So, you decided that you want to incorporate a streaming PC into your setup? I wrote this guide to help you pick the best budget streaming pc in 2021.
Unfortunately, right now is one of the worst times in history to attempt to build a PC from parts. This is due to the massive silicon shortages going on right now, so your best bet to get a PC with a modern Video card is to buy a prebuilt PC from places like IbuyPower or NZXT.
There are caveats to doing this of course, which I’ll get into in another section, but you do avoid the scalpers market by doing this. This is an important fact, because there are some RTX 3080s that have an MSRP of $699 that are being sold for over $3000.
This is a complete slap in the face for a budget minded individual.
Table of Contents
The Best Budget Streaming PC in 2021 – Pre-built
I hate the idea of recommending a prebuild, but these are exceptionally strange times. There are a number of companies that offer pre-built gaming Desktop PCs, and they offer almost everything that you need, save a Capture card and webcam.
One of the larger, and well known companies is IBuyPower. When choosing a PC for yourself, there are a few component considerations to keep in mind – Mainly the Video card. You will want at the very least, a 1650 Super. Any RTX card will do as well. This allows you to access the better hardware video encoder that is included with the card series upgrade.
The CPU doesn’t matter nearly as much, but if you plan to use the pc to also game on at the same time as streaming, then you would benefit from a faster cpu. Something like a I5 10 series for intel, and a Ryzen 5 5600 for Ryzen.
Prebuilds tend to cut corners on the motherboards used, as well as the power supplies so be aware that you will likely be unable to overclock these computers.
The final component consideration is the number of USB ports. A Streaming PC utilizes a large number of USB ports, and a motherboard that has a lot built in is extremely handy. Aim for 6+.
The best budget streaming PC in 2021 – Build it Yourself
If you manage to source any of these parts for a reasonable price, then this table contains a list of components that will perform admirably as a dedicated budget streaming PC in 2021.
Note: Price can not be guaranteed at this time due to extreme shortages that are a direct result of the ongoing human malware crisis. Parts have also been subbed out from the ones described below based on current availability.
|Component||Under $900||Optional components|
|CPU||Ryzen 3 3100||Generic USB 2.0 Capture card|
|Motherboard||ASRock B450 Pro4||Seagate BarraCuda 2TB HDD|
|RAM (Memory)||Corsair Vengeance LPX 16 GB 3200 CL16||Generic 1080p30 Webcam|
|Storage||WD Blue 500GB SSD||Neewer 2-Pack LED light panel|
|Video Card||Zotac GTX 1650 Super||Samson Q2U|
|Case||Deepcool TESSERACT BF|
Diving into the The CPU Choice – AMD Ryzen 3 3100
The power of a Ryzen 3100 is not to be dismissed if cost is a major consideration. This chip might be small, but it throws punches with chips like the I7 6700k. That is impressive in its own right, as that is the CPU that I am still using as my daily driver. The fact that the Ryzen 3100 at a price under $150, is able to meet the capabilities of the Skylake era Powerhouse is amazing. It’s a literal steal for what you are getting from it.
Of course, if you manage to score a Ryzen 5600, which is around 25% faster overall at a similar price point, than it might be worth considering that chip instead.
Our Reasons for choosing the Ryzen 3 3100
As I mentioned above, this thing is roughly equivalent to a Skylake I7 6700k. As I have personally used the Skylake chip for over 7 years continuously, with near-zero issues with streaming performance, I don’t see much reason to push the CPU to the next level, specifically if budgeting is a major concern for you. You aren’t making many compromises, even at this budget range.
For under $150, you are getting a chip that literally outclasses previous generation flagship models that are still completely valid in today’s market. That is to say, older USED chips still sell for around $240. Literally $90 cheaper, and it supports PCI-E 4.0 if you pair it with a B550 or X570 motherboard.
