So you are interested in and want to try out streaming but don’t know where to start. You’re not sure what equipment you need to stream, where you can stream and how you can stream. This article hopes to show you the potential avenues of streaming and address some common misconceptions about streaming.
Hardware and Minimum Hardware Specs
One of the first things to consider when trying out streaming is what devices and hardware you will use to livestream. The quintessential streaming hardware would be a desktop or laptop PC, but lately, phones and consoles have also been given software that allows you to stream from them directly. Most streaming platforms such as Facebook Live, YouTube Live, and Twitch have features that allow you to stream directly from your newer Playstation and Xbox consoles and are developing features that allow users to stream from their phone as well.
If you’re planning to stream on a laptop or desktop PC you’ll need to check your PC’s specifications to see what your system is capable of as streaming can be very taxing to your PC. The parts of a PC that streaming stresses the most are its RAM, CPU, and GPU. 8GB of RAM or higher is usually enough for streaming, but you could possibly cut it down to 4GB of RAM if you don’t open other applications and are only streaming your webcam. A good CPU baseline for streaming would be a 4-core Intel 6th generation or higher CPU, or a 4-core AMD Ryzen series CPU, although streaming really benefits from some extra cores to allow the PC to more effectively multitask and give a smoother user experience. The last part that is often stressed by streaming is the GPU which processes most of the graphics on display, and for streaming, a dedicated GPU is advised to alleviate stress from the CPU. An NVIDIA GTX 1050 or an AMD Radeon RX 560 would do for streaming, but you can easily make do with the use of an integrated GPU or a weaker GPU by tweaking your stream settings.
For streaming from your phone, you’d want a midrange phone with 3GB of RAM or more, with an 8-core CPU, which can be found at the PHP15,000 to PHP25,000 range. Something like Xiaomi’s flagship phones, Samsung’s A70 series phones, the iPhone SE, or the higher-end Oppo or Realme phones would do perfectly for streaming from your phone.
For streaming from a console like Playstation 4, Playstation 4 Pro, Playstation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S and X native support streaming comes from the console itself. If you are planning on streaming on Switch, there is currently no available native support for streaming videos on Twitch and would require you to buy a capture card to properly stream from Switch. For all the other consoles though, it will depend on a game-to-game basis as some games, like AAA games, require more out of the hardware than other games. However, the console should be able to stream without the need for external hardware, by utilizing Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook’s applications. Do note that you would need to connect your console to the internet to properly stream and that you cannot alter how the stream footage looks without dedicating money to buy a capture card.
You would also need to consider the peripherals that you would need to start streaming. Some peripherals that can aid with your streaming would be a webcam and a pair of headphones. Most webcams for PCs come with microphones built into them in case you don’t have one already, and using headphones ensures that your audio isn’t picked up by both your stream and your microphone. If you’re planning on streaming from a phone or a laptop you already have a built-in microphone and webcam in your system, although you might want to use some headphones with a microphone attached for better sound quality. For streaming directly from consoles, you will want to use a headset that is compatible with your console, and a webcam that is compatible with your consoles, such as a PS4 cam or a Kinect.
Lastly, you also need a stable internet connection to properly stream. To properly stream your audio and video in a stable manner, you will need to consider two things about your stream, your stream’s bitrate and resolution. The bitrate determines how much information, both video and audio, the stream uploads to the platform, with a higher bitrate corresponding with more information uploaded. Generally, the higher the audio and video bitrate, the better the quality, with the recommended audio bitrate at 128 Kbps or above. The resolution on the other hand determines how the stream would look to the viewer, with a higher resolution resulting in higher quality. The stream’s resolution is also affected by the video bitrate, and your stream’s bitrate should correspond with your video resolution as well. You also need to consider how much of your bandwidth you use while not streaming, or other users using the internet connection as well. You can also tweak and lower both the bitrate and resolution of your stream to compensate for less stable internet connections
Accessible Software for Streaming
Now that you have your hardware all set and ready, we’ll need to discuss streaming software, and list down accessible software for someone trying out streaming.
For streaming on consoles and phones, Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook all have features on their respective applications to easily allow users to stream into the platform. Depending on your console, Twitch and YouTube can stream footage directly from the console by linking your Twitch or YouTube account to your console and enable streaming within the console itself. For Playstation 4 and 5 users, you can link your Twitch or YouTube account to the console, and hit broadcast now to start streaming from the system. For Xbox One users, you can link your Twitch account to the system to start streaming. Sadly there is no support for streaming directly from your Nintendo Switch, and streaming from older generation consoles would require further expenditures such as a capture card to properly stream, although one can make do by simply pointing a webcam to the console’s gameplay.
For streaming from your phone, the Twitch and Facebook applications natively support streaming directly, but the YouTube application requires the channel to have hit 1,000 subscribers before the feature is unlocked. Twitch has a beta feature allowing you to stream your gameplay, while Facebook Gaming already has support for streaming your gameplay from the phone. Alternatively, you can use applications on your phones such as Omlet Arcade or Streamlabs to further enhance your stream setups. Omlet Arcade and Streamlabs allow you to build your scenes and transitions and can stream to popular platforms such as Twitch and Facebook Gaming by linking your account to the application.
For streaming from your PC, the process becomes a bit more complicated as you’ll require external software to stream into the platform of your choice. For general purposes, the software Open Broadcasting Studio or OBS does the job as it is able to be used for both streaming and recording and is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. You can download the software from their official website, and once installed will ask whether it would be auto-configured for streaming or recording. Once OBS is set up, you should link your streaming platform with software, and is compatible with streaming different platforms. You can link your stream to OBS using a stream key, which can be found in Twitch and Facebook’s settings. From here you can set the desired bitrate and resolution, connect external devices and add or remove scenes to your stream.
Another option for free streaming software is Streamlabs OBS, which is based on OBS’s code but has a more user-friendly experience than OBS. Streamlabs comes with most of OBS’s features but is geared more towards streaming, and comes with additional features such as customization and adding in an integrated chat in your stream. Using Streamlabs’ themes, you can easily customize your stream’s layout, and the software will set all the scenes and transitions for you. However, Streamlabs OBS can use up more of your hardware in low-end setups in comparison to OBS, wherein OBS becomes the better choice for your setup. Streamlabs OBS is a feature-heavy build of OBS that is more geared towards streaming and making streaming for accessible and easy to pick up.
The first thing to consider in trying out streaming is what platform to stream on. Recent additions to existing social media platforms such as Facebook Live and Facebook Gaming, Instagram Live, TikTok Live, and YouTube Live, and old streaming platforms such as Twitch means that there are many options to choose from when streaming in comparison to a couple of years ago. Auxiliary streaming platforms on existing social media such as Instagram Live, Facebook Live, and TikTok live are geared towards a more general audience while platforms like Twitch, YouTube Gaming, and Facebook Gaming are more esports and gaming-oriented in their audience. Another thing to point out is that Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook are supported by more streaming applications such as OBS and Streamlabs OBS.
Personally, I’d recommend using either Twitch, Facebook Gaming, or YouTube Gaming/Live as these three are supported by popular streaming software and have accompanying features built into their applications for consoles and phones. If you are streaming from a console, you can choose either Twitch or YouTube for streaming on a Playstation system, while you are limited to streaming to Twitch on an Xbox system. For phone streaming, any of the three are viable choices, but Facebook Gaming has been the one that lasted for the longest time, with Twitch and YouTube only having beta features for phone streaming. For streaming from your PC, you can pick whatever platform you want, with Twitch being the oldest in PC streaming, but both YouTube and Facebook Gaming are good choices as well.
Article written by Iravan Gesmundo