Recommendations For Streaming PCs - PC SEEKERS

Recommendations For Streaming PCs

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So you are a PC gamer wondering how to make your Gaming experience more social but, with the current world events in mind such as Corona Virus - duh, without inviting people to your house. Then you get the idea to start streaming your games to show off your gaming skills to the world. Then you spring into action preparing to show your battle station off to the world but what kind of setup do you need to pull this off?

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Well, it should not be surprising that an upper range gaming PC is often a good choice for streaming. But there are hardware considerations for streaming that are a little bit different. Typically gaming setups are built around the GPU with your graphics card often being the deciding factor and how nice the games will look as long as the rest of your rig meets some kind of minimum threshold so as to no one PC component bottlenecks the other components. 


But for streaming your CPU can determine how your game play looks to your viewers, be they on twitch or another streaming platform. But why is this? Well, remember that the work of rendering the game i.e. the act of actually creating the image has already been done by your graphics card. It is then your CPU that takes that rendered image and transcodes it in to a video format that can be easily sent over the internet and displayed by your viewer's web browsers. And if you have ever edited videos regularly or watched CPU comparisons and reviews you will probably already know that having a more powerful CPU with higher cores typically makes video encoding a much easier job. So let's see what all options you as a streamer have got.

Chart Credits: Gamers Nexus


Using Your CPU:

Now since transcoding is easily split among multiple CPU cores, yeah don't forget you still have to run the game too, it is to your advantage to get a CPU with more cores and more threads especially if you want to stream at 1080p 60fps instead of 720p. Though it should be noted that as with anything there is a point of diminishing returns and a 20 core processor might not be worth the extra price. If you want a specific recommendation, a modern 8 core 16 thread CPU either from AMD or Intel would be your best bet in your gaming rig making it a very capable gaming machine. 

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Using Second PC:

Some streamers though, actually decide to go a step further and use a 2nd PC to handle all the streaming tasks using their first rig strictly for actual gaming. This can specially make sense if you already have an older PC tower lying around because it is a great a way to stream some CPU intensive games, like Civilization 6 and Total War, without being concerned that your game play or your stream quality will suffer as a result. One of the reasons this approach is so popular is that your streaming PC does not have to be anything super fancy. You might not even need a dedicated graphics card. You will need a good CPU but because it is going to be handling streaming only you can probably get away with a basic 4 core 4 thread processor. Just make sure that you close all your background programs and have, only what you need to stream, up and running if you are running into trouble. 

The other thing you will need for your dedicated streaming PC is a way to capture the video output from your gaming machine and deliver it to the software, like XSplit or OBS, that will encode and transmit your stream along with any overlays and transitions that you desire. For PC gamers, this can actually be done over your local network using the NVENC hardware encoding engine behind NVIDIA's shadow play feature to send up to a 60Mbps stream of the over Ethernet to your secondary PC where CPU encoding will turn it into a high quality 5.5Mbps stream compatible with Twitch TV. 

Using Capture Card:

But if your PC hardware doesn't support this method or if you are streaming from another device like a game console, the go to is a capture card. A modern USB 3 or PCIe capture card will help prevent transmission problems and lag compared to a USB 2 capture card but other than that you will probably have to read and watch reviews to determine exactly which model is best for your needs. Whatever you get, make sure that it supports the resolution and the frame rate that you want to stream to your viewers.

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