There are plenty of guides out there on this subject, so this one won’t be a guide of any sorts but rather just a backstory of how my streaming setup evolved over the years. The idea being that you can start anywhere with streaming.
Building a Gaming Computer
The starting point was actually a couple of years before I even thought about streaming. At some point I decided to build my own gaming PC, and had a friend help me pick out parts for that project. Most of that first build is actually still in use as of the time that I’m writing this post.
Long side story for another time, but the same friend that helped me build my gaming PC also ended up becoming my roommate not long after the fact and ultimately influenced my decision to start streaming.
Making the Leap
Anyways, after a couple of years of playing on that PC, I made the leap to try streaming. I was on a single PC setup, the CPU was an i3-4340 and GPU was a GTX 760, so I wasn’t going to try anything too graphically intense. I think I started out playing a little bit of Terraria and Starbound. After a little bit of tinkering with my setup and trying to optimize what I had I ended up making small hardware upgrades. Staying on the single PC setup meant upgrading the RAM and the CPU first. So that’s what I did! I forget the exact timing of a lot of my purchases but at some point I upgraded the gaming PC to handle more intensive games, but some of the ones I was playing at that time (like PUBg) were still a little too much for good quality streams at the time, which eventually pushed me to decide to build a second PC to handle the workload of streaming. Before I made the jump, though, I did order a bunch of other things to try and increase the quality of my stream.
Digging in Further
Aside from the PC, there are a handful of things that get recommended for increasing the quality of a stream. I got a standalone condenser microphone with a USB interface (a Focusrite Scarlett Solo, which has so far served me fairly well), and some studio headphones. The microphone was a nice addition, but it took a fair amount of tinkering and research to get it working right. There’s no telling how many times I ran into issues using it in OBS Studio. Maybe a story for another time, another blog post. Continuing on!
Two is Better than One
It was probably a year or so into streaming that I decided to build a second PC. I began by doing some research into how it could be done. I already had an internal capture card (an Elgato HD60 Pro) to stream console games, so I thought that would be fine to use. I took that out of the gaming PC, bought some parts for a second PC and used some of the spare parts left over after upgrading the gaming PC. Eventually I had myself a streaming PC, but it used that original i3-4340 so it wasn’t anything spectacular, but I did see an improvement in being able to play some games without issues while my stream was live. It wasn’t long after that I also made arrangements with another friend to buy some of his spare parts, and further upgraded the hardware of both PC’s. That’s all just on the hardware side, which is simpler in comparison to the things I did on the software side to complicate my streaming setup.
Now, I haven’t totally covered ALL of the hardware pieces of my current setup, but that’s because it’s important to cover the software portions so that it’s easier to understand why I added a couple of hardware pieces. First thing is Voicemeeter Banana. This was fun (Note: Sarcasm) to setup on my systems because it was how I was going to control where my audio sources came from and were directed to (this was prior to the Windows 10 update that allows users to basically do the same thing.) I may not be using this particular program to its fullest potential, but that’s not important. What is important is that I don’t have speakers on either of my PC’s, only the one pair of headphones, so I use the VBAN portion of Voicemeeter to port audio over the network between the two systems. Why? Because I ran into audio delay issues while playing games and streaming. The short story of that: I was playing PUBg with friends while streaming, and I would get shot but hear the sound of the gunfire probably a full second or more after I was already getting hit. Not a fun time. So I switched my headphones over to the gaming PC and had all my audio from the streaming PC (primarily for alerts) ported over the network.
But Wait, There’s More!
The other thing I did was switch from using my internal capture card (which is now reserved strictly for consoles) to using the OBS-NDI plugin. This thing has been amazing. It uses OBS Studio on both machines, with one sending all the A/V data over the network back to the main streaming PC before being uploaded to the internet. At this point I feel I should mention a couple of things. First, I have a couple of roommates who both play games online. So we’ve shelled out for a decent internet package to accommodate our traffic. Second, because of this I didn’t want to have my VBAN and NDI traffic bogging down our combo modem/router because I was using two of the four ethernet ports and limiting each of them to only having one. So I purchased a standalone gigabit ethernet switch to plug both of my machines into and have a the one line out to the new router my roommate purchased. That whole arrangement is probably unnecessary, but hey, it’s my setup and I like being unconventional sometimes.
Another piece of the setup that is probably unnecessary, but is more for my convenience, is a HDMI Switcher. It was kind of expensive, and I didn’t really NEED it, but I wanted it. I use that switch between the few gaming consoles I have setup at any given point so that I can transition quickly. Also, it makes it so I don’t need to go to the back of the streaming PC to swap out an HDMI cable. I haven’t noticed too much of a latency issue that can’t be accounted for in OBS, or that impacts my ability to play a game, so I keep using it in conjunction with the internal capture card.
I know I missed mentioning webcams and monitors earlier, and probably something else I’m forgetting, but I feel like those are a bit more basic and don’t add much to how a streaming setup can evolve over time. The monitors don’t really add too much to the complexity of a streaming setup, because everyone has a different way of organizing their screens, and the webcams aren’t always a necessity for streaming. I currently have two webcams setup when most people only ever use one. One I use for a facecam (a Logitech BRIO 4K, probably overkill) and a second one (a Logitech C920) I was using for random things like creative streams or spontaneous dog cam. Having two Logitech cams on the same system was tricky because only one would get picked up by the Logitech Webcam software, but both could be worked with in OBS Studio.
I think I’ve covered most everything in my setup as it stands today. I can’t say that all of it makes complete sense, but it seems to be working so yay me! I could probably put together a timeline if I really wanted to to help explain how things went, or even include a diagram of my setup, but I might just do that later. For now, this is what I’ve got. Hopefully you enjoyed reading this! If not, tell me. Critique me. Rip my blog post apart. Even though this was probably a subject I rambled on about, I need to learn somehow. Catch you next time!