Last Updated: April 15, 2023
If you want to game and stream on the same PC, it can be quite taxing on your system and will require a fairly powerful PC if you want to stream at the best quality using what's called CPU encoding (x264). Encoding video using your CPU leads to the higher quality streams for your viewers compared to GPU encoding (which is more efficient but lowers the quality a little).
Most streamers, especially casual or novice streamers just getting their feet wet, should just stick to a single PC for gaming and streaming on the same setup, and take advantage of GPU encoding using a NVidia card to take some of the load off the CPU.
But if you're a more avid streamer wanting to produce the highest quality streams possible for your audience, you might want to consider having a dual PC setup for streaming that includes both your main gaming rig alongside a dedicated streaming PC.
This is what many pro streamers do to maximize efficiency, as you'll have the dedicated streaming computer to focus 100% on CPU encoding, with your gaming rig also being free to solely focus on getting the highest frame rate at the highest visual settings.
Doing CPU encoding on a single PC is possible, but will require a beefier CPU, as your processor would not only need to do the encoding, but run your game (some of which can be quite demanding on the CPU) and all the other applications that are running such as OBS, audio software, chat software, overlays, and so on.
Another added benefit of a dedicated streaming PC is your stream can still stay live and online if you have to turn off or restart your gaming PC for whatever reason, such as when downloading a game update which requires a restart (or if your gaming PC crashes in-game).
But building or buying dual PCs for streaming obviously takes more work and setup time, and despite your dedicated streaming PC not needing to be too powerful it will still cost you more overall compared to a single PC setup (because you need 2 cases, 2 sets of keyboards/mice, 2 motherboard, 2 sets of RAM, 2 PSUs, and so on - oh and a capture card too).
So make sure you know what you're getting into, and stick to a single PC if you are on a budget or new. You can always start with that, and then if you're not happy with your stream quality then you can always easily add a second PC later. That said, building and setting up dual PCs for streaming isn't that hard, so if you're interested in doing that let's move on.
If you want to build the best dedicated streaming computer using new parts, the following example builds are what we can recommend to stretch your money further depending on the level of quality you're after (and your budget of course). We'll clarify our component choices in the rest of this guide if you are interested.
Oh, and these setups can be used for video editing or other work tasks too, as these are not only good dedicated streaming PC builds but good value workstations too (though for a more serious workstation, you would want more RAM as a dedicated streaming setup doesn't need much).
Swipe to Scroll the Builds:
|Component||Best Cheap Dedicated Streaming PC Build for 720p||Best Budget Dedicated Streaming PC Build for 900p/1080p||Best Dedicated Streaming PC Build for 1080p 60FPS|
|CPU||AMD Ryzen 5 5600G||AMD Ryzen 5 3600||AMD Ryzen 7 5800X|
|CPU Cooler||Stock (included with CPU)||Cooler Master Hyper 212 Black|
|Motherboard||Gigabyte B550M DS3H
MSI B550M PRO-VDH WiFi
|RAM||16GB DDR4 (2x8GB, Any Speed)|
|Graphics Card||Integrated Graphics (Comes With CPU)||NVIDIA GeForce GT 1030 2GB (Choose Low Profile Model)|
|Storage||Any Small SSD|
|Power Supply||Any 500 - 500 Watt PSU|
Thermaltake Core V21 SPCC Cube (1 x 200mm Fan Included)
Cooler Master HAF XB EVO LAN Box (2 x 120mm Fans Included)
Any Compatible Mini/Mid Tower
|Capture Card||Elgato HD60/other|
Swipe to Scroll the Builds
This is how a dual system setup works in a nutshell:
Your gaming PC renders your game to both your gaming monitor (as usual) and to a device known as a capture card.
Your streaming PC then takes the stream data from the capture card and uploads to the streaming service (such as Twitch or Mixer) as well as renders the stream to your streaming monitor so you can check how your stream is looking in real time as you play on your gaming monitor.
Here's what you need for a dual PC streaming setup:
You want a good CPU for streaming, but since your rig will only be used for streaming it also doesn't need to be the greatest CPU around as it obviously won't be needed to process your games (many of which these days can be quite demanding on the CPU).
In other words, a good mid-range CPU like the Ryzen 5 3600, 3600X, 5600, or 5600X is more than enough for a dedicated streaming PC build, with your choice depending on your exact budget. The only reason to spend more on a faster CPU than the aforementioned models is if you want higher quality resolutions for your streams.
If on a budget, even cheaper CPUs are totally fine if your streams aren't going to be 1080p 60FPS. For example, for 720p 60FPS/30FPS streaming, a cheaper CPU like a Ryzen 5 2600, 1600 AF, or even the 5600G or 3400G is all you likely need.
