Whether you’re planning to start streaming or you’ve been doing it for a while, you might be in need of a hardware upgrade. Not every desktop computer is optimized for streaming, and the system you have right now could be limiting the quality of your broadcast — and thus affecting your ability to grow and hold an audience. What you need is to find the best desktop for streaming on Twitch or whatever platform you want to broadcast on.
Of course, you don’t have to use a desktop — there are some excellent laptops for streaming as well, and laptops have the added advantage of being compact and portable. But a desktop PC is easily expandable, can be upgraded over time to improve performance, and lets you easily add a truly enormous monitor (or multiple monitors).
But here’s the deal: You don’t have to buy the most expensive computer you can find to get great streaming performance, and you might not need the horsepower where you expect. It’s more important, for example, to have a better CPU than a high-end graphics card (GPU), for example.
To demystify the process of selecting a PC you can use for streaming — and one that will serve you well for a long time to come — I’ve rounded up some of the best desktop computers for streaming. These computers are properly equipped so that right out of the box, they will get you up and running as a streamer, podcaster or broadcaster with all the horsepower you need to make great online content even while streaming demanding games like Fortnite, Call of Duty or Overwatch — all you need to do is add your favorite microphone, webcam or digital camera.
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1. Acer Aspire TC-895-UA92 DesktopPros:
- Very good price
- 12GB RAM and 512GB SSD
- Wi-Fi6 and Gigabit Ethernet
- Slow on-board graphics
- Unremarkabnle aesthetics
- Fans are loud
You don’t have to spend a fortune on a PC for streaming. The Acer Aspire TC-895-UA92 Desktop doesn’t come with a lot of bells and whistles, and visually, it’s not the prettiest tower you’re likely to encounter while computer shopping. But it has solid specs and a really low price tag.
This desktop system is built around a 10th-generation Intel Core i5-10400 CPU and has a weird, if generous, 12GB of RAM. (Most PCs tend to skip straight from 8GB to 16GB.) There’s a spacious 512GB DDS drive for storage, which means there’s plenty of space for recording, editing, and archiving audio and video files. Perhaps the most interesting component here though is the 8X DVD-RW drive — even in desktop PCs, optical drives are becoming rare.
The system has Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth, of course, along with 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet if you want to wire into your router directly. In general, it is a good idea to use wired Internet while streaming, even if you do have very fast Wi-Fi. You get all the ports you might need, including USB-A and USB-C, SD card, and separate mic and headphone ports all up front (there are a lot more connections in the back).
The main reason this system is priced so affordably is that it comes with barely any graphics at all — just the Intel UHD Graphics 630 chipset on the motherboard. That’s fine for audio streaming, but I’d recommending upgrading to a new GPU if you plan to do any video recording or streaming. But there’s plenty of internal spacer to upgrade this system, which means you can get started with minimal investment and let the PC grow and evolve with you as your needs change.
2. iBuyPower Pro Gaming PC Element MR9270Pros:
- Fast Intel Core i7 and NVIDIA GPU
- 1TB data drive
- Gorgeous glass case with RGB lighting
- A little pricey
- System SSD only 240GB
- No USB ports up front
Streaming and gaming have a lot in common, so it’s not a surprise that a gaming PC makes a great streaming platform. Not only does gaming-caliber horsepower suit the needs of streaming video, but many streamers want to stream games. It makes sense that gaming PCs make great streaming desktops. iBuyPower sells a number of superb machines for this role, and the iBuyPower Pro Gaming PC Element MR9270 delivers a premium streaming experience no matter your needs.
For starters, it’s powered by a powerful tel Core i7-9700F CPU and has enough RAM for any gaming, video editing, and multitasking needs — 16GB. The 240GB SSD is perhaps a little smaller than you might want a system drive to be in a PC with this pedigree, but it includes a second drive for data storage — a full 1TB hard drive.
This is positioned as a gaming PC, and consequently, it has an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 GPU. That’s not at the high end any more, but it’s still considerably powerful (it even supports real-time ray tracing applications) without breaking the bank on a bleeding-edge GPU.
If the appearance of your computer is important to you, then iBuyPower has you covered. Both the front and side panels are solid, edge-to-edge tempered glass, giving you a great view of the RBG lighting inside. The top of the case has a magnetic dust filter that prevents contaminants from reaching the interior and is extremely easy to remove and clean.
Because of the all-glass front, there isn’t a lot of space for quick-access USB ports, but iBuyPower manages a pair of USB ports plus mic and headphones on top. You also get integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, plus a comprehensive collection of ports in back.