But another reason is the fact that it can be upgraded to a much faster chip later on. That AM4 socket motherboard it’s on can be used even when the new generation of CPU’s come out, the 4000 series. If you haven’t seen it’s performance in the laptops, rest assured, that’s something to look forward to.
Matching the CPU to the Motherboard in the best budget streaming pc parts in 2021
AM4 compatibility is getting to be a bit confusing, so we made this table here to help you determine what motherboard is compatible with which generation. So long as your generation is not marked with an X, your CPU will work with that motherboard.
AMD Ryzen Motherboard Compatibility Table
|Ryzen Gen 1 (Ryzen 1000)||O||O||O||B||B||X||X|
|Ryzen Gen 2 (Ryzen 2000)||B||B||B||O||O||B||B|
|Ryzen Gen 3 (Ryzen 3000)||X||B||B||B||B||O||O|
|Ryzen Gen 4 (Ryzen 5000)||X||X||X||X||X||O||O|
AMD Motherboard choice – Socket type, features to look for & more
For the Ryzen 3100, Motherboard compatibility is determined by a number of key features. The first is the socket format, which is the type of socket that the CPU is keyed to fit into. The socket format AM4 socket type is ultimately what determines that the “Ryzen” series of CPU’s are the ones to be used in it.
The next thing to consider when choosing a motherboard and CPU pair is their chipset. For example, B350 is a chipset for the first generation of Ryzen processors. This type has a specific feature set available and will require a bios update in order to be used with generations that it wasn’t initially designed for. This is not ideal for a few reasons:
- It adds end-user complexity,
- Most users don’t even know what the bios/UEFI is.
- User error or power loss can “Brick a board” during a bios flash, essentially rendering the chip that the bios is stored on useless, and in need of replacement.
- It limits the capability of the new generation of CPU’s by disabling features that the motherboard is simply incapable of using
So they released the chipset revision B450; which is essentially that very same B350 chipset with that bios update in place, along with new features that the next generation of Ryzen CPU’s were capable of, and optimizations to the internal circuitry of the chipset itself. Still, there is a bit to be said about backward and forwards compatibility among the many iterations.
We’ll quickly mention some handy info regarding this subject. In recent news, the long-awaited B550 Chipset motherboards are on the way, and they come with PCI-e 4.0! Stay tuned on that when they do release.
The Higher End – Flagship Motherboard chipsets
Another chipset choice for the AM4 socket is the X470 & X570 series, the flagship of the Ryzen Zen+(2000) and the Ryzen Zen 2(3000) series. However, streaming does not really make use of those features, therefore we do not need to invest in the extra cost of the X470 or X570.
As for what those features are, you should read our article about it that explains what they are in more detail. Long story short, stick with the B450 until the B550 is released, and then go with that.
Our Recommended Motherboard for your streaming PC
The features of interest for streamers :
- 3x USB 3.1(Gen 1) Type-A ports
- 1 USB 3.1 (Gen 1) Type C
- 2x USB 3.1(Gen 2 (For uncompressed 4k Capture Cards)) ports for our webcam/capture card, both very high bandwidth hogs,
- 2 USB 2.0 ports(We need these for our audio interface or mixer if applicable).
- 2x M.2 Drive slots
- 1x PCI-E 3.0 motherboard expansion header
- 2x USB 2.0 motherboard expansion headers.
ASUS ROG Strix B450-F – This board is a bit on the pricey side, but given our savings on the CPU, we can afford this board. Just remember that any B450 board will be sufficient, just try to prioritize quantity of USB ports. As a streamer, we use a heck of a lot of those, especially when using a single PC setup.
Our Reasons for choosing the Asus ROG Strix B450-F for our dedicated streaming pc
In case you are wondering, dedicated streaming PCs use a lot of USB devices all at once. This is the main reasoning when choosing this board. 8 Ports on board already are pretty rare. This is because we need to connect up a LOT of separate devices:
- Your Webcam
- A Capture card for your Gaming PC input
- Either USB or PCI-E works here.
