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The best budget streaming PC parts in 2020

So, you decided that you want to incorporate a streaming PC into your setup? We can help you pick the best budget streaming pc parts in 2020.

First, we’re going to let you know that no matter what you decide for your pc parts choices; As long as you choose one of the two recommended CPUs(Or their faster variants), you will have an excellent streaming pc. This is of course if the intention for the PC is a dedicated streaming pc.

When it comes to your Streaming PC’s performance, there are three main things to focus on:

  • The CPU or GPU – The most important component to a streaming PC, and depends on if it is a Dedicated streaming PC or a Single streaming PC Setup.
  • Your network connection – A Wifi connection for your Streaming PC is less than ideal. Hardwire should be a priority.
  • A quality Capture Card (Or NDI if that is out of budget)

The parts we recommend here in this guide can be swapped with a number of equivalents(including used!). So long as the form-factor you chose is compatible, the motherboard fits inside the case, and the heatsink isn’t too tall for your case, you’re good.

The best budget streaming PC in 2020 – Dedicated Variant

The first step to building any pc is to choose the form factor of your Motherboard. Doing this step before anything else will save you a lot of trouble later, as it lays the groundwork for the later steps.

For this, you have a few standard motherboard sizes to choose from:

  • E-ATX – Largest
    • Kind of Non-Standard. The sizes of these boards vary a lot from manufacturer to manufacturer. We don’t really recommend this type, as this variation can cause some motherboards do not fit in certain cases.
  • ATX – Standard Size
    • The Standard “Full-sized” motherboard. This board is a Feature beast usually, with several PCI-E expansion slots to utilize.
  • Micro-ATX – Smaller than standard
    • This is a shaved down variant of the ATX standard to fit in physically smaller PC chassis. The features offered on this smaller board has historically been reduced, but modern Micro-ATX is more or less equal to their larger cousins these days, though they usually lack a few less PCI-E expansion slots.
  • Mini-Itx – Tiny!
    • If Small is your need, this is the board for you. These things are the bare essentials of a PC. The features of this board are stripped to only the required components of a full Desktop PC. The only way you’re getting smaller than this is to use something like a Raspberry Pi.

Once you’ve made your choice, you’ll have the necessary info you need to choose your PC case. You can jump there now if you wish, but there is a lot more to consider.

Just remember, when buying used, make sure you verify the components work before you hand any money over! Do not use used HDD’s or SSD’s without first wiping them clean of all data. In fact, we strongly recommend you to buy a new SSD given how cheap they are these days.

The CPU Choices – AMD (Editor’s Pick)

Our pick for the best, dedicated streaming pc component on a budget is the Ryzen 5 3600. This will remain our choice until June 8th, when the 3100 or 3300X ends up taking its place.

That being said, the Ryzen 5 3600 is a solid choice capable of rendering to “Medium” and even “Slow” encoding speed on some games using the X264 encoder within a dedicated streaming PC Setup.

Our Reasons for choosing the Ryzen 5 3600

  • Near identical encoding performance to the 3600X for less money
  • The Step up to the Ryzen 7 3700X isn’t really worth it with X264 Encoding on a dedicated machine, only slightly better for a lot more money.
  • 3800X and beyond isn’t within the scope of “Budget-minded PC builds”

Now, if you were looking for a single streaming pc setup, then the benefits of Ryzen 3700X do start to look enticing.

The CPU Choices – Intel (Not Recommended)

As for the Intel side of things, you have a number of options to choose from. You can certainly have a capable PC with a current-generation I5, but your options open up significantly in the used department. For example, I have the Intel I7 6700k, a literal beast of a chip, even by today’s standards for gaming.

If you can score at least an I5 Skylake CPU, your streaming PC will perform very well indeed. While gaming and streaming, I am able to push it to the “Faster” setting for encoding speed for most titles, and “fast” for less demanding titles. If it didn’t have to process the game, it could easily handle the “Fast” X264 Preset. In fact, even in a single PC setup, if I’m doing something that doesn’t require a lot of CPU resources, like “just chatting”; I can comfortably put it on Medium.

Intel I5 9600k – With the 8000 series, Intel finally broke away from the quad-core layout. Intel has attached a pretty significant premium to this chip, but it is a very fast chip and will chew a stream encoder up and spit out frames. It will handle the Fast X264 encoder preset without much issue. It has one major advantage over our budget AMD choice, which is the inclusion of an integrated GPU.

However, If you are buying new, do yourself a favor and just buy a Ryzen 3600. It is just so much better. (I know User Benchmark isn’t everything. But it is a much better chip for encoding. If you had a choice between the two, choose Ryzen Gen 2 (2xxx) or Gen 3(3xxx).)

