Be it Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, TikTok or some other platform, the popularity of streaming has been exploding in recent years. Between 2019 and 2020, the video live streaming sector grew by more than 99% and the industry as a whole is projected to be worth in excess of $184.27 billion by 2027. The reason behind this incredible growth? Well, put simply, streaming is fun!
Live streaming allows users to interact with their streamer directly, offers unique content that isn’t available elsewhere, and provides an interesting live and uncut alternative to pre-recorded video content. For many streamers, it’s even become a full time job, with a huge number of streamers taking advantage of the industry's massive growth to promote their work, engage with potential patrons, and grow their audience.
If you’ve never produced your own content before, the sheer amount of equipment options out there can seem a little daunting, but we’re here to help! In this buyers guide, we’ve broken the equipment list down into a few key areas: broadcast hardware (computer, console or smartphone), audio, video, lighting, comfort and extras. We’ve also provided a variety of options at different price points for each segment. So, if you’re ready to press start on your streaming career, keep reading!
The most important part of nailing down your streaming setup is deciding on your broadcast hardware. This is the device that takes your audio and video feed and broadcasts it to the web. You don’t need the latest and greatest top-spec PC to start on your streaming journey - particularly if you’re not committed to streaming in cutting edge 4K definition. However, the problem that many people who are interested in steaming run into is that broadcasting and encoding can put a significant strain on your equipment, especially if you’re live streaming a video game or broadcasting from multiple cameras. Ultimately, you can’t start your streaming career on any old piece of gear - it needs to be up to the challenge.
Depending on your requirements, you might not need to invest in a PC at all. In some cases, gaming consoles (such as the Playstation or Xbox) might tick all your boxes. Alternatively, look at streaming directly from your smartphone. These solutions provide an easy route into the world of streaming as it cuts down on the amount of equipment required - you may even own some of these devices already.
So there’s a variety of different routes you can take to kick-start your streaming career, but how do you pick which device is right for you? Before deciding, you need to take a look at what each mode of broadcast hardware can offer you. We’ve summarised each of the common avenues in three informative sections below.
Streaming from a smartphone
Let’s begin with smartphones. Thanks to the advances in smartphone technology in recent years, as well as the plethora of live streaming apps that are now available, more and more people are dispensing with the expensive PC and streaming directly from their smartphones. Smartphone streaming offers a number of advantages over other systems - namely a propensity for making dynamic content. Live streaming on a phone means you don’t need a big, expensive setup or a team of people to help you. You can simply go live from anywhere in the world (as long as you have a reliable internet connection). This feature really lends itself to creating spontaneous content and live streams that don’t require that polished, professional feel.
Of course, another big advantage to smartphone streaming is that you probably already have one. Almost everyone owns a smartphone these days, and thanks to a wave of new live streaming apps, it makes it easy to live stream on the go.
The first main factor holding smartphones back is the unstable internet connection. While streaming through a console or PC allows you to take advantage of hard-wired ethernet connections for ultimate speed and reliability, streaming via smartphone leaves you reliant on Wi-Fi connections or your mobile data plan. These types of connection are not known for their reliability and can really hold back your streaming.
The other factor preventing smartphone streaming from taking over is the limited video quality on offer. It’s well known that smartphone cameras have improved massively in recent years, but they’re still a long way off being able to compete with a proper camera for optical quality, flexibility and depth of field. Dedicated cameras have lenses that are optimised for sharpness and are built with image sensors that are much larger and superior than those available in smartphones. If you really want to create professional content, a dedicated webcam or preferably a proper camera is the way to go. More on that later!
Streaming from consoles
So what about console streaming? Thanks to the smart tech built into the current generation of consoles, it’s now possible to stream directly to the web without having to bother with an additional PC or a bunch of extra equipment. The advantages of streaming directly from a console are very similar to broadcasting directly from a smartphone. Namely, compared to a high-spec PC, consoles offer a lot of value for money and it’s likely that if you’re considering starting a casual stream or even launching your professional streaming career, you already have one and won’t need to worry about sourcing your own.
