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Recommended Systems for Live Streaming


Basic Streaming


Gaming and basic live streaming in a compact, portable chassis

  • Intel Core i5 & i7 Quad-core CPUs
  • NVIDIA GeForce video cards
  • Optional carrying case

Streaming & Editing


More power for live streaming alongside CPU intensive games and video editing

  • Intel Core i7 Six to Ten-core CPUs
  • NVIDIA GeForce video cards
  • Lots of storage capacity and expansion room

Standalone Streaming


Dedicated box for separating your streaming from your gameplay and for streaming from consoles

  • Intel Core i5 & i7 Quad-core CPUs
  • Elgato HD 60 Pro HDMI capture card
  • Slim case with optional second drive for recording


Streaming live gameplay on websites like Twitch has become a popular way to share the experience of gaming, and for some a way to make money from their passion as well. YouTube has also started a streaming service, and sites like Livestream and Ustream offer similar capabilities but are aimed more at customers and use cases outside of gaming. Live streaming of a video feed or capturing what is displayed on a computer desktop is a lot less demanding than gaming, though, so we are focusing here on the needs of enthusiast and professional gamers. Almost everything on this page is applicable to other types of streaming as well, especially the standalone streaming box.

There are four primary approaches to live streaming, each of which has different needs:


Software Based Streaming

This is the most basic type of streaming, which uses programs like Open Broadcaster Software or XSplit that depend on the CPU to handle the process of capturing video game content and encoding (compressing) it on the fly. Modern multi-core processors handle that pretty well, and most Intel Core series processors will only use 5-20% of the CPU's time to do that capture and encoding. If your games don't need the CPU's full attention to provide good performance this can be a fine approach to streaming, and software of this kind also supports a lot of options for mixing in a webcam, additional audio sources, and more.


  • Highly configurable
  • No extra hardware needed
  • Both free and paid software options available


  • Reduces performance in CPU intensive games
  • Streaming and recording at the same time uses even more CPU resources

GPU Accelerated Streaming

Modern graphics processing units (GPUs) have dedicated video encoding / decoding hardware built-in, which is usually not operating when games are being played. NVIDIA has taken advantage of this to provide hardware-accelerated game capture - either recording or streaming, but not both at the same time. They call this technology NVIDIA ShadowPlay, and it is available for free on GeForce series video cards as part of the GeForce Experience software package.

ShadowPlay is easy to set up but the features and configuration options are more limited than robust software programs like OBS. Including a webcam feed or microphone input is easily done, but that is about all: no options for overlays, streaming is limited to Twitch only, etc. It is a great way to get started with streaming, though, since it doesn't cost anything (at least for gamers using GeForce cards already) and has almost no impact on CPU usage or game performance.


  • Minimal impact on game performance
  • All our gaming systems come equipped with a GeForce card
  • Easy to get started with


  • Limited configuration options
  • Cannot record and stream at the same time
  • Requires a GeForce video card

Streaming with a Hardware Capture Card

This uses the same software as above, but ups the game with a hardware based capture device. That can take the form of a card inside the computer or an external USB device, but in either case the principle is the same. Video output in the form of HDMI is taken from the computer, routed into the capture device, then out again to the monitor. This reduces the load on the CPU somewhat (though not completely) but can help when playing CPU intensive games.

The downside is that capture devices can only pass through a limited resolution. Most systems using this method are limited to a maximum resolution of 1920x1080. Many gamers want to run higher resolution monitors these days, which can prevent this from being a viable option.


  • Highly configurable
  • Better performance than CPU alone
  • Can capture from external sources like consoles


  • Added cost (for the capture device)
  • Limited resolution support
  • Can still reduce performance in extremely CPU intensive games

Streaming with a Second Computer

More advanced streamers will often split out the duty of video capture and encoding into a separate computer, keeping their main system for dedicated gaming usage. This requires a capture card in the standalone streaming computer, but aside from that doesn't need to be especially fast. The same downsides apply because of the capture device, though: namely the resolution that can be captured by the hardware capture card.

A nice bonus this provides is the potential for increased stability of a stream. It isn't normally a big issue, but there is the potential for a game to crash - either on its own, or to cause a whole computer to go down. If you are streaming from a separate box then the stream itself stays up when that happens, along with any webcam feed connected to it. This may be especially helpful for people streaming games that are in development and more likely to have stability issues.

This approach is also compatible with console game streaming as long as the console you use has HDMI output. Technically a gaming computer with a hardware capture card could do this as well, but for console-only gamers a much less expensive, dedicated streaming box will do the trick.


  • Highly configurable
  • No impact on game performance
  • Can capture from other sources like consoles
  • Potentially a more stable stream


  • Requires a second computer (added cost, space requirements, etc)
  • Limited resolution support

So which system is right for me?

Basic Streaming

Great for gaming and streaming in one box, either from the comfort of home or on the go at LAN events. It features fast Intel quad-core processors, with overclocking options, and both single and dual NVIDIA GeForce video card combinations. Those video cards can be used with NVIDIA ShadowPlay for basic streaming or recording of gameplay - or a CPU based program like OBS or XSplit can be used for more advanced functionality, although that may reduce performance in some games.

For connectivity, this system has 8 USB 3.0 ports (6 rear, 2 front), 1 USB 3.1, and 1 USB 3.1 Type C for a total of 10 native USB ports. Fast 1Gb Ethernet is built-in for high speed networking, with external options for WiFi and Bluetooth.

As an optional accessory for this system we have developed a hard-shell carrying case to help transport it safely. It is just the right size to qualify as carry-on luggage with most airlines, so that you never have to let it out of your sight, and has wheels so that you don't have to bear the weight of the system yourself. A must-have for eSports professionals and LAN gaming enthusiasts.

Streaming & Editing

For those who record and edit videos, rather than just live streaming, this system features Intel's enthusiast line of six- and eight-core processors. A more powerful system like this can also better handle the combination of software based streaming programs with CPU intensive games. All of this comes in a larger chassis with more cooling, options for internal lighting, and room to upgrade easily. Overclocking options are available to help compensate for the lower base clock speed of these processors, and both single and dual NVIDIA GeForce video card combinations are supported.

For connectivity, this system has 2 USB 2.0, 12 USB 3.0 (10 rear, 2 front), and 2 USB 3.1 - for a total of 14 native USB ports. Two fast 1Gb Ethernet ports are built-in for high speed networking, along with 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth onboard as well.

If you need a machine more dedicated to video editing, we also have a number of recommended systems for software like Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects.

Standalone Streaming

A compact system for use as a dedicated live streaming box. It can be used with both PCs and gaming consoles, as long as they support HDMI output, thanks to the inclusion of an Elgato HD 60 Pro capture card. It supports resolutions from 480p at 30fpss up to 1080p at 60fps and is capable of recording and streaming at the same time. The Intel graphics in this system aren't powerful enough for gaming on this computer, but it does support multiple screens for monitoring the stream, viewer comments, and more.

For connectivity, this system has 8 USB 3.0 ports (6 rear, 2 front) and HDMI in and out to facilitate streaming. Fast 1Gb Ethernet is built-in for high speed networking, along with WiFi and Bluetooth.

Looking for more details about why we selected the specifications above? View our list of Recommended Hardware!

Hardware Articles:

If you are configuring a system for professional gaming or related applications, we have a number of other articles on related topics that you may be interested in:

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All components in our product line are reviewed weekly. Any trends in failure rates are acted upon immediately, leaving us with a highly reliable product line that continues to improve. We do not add a part to our product line unless we feel we can stand behind it. This results in a high quality custom computer, that works as it should. You can feel confident that any selection you make on our website is a quality product.

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