Streaming PC Buyer's Guide: Stream Like the Pros!
Streaming: The Latest Craze
Whether it's big live eSports tournaments, an exciting round of Battle Royale, or entertaining your audiences with arcade and indie titles alongside friends, streaming has never been more popular than it is today. There is also a lot of streaming outside of the gaming scene, so from that cookery show you like to watch to music lessons, you can find just about anything on Twitch and YouTube. Twitch alone attracts around 15 million viewers every day. But it is not only watched: About 2.2 million Twitch streamers play every day in front of an international audience.
In order to ensure your audiences get the best possible presentation, you need not only a fast and stable Internet connection, you also need the right computer. This entails a streaming PC capable not only of processing your gameplay, but also of transcoding and broadcasting that content to the streaming service. In addition, the streamer interacts with its viewers via chat, microphone and face cam. All of these factors combined add up to a lot of processing power being needed.
Streaming PC: Choosing the Right ComponentsA streaming PC therefore has several tasks to perform at the same time. For this reason, different rules apply when choosing the hardware components for such a computer than when configuring a regular gaming PC: In our online shop we offer some accordingly configured streaming systems.
Choosing the Right ProcessorThe processor should offer as many processor cores and threads as possible. This ensures that it can handle multiple tasks at the same time. In addition, video editing programs can generally handle multiple CPU cores very well. A six core processor is a good choice, but it eight cores would be better. In addition, a processor with SMT (Simultaneous Multithreading) can play to these strengths.
For price-conscious buyers, the AMD Ryzen 5 2600 is an excellent choice. The main processor has six cores and a total of twelve threads with a base clock of 3.4 GHz and this makes it equally suitable for games and video editing. The Intel Core i9-9900K offers eight processor cores and 16 threads. With a clock frequency of 3.6 GHz, automatic overclocking up to 5 GHz and an open multiplier, it offers plenty of performance at a competitive price.
Which Graphics Card is Right for Streaming?The stream does not look the same to the audience as it does on their own screen. Twitch supports a maximum of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels at 60 FPS at a transfer rate of three to six megabits per second. Beyond that, everything else does not reach the viewers’ screens.
When it comes to choosing a graphics card however, streaming is essentially about the streamer’s own experience. That said, more powerful variant do provide additional advantages: It provides a steady supply of frames to your monitor as well as to Twitch or other platforms, this means everyone from you to your audience gets to enjoy the crispest and smoothest of gameplay.
How Much Memory Does a Streaming PC Need?A streaming PC performs several tasks at the same time. Plenty of fast memory is an advantage here: in addition to the actual gameplay, broadcasting software such as OBS, XSplit or Bebo must also do their respective jobs. This could mean that the webcam is working away, sound is being processed, chat overlays are being faded in and out - and all of this has to occur in real time. A good rule of thumb to go by here is this: make sure to double the amount of regular gaming PCs. If 16 gigabytes is good, 32GB is better.
Higher clock rates also provide higher bandwidth for RAM. This means that data is made available to the processor faster, with the end result being that the speed of the computer increases overall.
Hard Drives or SSDs?Here traditional hard disks offer a particularly good price-performance ratio and a high life expectancy. Models with several terabytes of storage space are available in great variety at reasonable prices in our online shop. Storing data on a NAS system with RAID can also be advantageous from a certain amount of data.
However hard disks are relatively slow. In order not to leave audiences hanging unnecessarily, the system should be installed on a fast SSD for optimum performance. These offer significantly higher data transfer rates, which makes applications and games start faster while load times are significantly reduced.
Anyone who, in addition to the direct live stream, also records on the local computer e.g. when uploading a best-of video with outtakes later, will almost certainly require plenty of hard drive space. Live streams tend to involve the creation of large quantities of raw material, which brings its own challenges.
Advantages of a Second ComputerIn order not to impair game performance while streaming, many streamers decide on a solution with two computers. One serves as a gaming PC and one as a streaming PC. In this setup, the gaming PC deals solely with running the game. The advantage: it can rely on 100 percent of its computing power at any one time. The streaming PC, on the other hand, is solely responsible for the live transmission and recording and can also bring its entire power to bear here.
This solution is also suitable for console players as they can do without a gaming PC with an expensive graphics card. For the operation of a pure streaming computer, an integrated graphics unit or a dedicated entry-level graphics card is completely sufficient.
Do I Need a Capture Device?Whether with a gaming PC or console, a capture device such as Elgato Game Capture picks up picture and sound signals and loops them through to an output device such as a TV, screen or projector. Available as a PCIe plug-in card or external box with USB connection, such a device offers input and output for HDMI.
A Good Microphone is Worth its Weight in GoldIn addition to the computer itself, there are other accessories that can significantly enhance the quality of a stream. In particular, a powerful condenser microphone can make a significant difference to the viewers’ experience.
Which Camera is Perfect for a Webcam?So you’ve grabbed your viewers‘ interest, and now they want to see the face behind the voice.
The Green Screen: Hollywood at Your DeskIn order to cover as little of the game as possible, many streamers use a green screen. This enables the release by means of keying. The means the player is in front of a smooth, green surface. This colour must not be present in the clothing of the streamer as it would be removed from the picture and users would only see the background.
Optimum Image Quality with SoftlightsBright and even lighting can work wonders as far as image quality is concerned and is indispensable for keying. Small cameras like webcams suffer in low light situations, producing a low contrast, noisy image.
Stream Deck: Luxury Macro KeyboardIn the midst of intense online competition, a professional streamer probably won't have the time for unnecessary distractions. This is where the Elgato Stream Deck comes in, a versatile and ingenious macro keyboard that offers full configurability.
The individual buttons (depending on the version, between 6 and 32) can be filled with your own personal macros and illuminated courtesy of individual colour LCDs. The mini displays can be filled with the users own custom symbols that match their function. This works with in a variety of games and programs, in addition to broadcasting software.