Chapter 6: Equipment Needed to Live Stream
Whether you want to game, host a show, or stream IRL, you’re going to need to invest in the proper gear. Remember, these will be the tools of your trade. These tools are what enable you to transport all of the people tuning into your stream, straight into your world. Examples of this gear include your smartphone, computer, hardware and streaming software.
When it comes to choosing what you need, not all gear is created equal. Some gear will allow you to create a better streaming experience than others.
Before we delve deep into the topic, let's make a few things clear first. There's a common misconception going on in the streaming world that you need to spend a fortune on expensive equipment at the earliest stage of your streaming journey. A lot of us started our streaming journey with a standard setup. And we continued upgrading to better gear (for example higher-quality gaming computers, better peripherals, and more robust streaming applications) as our following grew. But that does not mean that you should start off with the cheapest items you can find. If you have the money and want to take this seriously, invest in a great setup from the start.
One more caveat. If you're more of a content creator than a gamer, not everything mentioned in this section will apply to you. So feel free to skip ahead when that’s the case.
So without further ado, let's get started.
Streaming or gaming PC configuration is much more complex that what’s in this course, however we will do our best to share some of the basics. YouTube and several Internet sources have lots of advice on them. Your budget and ultimate goals will play the highest role in what type of PC build you will need. The 3 most important things you should consider when comparing PCs are CPU, RAM, and GPU. Let's start with CPU.
Every user needs to consider the Graphics Processing Units before purchasing a PC. GPU is responsible for your graphics and encode the stream so that it is possible to broadcast it to Twitch and other platforms. Therefore, you’ll need to invest in a high power GPU to stream your favorite game.
Furthermore, GPUs are updated very frequently, almost every year. The updates are a major upgrade to its functionality and it’s typical to have a GPU update up to three times before the CPU and RAM will need a replaced as well.
To experience optimal performance from your PC, it's important to ensure that your PC has the right RAM. RAM in the simplest of terms is how your computer multitasks like how many windows and programs are open at a single time.
For example, having your game running, streaming software, web browser, and all the other applications running in the background use up your RAM. We recommend at least 16GB as the standard for most popular game titles.
If you want to set yourself up to not have to upgrade again in the future, we recommend maybe stepping up to a 32G RAM. Once you have high end RAM, you likely won’t need to upgrade it for a while.
If you choose not to stream on PC, consoles like PlayStation and Xbox feature tools that allow direct streaming. The intuitive, out-of-the-box aspect of consoles makes it easy to use, especially for beginners. However, the downside here is that you’ll likely be bound by limited customization with regards to stream layout, graphics, etc.
When looking into which monitor to purchase, it’s critical to look at the refresh rate. It doesn’t matter so much the size of the resolution or the physical size of the monitor. Refresh rate should be the top priority when analyzing monitors.
Refresh rates are mainly available in three gradients, each with its price thresholds and is ultimately up to you which to go with.
Some streamers care more about the brand and aesthetic. While these factors are important to your satisfaction, you need more than those to experience a seamless gaming experience. At the end of the day, it comes down to your preference and how you balance all the aspects.
Candidly, mechanical keyboards tend to be a preferred option in the streaming space. Why? First, it’s better at registering your keystrokes, which means that the chances of missing the intended keys decrease. Also, it's the more durable choice and your most utilized keys like AWSD will stay in good shape longer.
Lastly, you’ll need to choose between wired or wireless keyboards. Wired keyboards are a generally cheaper option, and you're free from the battery dying off. However, wireless keyboards make your setup look cleaner.
Here are two of the best mechanical keyboards around:
A gamer’s mouse is better for streaming in general. They’re reliable and feel better in your hand.
We recommend a wired mouse, mainly for its price advantage, but also because of the software that allows you to fully customize your mouse settings. Be sure to adjust your mouse settings, especially the DPI after purchasing your mouse.
Here are two of the best gaming mice on the market:
While mouse pads might not be top of mind, you’ll want to make sure you get one that will make your life easier while streaming. Typically, an oversized mousepad with high quality fabrics and ergonomically designed will provide you with the best experience.
Here are our picks for mouse pads:
Two important factors to consider when choosing your headset are comfort and whether it's wired/wireless. This is all relative to personal preference, and the best way to shop for a headset would be to look at online reviews.
Some recommended headsets:
- VOID RGB ELITE USB Premium Gaming Headset
- Logitech G733 Ultra-Lightweight, Wireless Gaming Headset
- Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headset
USB microphones are the preferred choice for most content creators. Their ability to record great audio quality and overall usability is super easy, making it the obvious choice.
Audio is a very important part of streaming because you’ll probably participate in conversations with other streamers, listening to cues in gameplay, Discord groups, or general conversation with your audience. Bad audio is a dealbreaker and viewers will be quick to leave if it’s unbearable to listen to. Your community will only stay if you have good audio.
Using a low quality camera is like showing up to an interview in pajamas. There are few, if any, streamers that can get away with having a low quality camera. If you want to look the part, you need to invest in a decent camera. You don’t need to go all out here, but something mid-range will do the trick
Most desktop PCs or monitors do not come with a built-in webcam and even if they do, the quality is always on the lower end. A minimum of 720p 60fps video quality is the standard for a streaming webcam.
Remember that bitrate, connection quality, and internet speed also determines the image quality.
Some great webcams:
If hardware are the bricks, then software is the mortar to bring it all together. Without the right software, there’s no magic.
An incredible streaming software provides all the necessary tools to improve your live stream experience while also providing necessary customization options. OBS Studio and Streamlabs Desktop are the most popular streaming softwares around.
- Both OBS Studio and Streamlabs Desktop support PC and Mac OS
- If you will need tech support, Streamlabs is likely the better option
- Be sure that your software supports custom RTMP streaming, as well as multistreaming to maximize your reach
- There are plenty of free and paid options for software
Selecting the right live streaming settings is paramount to a top-quality strean. Bitrate and video quality are typically the most critical factors to keep in mind when making live streaming.
Video quality is another critical part of streaming. You need to concentrate the most on frame rate and resolution. Resolution is the actual video size appearing on the screen. It is measured in pixels. Videos are the sequential appearance of several images measured in the frame. The reason you might see FPS (frames per second) is because video is a bunch of still images sequenced together. For example, if the frame rate is 60fps, that means there are 60 images per second. The more frames, the cleaner the video output will be.
For high motion games, you want to stream at 60fps. It is better to sacrifice resolution for fps when it comes to high motion games. Otherwise, you should be fine streaming at 30fps. Note that a higher resolution will require a higher bitrate and a higher frame rate takes more from your hardware.
Bitrate / Internet Speed
Bitrate measures the data sent during a live stream. The higher your bitrate, the more it will use up your internet bandwidth. It’s typically recommended to have a video bitrate 20% lower than your upload speed. This is the best way to keep your stream stable. Regardless, you’ll want to test everything prior to going live to ensure it’s all working properly. Every platform has its unique specs and we suggest you check out a few settings recommendations: