How to Build a Gaming PC for Streaming
This article will show you guys how to build a gaming PC for streaming from start to finish. I will cover a single gaming PC setup with the most optimal parts you can choose for a streaming PC.
Technically you can live stream on any decent PC, or even a $600 AMD laptop will be sufficient. But the high-quality results that most streamers are looking for requires a high-end gaming PC.
I will be covering the recommended PC parts for the most optimal streaming performance, depending on your needs. I’ll also talk about what things you should install, like drivers, motherboard utilities, and then OBS and Streamlabs.
Once again, I will say that you don’t have to build a super flashy PC like the one I made. You can build a gaming PC for way less like $500 and still get decent streaming results. You just need to make sure your parts are compatibility with others using websites like PC Builder.
However, the quality and performance of the steam depending on the hardware you choose. Of course, some GPUs and CPUs will perform better than the others for streaming, depending on what sort of stream encoding you’re going to be doing.
I have also written an article on a budget gaming PC for streaming under $500. So, be sure to check out that article, If you are on a tight budget.
For all the newbies who don’t know what stream encoding is, well, you’re going to need a way to broadcast your stream to a streaming service like Twitch YouTube gaming or Facebook gaming.
To do this, you’re going to perform that through either CPU-based encoding like x264 encoder or GPU-based encoding like the NVENC encoder.
So, you need to decide with your streaming and gaming PC if you want to do CPU-based encoding or GPU-based encoding because that will affect your overall part selection for what sort of streaming and gaming PC you ultimately want.
Narrowing down about which route you want will more or less come down towards the budget. Below are some of the pros and cons of an x264 based encoding PC (CPU-based encoding) and the NVENC encoder (GPU-based encoding).
- Requires more processing to achieve similar results to NVENC
- Has a higher stream quality ceiling than NVENC
- Handles bright flashes better
- Requires less processing to achieve similar results to x264
- Has a lower stream quality ceiling than NVENC
- Fewer visual artifacts during fast motion
- Makes text more legible
As you can see, NVENC will generally yield better shaving results, but I only found that applied to their higher-end series of graphics cards like the RTX 2060 and above.
So, if you’re working with a budget gaming PC, gaming performance should be the priority. It’s totally fine to go with a CPU-based encoder like x264 and pair it up with a budget multi-core Ryzen processor like the Ryzen 3600, 1600 AF, 2600, 3600XT, 3100, or 3300X, etc.
But if money is not a problem for you and you’re willing to purchase a high-end GPU like the RTX 2070 super or above, then you should stick to a GPU-based encoding PC.
Before you make your decision about the stream encoding, hold on. There is a third streaming encoding option, which goes with an AMD Radeon graphics card with the AMF (Advanced Media FRAMework) encoder.
This one is also a GPU-based encoder similar to NVENC, but I don’t recommend it because its streaming quality and performance are not as good as NVENC. Even the x264 is better at the moment.
So, with the first two options, especially if you have a budget multi-core Ryzen processor, I think trying to stream off of a Radeon RX graphics card is not worth it at the moment. But maybe in the future, if AMD decides to get on the ball and improve that AMF encoder.
I hope you’ve made your decision about the stream encoder. Now, let’s decide on what processor you should go with.
In recent times, I have seven out of ten times recommended Ryzen because of more cores for the money and better gaming performance per dollar. The Ryzen processors are generally better workhorse CPUs, not only for streaming but also for editing.
For example, if you want to take your streaming highlights from your twitch stream, and bring them to Adobe Premiere or Sony Vegas, and create a post-streaming highlights video that you want to crunch through and immediately post onto your YouTube channel.
This process will be done faster for the most part on a Ryzen processor versus an Intel processor.
I have another gaming PC with an Intel processor that I sometimes use for streaming. For the most part, I’m not concerned with producing a post-streaming highlights video. I don’t edit that sort of stuff, so I just want pure FPS.
That is why this PC has an RTX 2080 super graphics card with an NVENC encoder. So, I don’t need a Ryzen CPU to encode my streams. I need something straight-up fast, which I think a high-end Intel K series CPU can do.
However, most of the time, you want to stick with Ryzen processors for a streaming and gaming PC since they’re so versatile.
You can choose whatever motherboard you want, as selecting a certain motherboard won’t make your PC any better for streaming or gaming. I would recommend if you’re going to use a high-end Intel or Ryzen processor, then you pair it up with a high-end chipset motherboard.
For Ryzen, if you choose an eight-core or above chip, I would recommend you go ahead and choose an X570 motherboard.