- Your Audio Interface or Mixer
- Your Elgato StreamDeck (If applicable)
- A mouse for controlling your setup (Optional PS2 slot available on the board)
- A keyboard, again, to control the setup.
- An optional additional Webcam for the second point of view later on.
Theoretically, you could use an app like Synnergy to do this, saving two USB ports.
That is 7 separate potential USB devices to set up. This uses up all of the USB Type-A slots in that hypothetical setup. It is also worth mentioning that you will more than likely run into USB bus limits with all of these devices. If you find your PC starting to bog down, or your audio becomes robotic on stream, or your fps suddenly drops off the face of the earth, shuffle your devices around on the USB ports. If, for example, you put two webcams on the same bus or a Mixer/interface/USB mic on the same bus, it will saturate all of the bandwidth on that bus. You’ll know when you have this issue, trust me.
- You do not want your Audio interface/Mixer on the same bus as a Webcam, or DSLR if you happen to have one like one of the supported Canon EOS Cameras. They can share the same bus as a mouse or keyboard though.
- The reason is that these devices are very high bandwidth devices, and can put a lot of strain on the bus’s maximum throughput.
- In some situations though, you may actually need a PCI-E USB card to deal with your USB needs. This card converts some of your PCI-E rails to USB, which is essentially a whole new bus.
With all of that said, you can very easily choose any B450 motherboard you’d like that is cheaper to cut costs further. This is barring any purpose-built boards like those used in Bitcoin mining rigs.
Our Recommended RAM
Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB – Ryzen is picky about it’s RAM. Please ensure that whatever kit you decide on getting supports it by stating “Ryzen Ready” or “AMD Optimized.”
Our reasons for choosing the Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB
For the most part, RAM is RAM. However, you need to be careful when choosing Ram for Ryzen processors. LPX is a low profile ram and has little to no compatibility issues with CPU cooler clearance. For example, we have the Cryorig H5A Universal kit, which if it had a full-sized fan, would block the ram slot.
For older Ryzen CPU’s, due to the way it works internally, It has some specific RAM limitations. See Windows Central’s list for which ram you should use for Ryzen Gen 1 and 2.
The Best budget streaming PC in 2021 can use ANY ATX compatible case
Cases have come a LONG way since the ’90s. Once upon a time, most cases were hit and miss for quality and features.
Just pick the one you like, and make sure it says “Supports ATX” or something to that extent. You’re the one that has to look at it all day, may as well pick the one you like.
Our Favorite case was recently discontinued (We wonder why. It was a nice case.) Budget being the name of the game, here is a cheap Mid-size ATX case.
The best power supply for most people
EVGA SUPERNOVA G3 550w is all you really need in a good quality power supply. Many people cut corners on the power supply; however, It is our firm belief that even on the most budget of budget builds, A power supply is one place you do NOT want to cut corners.
Here is a rather telling reason, if you aren’t convinced, but in short…If the PSU goes, it can take EVERY OTHER COMPONENT WITH IT. That said, you can save a few dollars here if you are really tight on budget. Modern components are shipped with high voltage protection circuits, so you will more than likely be fine, even if it were to go boom. However, for peace of mind, we personally opted for the Supernova G3, and suggest you do the same.
Note: If you plan to go SLI (No need to these days), or run a HEDT class CPU, you will need higher wattage PSU.
The Video Card – The Center powerhouse of your streaming PC
The choice here for our video card is the GTX 1650 Super. While it may not be the best performing card by any means, for the purpose of streaming on a budget, and with the availability of higher-end cards questionable, it checks all of the boxes. Not to be confused with the 1050 ti, the 1650 super comes bundled with the new encoding ASIC that throws punches with X264 @ medium & even slow in some cases. All, without the major performance impact that comes with X264. See, The ASIC is an embedded processor designed to do one thing, encode video.
