How-to-Choose-a-PC-for-Streaming:-A-Guide-for-Beginners So you want to become a streamer, huh? That’s awesome. Before you start broadcasting to the world, you’ll need to get the right equipment. The most important thing is choosing a computer powerful enough to handle streaming software while playing graphics-intensive games. Don’t worry, you don’t need some tricked-out rig to get started.
With a few tips, you can find an affordable PC perfectly capable of streaming your gameplay to Twitch or YouTube. In this guide, we’ll walk you through what specs are most important for streaming and recommend some pre-built PCs at different price points to get you started.
Ready to choose a streaming PC and start sharing your gaming skills with the world? Let’s dive in.
Understanding PC Requirements for Streaming
To stream your gameplay or favorite shows, you’ll need a PC that can handle the extra workload. Here are the key things to consider:
For streaming, you’ll want at least an Intel i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 processor, but an i7 or Ryzen 7 is even better. The more cores the processor has, the more tasks it can handle at once without lagging.
Aim for at least 8-16 gigabytes of RAM. More memory means your PC can run multiple programs simultaneously without slowing down. For streaming, you’ll likely have your streaming software, game, browser, and other apps open at the same time.
For streaming PC games, you’ll want a dedicated graphics card like an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 or better. The graphics card handles rendering graphics so your stream looks smooth and sharp. Integrated graphics won’t cut it for streaming gameplay.
Get a solid-state drive (SSD) for your operating system and streaming software, and a regular hard drive (HDD) for everything else. An SSD loads programs and files much faster. Aim for at least 500 gigabytes of total storage so you have plenty of space for games, videos, and your stream recordings.
Streaming, especially at high resolutions, requires fast, stable internet. For the best experience, get a wired connection and a download speed of at least 10-50 megabits per second. Wi-Fi can work but may be less reliable.
With the right components and setup, you’ll be streaming like a pro in no time. Happy streaming!
Choosing the Right CPU for Streaming
Choosing a CPU that can handle streaming is key. For casual or beginner streaming, an Intel i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 processor should work great. These mid-range CPUs offer solid performance for most games and streaming software.
If you’re serious about streaming the latest games at high quality, consider an Intel i7 or AMD Ryzen 7. ### These more powerful CPUs have extra cores and threads to simultaneously run demanding games, streaming software, and other apps without lag or stuttering. The i7-9700K or Ryzen 7 3700X are excellent options for dedicated streaming.
For professional-level streaming, an Intel i9 or AMD Ryzen 9 processor is ideal. These high-end CPUs are real workhorses, with many cores to easily juggle multiple tasks. Models like the i9-9900K or Ryzen 9 3900X will provide an incredibly smooth streaming and gaming experience.
Of course, the more powerful the CPU, the higher the cost – so buy based on your needs and budget. Also keep in mind that streaming performance depends on other components like graphics card, memory, and internet speed. But in general, for casual streaming go i5 or Ryzen 5, for dedicated streaming go i7 or Ryzen 7, and for professional streaming go i9 or Ryzen 9.
With the right CPU powering your system, you’ll be creating epic livestreams in no time. Streaming stardom, here you come!
Picking a GPU That Can Handle Encoding
When streaming, your graphics card or GPU is responsible for encoding and decoding video and audio data in real time. For the best streaming experience, you’ll want a GPU that can handle this intensive process without slowing down your gameplay or stream.
Choose a GPU with built-in encoding
Look for a GPU with built-in hardware encoding like NVIDIA’s NVENC or AMD’s VCE. Hardware encoding dramatically reduces the load on your CPU and overall system. Popular choices for streaming include:
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 or better – Great for 1080p streaming with solid performance.
- NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 or better – Can handle 1080p streaming with higher graphics settings and even 1440p.
- AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT or better – Provides good 1080p streaming performance at a lower cost.
Without hardware encoding, your CPU will have to handle the encoding load, which can reduce your gameplay performance and stream quality. Hardware encoding is really the key to a good streaming experience.
Get a GPU with more memory
For the best streaming results, choose a GPU with at least 6GB of dedicated memory or VRAM. More memory will allow you to use higher resolution textures and more complex scenes in your gameplay without maxing out your memory usage. If your GPU’s memory is overloaded while streaming, you may experience lag, stuttering, or frame drops in your gameplay and stream.