If you’re going with an 8 or 10 core K series Intel CPU, go with a Z490 motherboard. But if you’re going with anything below, then you’re fine with a budget B450 or B550 motherboard for AMD and B460 for Intel.
Also Read: B550 vs. B450 vs. X570 – Which One to Buy?
I would recommend you at least have 16 gigabytes of RAM. Eight is already not enough for gaming, and if you add streaming on top of that, you’re not going to have a good gaming/streaming experience.
You can go with 32 gigs like I have in my setup, but that’s only going to help out your streaming just a little more (no huge difference). However, there will be a noticeable difference in video editing where you edit something crazy with many intense visuals. I don’t think this will be a case for a post-stream highlights video.
So, going for 32 gigabytes is a bit overkill for a streaming and gaming PC, but the option is there. Again, make sure you at least have 16 gigabytes of RAM in your gaming PC for streaming.
Also Read: How much RAM is sufficient.
You can find that out on the CPU spec sheet of the CPU that you’re interested in. For example, If you are going with a Ryzen processor, you should go with a 3600 megahertz RAM. And If you’re going with an Intel K series CPU, 3200 megahertz should do the trick.
If you made your choice at the beginning of this article about which type of stream encoding you want, then you’ll already know what sort of graphics card you want.
If you’re going with a GPU-based encoding PC and willing to spend money on a high-end NVIDIA graphics card, an RTX 2060 or above will do great with that NVENC encoder.
But if you’re on a budget, then you need a value-oriented graphics card that can get you those FPS that will help your gaming experience, which will be projected to your Twitch or YouTube viewers, then get a budget AMD or NVIDIA graphics card.
It can be an RX 5500 XT or GTX 1650 super because all the encoding for that sort of solution, of course, you’re planning to do on a multi-core Ryzen processor.
But aside from the tips above, whatever graphics card you choose in the end for your gaming and streaming PC will affect render speeds and projecting games to your monitor.
So, if you want something fast to take advantage of a 144hz capable gaming monitor, then invest in a semi-high-end graphics card. But if you don’t care about that and just want a good budget solution, you don’t have to spend as much on a graphics card.
There are plenty of options available for storage. If I were to build a streaming and gaming PC, I would have a primary storage drive of 256 gigabytes or 512 gigabyte SSD for my operating system and computer programs.
And I would use another large-capacity hard drive (1TB or 2TB) to offload my games and video files from my streams.
I think this would be the most optimal choice because you will have a fast drive to boot up your windows and a hard drive you can use to play games, render video files, or stream highlights.
Actually, I have a 512GB SSD and a 1 TB HDD on my Acer Predator Helios 300, which is more than enough for me.
If you’re willing to drop some big dollars, you can just get a large 2TB M.2 SSD and have everything on it. That will be pretty expensive, but you will have everything on a single drive with plenty of storage and fast speed.
I would recommend using a power supply calculator (Coolermaster) online to see how much power your system will consume. It can be anywhere from 500 watts to 700 watts, depending on what sort of hardware you throw into a PC.
My PC uses the darkFlash DLV22 vertical PC case with some RGB fans and their double 120 millimeters AIO liquid cooler.
If you have a micro ATX size motherboard, make sure your PC case is either micro ATX or bigger. The same thing goes for ATX. Make sure you have an ATX case or bigger if you’re going with an ATX sized motherboard.
Also Read: Best Minimalist PC cases.
For the CPU cooler, choose whatever you like. The stock cooler is fine, but I have a flashy darkFlash cooler that will keep the CPU cool and quiet for me.
How to Setup Your Streaming Gaming PC
So, after you finish building your PC now, it’s time to install windows 10, which is an easy thing to do. After the Windows installation, the first thing I like to do is install GPU drivers. So, depending on what graphics card you choose, install the relevant drivers. I recommend doing the express installation.
After that, install motherboard drivers by downloading them from the official brand website. Then install relevant software for your RGB stuff.
Once you’ve taken care of your graphics card drivers, your motherboard drivers, any miscellaneous motherboard utilities, the last thing you need to install is OBS or Streamlabs. I don’t have any experience with XSplit. So, if you like it better, then install that.
If your PC is going to be a CPU-based encoding PC or GPU-based encoding PC because that will depend once you go to the output screen and your OBS/Streamlab settings, and you choose if you want to use either the x264 or NVENCencoder.
For my PC, I have an RTX 2060 super, and I use the NVENC encoder on that.