-core processor is essential. It will help lessen the load and help both your game and stream become smoother. We are listing down below some general parts that you can use as a guideline and will help you know how to build a streaming PC.
This build is a budget-friendly build that can help you get started with streaming. It’s a powerful enough PC to be able to play most games at good frame rates. It’s also powerful enough to be able to stream easy to run games such as esports titles and indie games at 720p. I suggest getting at least 16GB of RAM just so you have enough headroom when streaming but 8GB should be fine at first just make sure to upgrade somewhere down the line.
This build is a pretty solid one that should run pretty much all games at good frame rates. It has a 6-core 12-thread processor that should help you a lot when it comes to streaming while gaming. It also has plenty of storage which you can use to store any recordings of gameplay that you choose to keep.
There’s still some room for improvement in this build such as getting the better Ryzen 5 5950X or even the RTX 3090 but this build still has insane performance and is right up there with some of the best of them.
It’s an insane PC that should handle any game at higher resolutions even while streaming. This build is one of the best PCs for streaming and most people just dream to get a rig close to this one.
Remember that these builds are just guidelines that are here to help you pick your own parts. You can choose to have different components from the ones listed above and pick hardware that is better suited to your needs.
Dedicated Streaming PC
The great thing about a dedicated streaming PC is that you don’t get a performance hit in-game when streaming or recording since a separate PC does all the hard work. With that being said, a dedicated streaming PC build is always way cheaper than your main PC since it doesn’t require as much power as gaming.
This build is a great but cheap streaming PC. It should be able to handle 1080p at 30FPS or even 60 if you tweak a few settings but where it really shines is 720p. It’s a very cheap build that is great for streamers who are starting out and don’t want to spend much. You can get away with this setup since it’s a dedicated streaming PC and doesn’t require much power, especially at lower resolutions.
This is a better overall build if you have a bit more money to spend. It also has a dedicated NVIDIA GPU which means that you can use NVENC for encoding if you want. It’s a great build for 900p/1080p streaming and is still relatively cheap.
This should have more than enough power to stream at 1080p 60FPS without any problem. It’s quite frankly overkill at this point but the great thing about this build is that you can also pretty much use this as an editing rig if you want to post highlights of your gameplay and other similar things.
It’s also a good enough PC to use as a backup streaming and gaming rig in the event that your main PC suffers from technical difficulties.
Pre-Built Dedicated Streaming PC
If you don’t have the time to build your own PC or simply don’t know how to build a streaming PC, then you can simply go for a pre-built one. You just have to plug it in and start streaming. These pre-builts are good enough to be used as a Twitch streaming PC and range from a variety of budgets so that you can find one that fits your own.
This is an amazing starter PC that doesn’t break the bank. It’s one of the cheapest available pre-builts coming in at around $500 and it also comes with a graphics card. Most of the work will be done by the 4-core 8-thread Ryzen 3 3100 which should be able to handle streaming well. This build is quite similar to our recommended one and is actually slightly better.
CyberPowerPC is a known brand for pre-built machines and is one of the major pre-built brands in the world. This is an overall pretty solid PC that has decent specs and fast storage. It has an Intel i5 – 10400F which is a 6-core 12-thread processor that will greatly help with your workload. Sadly, the power supply isn’t stated anywhere in the product’s description but it should keep your system up and running, just make sure to double-check it’s capacity if you plan on upgrading in the future.
This is a more than capable dedicated streaming PC thanks to the 8-cores and 16-threads that the Ryzen 7 3700X has. It should be able to provide a stable 1080p on 60FPS which will give your viewers a great viewing experience. It’s also going to perform great as a video editing rig, though you might want to add some additional storage options for your gameplay recordings.
The great thing about pre-builts is that they always have a warranty and tech support that can help you through problems if ever you run into one. They also consume a lot less time than picking out parts and building the PC yourself which definitely helps get your stream up and running as soon as possible.
Once your streaming setup is complete, you still have to consider a few things such as the platform you are going to be streaming on. Today there are a few viable choices in Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook.
The obvious choice is Twitch. It’s by far the most popular platform that people go on to stream and watch streams, and is well categorized and organized according to the games you stream. Tons of big streamers such as Shroud and Ninja primarily stream on Twitch.
Twitch also has some of the best UI with tons of flexibility that allows you to give more character to your channel and your streams. There are no Twitch streaming PC requirements, however, if you aren’t a Twitch partner, your stream is limited to a lower resolution. This means that even if you have a top of the line PC with the best possible internet connection, you can’t stream at high resolutions if you aren’t a Twitch partner.
