A Complete Guide to Streaming Video Games on Twitch
Gaming Setup Cover.jpg

With just a few hardware components and free software, Twitch Studio lets you stream video games on Twitch. Try this simple setup.

With video game streaming becoming a massive content creation outlet in recent years, more and more people want to stream on the side in hopes of one day becoming a full-time sponsored streamer.

There are many ways to climb up, but you have to start somewhere. Top streamers are standalone celebrities with high-end streaming setups that would make the average wallet cry. However, you don't need an RTX 2080 Ti graphics card or 4K curved monitor to stream. To get started, all you need is a few pieces of hardware, some video games – although not all streamers play games – and a personality in front of the camera who speaks to an audience.

While I can't help much on the personality aspect, I can say that there is an audience for everyone. So don't try too hard to appeal to the masses. Just do it and other like-minded people will be hopping on your chat with subs and donations in no time. However, what I can do is tell you what kind of gear you need, how to set it up, and how to get from playing video games on your desk to streaming it to (hopefully) thousands of people.

The ideal setup

This is the ideal setup. This streamer has all the essential components, but there are also some additional hardware parts, such as B. the lighting stands, audio mixer, and third monitor. Image via Iconic Bestiary.

It doesn't take much to get started, and there's a good chance you already have some of the devices necessary to stream. The above image is something to strive for, but not all of the elements are required first. Here are the basics to get started:

  • computer
  • Camera / webcam
  • microphone
  • Dual monitors

Yes, that's not much, but the computer itself will take up most of the budget. If you already have a powerful computer, you don't have to spend that amount of money. Microphones and webcams are each about $ 100. The second monitor doesn't necessarily improve the quality of your stream. However, having a second monitor makes it easier to manage your stream, make layout transitions and most importantly, keep up with the viewers in the chat.

computer

Streamers with great setups use a two-computer streaming setup that plays on one computer while the other computer processes the stream. Since both activities, gaming and streaming, consume a lot of computer resources, this is an excellent solution, albeit an expensive one that is not suitable for beginners.

To keep costs down, you should play and stream games on the same computer, although this does come with some setbacks. Sticking to a computer is more cost-effective, but there may be a performance penalty if you play and stream at the same time. Computers with better specs can do both activities well. So, you should make sure you have a good computer.

If you're buying a pre-built computer or laptop, or planning to build your own, this is where your money should be invested: CPU, GPU, and (to some extent) RAM. To get a detailed insight into building a PC, read our PC building guide, in which the individual main components are described in detail and building instructions are offered at different prices.

Processor (CPU)

Streaming takes up a lot of the processor's resources, so you don't want to create a bottleneck by having a sub-par CPU in your system. AMD's Ryzen CPUs are excellent, offering multithreaded CPUs with four, six, and eight cores that cost less than their Intel counterparts. Something like the AMD Ryzen 5 3600 should be sufficient for a gaming / streaming system. This CPU costs $ 200 with a maximum boost frequency of 4.2 GHz, 12 threads, and a low TDP of 65 W. Thermal design power measures the maximum heat a CPU generates under heavy load. As long as you are not playing games with the maximum setting, this CPU should work perfectly.

Graphics card (GPU)

The GPU is the most important component for gaming, but it is also used for streaming, but not as powerful as the CPU. On a gaming PC, this component typically costs more than any other for good reason. While a CPU has a few cores, each doing different general tasks, the GPU has thousands of smaller cores that specialize in visual tasks that convert code into beautifully rendered panoramas of space marines and plumbers rescuing princesses. Nvidia's 1660 Ti won't win any races, but it's a solid GPU with a respectable 6 GB of VRAM and a boost clock of 1875 MHz.

System memory (RAM)

The memory (RAM) is just as important as any other component responsible for storing program instructions for the CPU. Graphics cards use a separate memory called Video Random Access Memory (VRAM). However, CPUs use system memory.

When you open software, these instructions are loaded into RAM for quick access to the CPU. If you don't have enough RAM, older instructions will be moved to virtual memory. It will take longer to reload to RAM if your CPU needs the information. If there is not enough memory, computers can crash or freeze.

