If you are a OBS studio, XSplit, Elgato, or AverMedia user that streams to YouTube or Twitch, here are some recommendations to make your life easier.
I sometimes visit various streaming software support forums to field questions. Many of these questions I find are due to the person not having the proper equipment to meet the requirements. Most of the time, it is someone using old CPU, not enough memory and crappy graphic cards. Some even don’t even have the proper network setup and upload speed to stream.
Lets end this silliness with me giving you the truth about what you need to use as computer and networking equipment. I know what works and what doesn’t based on several streaming and recording setups. I hope that this information helps you plan and be more smarter in your streaming endeavors.
How Much Is It Going To Cost?
If you want to get involved in Internet streaming, you need to understand this:
Streaming is an expensive hobby. Be prepared to whip out your wallet.
For a computer system that will be able to do high quality streams, you are going to need at least $2000 or more to get the job done. If you cannot afford that, you are better off not doing streaming. I am being totally honest here. At the $2000 level, you can get a decent computer for basic streaming at lower resolutions and frame rates. However, if you want to anything like show off your game play on the same box you are streaming on and do it with high quality, you really need two computers and a bucket load of cash to accomplish this. Ballpark? About $3500-$5000.
Please understand that streaming requires very high end CPU, graphics card, and Internet upload speed. If you can’t afford that, stop here and forget it. You will save me time from answering questions and walking people through setups, only to tell them “Nope, you need a better computer”. This is very common on forums.
Streaming Networking Requirements
Never use wireless when streaming. It is way too unstable. You want very solid and constant data transfer. Please use only Gigabit Ethernet cabling (Cat 5e/6), Gigabit Routers, switches and hubs. Do not mix Fast Ethernet with Gigabit. You will downgrade your network.
- To do 1080@60fps, you need at least a 10Mbps upload speed
- To do 720@60fps, you need at least a 4Mbps upload speed
Avoid other devices being connected to the network. Stuff like your other computers, tablets, smartphones, etc. Shut them all down.
Streaming GPU Requirements
If you are playing games on the same computer you are streaming on, you need a high end GPU card. Also, a card that has hardware encoding like NVENC.
- For dedicated streaming computers, use at least a Nvidia GTX 1050 card
- For computers that you play games on and stream, use at least a Nvidia GTX 1070
I highly recommend though not playing games on the same computer you are streaming on. For recording, you may be able to pull it off but it depends on what gear you have in your computer and if its powerful enough.
Streaming CPU Requirements
The more cores and threads the better. Try to avoid 4 core/8 thread CPUs and less if your can.
- For 1080@60fps, use a Passmark rated 11,000 CPU and better
- For 720@60fps, use a Passmark rated 8,000 CPU and better
There are two approaches to encoding:
- Hardware encoding
- Software encoding
Software encoding via x264 is the best way to go as it offers better quality. However, you need a very powerful computer to pull it off, especially one that has at least 8 threads. If you are going to do anything above 1080p at 60 FPS, you need at least Ryzen 7 1700X 8 core, 16 thread CPU to get decent results.
For hardware encoding, h264 will be available on most Nvidia GTX 10xx series cards. By using the hardware encoder, very little CPU usage is needed. However, NVENC offers you very little control over the output.
Streaming Memory Requirements
For dedicated streaming PC, use at least 8GB or better. For gaming and streaming, use at least 16GB or better.
It is always best to have more RAM than what you think you need.
Streaming Storage Requirements
For the boot drive where Windows is installed on, use a NVMe PCIe SSD if you can afford it else a SSD drive. Store all your recordings on this faster drive. For archive drives, use slower SATA III 7200RPM disk drives as backup.
Streaming Monitor Requirements
Its best to use at least 2 monitors. You run your streaming software on one monitor and your browser pointing at YouTube Live or Twitch in the other. In a game and streaming system, you can add three monitors to play your game on the third.
To avoid problems, always match manufacturer and model number and keep the monitor refresh frequency being the same. Today these are either 60Mhz or 144Mhz. Choose one and stick to it.
Another important consideration is to use standard 16:9 ratio monitors. This, to mirror the same ratio as YouTube uses to deliver output to viewers. Using a non-standard resolution will only result in your video streams and recordings from getting black bars on them.
Streaming Webcam Requirements
I’ve been able to use many different manufacturers and models in all my streaming boxes. The best one’s I can recommend is the Logitech C920 and C922 series. They work fine and you can hook up multiple webcams to stream. You need to have a powerful system to do this because webcams take up a considerable amount of processing for each device over a slow USB connection.
Streaming Video Capture Card Requirements
I’m going to make this simple. Avoid USB capture cards. Only use PCIe internal capture cards like Elgato HD60 Pro. Don’t use the cheaper and slower HD60 versions.
You want zero latency and lag when you are watching your pre-processing of your streams. Having to wait seconds is not beneficial to you quickly changing your settings.
Its best to avoid USB data transfer and use faster bus data transfer along HDMI cabling.
When it comes to Internet streaming, you can’t be a cheapskate!!!
You either have the money to buy top of the line computer equipment, or you don’t. Failure to heed this advice will result in lots of frustration on your part and crappy looking streams that no one will want to watch.
Don’t reach for slower equipment. It will be a total waste of money that you will throw away a few years down the line and regret.