YouTube is another live streaming platform that is growing in popularity. YouTube is primarily known as a video-sharing platform so it does have some roots in the content creation/ entertainment scene. LazarBeam and Valkyrae are some of the top streamers who regularly and exclusively stream on YouTube.
One advantage of streaming on YouTube is that you can stream high-quality content without any restrictions or requirements. You can stream at up to 4K 60FPS if your hardware and your internet can pull it off.
An advantage that Facebook has over the other platforms is that you can easily invite your friends on Facebook to like your page and watch your videos. They can see your stream when they are scrolling on their feed that offers a higher chance of them watching your live streams.
There are also tons of Facebook groups that you can share your stream to, making it easier to network and promote your page.
Internet Speed and Bitrate For Streaming
Well, it largely depends on the resolution and bitrate of your stream. As a general rule of thumb, a 480p stream requires at least 1.2 Mbps upload speeds, at 720p it’s 2.5 Mbps, and at 1080p it’s 3.5 Mbps. That’s only the minimum speeds though. For a 720p 30FPS Twitch stream with a bitrate of around 2,500 and 4,000, you should have somewhere around 3.2 Mbps and 5 Mbps to provide a smooth stream.
These numbers change depending on the platform and bitrate so be sure to double-check it first.
This almost has the same answer as the one above it. It will largely depend on your internet connection, the resolution you want to stream at, and the quality you want your stream to be. Different platforms also recommend different bitrates and upload speeds so it will vary.
Here is a list of the different platforms and their recommended bitrates and upload speeds for different resolutions:
2,500 – 4,000
3.2 Mbps – 5 Mbps
3,500 – 5,000
4.4 Mbps – 6.2 Mbps
3,500 – 5,000
4.4 Mbps – 6.2 Mbps
4,500 – 6,000
5.6 Mbps – 7.4 Mbps
Facebook offers a different set of recommendations. They only recommend a maximum of 4,000 kbps as the bitrate for videos up to 1080p 60FPS and an upload speed of around 6 Mbps to 7Mbps, as for 720p on both 30FPS and 60FPS they recommend having an upload speed of 3 Mbps to 4 Mbps.
1,500 – 4,000
2 Mbps – 5 Mbps
2,250 – 6,000
2.9 Mbps – 7.4 Mbps
3,000 – 6,000
3.8 Mbps – 7.4 Mbps
4,500 – 9,000
5.6 Mbps – 11 Mbps
6,000 – 13,000
7.4 Mbps – 15.8 Mbps
9,000 – 18,000
11 Mbps – 21.8 Mbps
13,000 – 34,000
15.8 Mbps – 41 Mbps
20,000 – 51,000
24.2 Mbps – 61.5 Mbps
As for the encoder, there are basically two encoding options you can choose from. Software encoding where most of the processing is done by the CPU and hardware encoding where most of the processing is done by the GPU.
Software encoding makes use of the CPU to encode and process the image. This generally results in a higher quality image because the CPU tries to include as much detail as it can.
Hardware encoding on the other hand is done on GPUs from Nvidia and AMD. Both brands have their own encoders though generally Nvidia’s encoder, NVENC, produces better results.
If you are using a single PC it’s generally better to use either AMD’s or Nvidia’s encoder. This relieves a ton of stress from your CPU and frees it up to process more of your game than of your stream.
However, if you are using a dedicated streaming PC as long as you have a relatively powerful CPU, you should make use of software encoding for overall better image quality.
Do You Need A Capture Card to Stream on PCs?
First, a capture card is a device that accepts a video signal that allows you to capture high definition video on an external device.
There are two answers to this question and will depend on what hardware you are using to stream with. No, you do not need a capture card if you are streaming and gaming on the same PC. All of the needed processing and capturing is done internally so, a capture card is not needed.
On the other hand, if you are using a dedicated streaming PC and are gaming on a separate PC or console then yes, a capture card is a must. The capture card acts as a link between the video that your main gaming hardware outputs to your dedicated streaming PC. Some of the most popular capture cards include the AVerMedia Live Gamer devices and the Elgato Game Capture devices.
Whether you choose to go the route of building your streaming PC or buying a pre-built you should be able to stream as long as you have relatively new hardware and a decent internet connection. Having a dedicated streaming PC is not required, thanks to the powerful components we have today. A dedicated streaming PC will always produce better results though and will never be the reason why you are lagging in-game. Simply having a dedicated streaming PC, even a low-end one, will greatly improve your gaming experience and the viewers’ watching experience as well so it’s often a good idea to invest in one if you are serious about your streaming career.