Consider a multi-GPU setup
For serious streaming at high resolutions and graphics settings, you may want to consider a multi-GPU setup with a capture card to handle encoding and streaming separately from your main gameplay GPU. A setup like this will provide the best performance but at a higher cost. If streaming at 1080p, a single powerful GPU with built-in encoding should work great for most gamers and streamers.
The key things to keep in mind are: choose a GPU with built-in hardware encoding, get a GPU with plenty of memory (at least 6GB or more), and for high-end streaming a multi-GPU setup may be worth considering. Following these tips will help you pick a GPU that can give you a smooth, high-quality streaming experience.
Getting Enough RAM to Prevent Bottlenecks
Having enough RAM (random access memory) is crucial for a good streaming experience. RAM helps your computer quickly access data it needs right now. The more RAM you have, the more data your PC can access at once without slowing down.
For streaming, you’ll want at least 8GB of RAM, but for the best performance, go for 16GB. With 8GB of RAM, you may experience some lag or buffering when streaming visually intense media or having multiple tabs open. 16GB of RAM will ensure seamless streaming and multitasking.
Why RAM Matters for Streaming
When you stream video, your computer has to load a constant flow of data. If your PC runs out of available RAM, it will have to swap data between the RAM and virtual memory, which is stored on your hard drive. This is known as “thrashing” and it slows your computer down significantly.
More RAM means your PC can cache more of the video in memory so it’s ready when you need it. This results in less buffering, higher video quality, and a better overall streaming experience.
For streaming 4K video or virtual reality, 16GB of RAM is really the bare minimum. For the best performance, you may want to consider 32GB of RAM or more. While more RAM won’t necessarily improve your internet speed or bandwidth, it will allow your computer to make the most of the bandwidth you have.
In the end, for a great streaming PC, focus on a fast, multi-core CPU, a solid graphics card, an SSD for storage and at least 16GB of RAM. Meeting these specs will give you a machine powerful enough to stream media smoothly for years to come. Choosing a PC with enough RAM and the right components for your needs will help prevent bottlenecks and ensure you have an optimal streaming experience.
Opting for Fast Storage to Load Games Quickly
Solid state drives (SSDs) have revolutionized PC storage. Unlike the spinning hard disk drives (HDDs) of old, SSDs have no moving parts. They load and save data much faster. For streaming and gaming, an SSD is essential.
Get a large enough SSD
For most streaming and gaming PCs, a 512GB to 1TB SSD is good. This provides enough space for your operating system, streaming apps, a few games, and other files. If you have a large library of games, opt for a bigger SSD, like 2TB. SSDs do cost more than HDDs, so find a balance of speed and storage within your budget.
Choose a fast SSD interface
The interface is how the SSD connects to the rest of the PC. For streaming and gaming, get an SSD with a fast NVMe interface. NVMe, or Non-Volatile Memory Express, can transfer data much faster than the older SATA interface. An NVMe SSD will load Windows, games, and streaming apps noticeably faster.
Consider a secondary hard drive
If you need more storage for a large game library or media files, add a secondary hard drive. A 1-2TB HDD is good for bulk storage. Use the SSD for Windows, streaming apps, and your current favorite games. You can then transfer games between the drives as needed. The HDD will be slower, but fine for archiving extra files.
Max out your motherboard’s M.2 slots
Many gaming and streaming motherboards have M.2 slots for NVMe SSDs. These slots provide a direct connection to the motherboard for maximum speed. For the fastest storage, fill all the M.2 slots in your motherboard with high-capacity NVMe SSDs. This provides speed and storage in one package.
Fast, high-capacity storage is key for a great streaming and gaming experience. An NVMe SSD, or multiple SSDs in M.2 slots, will load Windows, games, streaming apps, and other files quickly so you can get right to the fun. And with enough storage space, you’ll have your whole library on hand and ready to go.
So there you have it, a quick guide to finding the right PC for your streaming needs. While there are many options out there, focusing on a few key areas like processor power, graphics card, memory, and storage will help ensure you end up with a PC that can handle streaming without issues. Once you’ve narrowed down your options, check reviews from other streamers or do some test streams yourself to confirm it’s the right pick before you buy.
With the right PC in hand, you’ll be up and streaming in no time. Happy streaming! Now get out there and start creating the content your fans have been waiting for.