Many streamers start off with a PC they already own and just add a microphone and a camera. While this is a good place to start, there are many products that can enhance the quality of your broadcasts and help you attract new viewers.
Set aside some funds to reinvest in your set-up as your channel grows. After a good mic and webcam, invest in good lighting equipment next.
This article will cover everything that the typical streamer will use throughout their broadcasting career. It is important to identify the items that you can use to upgrade your set-up and know how to use them to create better content.
What Equipment Do Streamers Use?
Both novice and professional streamers use a combination of the following equipment:
How Many PCs Do You Need to Stream?
When you first start, using a single PC streaming setup is just fine. While you won’t be able to stream at a higher quality, people will be attracted to you as long as you are entertaining.
As you grow, set aside funds for a second PC. When you are ready for your dual PC setup, use one of your PCs for gaming and the other to process your streaming. This will allow you to broadcast at a higher FPS and quality. When you make the leap to two systems, you will also need a capture card so that your stream stays smooth.
Build Your Own Streaming PC
While you can purchase a pre-built computer, building one on your own allows you to get more for your money. You can also customize it more and quickly upgrade it or fix it in the future. However you build your dedicated streaming PC, here are the minimum requirements you should get:
Streaming Processor (CPU)
If your computer was an animal, the CPU (Central Processing Unit) would be its brain. It takes the instructions it receives from the computer’s hardware and software and puts them into effect. A higher-quality processor can simultaneously process more tasks and do so faster than basic ones.
As a streamer, Twitch recommends that you have at least an Intel Core i5-4670 CPU or the AMD fx6300. Intel tends to have better processing per core, though AMD has better graphics and runs a bit cheaper. While the i5-4670 is no longer available through Intel, you can purchase it new or used through third-party sellers.
For a big step up from the i5-4670, look to get at least an Intel Core i5-9600K. This model has a higher frequency and can handle more tasks than the discontinued model. It does take 12% more power consumption.
Motherboard (MOBO) for Streamers
Your motherboard pulls together the other components that help your computer run. There are a few features you want in your MOBO. As streaming (and gaming) can really heat up your computer, find one that withstands high temperatures and/or provides effective cooling. You also want to ensure that it will be able to support your GPU (read more about those below) or multiple GPUs.
Streaming Graphics Card (GPU)
Your GPR (Graphics Processing Unit) is what allows you to see what is happening on your computer. If you are a competitive gamer, a good GPU is necessary. Note that you need a good CPU to enable your graphics card to work properly. Make sure that they are compatible and will work flawlessly when making your selection. Some GPUs are built into the CPU at the beginning.
It is also important to figure out if the GPU is compatible with the motherboard. If anything is off, you can have problems down the road. Be sure that it will fit within the motherboard and that you have the power requirements to make it run properly.
How Much RAM Do Streamers Need?
As a streamer, you should have at least 8GB of RAM (Random Access Memory). The more RAM you have, the easier it will be for you computer to run multiple applications. We recommend that you have at least 16GB of memory. A good amount of RAM will minimize issues and allow you to use more applications.
Additionally, use two or more sticks if you are able. You will get better results with 2 8GB over 1 16GB RAM sticks. Get the highest frequency that you are able to afford as it can greatly impact your FPS.
Streamer Storage (SSD or HDD)
The amount of storage you have won’t directly influence your streaming. It can decrease some game loading times. If you want to save clips or footage for future use, you may need to increase the amount of storage to save them or use external hard drives.
Power Supply Unit (PSU) for Streaming
Your power supply unit won’t directly affect your streaming unless it isn’t powerful enough. After you have made you other selections, use a power supply calculator to determine what PSU you should get to run your system.
Streamer PC Case
Make sure that your PC case is adequately large enough to fit the elements you need to store inside of it. There should be enough space in it to keep your CPU cool. Look into options on how you keep things cool and make sure that fits in the case as well.
Consider where the vents on the case are located. A friend of mine got one where the vents were on top. It worked great until his toddler spilled milk all over the desk, onto the case and all over the MOBO, etc.
You should also consider the quality of the case and how it looks. Make sure that it will last for years and that it won’t be an eyesore in your home.