Today, many high-end games called AAA games consume a significant amount of RAM – sometimes up to 12 or 16 GB. If you're streaming and playing on the same computer, you'll need at least 16GB of RAM to start. If the budget allows, you should double yourself. Plan out $ 60 to $ 80 for two 8GB RAM sticks totaling 16GB. If you run out of RAM, expect twice the price for the same kit. Our in-depth RAM article has an in-depth look at system memory and the best RAM kits currently on the market.

Camera / webcam

While some streamers don't use a camera, having a camera feed will make viewers more comfortable on your stream and add to your on-air personality. If you don't like showing your face on the stream, that's fine, but having a camera is often more beneficial than not.

Using a webcam is the most convenient way to set up a camera on your stream. Check out our list of affordable, streamable cameras. Webcams are handy and decent cost around $ 100, but they can be difficult to find right now if the pandemic continues. As more and more people work, study and stay in touch from home using video conferencing software, the availability of webcams is usually limited everywhere.

While the alternative is expensive, it can help make your stream look much better. While webcams are easier to set up, using a mirrorless or DSLR camera can improve the quality of your stream.

Canon EOS M50 mirrorless camera

I used the Canon EOS M50 mirrorless camera for streaming and video conferencing. It's more expensive than any webcam, but the M50 is a compact, versatile camera at an affordable price. Image via DMZ001.

To use a mirrorless or DSLR camera, you need a capture card or similar device. Elgato makes the Elgato Cam Link 4K, which costs $ 129. For information on setting up the Cam Link 4K, see our detailed guide. A capture card does the same job, but the Cam Link is cheaper, smaller, and easier to set up.

microphone

Twitch and other streaming platforms are all about visual media. However, it is not advisable to forget about the audio quality of a stream. Poor audio can ruin a stream, and viewers quickly run away to watch something else.

Although a headset microphone can do the job, it is best to use a dedicated microphone for the best quality. You don't need an XLR mic with a mixer and audio interface either, but something in the $ 100 range should work fine. I've been using the Audio-Technica AT2020 USB microphone for years and it continues to be a great entry-level microphone at an affordable price. This type of condenser microphone has a tendency to pick up even the smallest of noises. It is best to keep your setup in a quiet place.

Dual monitors

A second monitor sounds over the top, but you will quickly find out how important it is if you are streaming with just one. On the second monitor, you have your stream window open and you can chat with your viewers, make layout transitions, change audio levels and monitor everything else.

Using only one monitor to stream will limit your ability to make changes to your stream. I know this list gets expensive between a computer, camera, and microphone, but your stream won't be as good if you only use one monitor. Also, the second monitor doesn't have to be as good as the first. I recently bought a second monitor – a 1080p 60Hz 22 ″ Acer – which I got from Best Buy during a $ 140 sale. It's not as good as my primary monitor, but it doesn't have to be. It just has to show my stream.

Streaming with Twitch Studio

Twitch Studio: Stream Window

This is the Stream window in Twitch Studio. The viewers interact with the chat feature, which you can see on the right side of the window. On the left you can switch between layouts. In the text above the stream, you can edit the title, tags, and stream notification.

I've written extensively on using OBS for streaming, video conferencing, and footage. While I think it's an incredible piece of freeware, setting up OBS can be too much of a hassle for beginners. Instead, Twitch's broadcast software, Twitch Studio, is a much better option for beginners that cuts out all unnecessary features to provide a streamlined user experience that is perfect for anyone looking to stream for the first time.

The software is currently in beta but has gotten to the point where all the major features are working and I haven't encountered any errors in my testing. I originally intended to create this section on OBS, but after streaming it on Twitch Studio it was clear that the purple streaming giant had knocked him out of the park. While the software is easy to use, it can be too simple for long-term streamers whose stream setups are far more complicated. What Twitch Studio offers is a lightweight broadcast solution that lets the user – experienced or not – be ready to stream in just minutes. I've streamed a couple of times using Twitch Studio and here's what I've learned.

Initial setup – stream settings

Twitch Studio: Settings for the stream quality

Twitch Studio will automatically determine the recommended stream quality settings based on your bandwidth and hardware. However, you can change the settings.

Twitch Studio runs a Stream Quality Diagnostic the first time you open the software, which tests your internet bandwidth and hardware (computer specifications) to provide a preset of recommended stream quality settings.

