So you’ve been spending a lot of time watching streamers on Twitch, or YouTube; you’ve been reading about games and streaming a lot on the Gimbl blog; and you get to thinking:
“Why don’t I try streaming?”
So you look at the setup that Ninja or Imaqtpie uses, and you realize that you don’t quite have the budget that they do. Not a problem, though! We’re gonna break down what you need to get started on a budget. Who knows, you might even become a Gimbl Streamer yourself!
This is definitely going to be the most expensive thing you need, so we’re going to cover this one first. You might already be a PC gamer with a decent gaming rig and already have this.
We recommend using a desktop PC over a laptop, but nicely specced laptops can work here too. Obviously, your computer needs to be powerful enough to actually run the games you want to stream, and still have some power left over to run your broadcasting & recording software.
Buying pre-built would be the easiest and most convenient way to get started, but building your own is generally cheaper. Either way, here are the specs you need to be aiming for:
You’re going to need at least a quad-core CPU that has a base clock speed of 3GHz.The processor is the part of the computer that computes the data and tells the graphics card what to display. A terrible processor can render a great graphics card useless, and vice-versa.
Obviously, hexacore and octacore processors with higher base speeds will help when combined with decent graphics cards. For a budget-build, though, this is where we’re going to get the most bang for our buck.
This is what’s going to make your games look good, as well as what’s going to be pushing your video feed to your streaming software. This is one part where keeping our budget too lean can lead to a significant drop in stream quality.
The best option for beginner streamers, in terms of value for money, would be mid-range graphics cards, which have luckily got a lot cheaper in recent times.
Streaming makes PCs run multiple processes at once, so a decent amount of RAM is recommended, and RAM speed is just as important as RAM capacity. The types of games you stream will dictate how much RAM you need.
If we look at League of Legends and Fortnite, the two most widely-streamed games on Twitch and YouTube, then you don’t actually need to spend a ton here. For those games, even 8GB RAM is enough, and going up to 16GB won’t really make your stream any better other than making it easier to run programmes other than your game and broadcasting software at the same time.
One thing to keep in mind, though, is the number of RAM slots on your motherboard. You get better performance when filling all of the slots. For example, if your motherboard has two ram slots, you’d be better off slotting in two 4GB cards than you would slotting in a single 8GB card and leaving the other slot empty.
Any decent DDR4 RAM will work here, but we think that Kingston’s HyperX Fury cards at 2,444 MHz or 2,666 MHz do a great job at bringing you value for money.
Streamers aren’t just good gamers, they’re online entertainers, which means that a disembodied voice over your game stream isn’t enough. You’re going to need to have a camera pointed at you so your viewers can associate you with your content and can identify with you.
A low-quality camera is going to make your video feed look bad, and could lead to slowdown and audio sync issues. This doesn’t mean you need to spend thousands of dollars, though, as there are plenty of mid-range options that get the job done.
Logitech are kind of the king of consumer peripherals, but their C920 webcam is a fantastic option for streamers. It can capture 1080p video at 30 FPS, which is exactly what you need to be outputting from your streamer cam.
New streamers generally make one of two mistakes when it comes to choosing audio-equipment: they either spend WAY too much, or WAY too little.
Audio is important for streamers, but there are plenty of products out there that do a great job and don’t require you to take out a second mortgage on your house. You’re going to need a headset to be able to listen to game audio and party chat, and you’re going to need a microphone to capture your own voice.
A lot of the more popular streamers use dedicated, desk-mounted microphones to capture top-notch quality audio. However, almost every gaming headset comes with a built-in microphone. Rather than get a low-end headset and a low-end microphone, new streamers would be better off getting a mid-range gaming headset with decent audio quality and a decent built-in microphone.
We recommend going for the HyperX Cloud Stinger Gaming Headset, which you can pick up for under $50 dollars. It’s light, it’s comfortable to wear for long streaming sessions, it’s noise cancelling, and it even has a handy swivel-to-mute function on the mic.
Okay, so you have your PC, your camera, and your headset. You’re mostly good to go as a beginner streamer. But how do you actually stream?
You’re going to need a piece of software that captures your game footage and your webcam footage, along with the game audio and the audio from your mic and output it to a streaming site like Twitch, YouTube, or Facebook.
OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) is a beginner-friendly, and completely free option. It gives you a ton of options to control or enhance the quality of your stream, and can record to your hard drive and stream to a platform at the same time. It isn’t the newest or the slickest piece of software, but it gets the job done and doesn’t cost a cent.
Streamlabs OBS, which is by far the most popular streaming solution, is free and chock FULL of features. Most of your favourite streamers likely use Streamlabs OBS, so all the cool effects you see on Twitch can all be recreated through the software. This is considered to be even MORE user friendly than OBS, and there are tons of guides available on how to set it up.
Other tips for streaming beginners!
Having all the gear only gets you so far. Here are some tried and tested tips to get started as a streamer:
You likely already have profiles on a ton of social networks like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. Tell people that you’re streaming!
People can only watch you if they’re aware that there’s something to watch. Announce your streams a couple of hours in advance; announce the start of your stream, and plug links to your streams. You’d be surprised how much support your friends, coworkers, and family will be happy to lend. And some will likely even share your announcements to their own followers.
Set the scene
This is a visual medium, so make sure that everything that’s in your camera’s field of view looks good. No one wants to see your piles of dirty laundry or your unmade bed. Small details like that might seem unimportant, but can make your stream look sloppy and unprofessional.
Just tidy up any part of your home that’s going to be visible; maybe place a potted plant or two somewhere in the background. All of a sudden you look like you’ve been doing this for years.
Light it up!
Don’t stream in a dark room! If your viewers can’t see you, then they can’t really connect to you.
One thing a lot of people don’t realise is what a MASSIVE impact decent lighting can have on a video. Make sure that your face is well lit, and it will make it look like your mid-range camera is close to cinema quality.
The easiest way to do this without spending any money on lights is to just grab some existing lamps in your home and place them behind your camera. If your budget allows, maybe even get a ring lamp to put behind your camera.
Stick to a regular schedule
It’s going to be impossible to build a following if your viewers don’t know when they can come back for more. Stick to a realistic, regular schedule and make it publicly visible to your viewers.
For example, you could choose Tuesdays, and Sundays at 8pm. Twice a week isn’t quite as regular as we need it to be yet, though it’s a start. Once you start accumulating some more viewers and followers, you could add Friday night to your rotation and stream three nights a week.
Consistency is key, try not to deviate from your schedule if you can avoid it, as if people head to your channel to find you offline when you said you’d be live, they’re likely to not come back.
Sign up at Gimbl!
Once you’re set up with a stream, sign up to Gimbl to start monetizing your content from day 1. Streaming platforms like Twitch or Youtube will have a number of conditions that need to be met to start earning revenue on their platforms. With Gimbl, live stream monetization is possible from day one.
Also, the added audience engagement and interaction that Gimbl Challenges provide will help retain your growing audience. One of the biggest struggles for a new streamer is that tons of viewers don’t come back as they stick to the bigger names. Gimbl Viewers get to do more than just sit there, though, and are directly involved in the stream when they set Challenges. The more engaged your viewers are, the more likely they are to come back.