Additionally, setting up a stream from your console is very simple and straightforward. Almost everything you need to get started is already built into your console, so it really is a matter of just turning on your console and pressing start. Both the Xbox and the Playstation offer purpose-made cameras for streaming and they’re both pretty reasonably priced. So all in all, console streaming offers an easy to understand, plug and play solution for casual streamers and those who are just getting started.
In the end though, this ease of use and simple setup is a double-edged sword. Because your stream is running through the native software supplied with your console, you’re limited to the options that your console provides you. For some streamers, this can be extremely limiting. You can forget about stream overlays, alerts, and all those fun customisation options that can help your stream stand out. Not to mention, you’re limited to what games you can stream. For example, if you own a Playstation, you’ll be limited to streaming games that are available on that console, and the same is true of the Xbox. In conclusion, consoles offer a great solution for those who are just getting started, but if you’re serious about streaming, you need to look at a real PC.
Streaming from a PC
Desktop computers are the premier option for live streaming. If there’s a streamer that you enjoy watching, it’s likely that they’ll be using a dedicated PC for their streams. Even streamers who use a console to run their games often use a PC to handle the broadcast part of their content. PCs are powerful, versatile, and offer more options than any other device for budding streamers and content creators.
The dominance of PCs in the streaming world didn’t come about by accident. PCs offer the widest variety of hardware integration, be it camera connectivity, sound mixing or macro keypads dedicated to streaming. Additionally, PCs allow access to free broadcasting software, such as OBS Streamlabs, which allows you to integrate all kinds of cool features to your streams, including unique scenes, stream overlays, and sound effects.
So, PCs are pretty much de rigueur for high-level, professional streaming. But computers come in so many shapes and sizes, spec configurations, and price points that it can be hard to figure out exactly what you need. In the following segment, we’ll break down exactly what you need to be looking at to take your streaming to the next level.
Let’s talk CPUs. This is the brain of your PC. The CPU is responsible for running calculations and sending instructions to the other parts of your hardware, such as the memory unit or graphics card. Since streaming requires the use of multiple applications and, in some cases, running streaming software and games simultaneously, you’ll need a fairly strong CPU. Even more important than the CPU is the GPU. Commonly referred to as the graphics card, this component is responsible for rendering all the video, 3D graphics, and effects that you see on screen. If you’re streaming video games or broadcasting system intensive applications like Premiere Pro, a good graphics card is very important.
Ultimately, we recommend a minimum of an i5 CPU, Nvidia RTX graphics card or equivalent, at least 8GB of RAM, and a solid and reliable internet connection. But, as with most products, the more you spend, the more you’ll get. If you’re serious about producing top-quality content, consider getting the best equipment that you can afford.
Along with your video feed, audio is a cornerstone of your live content. Without a dedicated audio capture device, you’ll be stuck talking to your viewers by typing out responses in the chat window. Lame. If you want to build a dedicated audience, you have to give your viewers a reason to tune in, so a quality audio feed is really the least you can do. That means microphones! Investing in a quality microphone will make a night and day difference to the quality of your output. Your audience wants to hear your voice clearly, and modern microphones come with a lot of adjustability to help you sound your best.
The two most common microphones used for streaming are USB and XLR. USB microphones offer a number of advantages to budding streamers. They’re typically quite affordable, simple to use, and portable. This really lightens the load if you ever need to record audio away from your streaming setup, as all you need is the mic, the cable, and the computer. XLR microphones, on the other hand, dispense with the USB connection entirely, favouring a three-pronged XLR connector instead. They help to remove all the background noise from your environment, resulting in a crisper, clearer sound. For this reason, they’re used by millions of musicians, podcasters, and radio hosts all over the world.
