So you want to sit on your ass and play video games all day? Even better, you want to be paid to do it. Streaming is certainly a way to accomplish this.
However, you need to know what you’re getting yourself into before even dreaming about it.
More importantly, you need to know which equipment and software are best. Most importantly, which equipment gives you the best bang for your buck.
Because trust me streaming is a very expensive hobby. But it doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg.
I streamed on Twitch for about 3 months before I decided it wasn’t for me. In those 3 months, I became affiliated, gained 4 subs and was donated about $50 by viewers.
I know it’s not something to brag about but I researched a lot into what one needs to become a streamer. So I will share all the information I found.
What Equipment Do I Need to Become a Streamer?
A Decent Internet Connection
This is worth mentioning from the start. If you don’t have a decent internet connection. I’m sorry but there is no point in trying to stream. What is a decent internet connection? Your upload speed is the most important part of streaming. As streaming involves uploading data to a server.
So if you don’t have at least a 5mbs upload speed to dedicate to streaming only. Simply don’t bother. My upload speed was 8mbs and could just about handle a stable stream at 720p.
You can stream in less than 720p but I wouldn’t really advise it. Let’s face it, nobody wants to watch you play video games in 480.
Streaming requires quite a lot of computer power. It’s recommended to get the most up to date CPU as your budget can afford. However, you will also need a powerful GPU.
When looking for a computer try searching for a gaming computer. Gaming computers will often have a powerful CPU combined with a powerful GPU.
The High Roller Streamer
Intel rain as the best CPU in the business. Nvidia most certainly makes the best GPU. That being said, you are going to pay a hefty fine for these, because when buying a computer, you pay for quality.
A friend of mine uses the gaming PC by iBUYPOWER. It comes complete with an i7 8700 and an Nvidia RTX 2070 8GB. He says he can game and stream on it with no issues.
The Budget-friendly Streamer
Next in line after Intel is AMD. They pack a powerful punch with sometimes up to half the costs of their competitors. AMD will almost always be more cost-effective.
The PC I recommend here is another iBUYPOWER computer with similar specs as the one above. However, it’s about 300 bucks cheaper. This should work perfectly for streaming on your chosen network.
Although it is highly recommended you buy a desktop if you’re streaming games. There definitely are some great laptops out there. However, there are some drawbacks to using laptops for streaming which should be mentioned.
A lot of laptops come with great graphics cards well capable of handling gaming and streaming. However, you won’t have complete control over the use of this graphics card like you do on a desktop.
For example, some laptops won’t allow you to run the laptop monitor using the Nvidia graphics card. You will be forced to use the built-in graphics card. This can cause nightmares if you want to use dual monitors.
Additionally, laptops are small and get overheated easily which could cause your stream to crash.
If you’re going to use a laptop for streaming it is recommended to use it in combination with a console(PS4 or Xbox One) and a capture card. That way, the console will handle the gameplay and the laptop will be dedicated to streaming.
Moreover, it is not as simple as it sounds. You need to invest in a decent capture card if you want to stream gameplay from your console. The best capture cards on the market are made by Elgato. I personally have one and it is great for streaming in crystal clear 1080p.
Dual Computers to Stream
All the fat cats use two computers to stream gameplay. One computer is used for gaming and the second laptop is used for streaming. Similar to the laptop/ console combination mentioned above.
As suspected this can get expensive. Therefore, it is not recommended if you are just starting. However, if you would like to invest in dual computers. The two computers mentioned above will work great.
Another important aspect to consider is using dual monitors. Essentially, one monitor will be used for gameplay and the other monitor for controlling your stream.
Controlling your stream involves things like monitoring your uptime and reading your chat. Like everything you can pay big bucks or you can go budget.
Brands like Asus and Alienware will cost you more. While brands like Acer and BenQ are more budget-friendly. For example, this monitor by Acer is a fantastic monitor for its price range and great for anyone starting streaming.
