Live streaming for gaming, creative, informational or just hanging out is a ton of fun and can be a great way to connect with others in real time. But how do you set up a PC for streaming and what other gear and software do you need?
Live Streaming PC
You can live stream via gaming consoles, but you are limited in terms of features and customization. For a truly professional build and experience, you’ll need a PC. A mid-range PC can stream at a decent quality. But if you are hoping to live stream hardware intensive PC games while broadcasting simultaneously, you’ll have to upgrade your hardware. Check out this previous video on a PC build dedicated to live streaming:
Capture cards allow you to capture and live stream content from external devices to your PC. Capture cards can feed video and audio from gaming consoles like PlayStation or Xbox and other computers without affecting your PC’s performance. There is a wide selection of capture cards available in different types of quality, input, and customer support across various price points. Some are external while others are internal. For the average consumer, an external capture card with HDMI input/output that records HD quality is more than enough. On the other hand, high-end capture cards like the Elgato 4K60 Pro are better suited for gaming and live stream professionals. Keep in mind that using high-end capture cards requires higher-performing PCs.
Live streaming via single monitor is not impossible but it can be a hassle to arrange your broadcasting software, notification windows, gameplay, chat window, etc. all on a single monitor. With two monitors, you have more space on your screens to efficiently broadcast your live stream. Most streamers prefer to use the first monitor for their primary broadcast program or game and the second monitor for all other technical aspects of their live stream.
There are many options for live stream facecams including some that have built-in lighting like the Razer Kiyo or you can invest in some lights and a webcam separately. Basic 720p or 1080p webcams will do just fine. Make sure to properly frame your shot so that you are close enough to the camera to be clearly visible.
A basic ring light, LED panel, or Softbox lighting kit can give you the flexibility to stream any time during the day or night. If you don’t have any of these, you can improvise with home lighting or setup right in front of a sunny window. For that keyed-out “green screen” background look, it’s best to invest in an actual green screen.
Mics, Headsets and Audio
Your microphone is just as important, if not more, than your camera since some viewers spend more time listening to streams than watching them. While poor video quality can be forgiven, poor audio is the worst! Depending on the content of your stream, you may want to use a headset microphone, desktop microphone, or even an off-camera microphone. Most streamers use a USB microphone that connects directly to their computer and there are a variety of options built specifically for live streamers, like the HyperX Quadcast Mic with a tap to mute button right on the top of the mic. When it comes to audio for live streaming, you’ll want to think about the echo in your room. Generally, carpets and curtains are better than bare walls and hardtop floors. Think about throwing a rug down, hanging some curtains or hanging up some sound absorption panels if it sounds like you are streaming from your bathroom.
Keyboards, Mice, and Stream Decks
Other hardware considerations include keyboard and mouse setup. Consider a quiet keyboard with dampening rings or key switches built for silence if you do a lot of typing during your streams. Another very popular hardware option is a Stream Deck which is a panel of buttons you can use to switch settings, scenes, or load sound effects on the fly in real time.
OBS Studio, XSplit, and SLOBS are some popular broadcasting software and they all have a free version to get you started. Sites like Streamlabs and StreamElements allow you to further personalize your streams by providing notifications, chatbots, loyalty point & donation systems, and more for free. If you are streaming to a site like Twitch, there are Twitch extensions available free of charge that can add more engaging features like viewer driven music playlists, face filters, or mini-games.
Live streams can go on for hours so finding an ergonomic or gaming chair for proper support will help reduce strain and discomfort on your body.