After running diagnostics on my computer and connected to the internet, the software suggested streaming with the 720p60 preset, which automatically sets the resolution, frame rate, bit rate, and encoder. I chose to increase the preset to the maximum preset of 1080p60. The software warned me that viewers with slower internet connections might be buffered. After two streams I don't think this was a problem, but I would need more viewers to find out how many are affected by the higher bitrate.

Twitch Studio: Encoder Tuning

If you are not satisfied with Twitch Studio's recommendations, you can change the settings. Twitch Studio does another test when you switch to a different preset. If your computer sniffs, you will see green check marks under the test summary.

During the initial setup, the software also looks for a camera and microphone and gives you the option to choose a color scheme for your stream layout. You can change these options later, but the initial setup makes it so you can start streaming right away.

Set up stream

Twitch Studio: Stream Setup

You can capture each application in full screen mode or select a person. If you're live, your selection will be instantly shown on the stream. So keep this in mind if there is a sensitive information window.

After the initial setup, you can start any game and select it in the top left corner of the software for screen recording. You can change this to capture any full screen software, but I prefer to select the game individually so as not to accidentally see notifications or other programs.

Before you click Start the streamIt's a good idea to edit the information of the stream that you can use to send notifications to your followers. You can activate them Stream info Click on the text above the stream window. Here you can name the stream, set a notification, select a category, tags and a stream language. For viewers who may not know who you are, this is a way to get someone's attention. So try to create a catchy title.

The software may not come with as many features as OBS, but it makes everything so much easier. From creating new layouts to setting up Twitch Alerts, Twitch Studio reduces the streaming experience to the most important functions.

Layouts and twitching warnings

If you've ever watched a stream, you may have noticed streamers switching between different screens. Twitch Studio comes with three pre-built stream layouts from which you can choose the color theme during initial setup. Any layout can be edited later, and you can create new ones, which is a lot easier than it looks.

Twitch Studio: Layouts

You can choose the color and background of your layouts in the initial setup. The Edit layout The button gives you access to additional tools and allows you to create your own layouts.

The Main The layout that shows the game recording and your camera is the most common when you are streaming games. It is well done. But you can click on them Edit layout Click the button at the bottom of the screen to make changes.

Creating a new layout is easy and I made a new one in minutes. Using Twitch's assets and built-in tools, I created a layout with a gradient background and text that said "Stream Starting". A pre-stream layout is great as it gives viewers time to fill your stream before it starts and gives viewers time to log into Twitch. Some streamers want to place a countdown in their pre-stream layout, but this feature is not currently supported in this software.

Twitch Studio: Add Layer

Apply the different layers to create a layout. Each level can be customized in different ways.

Twitch Studio: Alert Level

Here is a simple layout I created using the tools and assets built into Twitch Studio. I added a Twitch Alerts layer and enabled it to see what it would look like.

While it is possible to create multiple layouts in OBS, you will need a third-party extension to use Twitch Alerts, which are built into Twitch Studio. The main layout uses Twitch alerts that activate a banner when there is a new follower, subscription, or cheer. In Twitch Studio, you can customize the look and sound of each of the five alerts.

For many beginners, the tools for creating new layouts may seem daunting, but they are actually somewhat limited. It's great that Twitch Studio comes with some layouts to start with, but you can use the built-in tools to create creative layouts.

Casual streaming

With the right combination of hardware and software, streaming can be easy, and it doesn't have to be ridiculously expensive to get started. Don't think for a minute that your stream needs to be compared to someone sponsored by Mountain Dew. Sure, buying a stream-enabled computer that can stream and play games isn't cheap, but that's the price to pay for streaming.

Keep an eye on sales of computers and components from Newegg and Amazon, or look for good used hardware on eBay. You don't have to start with the best of things. All you need is a setup that works reliably. And when it comes to setting up your stream, Twitch Studio optimizes the broadcasting experience so you can worry about playing video games instead of stream quality.

If your first stream doesn't attract thousands of viewers, that's normal. Nobody starts their streaming career with a huge following unless they are already famous. Make yourself comfortable in front of the camera, learn how to get the most out of your tools, and keep it simple. Followers, donations, and better gear will come later. First of all, launch the game and pretend you're playing with friends. That's what it's about, isn't it?

Cover picture above Wajahat Baig.

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