If you are starting up a YouTube or Twitch channel, you will need a beast of a PC to properly stream video of your gameplay.
You will also need a high-quality audio setup and a webcam with a resolution of at least 720p, depending on whether you will be streaming a picture-in-picture window of yourself.
Below are some of the most important components you will need for a streaming PC.
The CPU of your streaming PC is extremely important, as this will shoulder the burden of playing a game and processing video and audio.
Chips with high core counts and clock speeds are preferred, and it is best to grab the best CPU available in your price range.
AMD’s new Ryzen processors and Intel’s 8th-gen chips are great for streaming, and high-end CPUs like the Ryzen 1800X and Intel Core i7-8700K are perfect for more powerful streaming PCs.
Streamers can ramp up performance even further by opting for a high-end desktop chipset and using a Ryzen Threadripper or Intel Core X-Series CPU.
A powerful processor will allow you to record or stream gameplay using high-quality software encoding while maintaining resolution and framerate.
With the added load of encoding and streaming high-quality video and audio, you will need a decent amount of RAM.
16GB of high-speed DDR4 memory should be more than enough for most streaming or recording, but some users may opt for 32GB just to ensure there are no slowdowns.
Insufficient memory can cause framerate drops when encoding video, ruining your stream quality.
The graphics card is a key component in any gaming PC, and streaming builds are no exception.
If you are not going to be recording any graphically-intensive titles, you may be able to get away with using integrated graphics, but most streamers will have a dedicated graphics card.
High-end graphics cards like the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 will let you play and stream flawlessly, even when using hardware encoding.
While both AMD and Nvidia graphics cards can work well in streaming PCs, Nvidia includes the extra option of ShadowPlay, which allows players to stream or save their gameplay using the power of their GPU.
This reduces encoding quality slightly, but greatly relieves load on the CPU, making it ideal for lower-end rigs.
The most critical storage component in a gaming PC used for YouTube or Twitch is a solid state drive.
Running your OS, games, and streaming/recording software on an SSD means you won’t have to deal with long loading screens and startup times when streaming live, and your encoding software will run as smoothly as possible.
You will need an SSD large enough for your games, OS, and any recording software installed, as well as a fast mechanical hard drive for storing recordings.
A high-speed HDD is also important for recording gameplay, as very low read or write speeds can cause slowdowns and affect quality.
A good quality microphone is critical for both YouTubers and streamers, as bad audio quality can easily ruin a video.
USB microphones are recommended for most streaming or recording applications, and microphones with XLR interfaces are recommended for superior quality.
Many streamers or YouTubers use desk microphones due to their stability and improved quality over headset-attached mics.
If you’re planning on streaming video of yourself, you will need to include a webcam in your build budget.
Depending on the encoding quality of your stream or recording, you might need a high-definition webcam to provide good picture-in-picture quality.
More expensive webcams feature on-board video encoding, which will not place any extra strain on your processor.
Streaming PC with capture card
If you’re willing to go all-out on the best streaming setup possible, you can set up a standalone streaming PC and connect to it using a capture card.
This splits the load of running the game and encoding it onto a primary and streaming PC respectively.
A dedicated streaming PC will need a capture card to receive video input from the gaming PC in addition to a decent quad-core processor to encode and stream the video.
Many full-time streamers use this approach to maximise performance on both systems and reduce slowdowns, but it is relatively expensive compared to using a single PC for both applications.