Intel Heat-sink Needs

Intel CPUs also tend to require a third party heat-sink. Our Go-to recommendation for this is the Cryorig H7 or the Hyper 212. Just be sure to check for case clearance;

  • Cryorig H7 is 145mm tall
  • Hyper212 is 159mm tall

Matching the CPU to the Motherboard in the best budget streaming pc parts in 2020

Not everybody is familiar with the components of a pc, So we have compiled a list of compatible motherboard chipsets tied to the CPUs they are and are not compatible with.

AMD Ryzen Motherboard Compatibility

Socket AM4

  • Chipset – A320 –
  • Strongly Not Recommended; missing certain features useful for streamers & not compatible with every Ryzen Generation
    • Ryzen Gen 1 – Supported
    • Ryzen Gen 2- Supported with Bios Update
    • Zen 2 Ryzen Gen 3 – Not Supported
  • Chipset – B350 –
  • Not Recommended, Okay if you do a bios update.
    • Ryzen Gen 1 – Supported
    • Ryzen Gen 2-3 – Supported with bios update (If the motherboard manufacturer still supports that board)
  • Chipset – X370 –
  • Not Recommended, an ok choice, requires a bios update to work with Gen 2 and Gen 3 processors
    • Ryzen Gen 1 – Supported
    • Ryzen Gen 2-3 – Supported with bios update (If the motherboard manufacturer still supports that board)
  • Chipset – B450 –
  • RecommendedOur choice for the budget pc recommendation until the B550 boards’ release on June 16th
    • Ryzen Gen 1-2 – Supported
    • Ryzen Gen 3 – Supported with a bios update
  • Chipset – X470 –
  • Not Recommended – The features on X470 are mostly useless for streamers.
    • Ryzen Gen 1-2 – Supported
    • Zen 2 Ryzen Gen 3 – Supported With bios update
  • Chipset – X570 –
  • Not Recommended The features offered by X570 are very enticing, but the use of PCI-E 4.0 x1 slots kills its value as a dedicated streaming PC.
  • You need an X4 slot to provide the necessary bandwidth to the standard 4k capture cards. If they were 2x slots, then it would have enough, instead, you need to slot an X4 card into an X16 slot just to use it. Ridiculous.
    • Ryzen Gen 1 – Not supported
    • Ryzen Gen 2-3 – Supported

AMD Motherboard choice – Socket type, features to look for & more

For the Ryzen 3600, Motherboard compatibility is determined by a number of key features. The first is the socket format AM4, the socket type that the CPU is fit into. This socket type is ultimately what determines what kind of processor fits into which motherboard.

The next thing to consider about this chip is the chipset of the motherboard. For example, B350 is a chipset for the first generation of Ryzen processors and will require a bios update in order to be used with the Ryzen Zen+, or second generation of processors. This is not ideal and adds end-user complexity, and the manufacturers know this. So they released the chipset revision B450; which is essentially that very same B350 chipset with that bios update in place, and a few optimizations in place of the existing features.

In recent news, the long-awaited B550 Chipset motherboards are on the way, and they come with PCI-e 4.0! But We still don’t recommend them…

The Higher End – Flagship Motherboard chipsets

Another chipset choice for the AM4 socket is the X470 & X570 series, the flagship of the Ryzen Zen+(2XXX) and the Ryzen Zen 2(3XXX) 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.

AMD streamers: Recommended motherboard for AMD’s Ryzen 3600
The AMD Ryzen 3600 is the best Budget Streaming PC CPU...for now.

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.

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.

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:

  1. Your Webcam
  2. A Capture card for your Gaming PC input
    • Either USB or PCI-E works here.
  3. Your Audio Interface or Mixer
  4. Your Elgato StreamDeck (If applicable)
  5. A mouse for controlling your setup (Optional PS2 slot available on the board)
  6. A keyboard, again, to control the setup.
  7. 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.

With all of that said, you can very easily choose any B450 motherboard you’d like to cut costs further. This is barring any purpose-built boards like those used in Bitcoin mining rigs.

For Intel Streamers – Our recommended motherboard for the 9600k

The Gigabyte Z390 Aorus Elite is your typical Run of the mill motherboards...except it has a TON of USB ports on it.

GIGABYTE Z390 AORUS Elite – This board was a tough pick to find in the sea of motherboards. It was the cheapest one I could find with the ports we need. It has a lot of them too, 4 USB 2.0, 4 USB 3.0, and 2 USB 3.1(Gen 1 sadly). But really, you can get away without gen 2, it’s just nice to have. The trick is to use the 3.1 headers for your Capture card if applicable, and maybe webcam. If you experience issues, shift the webcam over to a standard 3.0 port. With the additional 2 USB 2.0 headers and 1 USB 3.0 headers on the board, that brings the grand total USB ports to 16 ports, which is plenty for most uses. If you need more, you will need a USB hub.

