How Powerful of a Streaming PC Do You Really Need?

Streaming is picking up steam rapidly, with so many people trying to get into it. Whether it’s for fun, or you want to do that and make some profits, the thing that holds people back most of the time tends to be the streaming PC.

Whether you have one, or you’re looking to build one, there is no denying that you’ll need it to be at least a midrange configuration. Streaming on a budget system isn’t recommended. You’ll have to sacrifice a lot in terms of quality, and chances are you won’t like the experience that much.

And this begs the question, how powerful of a streaming PC do you really need? Can you do it on a budget, or do you need to go all out and spend a good amount of money? We’ll answer that in a minute. But before we do that, let’s take a look at what streaming is, and the two ways you can go about it.

What is Streaming?

Streaming is basically you playing a game, or doing anything really, and broadcasting that live to your viewers. Whether it’s a game you’re good at, or you’re just chatting with your fans and viewers, it requires you to have a PC that’s powerful enough to broadcast everything and upload it live, without compromising on performance.

This is why a lot of people don’t really get into streaming. They believe that they need to spend thousands of dollars on a streaming PC just to be able to have fun and allow people to watch them. That’s a common misconception, but we’ll get to that in a moment.

Single vs Dual-System Streaming PC

This is a question you’ll want to answer before you get into building your PC. Will you do everything on a single system, or will you have two separate ones? Both options come with their respective pros and cons.

A single system is, of course, cheaper. It’s also a bit less complicated to run because you don’t really have to check two separate computers for everything you do. It’s all there, and it’s as simple as possible. This makes it a rather simple solution.

However, the downside is that everything, from the game to the streaming software, will run on that one PC. And if it’s not powerful enough, you’ll notice that pretty much instantly. Your game’s framerate will drop, you might even have issues running your stream. This is far from an optimal experience. Instead, it’s something you want to steer clear of if you want to make it big.

On the other hand, a dual system allows you to have one PC handle the gaming, while a completely separate streaming PC handles the actual streaming. This means that your stream won’t impact your gaming experience. And if you have gaming issues, those won’t affect the streaming PC and consequently, your stream.

The downside here is that dual systems are undoubtedly a bit more complicated to set up and keep running. You’ll need to manage them well, and you’ll need to know what you’re doing. And of course, there’s the obvious – pricing. Two systems are more expensive than one. Although, if you already have a decent gaming PC and want to go dual-system, a streaming PC that doesn’t do too much else shouldn’t set you back too much.

How Powerful Should the Streaming PC Be?

When you’re building your streaming PC, the first thing you’ll want to take care of is your CPU. This is especially critical if you go the single-system route. You want a CPU that can handle the concurrent loads of gaming and streaming at the same time.

CPU

The thing you should keep an eye out for is to get a CPU that has a good core count – think 8 cores or higher. If you can go for one that has double the threads, such as Intel’s HyperThreading technology, that’s even better. 8 cores is a good way to save a bit of money and still have enough power to run games and stream at the same time. While we’re at the CPU, you should also make sure that it’s kept cool. Something like an AIO should be considered for that, too.

RAM

The other important thing you need for multitasking and building a gaming and streaming PC is RAM. Now, purely for gaming, 16GB of RAM is usually enough. However, if you also want to stream at the same time, and not have a bottleneck, we would recommend going for 32GB instead. This will allow you to run more apps at the same time, with zero performance issues while you’re at it.

Graphics Card

Then, you should consider your GPU. A more powerful GPU will get you better framerates when you’re gaming. The thing is, you probably won’t be streaming at more than 60 frames per second. But if you can enjoy a lot more than that while you’re gaming, why not? We’ve got a decent roundup of GPUs you can take a look at, so you can decide which one to go for.

Power Supply

Last but not least, there is the power supply. The power supply is crucial to keep all your components running. You want to pick a high-quality one if you’re going for powerful components when building your streaming PC. This will make sure there are no issues because a PSU can cause a lot of problems down the line if you aren’t careful.  

What Are Some Good Configurations for a Streaming PC?

While some might suggest going for a pre-built PC for streaming, you can get a lot more for your money if you build one yourself. And since we already have a few build guides, let’s discuss them a bit and see whether or not you can go for them.

The first two options are the $700 AMD build, and the equally priced Intel build. The thing with both is that they have six-core processors (the AMD build has twelve threads, though). This makes them a good option for a streaming PC if you don’t use them for gaming at the same time. You can use them to just run the stream, though. They also both come with 16GB of RAM< which isn’t enough for a do-it-all streaming PC you’ll also be gaming on.

Stepping things up, we’ve got the $1000 Intel build, as well as the equally priced AMD build. The same thing we said earlier applies here, though. You have a six-core, twelve-thread configuration on both systems, as well as 16GB of RAM. The thing is, both systems have good graphics cards for modern games. This means you can use them as a gaming PC, or as a streaming PC if you’re going for a dual-system solution.

And last but not least, we have the all-out Intel build, and the just as crazy AMD build. Both are excellent for a single-system streaming PC. The Core i9-10900K has 10 cores and 20 threads, while AMD’s 5900X ups that to 12 cores and 24 threads. Paired with 64GB of RAM, these are both excellent options for a single-system streaming PC.  

Wrapping Things Up

At the end of the day, you can go for one of the builds we suggested above. Or you can build your own streaming PC. But you don’t have to spend insane amounts of money if you don’t want to – an 8-core CPU with 32GB of RAM and a decent GPU should have you covered pretty well when it comes to both gaming and streaming on the same system.

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