How Many Monitors Do Streamers Use?
Monitors are the most obvious piece of streaming equipment for your PC. How many monitors do you need for streaming? Many streamers use three (or more) monitors. This is to help them keep track of multiple things about their stream at once. One is generally designated for gameplay, another for chat, and the last for music, bots, and anything else relating to managing the stream.
The monitors don’t all have to be the same quality. If you have a limited budget, focus on the monitor that you will be gaming on or will use the most. The quality of others doesn’t matter much. While you may notice the frame rate differences while you game, your viewers won’t notice it as much as when it goes live.
The FPS that they see will be between 30-60. Monitors are generally faster than TVs that are hooked into computers. An alternative to a second (or third) monitor would be to use a tablet hooked to your monitor to read the chat.
Try to get the highest refresh rate that you can (this is measured in Hertz). The higher the Hz, the smoother your game will look.
Your monitors (at least your main one) should be centered and at eye level. Set up your monitor so that your eyes are aligned within the top third of the screen. This will reduce the strain on your neck.
What Consoles Do Twitch Streamers Use?
Both the Xbox One and the PS4 have built-in streaming capabilities. All you need to make it work is the app for the streaming platform. Several console streamers gravitate toward Mixer.
Many consoles require capture cards, emulators, cables, and other tools to broadcast as you need to route the feed through your PC. These will vary depending on the console and its age. Overall, the lighting and other streaming equipment for PS4 and Xbox One aren’t much different than PC setups.
Find a webcam designed to both record and stream as some are designed to do one or the other. Make sure that it takes in high-quality images of at least 720p or 1080p. Right now, 4k quality equipment is new and exciting and you may eventually want to upgrade to it, but your average viewer won’t be able to pick up on the difference. Your webcam should capture video at a rate of at least 30-60 FPS.
Logitech is a very popular webcam manufacturer. Check out our review for 4 of their products in our post, Best Logitech Webcams for Streaming.
As you grow, you may want to invest in high-quality cameras where you can capture different angles of your streaming area. These scenes can be changed through your broadcasting software or easier yet, set up with a Stream Deck (more on those later). Play with styles and angles. Look into wide-angle options and mount it in different areas in your room. Don’t forget to try out angles from both the floor and the ceiling!
What Do Streamers Use for Lighting?
I can’t believe the number of times that I’ve visited a streamer’s channel only to be confronted with bad lighting.
It is distracting, takes away from their content, and shows a lack of professionalism. While some streamers are open to constructive feedback on several things, lighting is a touchy subject. Some insist that they intend to have the harsh shadows or argue that there is not much space for equipment. Even when confronted by their own viewers, they argue. Your audience is your metric for your streaming success. Make them happy.
There are many forms of lighting available that are small, portable and can make a big difference. The Razer Kiyo webcam comes with a light-ring as a feature. At a minimum, your face, head, and shoulders should be lit up and clear.
If you aren’t using a green screen, use lights to illuminate your stream-area as well. Make things look interesting with RGB background lighting. There is no excuse to not give your followers a better performance.
Lighting Equipment for Streamers
Softbox lighting creates a mellow directional glow. They diffuse the source light and comes in a variety of shapes. These lights are very adaptable for any kind of photography or videography. They are used to minimize shadows without washing out a subject. It can also minimize the visual effects of hard lighting from fluorescent and other home lights.
Umbrella lighting is very portable and affordable. While soft lights allow you to minimize the direction of your lighting, these lights fill out a broad area. You can control the direction of these lights if you use the shoot-through variety over the reflective umbrellas. They are good for brightening an area and removing shadows.
Round lights can be easily placed behind your monitors to light up your face and torso. Many models allow you to attach your phones to them as well, which is great for streams when you aren’t at your PC. Choose one with brightness and filter levels for the best results over time.
Green Screen for Streamers
If you have a messy space or a room that isn’t well lit, you may want to use a green screen. These will allow you to blur out your background so that it blends in with the rest of your content. If you don’t have a designated place for streaming, get one that is easy to set up or move to preserve space. Remember to avoid wearing green when you stream.