But for the ultimate 1080p 60FPS stream quality, you'll need a very good CPU like the Ryzen 7 5700X or 5800X, which are among the best CPUs for a dedicated streaming build right now whilst also remaining cost-effective and without having to spend extra money on DDR5 memory which you would need to purchase if you get the newer Ryzen 7000 series processors like the 7700X or 7900X etc. Building a DDR4 system is the best bang for buck, and Ryzen 5000 processors are still super fast and more than enough for super fast streaming using OBS/etc and software encoding.
Anything more powerful than a 5700X or 5800X, such as a Ryzen 9 5900X, 5950X, or even the older Ryzen 9 3900X, 3950X, or a Threadripper 3990X - they're overkill and unnecessary for a dedicated streaming computer (though definitely handy for an all-in-one single streaming/gaming PC).
As for Intel, any modern i5 or i7 is going to be just fine, though we recommend Ryzen as they typically provide better CPU encoding performance for the money. Check out the 3700X and 3900X blitzing the Intel field here. Brutal stuff; the 3900X eats the 9900K for breakfast, and even the 3700X beats the 9900K.
Same goes for building a single PC for gaming and streaming - AMD is typically our top pick for that, too. That said, recent Intel generations like the latest Intel 13th-gen series are very competitive when it comes to streaming performance as you'll see in CPU encoding benchmarks such as this one.
Because its sole purpose is to encode and stream, all you really need for a PC dedicated to streaming is a good CPU and then a very basic list of supporting components. You might want to have a good amount of RAM if you're doing other things on the PC such as video editing, but if it's just building this PC for streaming then a mere 8GB is actually totally fine.
These days 16GB is hardly much more money than 8GB though. If you're choosing an AMD Ryzen processor, try to shoot for 3000MHz or higher in terms of memory speed to make the most of your CPU, as Ryzen takes advantage of faster RAM (more so than Intel CPUs do, generally speaking).
You also don't even need a graphics card for a dedicated streaming rig, as you can just use integrated graphics if your CPU has that (though not all do). But if your CPU doesn't have built-in graphics, or if you're also doing some video editing or other graphics-related production on your dedicated streaming setup, you should get a basic video card such as the GT 1030 or better depending on how much video editing you're doing (a good video editing PC build does require a better GPU like a GTX 1650 or above).
Then put in a simple no-frills motherboard, a decent power supply, a 1TB HDD (or bigger if you plan on saving tons of footage, and an SSD if this is a video editing rig), a basic case that can house all your parts (most people will want a small "box" style build so it doesn't take up much space as is reflected in our recommendations above), a basic monitor, and that's basically it.
For a single streaming and gaming PC build, you don't need a capture card, but you need one for dedicated streaming PC setup to relay information from your gaming PC to the streaming PC. Choosing the right capture card is actually a fairly important choice, because if you simply get a cheap capture card you'll end up with similar (or even worse) quality than if you simply streamed with your gaming PC which kind of defeats the purpose of the dedicated streaming PC in the first place.
You should stick to well-known, quality brands such as Blackmagic, AverMedia, Razer and Elgato, and try to avoid portable capture cards as they can be lower quality. Also keep in mind that when using a capture card there will be a delay between your gaming PC and your streaming PC but it isn't a big deal as it doesn't affect the quality or smoothness of the stream. We'll cover choosing capture cards in a future guide.
That wraps our dedicated streaming build guide and hope it helps your research. Remember that we don't recommend building a dedicated streaming PC unless you're unhappy with a single gaming and streaming PC build, as it obviously requires time and money to invest in a dual PC streaming setup.
VPN software is quite important in this day and age and will improve the security and privacy of your PC when online. There are also benefits to using VPNs for gaming.
There's lots of VPNs out there but the ones I recommend most to gamers is ExpressVPN (special link that gets you 3 months off. they also offer a free trial here) and NordVPN which are both highly rated gaming VPNs because they're the fastest and most secure.
Indie game dev currently working on my first public release after years of hobby projects, a story-driven VR FPS built with Unreal Engine (to be announced soon here for anyone into VR FPS's). Also likes writing about tech, which also helps fund development of the game.
My favs of all time are OOT, Perfect Dark, MGS1, MGS2, GE007, DKC2, THPS3, HL1, and HL2, with the most recent addition to my list of immortals being the VR masterpiece Alyx. If you want help with a new build feel free to ask on the main PC builds guide. If you found the site extra helpful and wish to support the work I do here, sharing an article with a friend helps a lot and is much appreciated. - Julz