Do you want to be the next Ninja? How about the next Dr Disrespect? Maybe you want to try out your stand-up routine on random Internet strangers before hitting up the local comedy club. Whatever the case may be, streaming to Twitch, or another similar platform, can seem like a daunting task at first. Thankfully this doesn’t have to be the case, and we are here with the first in a series of articles dedicated to getting you up and streaming. While this guide will focus on setting up your system to go live on Twitch, many of these steps can be repeated at other sites like YouTube and Mixer. This being part one, we will go over the very basics of streaming games, and if you follow this guide, you could be up and streaming in record time.
Before we can jump right in, there are a few things we need to cover. First is that this guide will be a how-to for PC streaming. Console gamers need to look elsewhere for instructions, though many systems have streaming features built right in, so that is a plus. Second is that we will be showing you how to stream with a single system. This is the most common streaming setup for beginners, and many seasoned gamers alike, and is much more affordable and easier to configure than a dual-system design. With those two items out of the way, let’s take a look at what we will need to get started.
There are both hardware and software requirements needed to start streaming, and to make things easy, we have made a quick list below of our ideal beginner stream setup with regards to features and goals. Once you have determined your own requirements for your stream, you can then move on to putting them all together.
Stream Features and Goals
- Single-system setup
- Streamer webcam and audio
- 720p @ 60fps output
– We want to get up and running with our single gaming rig
– We want our viewers to be able to see and hear and see us
– We want to provide a smooth viewing experience, without sacrificing gaming quality
This is pretty obvious, but you can definitely use your existing PC to stream your favorite games. Keep in mind that a single-system streaming setup will be require to not only run your game, but transcode your stream for transport to Twitch. This is where some compromises may need to be made, because if your system is struggling to run your game of choice at the settings you like, it definitely won’t be able to stream those same settings at the same time. If this is the case, many changes can be made both in-game and in your streaming application to help compensate and wind up with a good looking end product. However, if you are running a top-of-the-line gaming rig, you may have plenty of headroom to throw streaming into the mix and keep on playing at high settings. No system will be the same, and there are a ton of tweaks that can be made to get the best results, but this guide will focus on providing a good balance between gaming quality and stream quality.
In our initial stream goals list, we knew that we wanted to have a webcam, as this is one of the biggest draws a stream has. People watching streams may come to watch a certain game being played, but in most instances, they stick around for the personality of the person on camera. In order to make this happen, a webcam is the easiest route to take. We really like the Logitech C920 (aff), as it can provide a 1080p image at 60 frames per second, and has awesome performance in a wide range of lighting conditions.
While you can get away with using the built-in microphone of your webcam, you will have a ton of extra noise in your stream, especially if you use a mechanical keyboard. In order to reduce the amount of ambient sounds being transmitted, we recommend either utilizing a gaming headset with a microphone, or an external microphone. Since most gamers will already have a headset with microphone, that is our recommended option for starting out a stream. As time goes on and your audience grows, one of the best improvements to make is upgrading to a more advanced microphone, but for our initial setup, a headset mic is fine.
While not really software per se, a Twitch account will be needed to start streaming. And if you have already been enjoying content on Twitch, you can just use that account to get started. Be sure to have your username and password handy, as we will need it when setting up our broadcast software.
In order to take the content from our PC and make it live on Twitch, we need to choose our broadcasting software. One of the most widely used applications is Open Broadcaster Software, or OBS. This free, open-source application is quite powerful, and although it is quite easy to get started with, there is an even easier option that we will be utilizing – Streamlabs OBS. Streamlabs OBS simplifies the process of getting up and running, while at the same time adding in a ton of great features that users of the standard OBS version had to look elsewhere for. One of the things we really love about Streamlabs OBS for beginners, is that you don’t have to worry about something known as a “Stream Key”. This is a unique identifier that you typically need to provide to your broadcasting software. But since we will connect our Twitch account to Streamlabs OBS, we don’t even have to worry about finding the key, and even more importantly, keeping it safe. This key is a vital connector that ensures only you are able to stream to your channel.
While there is no official upload speed minimum for streaming, in order for us to successfully stream at our goal of 720p @ 60fps, we need to have an upload speed between 3500Kbps (3.5Mbps) and 5000Kbps (5Mbps). You can find your upload speed at a variety of online speed tests, our favorite being SpeedOf.Me.