A great cost-effective way is to use an old TV monitor to keep an eye on your stream and chat. And dedicate the good monitor to gaming. So if you have an old TV lying around, by all means, make use of it.
Camera and Mic
The next in line is a camera and a mic. I told you it’s an expensive hobby, didn’t I? You will need a good camera if you want to get serious about streaming. People don’t want to just watch gameplay. They want to connect with a person. So they need to be able to see you.
The best camera brand for streaming and a favorite among all the top streamers is the Logitech series. They honestly give the best quality and for a great price. The Logitech C920 is only 55 bucks, which is very reasonable for a camera of its ability.
The next thing on your price list is a decent mic. There are literally hundreds of mics to choose from. However, the most popular brand among streamers is Blue. Blue is most popular because of its quality and affordability. You can grab a Blue Snowball for about 60 bucks. This a good entry-level mic.
The next up from the Snowball is the Blue Yeti which normally goes for about $120. Be careful if you’re buying the Blue Snowball. It comes in two models that look the exact same. The cheaper one is the Snowball iCe. It looks the exact same as the Snowball but the quality is not as good.
An alternative to buying a mic is to buy a decent headset for gaming. Most good headsets have a decent mic attached. When you’re looking for a headset lookout for one with a boom microphone. This will ensure your voice will be heard loud and clear while streaming.
There are literally 100’s of headsets to choose from and they come at all prices. You really don’t need to splash out major cash on a headset.
Software and Tools for Streaming
There are a few handy tools you need to know about. Ever watch a streamer and they have lots of cool banners and alerts when something happens on their stream? They are called stream overlays and alerts.
You can have them on your stream too. Here are the most popular software streamers use. Note, all this software is free.
OBS Studio (Open Broadcast Software)
OBS Studio is probably the number one broadcasting software among streamers. It enables you to add all kinds of overlays and alerts. It’s known for its stability and reliability.
StreamLabs OBS does the exact same thing as OBS Studio. However, it is relatively new software and some features are still in BETA. It is great for people starting because of its user-friendly interface.
Mic Enhancement Software
VB-Audio Software is popular among streamers who want to get the best sound from their mic. It’s essentially a virtual mixer that allows you to manage your audio device. It requires some setup and tweaking initially. But after it’s configured correctly to your mic. It can really make it sound great.
Which Platform Should You Stream On?
As you probably already know. There are a few streaming platforms to choose from. I will list the most popular ones along with some information about them. This should help you make your mind up as to which one to choose.
Everyone who wants to make it as a streamer wants to stream on Twitch. It is by a long shot the biggest streamer platform in the industry.
However, Twitch has become extremely saturated over the years. It seems like all the biggest steamers get all the light. While the little guys are in a desperate struggle to get to the top. This is something to consider when starting streaming.
YouTube’s streaming platform is becoming ever popular since its announcement in late 2015. It now hosts 1000’s of streamers from around the world.
It also places a mix of small streamers near the top with the bigger streamers. This gives the smaller guys a much better chance to be discovered. Something that Twitch fails to do.
Mixer is Microsoft’s streaming service which has been growing more popular over the years. Ninja, one of the biggest streamers in the world has switched over to streaming on Mixer full time. He was on Twitch his entire career.
Mixer certainly has some unique features to bring to the table. Like YT gaming it also offers smaller streamers a spot in the limelight via their Up and Coming section. This section promotes smaller streamers instead of just promoting the bigger ones.
To wrap up…
As you’ve discovered becoming a streamer is quite easy if you have the cash. However, you can certainly keep a tight budget if you need to. You just need to shop around and be wise about your spending.
The cheapest way to pull it off is to stream from your console with an Elgato capture card. The more expensive route is to go all out and buy two computers.
I would certainly not splash out on all that tech before streaming for a while. Remember you need to know if you’re going to enjoy it first. Whatever you choose, best of luck in your streaming endeavor.