In our list for the best budget streaming pc parts in 2020, this was a tough pick.

Our Recommended RAM

The Corsair Vengeance LPX 8GB is a low profile RAM stick that we've been using for the better part of 4 years.

Corsair Vengeance LPX 8GB – RAM is RAM. Pick whatever you want for the 3rd Gen Ryzen or Intel CPUs.

Our reasons for choosing the Corsair Vengeance LPX 8GB

So Ram is something that we literally only need enough to run the OS and the various components. This means we could get away with even 4 gigs of ram and be fine. If you want to cut the cost, just purchase the one stick of the same ram. Now, if you also intended to do rendering on this machine, you will need to get at least 16 gigs, but go no slower than DDR4 3000. Ryzen is rather picky about its memory, so the speed is to ensure the memory isn’t going to cause issues.

You can pick any stick you want that is DDR4 for the intel, but for older Ryzen CPU’s, due to the way it works internally, It has some limitations. See Windows Central’s list for which ram you should use for Ryzen Gen 1 and 2.

The Best budget streaming PC in 2020 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.

Pick a PC case of your choosing.

The best power supply for most people

EVGA SUPERNOVA G3, the most recommended PSU for everyone

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.

Video Card(Mostly Optional for the best budget streaming pc parts in 2020!)

Now, this is where we cut big corners. A dedicated streaming pc only needs a video card in order to run the monitor or to use the Encoding chip built into the card. In most cases, You can simply get away with a used, low power GPU like a GIGABYTE GTX 1650 super, or if you opted for the Intel CPU, you can simply use the IGP to cut the cost further. We do recommend to buy this part used where possible to cut costs even further.

GTX 1650 Super, Our recommended Budget Streaming pc video card of 2020

Storage Solutions

With how low SSD’s are these days, I can only recommend you to buy one. I paid more for my 1TB HDD than these costs now.

Western Digital WD Blue, a great budget SSD choice to keep the noise low and the data fast.

The Western Digital WD Blue SATA SSD is a fantastic little drive at a fantastic price. You may opt for the M.2 Drive If you wish, but we recommend saving that for an NVME drive if you plan to do rendering down the line. This drive is plenty fast for our needs as a Streaming PC.

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.

Amazon Basics Mouse & Keyboard combo

The Amazon Basics package has you covered for the mouse and keyboard.

Sceptre E205W, the literal cheapest monitor on the market

And the Sceptre E205W will handle your Monitor needs. Since twitch imposes a bandwidth bitrate limit of 6000 for non-partners, we recommend you stream at 900p60 at the max resolution.

However, If you’d prefer to have a 1080P Monitor, try the Sceptre 22 Inch LED 1080p Monitor E225W

Sceptre 1080p Variant

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 2020 edition, I’m going to have to recommend Windows 10 Home Edition.

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, Mixer, 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

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.

We opt for the PCI-E variants of the capture cards because USB is finicky, according to several streamers we’ve talked to. If a certain motherboard has the wrong kind of USB controller, they can be fairly unstable, especially with the USB bus saturation that can occur if your high bandwidth devices are sharing the same bus.

Can’t afford a capture card? Use NDI. You can capture pc-pc using NDI, but console streamers will need the capture card or a console capable of streaming itself.

For Single Streaming PC Setups –

The story for a Single PC setup is a short one in this case,

We’ll sum it up nicely;

  • Increase the quantity of RAM from 8 to 16.
  • Get rid of the Capture card from the list.
  • All other components on this list can stay the same.

Easy, Right? Just be aware that you may run into some USB Bus bandwidth limitations. If your audio becomes robotic on stream, or your fps suddenly drops off the face of the earth, Move your USB devices around on your pc!

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.

The best budget streaming PC parts in our 2020 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, even with the Intel board, 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.

For a quick look at a PC with these specs, here is a PC part picker link. This is for the Ryzen 2 R5 2600. Don’t forget to use honey to save even more money on this where you are unable to buy used! If you aren’t sure if you even need a streaming PC, 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 we wrote this awesome guide to help you along the way!

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8 thoughts on “The best budget streaming PC parts in 2020”

  1. Fantastic post, my streaming rig is an i57800k so a little old it does the job but I may upgrade it to the Ryzen 5 in light of the price drops and the likely further reduction when the new hardware releases from AMD

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