If you’ve spent plenty of time playing popular PC games, you’re probably familiar with streaming. Maybe you’ve played with some streamers or you’ve enjoyed watching someone stream one of your favorite games on Twitch. Regardless, streaming (live streaming video footage of gameplay) is one of the fastest-growing elements of the gaming community. If you like playing games, fancy yourself an entertainer and have an excess of free time, streaming might appeal to you!
Keep in mind before starting your live streaming career, that a powerful gaming PC isn’t necessarily a powerful streaming machine. There are different requirements for setting up a quality stream and some additional hardware may even be necessary. In order to ensure your computer is ready to stream gameplay, take a look at this list of five things you’ll need before streaming.
1. A powerful processor
There is a large difference in the amount of power required from a processor focused on gaming and a processor focused on streaming. Ordinarily, the majority of rendering for games is handled by the graphics card, so the CPU doesn’t need to contribute as much power. However, when streaming, your processor has to also handle high-speed video conversion and a constant stable internet connection. This requires at least a quad-core processor with the recommended clock speed of at least 4 Gigahertz.
If your gaming PC has an Intel Core i5 or i7, you’re set. If you’re using an AMD chipset you will need to be more selective. If it came out in the last 3 years and has at least 4 cores, you should be safe. Depending on how old your build is and what kind of slot your motherboard has, you may be able to swap out your current chip for a stronger one if necessary.
Having some trouble finding the right CPU? Check out our guide on the Best CPU for Gaming for suggestions. If you need to upgrade your motherboard as well, check out this list: Best Budget Gaming Motherboards.
2. Ample Storage Space
Live streaming requires serious storage, so you’ll need a hard drive with plenty of it. Many streaming services offer cloud storage for past streams, but you’ll also want to create a physical backup on your end if you want to upload footage to other sites like Youtube. Make sure to get something with at least one terabyte of space. High resolution video takes up quite a bit of storage, so you’ll need every byte.
While not absolutely necessary, it would be beneficial to also install a solid state drive to work in conjunction with a large hard drive. Having an SSD handle the operating tasks of playing the game and running the streaming apps will greatly reduce load times. This will also help decrease the amount of footage you’ll have to edit later. However, the most important thing is a high volume of stable storage space, and the ideal pick for that is a large hard drive.
3. Fast Internet Connection
Once you’ve got the hardware of your machine sorted out, there’s one more extremely important step before sorting out software and that’s your network. You can have the most powerful streaming rig in the world but it won’t matter if all your viewers see when they go to your channel is the spinning wheel of death.
First make sure you’re getting decent speeds from your internet service provider. You should have a download speed of at least 60 Mbps and an upload speed of at least 2 Mbps. If you’re not getting these speeds, call your provider and schedule an upgrade. You can test your speeds for free on Speed Test from Ookla.
Once you’ve started paying for faster speeds, it’s very important to make sure you’re actually reaching the speeds for which you pay. An easy way to increase your speed is to use a direct connection to your router via Ethernet cable. If this isn’t feasible you can also use a wireless range extender, or replace your router with a better model. We’ve compiled a list of the Best Routers for Gaming for reference if it’s time for an upgrade.
4. Reliable Audio Source
Now that you have decent video and a stable connection the next thing to focus on is audio. Some streamers can get away with a quiet stream but if you’re interested in establishing audience retention and building a community, you’ll want to get your voice involved. This can be done a few different ways but for an entry level streamer, you’ll want to get a headset.
A headset will provide good audio for both you and your streamers. A closed-ear design prevents audio bleed so your viewers won’t hear echos. A headset will also have a mic closer to your mouth, ensuring your voice is crisp and clear. If you decide to add a facecam it may be tempting to use the integrated webcam mic, but these are almost always awful.
If you’re in the market for a good set of streaming headphones, take a look at our list of Best Headphones for Gaming.
If you’re looking for a more professional, high-quality sound you’ll want to get a nicer microphone. Starting out with a cheap desktop mic like the Blue Snowball is a good idea but eventually you’ll want to look into mic setups with a preamp. This will deliver studio-quality sound and allow you to monitor and modify your levels in real time. A word of warning: do not get the Blue Yeti. It is an inferior product and a joke among audiophiles.
5. Capture Software/Hardware
Once you’re ready to begin streaming footage of PC games, all you have left to do is download a capture program such as XSplit or OBS. Then create an account on a streaming service like Twitch or Hitbox, set up your stream settings and you’re ready to go!
If you want to stream footage from consoles you’ll need a capture card. These range wildly in price and capability and there’s a lot of misinformation being spread about them. Look for an article in the future where fact is separated from the fiction but for now, your best bet is a product from El Gato or Avermedia. With a capture card, older consoles such as the Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and Wii U can be streamed online through your PC and capture software.
At this point, you’re ready to start streaming! Once you’ve picked a platform and a game, try to stream regularly. If you’re interested in growing your channel and gaining popularity, the best ways to achieve this growth is to provide a consistent schedule and lots of communication with your audience. You’ll want to make sure they’re entertained which will encourage them to tell their friends about your streams and spread the word.
Don’t be discouraged if growth is slow. It can take years to build up a respectable audience and some never do. However, if you set reasonable expectations, have the proper equipment and can crack a few jokes, you should have a decent following in no time. Happy streaming!