The perfect setup for live streaming.
Compiling a stream setup is by no means easy. What doesn’t help is that the internet is littered with outdated, incorrect or misleading information that is of no use to you three times. Therefore, below are tips for what to consider when choosing the components and peripherals for your stream setup.
This article is made possible by Samsung Storage.
The so-called x264 encoder is still the most used way to get the image from OBS or XSplit to Twitch, Mixer or YouTube. This encoder demands a lot of power from the CPU and relatively little power from the video card. It is therefore certainly worth investing heavily in a high-end CPU, such as AMD’s Ryzen 7 chips or the Intel Core i7 line. These both have a large number of computing cores, which ensures that the combined load of the game and the streaming is better distributed over the CPU. Even if you don’t plan on running x264, a hefty CPU can come in handy for gaming or video editing.
The fact that the CPU is so crucial does not mean that you can be economical with your video card. Besides the fact that the video card is primarily responsible for driving games, modern GPUs from Nvidia offer an attractive alternative to x264: NVENC. Under the hood, the differences between x264 and NVENC are huge, but the end result is the same: your gameplay can be viewed via OBS or XSplit on the stream site of your preference. The practical difference is that x264 runs on your CPU and NVENC on your GPU. As a result, you need a less powerful CPU and since the 20 series of Nvidia you also have a noticeably better image quality.
NVENC is ideal if you game on the same PC as you stream, but if the gameplay comes from a console, that is of no use to you. In that case you need a capture card that makes the HDMI signal from your console usable for OBS or XSplit. The gold standard for capture cards is Elgato, who with its Game Capture series delivers excellent quality and fantastic ease of use for a very reasonable price. Even if you want to use an SLR or system camera as a webcam, Elgato has a solution, because you simply connect the Cam Link 4K with USB, and then plug the HDMI cable of your camera into the other end. It couldn’t be easier.
Audio is often the neglected child of the streaming setup, but without a good microphone the chances are very small that more than a handful of viewers will stick around. There are two options for this: a headset or a separate microphone. A headset has the advantage of great ease of use, but the disadvantage that the audio quality is often poor. A popular upgrade for a gaming headset is therefore the combination of headphones with a USB microphone, such as the renowned Blue Yeti and Blue Snowball.
While streaming you have to constantly entertain people and that is difficult if you are staring at a loading screen half the time. Installing an SSD in your stream PC is therefore a must: Windows boots faster, games do not need to load as long and programs generally work just a bit better. Plus, with an SSD, you can make a local recording of your stream without worry – even in 4K, if that’s your thing. In addition, SSDs are more reliable than hard drives, especially if you buy from a trusted brand like Samsung. As the icing on the cake, M.2 SSDs, such as the Samsung 970 Evo Plus, are much easier to install than a hard drive: all you have to do is screw in one screw and you’re done.