Sound dampening equipment is also a good option if you’re serious about gaming and have a dedicated space to stream. Designed to dissipate vibrations before they can build up and be heard, these nifty pieces of equipment can do wonders when it comes to enhancing sound quality. You can find a whole host of products to suit your needs, including foam wall tiles, ceiling bars, and even microphone isolation shields. The latter is ideal if you’re looking for a more flexible solution, as they don’t need to be attached to the walls. This is also particularly beneficial if you live in a rented property and are unable to make modifications to your home.
If you’re a gamer or planning on streaming gaming-related content, then a dedicated gaming headset makes a lot of sense. It allows you to slim down on the equipment you need to purchase, which means less wires, less things to go wrong, and will free up some extra room on your desk. Not only for gaming, headsets can be used in a variety of ways, from conference calls at work to listening to music in your spare time. Most come with removable microphones, so you can even use them to enjoy your playlists during the commute or while traveling.
On the other hand, even though the quality of headsets has come a long way in the past few years, the microphones built into them aren’t the best. They certainly serve their purpose well and are perfect for communicating with your teammates or trash-talking in the lobby. But when it comes to high-quality, nuanced audio, headsets are a long way away from being the top dogs.
Now that we have our broadcast device and audio sorted, we need to think about video. As well as watching what you’re doing, the people tuning into live streams like to see the person they are following. A video solution will help you do exactly that. Hook up a camera and, with the help of some streaming software, you can overlay the feed on top of your stream. Awesome!
Thanks to a recent wave of high-quality webcams that have hit the market in recent years, you don’t have to spend a bundle to get decent video. In fact, for very little expense, you can find an array of plug and play webcams that can record in high definition with little to no effort from you whatsoever. Simply plug it into your PC, download the software (if needed), and you’re good to go! Of course, as with most things in the tech world, the more you spend, the more features you’ll have to play with. But, if additional extras aren’t a necessity to you, you can bag yourself a bargain that does exactly what you need - without the hefty price of a high-end model!
So far, this guide has been focused on the enjoyment and engagement of your viewers. But what about you, the content creator? Streaming is an activity where sitting down for long periods of time and staring at screens are integral to making your content. It’s well known that this is less than ideal for your body, but don’t despair! You can make things significantly better for yourself by investing in some key pieces of equipment. By this, we mean the humble gaming chair!
Ergonomically designed, gaming chairs are a must for any avid streamer. Created with comfort and practicality in mind, they encourage good posture and relieve back strain, all without sacrificing your gaming experience. Some even come with nifty extras, such as integrated speakers, heated seats, and vibrations, immersing you in the wonderful world of gaming like never before. If you’re new to gaming chairs and want to find out more about these premium pews, take a look at our ultimate guide to gaming chairs. Packed with a plethora of useful information and a few choice picks, it’s the perfect place to start. For more niche wants and needs, take a look at our entire selection of gaming chairs guides. From budget-friendly options to ones that focus on comfort, there’s truly something for everyone. Practicality aside, gaming chairs offer an unmatched aesthetic that’s sure to take your streams to the next level, so they're a useful addition if you want to set yourself apart from the rest.
So you’re ready to start streaming? Not just yet. There are a few items to look at which aren’t prerequisites, but they’ll definitely help upgrade the look and feel of your streaming experience. Think of them as ‘quality of life’ upgrades. These items will make your streams a lot more professional, allow you to respond to your viewers faster, and give your content that much-needed flexibility.
First off, let’s talk about lighting. There is no point spending money on fancy camera gear if your lighting isn’t up to scratch. Good lighting will mean that your content looks consistent and will help you look your best on screen. After all, if your face is only lit by the glow from your screen and a fluorescent bulb shining somewhere else in the room, then that can really bring the quality of your stream down. As well as studio lighting, many streamers use LED strip lights, as they can really help to set a futuristic atmosphere that’s truly out of this world.
