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How To Build A Streaming PC-thumbnail
How To Build A Streaming PC
Pipeline Team-Profile
by Pipeline Team

Let’s address one of the most common misconceptions about streaming: you don’t need cutting-edge equipment to get started. Sure, top streamers like Ninja are rocking some absolutely incredible PC builds, but many of your favorite streamers got started with a standard setup and waited until their careers took off before upgrading. To get the most out of your current equipment - without spending a fortune on unnecessary or preemptive upgrades - there are just two requirements:

 

1. Proper connectivity

2. Appropriate hardware

 

Most of you will already meet these requirements, but let’s run through some quick checks regarding upload speed and hardware.

 

Internet connectivity

 

Ensure you have enough bandwidth to both play your game and simultaneously upload your stream. This should be your top investment and priority when starting out streaming or building a new setup. Go to https://speedtest.net and figure out the upload speed of your home router. After that’s done, go check the recommended fps and video quality settings for your streaming platform of choice (480p, 720p, 720p 60fps, 1080p, 1080p 60fps, etc.)

 

Hardware

 

Can your computer handle streaming? The most important thing to remember regarding your PC is that you want to provide your viewers with a stable experience, for example at 720p 30fps. Maximizing these settings without overloading your computer will take trial and error: Start streaming at minimum graphical settings and slowly increase them to ensure your computer can handle the increased workload for longer periods of time.Core components to check:

 

- Processor (CPU)

- Graphics card (GPU)

- RAM

 

Pro Tip: If you’re a Pipeline member, you can check out our partner pages for the latest discounts on gear from CORSAIR, RAZER, and more! Pipeline’s Recommended Budget System Build (about $650):

 

- CPU: AMD Ryzen 3 2200G 3.5 GHz Quad-Core Processor

- CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler

- Motherboard: Gigabyte B450M DS3H Micro ATX AM4 Motherboard

- Memory: Corsair Vengeance LPX 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) DDR4-2400 Memory

- Storage: Intel 660p Series 512 GB M.2-2280 NVME Solid State Drive

- Video Card: MSI GeForce GTX 1660 6 GB VENTUS XS OC Video Card

- Case: Phanteks P300 ATX Mid Tower Case

- Power Supply: Corsair CXM (2015) 450 W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-modular ATX Power Supply

 

Most people use their computer processors (CPU) to handle video encoding, but if your graphics card is powerful enough to handle the work, it may be better to use the GPU to handle the stream.

 

What is encoding and how do I do it?

 

In order to convert what you see on your computer monitor into data that can be broadcast online, the computer needs to reformat that data into something your network can manage. We call this process encoding, and it works by compressing that raw information into small packets that you can upload to your channel. The bitrate is the file size created every second when encoding. Here are some important things to keep in mind:

 

- Encoding your audio and video requires significant processing power from your PC, based on the amount of difference between individual frames. A stream broadcasting high-definition gameplay will need to process much more visual data than a lifestyle stream consisting primarily of your webcam video. In other words, if most information stays the same between frames, that’s easier to encode.

- If your selected streaming service does not allow you to control the quality of your broadcast, you might not want to set your video quality too high. This may seem odd – after all, if you can stream in 4k 60fps, why wouldn’t you? But remember that not all devices can handle a high quality video stream. Many viewers are watching from older smartphones or are stuck with slow internet connections; if you can’t set adaptive stream settings, they’ll be forced to watch a different streamer. In these cases, we recommend setting your maximum bitrate to 3500.

- If you are able to control the quality settings of your broadcast, you should use the highest bitrate recommended by the platform you are using. If there is no recommended bitrate, we recommend starting with 6000.

 

Source selection

 

As mentioned before, encoding your stream is an intensive task, so it is important to make sure you are optimizing your computer’s resources. You can encode data with either your computer processor (CPU) itself or your graphics card (also known as a graphics processing unit, or GPU), but each will impact your computer’s performance differently. While the CPU has potential to output a higher quality product, it also takes valuable processing power away from your game. Graphics cards, on the other hand, are not able to provide the highest quality, but prevent processing power from being diverted from your gameplay. This is because GPU does “hardware encoding,” meaning it uses built-in, dedicated hardware to encode, while CPU does only “software encoding.”Without going into too much detail, we recommend:

 

- If you have a Radeon graphics card, use your CPU to encode.

- If you have an NVIDIA Geforce 10 series or better, use your GPU to encode.

 

Software

 

Now that you have chosen how to encode your content, you need to set up your software. This is an iterative process and we highly recommend running multiple test streams to find the optimal settings for your computer.For more advanced users, using dedicated PC-streaming software will allow for increased customization. Here are a few basic software options for streaming to various platforms:

 

We’ve provided our starting recommendations for encoding below, but you can access all the settings in the streaming software of your choice.

 

CPU encoding:

 

- Set your output encoder to “x264”

- Start with the CPU Usage Preset “faster”

- If you notice bad performance, set it one step faster.

- If you notice good performance, set it one step slower.

 

GPU encoding:

 

- RTX or Geforce 16-Series:

- Set your output encoder to “NVIDIA NVENC H.264 NEW”

- Set the preset to “Max Quality”

- Set the profile to “high”

- Enable Look-ahead if your content qualifies as “low-motion”

- Enable Psycho Visual Tuning

- Set Max B-Frames to 2, you might be able to set this to 4 if your content qualifies as “low-motion”

- Geforce 10 Series or lower:

- Set your output encoder to “NVIDIA NVENC H.264 NEW”

- Set the preset to “Max Quality”

- Set the profile to “high”

- Disable Look-ahead

- Enable Psycho Visual Tuning

- Set Max B-Frames to 2

 

Finally, you’ll need to set your resolution and FPS (frames-per-second). For PC gaming, the target is often 60 FPS. Here are our recommended settings: Bitrate High Motion Resolution FPS Low Motion Resolution FPS 3000-40001280x720301280x720304000-50001280x720301920x1080305000-60001280x720601920x1080306000+1600x900601920x108060 

 

Other Settings and Notes

 

- The quality of NVENC on RTX 20 series and Geforce 16 series is roughly comparable to using CPU encoding on “medium” preset.

- The quality of NVENC on Geforce 10 series is roughly comparable to using CPU encoding on “faster” preset.

- Windows-specific information:

- Disable Windows Game Mode. This mode reduces the performance of all non-gaming applications – including your streaming program.

- If you use NVENC and experience lag on your stream but not in your game, you might need to cap your game’s FPS. This is due to Windows prioritizing “highlighted” applications and maxing out the GPU to render the most frames, resulting in the GPU being unable to push towards its own encoder. In this case the lag, or frame skips, would not be reported in your software like OBS, because the OBS is being focused.

 

Remember, you don’t need to upgrade your setup immediately. Instead, prioritize making the best of the tools you already have. If you have any questions about optimizing your setup, feel free to contact any of our specialists at Pipeline for personalized support. Stay tuned on our blog for more streaming insight to come!

👀 Looking for more? See more articles

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