It was specifically designed for cameras in mind, for capturing DSLR & expensive media camera footage to PC’s for the purpose of media creation. But that isn’t to say it isn’t fully capable of encoding screen capture content, like video games.
And so, the GIGABYTE GTX 1650 super is the ultimate winner for the criteria of your new streaming capable PC.
Now that we’ve covered all of the core components of the PC, It’s time to address the storage situation.
With how cheap SSD’s are these days, it is our first choice unless you are on an ultra-tight budget. With that being said, There are SSD’s that cost $40, with the cost of low storage quantity. They also cut corners, and eliminate or neuter the controller on the SSD itself, which can significantly impact the performance of the drive. It is our belief to invest in a halfway decent SSD for both your data’s integrity, and your personal experience using your machine.
The Western Digital WD Blue SATA SSD is a fantastic little drive, and it is a very manageable price.
The Essential HID’s(Human Interface Devices)
Finally, We’ll need a basic mouse, keyboard, monitor/tv to be able to interact with your PC.
The Amazon Basics package has you covered for the mouse and keyboard.
However, If you’d prefer to have a 1080P Monitor, try the Sceptre 22 Inch LED 1080p Monitor E225W
Your Operating system
Well, you could technically use a Linux OS such as POP! OS or Manjaro and be fine; however, if you are unfamiliar with Linux, it isn’t very easy or intuitive to use without some sort of guidance. As such, going against the grain of the best budget streaming PC 2021 edition, I’m going to have to recommend Windows 10 Home Edition.
You can use whatever modern OS you’d like, so long as it supports OBS and a capture card really.
And finally, the Capture card
This final recommendation is completely optional unless your goal is to stream old retro consoles or are looking to use a DSLR or mirrorless camera as a face cam, and that is the capture card.
A capture card takes an input video signal and captures it to a virtual device on your PC. That virtual device can then be sent to a stream via OBS Video Capture Device source, and streamed over Twitch or recorded for YouTube Videos later.
Modern capture cards use the widely available HDMI inputs and outputs, but some can use Composite, Component, DVI, VGA or even Display Port sources.
For our purposes, we opt for the HDMI format, as Display port capture cards are…quite expensive, and hard to find.
Elgato 4k60MK2 Is a bit overkill for most streamer’s needs, so cutting the budget back to the 1080p60 capture cards, we have the Elgato HD60Pro. But then, those all exceed the ideal of “Budget”. Luckily, this little USB 2.0 card just popped up out of nowhere and it performs extremely well. It is limited to 30 fps, so it isn’t as good as some of the more commonly used capture cards for streaming. But for the purpose of streaming, honestly, 30 fps is totally fine.
Can’t afford a capture card? Use NDI. You can capture pc-pc using NDI, but console streamers will need one of the capture cards above or a console capable of streaming itself.
The best budget streaming PC parts in our 2021 guide Final word
When buying a streaming machine, You need to consider a number of inputs. That’s the reason we prioritized motherboards with a high number of USB ports. Our stream machine needs a mouse, A keyboard, A capture card if you opt for a USB variant, a webcam or two, or three(Depends on how intricate you want to get on your camera angles), an Audio Interface or USB microphone(Or two), A Bluetooth dongle, which means you are using a grand total of 8-9 USB ports.
The challenge then is that you are cutting it very close. If you are using a USB headset, you hit your limit outside of USB hubs or USB expansion ports on the motherboard headers. And then there is USB bus bandwidth to contend with. If you are going to use more than one webcam, each webcam will need its own bus to function properly. A capture card must be on its own bus, with maybe a mouse or keyboard being the other occupying slot. Weird things happen when that bus gets saturated.
Finally, if you haven’t read this guide yet, you’ll want to check out our article on whether or not you need a dedicated streaming pc and what you will need for it.
The Ultimate Guide to a better stream
There are so many different things about streaming that you need to know in order to be successful. That’s why I wrote this awesome guide to help you along the way!