If you don’t want to use a green screen, make sure that things are neat and decorate the area behind you. Use items that relate to your stream or things that you are passionate about. This may lead to conversations with viewers. Having viewable space also allows you to potentially display sponsored items in the future.
For more information about green screens, check out our guide, How to Set-Up a Green Screen for Streaming.
Background Lighting for Streamers
Use lit colors as part of your backdrop in your room to subtly hint at your brand or give visual appeal to your users. They can be easily changed based on the game you are playing, the current content, or your general mood.
It is also possible to allow your users to change the colors of your lights by integrating them with Lumia Stream. The program works on Twitch, Mixer, YouTube and with lights made by LifX, Nanoleaf, TpLink, Yeelight, and Philips Hue.
Here are some popular products that streamers use for background streamer lighting:
- LIFX A19 – These lightbulbs are fully customizable with an app on your phone. You can change them to over 16 million colors and easily dim them while you are streaming. You can also automate them to change throughout your day.
- Nanoleaf Light Panels – these lights can be arranged in endless ways, allowing you to express your creativity in your background. You can choose from preset lighting options, or select your own all from your phone. They are easy to install (and rearrange) with the included mounting tape. Their coolest feature in our opinion is that they can sync to your music.
- Philips Hue Play White & Color Smart Light – these lights can be controlled with either your phone or your voice. They give a great ambiance to your room and are customizable. The lights can be placed in either a vertical or horizontal position, allowing you to play with the overall effect in your room.
How Do Streamers Manage Audio?
Audio is just as important as your visuals. You want to make sure that it is clear and that it is in sync with what your viewers are seeing. This can be easily checked and fixed through your broadcasting software. As your channel grows, set aside funds to upgrade this equipment to keep your stream sounding clear and crisp.
Learn how to use your equipment well and make sound checks periodically. Know when you are muted. I’ve seen some streamers trying to engage while muted and others speak out of turn under the assumption that nobody can hear them. Always be professional.
Microphones for Streaming
While as a beginner streamer, you may need to use the microphone attached to your headset, you should look to upgrade ASAP. Audio is a very important aspect of your stream.
When you upgrade, look for a mic like the Blue Yeti, which is a very popular microphone among both new and experienced streamers.
USB mics are generally cheaper and best suited for streaming. While some XLR mics have a very good sound, they are generally more expensive for a quality that isn’t needed for these purposes. Regardless of which mic you choose, learn how it works. Look through the directions to determine where it picks up sound. One of the common user errors for mics is speaking into the wrong part.
There are a few other considerations you need to think about when you pick your mic:
- Where can you place it or mount it on your desk?
- If you are in a noisy environment, how can mute the sounds around you while having the mic pick up your voice?
Look into microphones that meet your specific needs. You may need a few other accessories as well, such as a mounting device to clip it to your desk or acoustic panels. There are many variations available. Take time to choose what’s best for you and your audience.
Gaming Headsets for Streamers
Use high-quality wireless headphones if you are physically active on your stream. They let you hear what is going even when you get up from your desk. Wireless headphones are also more visually appealing to your viewers. Charge them between streams to keep your audio great. Steel Series has a great selection of wireless headsets.
Some competitive gamers prefer wired headphones because they have better latency. They will ensure that you hear sounds as they happen. Others still prefer the wireless so that they don’t have to fight the cord and they can easily get up between games without missing out on what their comrades are saying.
Be willing to invest a little more for better quality. You want to be able to hear sounds, especially if they relate to stream alerts or other viewer interactions. Better headphones can often pick up sounds that others cannot.
Make sure that they are comfortable and fit correctly. Streams last for hours and you don’t want to deal with hurting ears or an aching head. Headphones that are too large may also fall off your head and create distractions (though probably hilarious clips as well).
Streaming Sound Mixers and Audio Interfaces
Mixers can help you manage several sources of audio. As a gamer, you can use them to manage your game audio, vocals, and the sounds of anyone you are communicating with. If you are a musician, you can adjust the sounds coming from your instruments, vocals, etc. Mixers give you full control over what your audience hears.
