Individual content creation is the latest form of entertainment, with multiple platforms and formats available to cater to different audiences, demographics... and attention-spans. We live in a time where anyone can create content they're passionate about with no production companies or studios required and reach audiences directly. At the core of this content revolution sits live-streaming - as whether your chosen platform is YouTube, Twitch or TikTok, there's nothing quite like going live.
What do I need to live stream?
Your audience is in-reach, you have content to offer, but how do you capture their attention? Producing high-quality, content that looks great, sounds great and engages people requires the correct hardware - showcasing your (undeniable) talents in-front of the camera, or top-shelf gaming skills in 480p SD with audio that sounds like it was recorded in a public bathroom isn't going to impress anyone - the poor quality is a distraction, and this takes a step further if your gaming PC struggles to deliver smooth footage to your audience, or if the additional demand you're placing on your rig by simultaneously casting your gameplay impacts your FPS enough that your gameplay suffers.
You don't necessarily need to break the bank on equipment to put together a functional and enjoyable stream for Twitch or YouTube, but if you're streaming gameplay, you have to aim for a system that's a touch more comfortable running the games you want to stream than you might otherwise. You also need to ensure that your camera and microphone are both clear enough that you don't look out of focus, or sound muffled.
What is a Streaming PC?
Streaming PC is a term we're using here to describe a gaming PC that'll allow you to simultaneously stream your gameplay without a noticeable impact to performance - this will vary based on the types of games that you play, or the type of content you want to produce, as if you're planning to also create and edit videos from your content you'll need to ensure your PC is geared up for this, otherwise it'll be a slow and painful process and you might find yourself falling behind your content schedule.
Processors for streaming
When it comes to streaming and video editing your processor needs to do its share of the heavy lifting, so it's important to take this into consideration whether you're shopping for individual components, or for a pre-built streaming PC. With the same caveats as above regarding the demands of your content, you're likely looking at an AMD Ryzen 5700X upwards, or a 12th or 13th gen Intel Core i7 processor if you want your system to pass the test of time.
Graphics cards for streaming
For streaming, the correct graphics card is pivotal, though the gameplay or content you want to stream will dictate your exact needs and our recommended streaming PCs reflect this - we offer PCs for streaming in a range of budgets suitable for different users - if you're live-streaming your Minecraft footage you'll be fine with a GeForce RTX 3050, or even a GTX 1650 - but if you want a serious gaming and streaming system that'll handle the latest AAA games then invest in a GeForce RTX 3080 or even 4080 and you'll be cruising for years to come.
Storage for streaming
Most gaming systems should now come with an NVMe SSD, and most high-end systems a PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe SSD - this is particularly relevant when we're talking about recording and working with video footage, as raw video files can easily run into 10s of GB and asking your system to import, edit and render that footage into a usable format is a demanding task and you'll see the benefit from high read/write speeds. This is less important if you're only running live-streams, but having the ability to use your own content in highlight videos or edit it into other formats is a great asset that will allow you to maximise your efforts.
It's also worth considering longer term storage solutions for video footage you won't necessarily be working with right now but don't want to delete - for this a high-capacity HDD is perfectly fine, aim for at least 2TB initially - you'll quickly find this is not as much as it sounds!
Webcams for streaming
If you plan to be visible to your audience - and you should, if you want to build a community around your content, then you'll need a good quality webcam. If a new viewer that knows nothing about you clicks on your stream and you're presenting as a washed out blur of artefacts, they're unlikely to stick around. Logitech offer some of the best value for performance webcams around, so they're a good place to start - check out our webcams section.
Microphones for streaming
The principle here is the same as with the webcam - don't ruin your content with shoddy hardware. You might get away with a good quality gaming headset if the mic is clear enough, but most successful streamers will be using a good quality standalone microphone. We offer options from top audio brands like Blue Microphones and Shure, so check out our streaming mics section.
Stream decks are another important peripheral for live streamers, as they allow you to control your stream with the touch of a button. These handy devices have programmable keys that can be configured to perform different actions, such as starting and stopping your stream, adjusting audio levels, and switching between scenes. Popular stream deck brands include Elgato and AVerMedia.
Capture cards are essential for console streaming, and offer PC streamers an option that takes the stream processing workload away from their PC using a piece of dedicated hardware.
Check out any high-quality stream and you'll see the importance of good stream lighting - it makes your room look more interesting, it makes you look better and it ensures that you're in the spotlight when you should be. Simple use RGB strips or lamps for ambience plus a well placed key light or ring light can make a world of difference to the production value of your content.