What are the minimum specs for live streaming with a PC?

My Live Stream

I have been live streaming games with several different builds on my PC starting from a low-end PC and upgraded over time to a mid-tier gaming PC. I’ve learnt that unless I have decent knowledge on how to build my PC for streaming, I will end up spending a lot buying unnecessary hardware. Therefore, I am writing this post to share a bit of information on what kind of specs you should have on your PC in order to live stream decently and avoid spending on parts you don’t need.

what kind of hardware did i use when i began streaming?

The beginning was rough, I was a student and I didn’t have much choice for my hardware so I ended up with a low quality stream. I started off with an Intel i3-2100 CPU, AMD Radeon HD 6670 GPU with 8GB DDR3 RAM. If you’re familiar with PC hardware, you’d know those specs would choke so hard even without streaming.

So I decided to quit for a while until I got my upgrade which was an Intel Core i5-6600 CPU, AMD RX 470 4GB GPU and 8GB DDR4 RAM. It was a new rig back then and I was quite satisfied with how it performs. However, there are times when the CPU and RAM usage skyrocketed which led to a drop in stream quality. As a result, I’ve had a live stream that had an inconsistent quality and ended up upgrading my PC.

I’ve upgraded my PC with an Intel Core i7-7700 CPU, 16GB DDR4 RAM and an 80+ Gold Power Supply Unit (I’ll talk about this later). This is the current build I have and I don’t have any issues streaming with it.

What are the pc specs you should get for streaming

From what I’ve experience, I’d say that you need to balance your hardware performance. Don’t get an overpowered CPU such as Intel Core i9 with a not-so-powerful GPU such as a GTX 750 GPU. Balance it out. Getting an unbalanced PC specs will cause bottlenecks that ruins your stream quality.

Here’s what I’d recommend (if you could get a better PC than this, then you’re good to go). Feel free to mix and match according to your preferences.

CPU

gpu

RAM

  • 16GB DDR4 (I’ve tried 8GB and had inconsistent stream quality)

Power supply unit (PSU)

You should try to get something like an 80+ Gold certified PSU or you’ll end up having crashes from power surges like me. I’m using Segotep 500W 80+ Gold PSU right now and it works fine.

CPU Cooler

Get a 3rd party CPU Cooler and don’t use stock cooler (if provided). Live streaming puts a lot of stress on your CPU and generates a lot of heat from it. Not having a good cooling solution might ruin your stream quality (from CPU Throttling or even crashing) and decrease the lifespan of your CPU. I’m using a Cooler Master Hyper 212 CPU Cooler and it works fine. 3rd party coolers doesn’t cost a lot (except liquid coolers).

Storage

  • HDD: 1 TB should be good if you housekeep every once in a while (unlike me)
  • SSD: Not necessary for streaming

capture cards

Capture cards are not necessary. It costs a lot to buy one and your GPU could get the job done.

Other things you should consider

With PC specs checked, there are also some other things you should consider such as you Internet connection speed. I’d recommend getting at least 10 Mbps to give your gaming bandwidth requirements a little headroom.

Next, you should consider your live stream settings. If you don’t have a high-end gaming PC, you shouldn’t go crazy high on your settings such as 1080p @ 60fps. Go for moderate settings such as 1080p @ 30fps or 720p @ 30fps. My current setup is capable of streaming Dota 2 at 1080p @ 30fps.

Lastly, you should take in mind what kind of games you play. If you play games that require a lot of PC resources, then you should lower your game settings or stream settings or both to ensure decent gaming experience and live streaming quality.

CONCLUSION

In a nutshell, live streaming isn’t cheap. However, you can cut costs and save some of your money by spending it on only the parts you need.

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