Next up is a backdrop or a photography screen. If you have your audio and visuals sorted, the next logical step is a screen. This will help to cover any unwanted elements from your background and help to minimise the amount of disruption your webcam feed makes to your stream. You can even get creative and use a green screen to transform your setup into something completely new and exciting with each and every stream.
Finally, let’s look at streaming decks. These devices are purpose-made for streamers. Basically, stream decks are small control boxes that plug into your PC and allow you to assign various functions to the customisable, touch-sensitive buttons. You can use these buttons for anything you can imagine, from adjusting your lighting to playing music, switching between scenes, and even sending chat messages to your audience. Stream decks come in a wide variety of different sizes and specifications. The original and, for many, the best is made by Elgato.
Ready, set, stream!
Now that we’ve discussed all the different aspects of producing the perfect stream, let’s look at some specific products in more detail. We’ll dissect each product one by one and go through their pros and cons to help you make the right decision for your wants, needs, and budget. As with most gadgets and gizmos, while you can find some great deals, it’s worth bearing in mind that you get what you pay for. Remember that your stream is an opportunity to show the world your best side, so it’s worth investing in equipment that will help you look and sound your best.
Pros: Great hardware for the price, transparent case has potential for upgrades
Cons: RGB lighting might be too much for some users, large case takes up lots of space
This offering from the PC builders at Fierce is a great option if you’re just getting started in the world of streaming. Boasting specs well above the minimum recommended requirements, this powerful system should have no problem running modern games with high-quality settings and streaming at the same time.
The Ryzen 3 processor is blindingly fast - far outperforming many of its other competitors - and the capacious 1TB hard disk drive offers an incredible amount of storage space, perfect for storing your vast library of games. Additionally, the stunning semi-transparent case comes fitted with addressable RGB LEDs, so not only is this PC built to perform, it also looks amazing! In fact, this PC looks so good, you could easily make it a visual element of your streams!
Pros: Good functionality for the price, lots of features
Cons: Divisive style, sound quality could be improved
This headset from Kotion Each offers great value for money. It boasts noise reduction for a more immersive gaming experience and high-precision 40mm neodymium magnets for an expansive, booming sound profile. The headband boasts a fully metal construction with a memory foam and faux leather surround, making them both comfortable and durable.
The included 3.5mm braided cord has an in-line microphone controller and all the necessary attachments to interface with every PC and gaming console on the market. This headset even looks great and features built-in LED light effects. All in all, you get a lot of headset with your money with this offering from Kotion Each. What’s not to love?
Pros: Lots of features for the price, good build quality
Cons: Fixed microphone stand lacks flexibility, not as versatile as some other setups
This USB microphone from Samson is a great option for those who are working with a tighter budget. Sure, it’s missing some features that are present in some of the more premium microphones, but this mic offers a huge amount of value for money.
Thanks to the built-in audio interface, there’s a lot of adjustability built right into the microphone itself. This means that you can get your sound just right without having to dive into complicated extra software. Offering 24-bit/96 kHz sound resolution, this all-in-one microphone solution is perfect for casual streamers or those just looking to get started. We love the full metal construction and heavy-gauge mesh grille. This mic has great build quality and offers a lot of flexibility, too.
Pros: Awesome all-in-one setup for audio mastering and broadcasting, monitors and microphone offer great sound quality
Cons: Pricey, needs a lot of space
Our pick for the performance microphone bundle is this stunning offering from MXL. This package includes the microphone, audio interface, boom arm, shock mount and cables, plus some top quality monitors and some isolating foam bases to mount them on.
With this bundle, you’ll be set for years to come. It’s hard to argue with the quality of this bundle for streamers - investing in a kit like this will really take your audio to the next level. Producing rich, balanced dynamic voices while cutting out on any background noise or interference, your streams will really stand out from the crowd.