On the other hand, if you are satisfied with the sound and want to keep fixed settings, an audio interface would be enough for you. These will help route all your audio and adjust with some intensity controls.
GoXLR: A Sound System for Streamers
The GoXLR is a piece of sound equipment that was designed with streamers in mind. In general, managing audio has a steep learning curve and when things go wrong, it can be tricky for novices to troubleshoot the problem. The GoXLR simplifies the process by combining several sound features in one intuitive device. These features include:
- Sound Sampler – allows you to set up four different sound bites that you can use throughout your stream. They are easy to set up, adjust, and replace.
- 4-Channel Mixer – this feature allows you to adjust the volume of four different audio sources. You can quickly change the volume or mute specific sources. It has customizable motorized faders and personalizes the LCD strips
- Voice Changer – use audio effects to easily alter the sound of your voice for the best quality.
- Mute Button – briefly mutes yourself if you have to cough, sneeze, or say something you don’t want on stream.
In addition to your computer, video, and audio equipment, there are a number of devices that can make streaming easier or more interesting. Some were created specifically with streamers in mind. We expect that these are the first of a whole generation of new products designed to help new creators grow.
Stream Deck to Manage Your Broadcast
The Elgato Stream Deck is a device that allows you to easily set up keyboard shortcuts. They allow you to easily launch media, switch scenes, perform audio adjustments, quickly display pre-setup gifs or videos, and more. It is fully customizable and allows you to easily take your production to the next level. You can use your own customizations or use some that other streamers set up for yourself.
There are three different sizes available, all offering a different number of keys. Optionally, you can also download their app on your mobile device and use that instead while you save up for the actual deal.
Tobii Ghost – Entertainment for Your Viewers
The Tobii Ghost is a product that allows your viewers to track your eye-movement. They can customize their appearance on-screen or turn it off altogether. It can be used with any game on Twitch, YouTube, or Mixer. The device is easily placed on your monitor and can add some excitement to your stream.
In addition to the benefits for your viewers, you can benefit by reviewing footage and learning how you should change your focus. Tobii’s website also features streamers who use their device, updating the people they show every few minutes. Some may find your stream in this way!
What Type of Keyboard Do Gaming Streamers Use?
We recommend using a mechanical keyboard, especially if you are gaming. Membrane keyboards operate with one large switch under the keyboard, whereas mechanical keyboards have a switch for each key. This allows the keyboard to capture and reroute keystrokes if rapid succession while maintaining accuracy. They are also typically more durable. Logitech and Corsair are two very reputable keyboard brands.
There are many styles of the keyboard that you can choose from. If you are using your keyboard for multiple purposes and love having the number pad, choose that. Otherwise, it might be taking up more space on your desk than necessary. Many gamers prefer smaller keyboards so that they can be quickly moved or to create more space for mouse movement. This also allows them to play in more comfortable positions.
On the other hand, if you have a keyboard with macro keys, you can set them up to manage stream transitions during your broadcasts. You should also consider how loud you want it to be. While loud “clicks” may be nice for gaming, if they are picked up over your mic, they could be too distracting for your viewers. Many mechanical keyboards give you options for this at purchase.
Wired keyboards and mice generally have better latency over wireless ones. This will give you a leg up if you are gaming competitively.
What Type of Mouse Do Gaming Streamers Use?
Gaming mice are generally more durable and have better sensors than standard mice. This can help improve your accuracy. Learn to check and adjust your DPI on your mouse.
Some settings work better for certain games over others. Play with them until you find what works best for you. Some mice even allow you to switch between different DPI setups with the push of a button. This would save you time if you are a variety streamer that switches between games in a single session.
Macro mice (those with extra buttons) can be used to set up scene transitions or special controls in games. They can also get in the way or be pressed accidentally. This feature is definitely up to the streamer. While they are almost always sold out, Final Mouse creates very high-end popular mice. You can also get great mice from Logitech, Corsair, and Razer.
Mousepads for Streamers
When shopping for a mousepad, there are several features you should consider. As a streamer, you need a comfortable pad that you can use for hours at a time. A large mouse pad will provide more space so that you can adjust your position without having to move everything on your desk. Additionally, if you are a gamer, you need to have a smooth texture that allows you to engage quickly and accurately.
