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All the hardware you need to stream on Twitch

21 Febuary 2023

hardware-stream

Gaming has always been better with a community – and one of the fastest ways to find one, or join one, is through the advent of streaming. 

 

But while sharing your gameplay with old friends and new can liven up any experience – whether it be a newly-released AAA, arcade classics or just a hidden blast from the past – not every PC has the guts required for streaming. Getting into Twitch streaming is easier than ever, but there are a few hardware hurdles you need to climb before you can start streaming smoothly. 

 

What do I need to start streaming? 

 

While you can technically start streaming on a phone, tablet, MacBook or even a console, for the purposes of this article we’re going to assume that you’ll want to be playing a PC game and streaming from that PC at the same time. Streaming through a PC gives you more control over the stream quality, but you’ll also be able to better modify your stream’s look and feel, through overlays, plugins, community moderation, and other tweaks that can’t be done when streaming directly through a phone or console. 

 

While professional streamers have the benefit of streaming from a second PC, the easiest way to get started is through a dedicated, powerful gaming PC that has enough headroom to play demanding video games simultaneously. 

intel-13thgen

Intel 13th Gen

 

 

You can either purchase a pre-built PC, or build one with components of your own choice, but generally you’ll want something with the following: 

 

CPU: A minimum 6-core AMD or Intel CPU, like an Intel Core i5-13600K or the Ryzen 5 7600X. If you’re looking at playing at 1440p or 4K resolutions, or you want to run a stream that’s particularly heavy on the overlays and different scene interactions, then consider something with at least 8 cores (such as the Ryzen 7 7700X or Intel Core i7-13700K*). 

 

GPU: Picking a GPU that gives you plenty of headroom is important, as the easiest way to stream and play from a single PC is to offload the streaming to the GPU. NVIDIAIntel and AMD all have in-built hardware encoders that works with streaming software, although levels of software support and the performance impact to your frame rate can vary. (NVIDIA and AMD also have their own software that you can stream through.) NVIDIA’s NVENC encoder is a common favourite among many streamers thanks to its efficiency and video quality + plus 

 

As a rough guide, here’s cards to consider depending on the resolution you want to play games at: 

 

1080p gaming and streaming: Intel Arc A770 16GB, AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT or NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060
1440p gaming, streaming at 1080p or lower: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 or 40-series cards, AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT or RX 7900 series

rtx4090-card

GeForce RTX 4090

 

It’s generally not recommended to stream from a gaming PC and also play at 4K. 4K gaming typically utilises almost 100% of your GPU’s bandwidth, which generally means there is not enough overhead to encode your stream at the same time. And don’t forget Twitch’s limits: the highest possible quality stream is locked to 1080p/60fps anyway, although official support for 1440p/120fps streams is in the works. You’ll also want to consider one other important bit of hardware…

 

Your upload speeds: Anything streaming to the internet needs a solid, reliable internet connection. Given Twitch’s limitations for new accounts, you’ll want a connection that’s capable of uploading 3,500kbps – or around 3.5MB. It’s generally a good idea to limit your stream to a bitrate of around 2,000kbps when starting out, but having that extra headroom will ensure a smooth stream for viewers - which is particularly important if you have folks sharing the same internet connection.

 

What if I wanted to stream through a second PC? 

capture-card

AVerMedia Live Gamer Duo Capture Card

 

If you have a second PC that isn’t in use – or you really want to showcase your gameplay in the highest quality possible – then you can use that PC exclusively for streaming. 

 

Here’s why it’s something you might want to consider: 

 

It’s a great way to repurpose old hardware!
The second PC handles all of the encoding workload, so your gaming PC can run at the highest level quality and framerate you want
No need to worry about potential crashes or conflicts with certain games or newer drivers – if your gaming PC crashes, the stream will remain ongoing - albeit with no gameplay

 

Your streaming PC also won’t need as beefy hardware as your main gaming PC. You will want to invest in a capture card though, otherwise your stream won’t have anything to show viewers! Capture cards come in internal and external versions, and there’s a massive range depending on whether they’re designed to capture in 4K, HDR footage, or whether they’re designed to support multiple HDMI inputs.

