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Hey there, welcome to the world of live streaming! My name is Monodex, and I am here to help! Getting started with Live streaming can be extremely daunting – there is a mountain of information to know, and a lot of that are things that you don’t even know you need to know. With that said, the best way to learn is to actually start streaming on Twitch.
My goal with Streamer’s Haven is to provide you with the information that you’ll need to be best prepared for streaming and content creation. There is a lot that you can learn from a variety of sources, but without knowing what to search for, how can you learn what those things are?
For example, did you know that there is a minimum internet upload speed that you need to be able to actually transmit a stream to the world? Or did you know you can use an old DSLR you might have sitting around as a webcam?
See what I mean? I certainly didn’t consider the possibilities of using a DSLR as a webcam when I was just starting out.
Before you continue reading this article, I strongly suggest that you check that article about the minimum upload speed mentioned above. If you don’t have the upload speed necessary, nothing else matters, because you won’t be able to go live at an acceptable bitrate. I mean, you certainly could still partake in content creation by creating YouTube content instead, but unfortunately, live streaming is simply off the table in this scenario.
In this article, I intend to address the hardware requirements for Twitch streaming, which is the other major inhibitor preventing someone from starting. These are a bit more involved than checking your internet speed, as there are a plethora of components out there that are more than capable of encoding a live stream with performance to spare. I will try to make this as simple as possible for you so that you have a good idea without having to scour the internet for hours like I did when I was first starting out.
The best part is, even if your particular hardware configuration isn’t quite at the level of the specs mentioned here, there is nothing really stopping you from trying – if it works, it works, right?
1: The Minimum Hardware Requirements for Twitch Streaming
The minimum hardware requirements for Twitch Streaming are a fast-ish processor and at least 8 gigabytes of decently fast ram. If you’re not tech-savvy and don’t know if your processor is fast or not, you can figure out what processor you have by checking your system information.
If you are on Windows 10, type in “System information” in the search box on your taskbar. This will show you a list of components, version numbers, and various other miscellaneous things. I’ve attached a screenshot above that highlights what you are looking for and blurred out the rest.
The values that matter here are:
- The Processor Field
- and the “Installed Physical Memory (RAM)” Field.
If your processor has at least an Intel Core i5-4670, which is the Haswell generation of the Intel Core processors, then you make the recommended processor specification. RAM is RAM, so, as long as you have at least 8 GB, it should work fine. Again, even if you don’t quite make these specs, the best way to know for sure is to try.
You can reference this site to compare the processor that you have to the I5-4670. If it places above 230 in the rankings, then it is capable of encoding without much trouble when using X264 as your encoder.
If you intend to stream using a laptop, then read this next section.
For Gaming Streamers – A Beefy GPU Too
If you intend to stream video games on the PC, then you’ll also need a fairly beefy GPU to ensure that you are rendering above 60 fps at all times. This is important, because your audience will see your lag as well, and the goal is to make their viewing experience as smooth as possible.
If you have to kick the resolution in-game down in order to do so, then you probably should. Luckily, AMD’s FSR feature may serve as an excellent way to improve the quality of your streams without actually rendering a higher resolution, making it easier to encode, and easier to render.
If you are unable to maintain a stable 60 fps while streaming, I recommend that you drop the stream settings down to 30 fps instead to ensure the maximum amount of frame stability. Your audience will see the same lag you do otherwise, and free sync/ G-sync does nothing for your viewers.
I will mention that if you have a GTX 1650 Super, GTX 1660 Ti, or any RTX card, you also gain access to a different encoder that will reduce the load on your CPU extensively when streaming, called “New NVENC”. This is superior to X264 in a number of ways, but mainly because it eliminates the encoding load on the CPU itself.
Hardware Requirements of a Laptop to Stream
The story is a little bit different when it comes to the hardware requirements for Twitch streaming on a Laptop, due to the fact that laptop processors tend to be slower than their desktop cousins. This is because a laptop is unable to provide sufficient cooling to the CPU, and the hardware is optimized to minimize power usage to extend the life of the internal battery as much as feasibly possible.
Due to this fact, the minimum processor mentioned above does not apply. Instead, you’ll want a minimum of an AMD Ryzen 5 4500U, which is slightly faster than the I5-4670. If you haven’t bought a laptop in the last two years, chances are it does not have one of those. Laptops have only recently approached this level of computational power.
Again, just reference the site above – if the performance is around the position that the I5-4670 is around, It will likely work fine.
Useful Accessories to Start Streaming On Twitch
There are a number of products out there targeting live streamers that aren’t strictly necessary, like the Elgato Streamdeck. A lot of them serve as a way to make your life a little bit easier, focusing on the quality of life aspects. However, to get started, you don’t actually need some of these – With a few exceptions:
Out of all of the streaming accessories, the most essential piece of hardware you’ll probably want to get is a microphone of some sort. The staple of live streams is that you are able to communicate with your audience vocally, as they chat with you via text – it’s basically a glorified conference call. Not having a microphone, literally, any microphone will hurt your ability to create content that people are interested in watching, even if it technically isn’t needed to get started.
I do not recommend buying a studio microphone if you do not plan to use it for more than just live streaming.
It is a great investment, one that can actually earn you money in multiple ways –
- voice acting
- Sound effect design
- recording music.
But really, you should not buy a dedicated microphone if all you plan to do with it is live stream.
A Webcam (Optional)
A webcam is a commonly used device for live streamers as a face cam set up in a PiP (Picture-in-Picture) layout. With that said, did you know that you can use your smartphone as a webcam?
Now, this is an optional accessory, but one that is commonly recommended. If you don’t feel comfortable having your face on the internet – don’t use a webcam. They are not required to have successful content. Webcams are merely another tool in your arsenal as a means of keeping the interest in your content higher.
A Capture Card (Optional-ish)
One final thing that may be handy for you would be a capture card. These devices are used mainly to stream retro consoles to Twitch or use high end-DSLRs as a webcam, so if you plan to do any of that, then you’ll need one.
Otherwise, they are unnecessary. Just don’t try to capture and stream live TV or something – that is a surefire way to get some DMCA notices, and potential lawsuits/jail time sent your way.
Broadcasting Programs to Choose From
Now that you’ve verified that you have the internet speed and hardware requirements needed, the next step is to choose a broadcasting program. I tend to recommend OBS Studio, as it is a FOSS broadcasting program that works on Windows, Linux, and macOS. That stands for Free and Open Source Software, in case you didn’t know. It is more than powerful enough to do everything you might want to do in a live stream just starting out.
With that said, there is a popular fork of OBS Studio, called StreamLabs OBS, or SLOBS for short. Personally, though, I’m not a fan. If you’d like, you can check out my breakdown of OBS Studio vs StreamLabs OBS to help you decide between the two.
Also, there are quite a few OBS Plugins available that expand the program’s functionality, so that is a bonus point in favor of it.
Of course, those are far from the only two broadcasting programs out there. There are actually quite a few.
- Action! 4
- among many others
However, a large number of these programs are actually paid – and some cost over $500. I strongly recommend sticking to the free options, unless the paid program has a feature that you can’t do without.