Here are three great mouse pads that are great for streamers:
- Corsair MM300 – is a high-endurance premium cloth mousepad designed with gamers in mind. It is a full-desktop mousepad that is 3mm thick and has a non-slip rubber base and stitched edges. Their extended pad is 36.6 x 11.8 inches (93 x 30 centimeters) and has more than enough room for your keyboard and mouse.
- SteelSeries QcK Thick – featuring a non-slip base, this mousepad is a large, high-quality which is heat-sealed. It is 6mm thick and comfortable to use. This mouse pad provides a smooth and even finish that allows you to use your mouse for precision-based tasks.
- Razer Goliathus – has a rubber base and is optimized for all mouse sensitivity settings. It has tracking technology which allows you to have perfect precision. The weave is lightweight, durable, smooth, and comfortable to use. It comes in several sizes and has a calibration feature.
Gaming Controllers for Streaming
If you prefer playing with a game controller, look for one that is compatible with your PC. Many have customizable analog sticks, pads, and buttons. You can control what they do and their sensitivity. Some skilled players can use these to get ahead in certain games (particularly First Person Shooters).
You can also use flight or driving simulators for some fun visuals for your viewers. You can even position a webcam at it so they can see exactly what you are doing.
Furniture for Stream Setups
While you should try to find something visually appealing to both you and your viewers, it is more important that the furniture you use allows you to stay comfortable for long periods of time. There are many products available and many are customizable or adjustable to suit your specific needs.
Desk Types for Streamers
When looking for a desk, it is important to think about everything you will need to put on it. Streamers tend to use a lot of equipment. Even if you start off small, as you grow, you will want to upgrade to a more professional setup.
Consider where it will be placed in your home and how much space you have. Deep desks allow you to have more freedom to push/pull things back and forth. L-shaped desks allow you to move around a little less when checking multiple monitors. You can also easily place cameras at different angles on these desks.
In addition to table space, think about where you will place accessories and tools when you aren’t using them. Make sure that your area can be easily cleaned to stay organized. Planning ahead will help prevent future problems and headaches:
- Where will you place your headset when you aren’t using it?
- If you keep track of ideas in a notebook, where you put it?
- You need to stay hydrated on stream, but you also need to protect your equipment. Where will you place your drink?
You also want to make sure that you can comfortably sit at it for hours at a time. It should be high enough that your knees and legs fit under it, but low enough that your arms can be parallel to the floor when typing. If you are streaming for several hours a day, you may want to look into a motorized desk so that you can adjust to standing/sitting periodically. There are many health benefits to standing at a desk instead of sitting.
You can also create your own desk with cinder blocks, old doors, or other materials. This method allows you to create exactly what you want as far as space and height goes.
Gaming Chairs for Streamers
The most important aspect of your chair is that it keeps you comfortable and in an ergonomic position for the duration of your stream. Save up and invest in a good gaming or executive chair that suits your body type and weight. If possible, purchase it in person so that you are able to test out several models.
When sitting, your hips and knees should be even when your feet are flat on the floor. Without these ergonomic features, you could eventually develop back or neck pain. Try to get adjustable armrests that will be approximately the height of your desk and keyboard.
Pop Culture Shrines
Many streamers display posters or shelves of pop-culture icons in their background. These displays are a great way to showcase your interests and generate conversation with your viewers. Make sure that however you display your items that they are arranged where people can take note of them and that your shelves are visually appealing.
Try to rearrange your items from time to time or add new items to mix things up for your followers. Displaying things that are related to your channel is another way to grow your brand. For more tips on branding, read our article, How to Build Your Personal Brand as a Streamer.
Once you have set up your equipment, you are ready to start building your community. For ideas on how to attract your demographic, read our article, Get 10 Times the Viewers: Advanced Guide to More Followers.
As you earn income from your channel, reinvest in it by giving your viewers perks or upgrading your equipment. Many streamers use this method to reduce out-of-pocket expenses. To read more on monetizing your channel, read our guide, The 8 Ways Professional Streamers Make Money.