 

Don’t forget to use a webcam and a separate microphone! 

 

People are drawn to Twitch streams because they like connecting with other people they like. But if they can’t see who you are, and they can’t hear your voice well, then you’re hurting your chances of growing a community – or even just giving people a good time – before you start. 

 

Webcams don’t cost much and they can add a ton of fun and interactivity to your stream. The Razer Kiyo or Logitech C922 HD Pro webcams are perfect options for getting started. Just keep in mind the conditions the webcam has to work in – make sure your room has plenty of lighting, ideally behind you if possible. 

razer-kiyo

Razer Kiyo Webcam

 

If you really get into streaming, there’s also the option of using a green screen. Green screens will allow you to remove the background from behind you, so only your face appears on the stream, leaving more room for gaming footage. 

 

If you have the space, the Brateck green screen tripod is easy to setup and works well in rooms where you can’t do much about the background behind your webcam. If you’re in a small room and the tripod takes up too much room, Elgato’s collapsible green screen is great for tight spaces. 

 

There are also software based options, if you have the hardware to run it. GeForce RTX 30 and 40-series cards can use NVIDIA Broadcast. NVIDIA Broadcast uses the AI cores on an NVIDIA GPU to remove, blur or alter the background of your webcam’s feed. The only downside is that it has a higher impact on frame rates than just regular streaming, so it should realistically only be used if you have lots of headroom to spare.

 

elgato-green-screen

Elgato Green Screen

 

Coming through loud and clear is equally important for a good stream. A standalone microphone and a boom arm is the perfect way to make sure your stream broadcasts the thing that matters – your voice, and not everything else.

 

A key issue many early streamers have is that their microphone ends up picking up all of the vibrations from around their PC. A great way to avoid that is by mounting your microphone on a boom arm, like the RODE PSA1+. Doing this lets you move the microphone’s position to be as close to your face as comfortable, making sure it avoids picking up things like mouse clicks, external noises or loud mechanical keyboards.

 

It’s also worth considering the strengths of each microphone and your budget. Along with their different audio signatures, not every mic handles background isolation or plosions – that’s the clipping you hear whenever someone pronounces a plosive consonant like p’s or b’s – well.

 

If you’re on a tight budget, the Maono Professional Podcast Kit comes with a pop filter, small boom arm and a standalone mic all for a low price. It’s a great low cost way to immediately improve your stream’s audio quality without having to invest a lot. For microphones with more versatility and more well-rounded audio quality, there’s the Rode NT-USB, the ever-popular Blue Yeti, and the Audio-Technica AT-2020 USB. 

 

What about those mixers I see on every stream? 

 

If you’ve watched a few streams, you might have seen square-looking boxes off to the side of a streamer’s setup. These are more advanced pieces of kit that generally control the streamer’s audio devices, and the look of the stream itself. 

 

Mixers, like the Rodecaster Pro, are audio interfaces that users can plug their headphones and microphones into. The advantage of these mixers is that it lets users control the volume of all of their devices without having to go through Windows settings, which can be incredibly useful if your PC is currently stuck in a fullscreen application (like a video game). Mixers also let you easily balance the level of your audio devices more smoothly, so you can easily nudge your microphone or headset volume up or down to suit. 

 

rode-mixers

Rode NTH-100 Headphones + Rodecaster Pro Mixer

 

Another similarly looking square device that’s grown in popularity is the Stream Deck. The Stream Deck is an innovation from Elgato that essentially gives users a set of programmable buttons. Streamers will typically queue up different scenes to these buttons so they can quickly change camera angles, overlays, or provide different views of the stream without having to ALT-TAB to their streaming software. Feel free to reach out to us to discuss the best streaming gear for your setup.

Tags: streaming

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