Pros: Value for money, simple and straightforward to use
Cons: Video quality isn’t the best, struggles in low light
The Logitech C270 isn’t a high-end device, but it will get the job done without spending too much money. This HD camera is capable of outputting 720p footage, so it should be more than enough for an overlay on a stream. In short, this camera delivers everything you would expect from it. This webcam is a simple plug in and go affair, so if you’re looking for something that will work straight out of the box without requiring too much dialing in, this is the webcam for you.
On the other hand, if you decide that you’re serious about your streams, you could quickly outgrow this camera. The C240 offers very little in terms of adjustability, so you’re going to be stuck with the stock settings even if they don’t work for you. Additionally, like any camera with a small sensor, it’s going to struggle in low light conditions.
Pros: Built-in light is really useful, extra tripod adds flexibility
Cons: Large footprint takes up a lot of space when not in use, ring light is distracting for eyeglass wearers
The first thing you’ll notice about the Papalook PA552 is the built-in ring light, what a great idea! Instead of relying on a separate lighting system, the designers at Papalook have taken the move to integrate lights into the camera itself. This will cut down on the extra equipment needed to start streaming by integrating two pieces of equipment into one device. The video quality is superb - the PA552 puts out full HD video at 1080p, so you’ll be putting out top quality video content.
If you’re streaming from a dark room, then a light like this is essential if you want to look good in front of your audience. The ring light featured here is adjustable to find the perfect level for your room, or you can switch it off all together if it’s not needed. You can attach this webcam to your monitor like a regular webcam, or you can make use of the included tripod to mix up your camera angles and find your good side.
Pros: Lots of monitor for your money, nice feature list
Cons: Colour reproduction could be better, thick bezel around the screen
The AOC C24G1 is a very competitive monitor for the price. It features a curved 24” Full HD screen, making for some great looking content, along with some very thoughtful gaming centric features. AMD FreeSync premium technology makes sure that your graphics card and your monitor's refresh rates are syncronised, ensuring that your gaming experience is fluid and tear-free.
This monitor runs at a minimum of 120Hz for decreased blur and a sharper picture. Should your frame rate drop below the refresh rate, the LFC feature kicks in and eliminates the resulting stutter. All this is packed into a monitor with an adjustable ergonomic monitor stand, so you can ensure that your monitor is in the perfect place for you. Say goodbye to neck and back pain and increase your gaming performance with this nifty monitor.
Pros: Adjustability, lots of features
Cons: Style may not suit every space, quite cumbersome
What is a streamer without a gaming chair? If you’re planning on spending multiple hours sitting down, it certainly pays to invest in a comfortable chair - and that’s where this model from Dripex comes in!
Dripex have taken the ergonomic design elements from office chairs and fitted them into this show-stopping, high-backed gaming perch. This chair is fully adjustable - and not just up and down like a standard office chair! It reclines, swivels, and even features adjustable bolsters to get the right fit, regardless of your body shape. The leather upholstery has a nice premium feel and the fit and finish of the Dripex Ergonomic gaming chair is a cut above the rest in this category. The thick foam padding ensures long lasting comfort and the extra head cushion is a nice addition to the package.
Putting it all together
Now you should have an appropriate streaming device, great audio, crystal clear video, and a few products to give your streams that finishing touch! That completes the round-up for this buying guide to streaming gear. All that’s missing now is you - so get stuck in and start building that following!
Thanks to our verified sellers, we’re able to offer an expansive range of streaming products. From cameras to microphones, PCs, consoles and accessories, you can find all you need to take your streaming to the next level here at OnBuy. Browse our electronics and video games categories to pick up everything you need to get started.
Looking to make your mark on the gaming world? Check out our blog on taking your gaming career to the next level to find out how! From upgrading your gear with gaming chairs (yes, they’re really worth it!) to getting your hands on all the top accessories and extras, it won't be long before you’re beating the boss levels and soaring to new heights in the streaming industry. So, go on, what are you waiting for? Press start!
Please note: The information in this buyer’s guide is correct at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.