3. SkyTech Blaze II Gaming Computer PC DesktopPros:
- Excellent sub-$100 price
- Great specs including CPU, memory and SSD
- All-glass front and side
- GPU may need upgrade
- No USB-C ports
- No bays for optical drives
The SkyTech Blaze II Gaming Computer PC Desktop is designed expressly for AMD fans. Relatively inexpensive, it manages to clock in well under $1000 without compromising on performance by building the system around an AMD Ryzen 5 2600 CPU, which is roughly analogous to an Intel Core i5 CPU. It also has 16GB RAM — that much RAM is unusual in a PC at this price point. In fact, most of the components seem to come from a more expensive computer. It also has a 500GB SSD and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 GPU.
The tower case is also surprisingly attractive. It has an all-glass front and side panel, giving you a great view of the RGB lighting on the case fans (two in front and one in back). The system has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and a good assortment of ports — but it’s notably missing USB-C connectors both in front and in back.
Designed as a gaming system, it has more than enough muscle for any streaming, recording and editing tasks (though for demanding jobs, you might consider upgrading the video card to a more advanced model, like the GeForce GTX 2070 or higher.
4. CyberpowerPC Gamer Supreme SLC8260A2Pros:
- Liquid cooling system
- Fast performance and high-end components
- Glass case
- No USB-C ports
- No bay for optical drive
The most expensive desktop in this collection of streaming computers, the CyberpowerPC Gamer Supreme SLC8260A2 is a great example of why Cyberpower is a go-to PC maker for many people. Yes, it’s pricier than average, but it’s also packed with stellar components and delivers superb performance for demanding tasks like streaming, gaming, and video editing.
This tower brings a lot more than the minimum performance to the table. Powered by an Intel Core i7-9700K and packed with 16GB RAM, it is liquid-cooled via a 120mm aluminum radiator and integrated pump with copper radiator plate. The entire assembly is permanently sealed to avoid problems with leakage or evaporation. In addition, iBuypower didn’t pull punches when it comes to storage; it has a full 1TB SSD. Rounding out the key specs is an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Super GPU. Not only is that well in excess of what you need for video streaming duty, but that makes the PC ready for high-performance gaming and VR headsets.
Of course, the system comes with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, but you also get a good assortment of USB ports (though no USB-C, unfortunately). Nonetheless, there’s plenty of space inside for expansion — both slots and drive bays.
5. Skytech Archangel Gaming Computer PCPros:
- Good price/performance ratio
- Glass side panel
- Generous 500GB SSD
- Exact components not guaranteed
- No USB-C
- Front panel not glass but doesn't include storage bays either
There’s something magical about the $1000 price point, and anytime a computer with solid specs can clock in under that value it can feel like a win. The Skytech Archangel Gaming Computer PC is just that sort of computer — it currently slides in right under $1000, but thanks to its AMD architecture, it manages to still deliver on specs despite the price.
It comes with a Ryzen 5 3600 CPU, which performs on part with the Intel Core i5. You also get 16GB RAM — that’s great for multitasking and video editing in particular — and a respectably large 500GB SSD for storage. Skytech also says that the system comes with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Super, with a caveat, and here’s where I have some concerns with Skytech. The company has a disclaimer that “brand may vary.” What that means is that you should get an equivalent to the GeForce GTX 1660 Super, but they can’t tell you exactly what to expect in your computer until it arrives, because the specific components depend upon what’s available in the supply chain when your PC is built. In the end, it probably doesn’t matter a lot, but if you want to know exactly what your PC is going to be made of, you might want to look elsewhere, since Skytech won’t guarantee anything.
The case features an all-glass side panel to expose the LED lighting within, and the system is chock full of USB ports — just no USB-C. That said, you do get Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Ethernet.
6. MSI Aegis R 10SC-017USPros:
- Great specs including Intel Core i7
- 1.5TB internal storage in total
- Attractive case
- Somewhat pricey
- No optical media
- Fans run a little loud
MSI is a well-known gaming brand, and the MSI Aegis R 10SC-017US is aimed squarely at gamers with excellent components, gaming aesthetics, and a lot of performance. Thankfully, this model does that at a reasonable price point. The Aegis R is, like many mid-range desktops, intended for gamers, but that makes it a great choice for streamers as well. Under the hood, you’ll find an Intel Core i7-10700F with 16 GB RAM and a generously spacious pair of drives: You get a 512GB system SSD and 1TB hard drive for data storage. For graphics, the system comes with an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 Super — premium, but not the top of the GeForce food chain.
The case is very attractive, with a glass side panel and stylistically adventurous semi-glass panel in front. From either vantage point, you can easily see the case’s four RGB illuminated fans. In fact, the case is pretty special; you’ll find some quick-access ports at the top front that include a pair of USB and a single USB-C ports, along with headphone and mic inputs — plus an LED button that gives you direct control of the case’s LED lighting without starting up your desktop software. That’s kind of cool.
MSI says the rig is VR ready, and in fact it is — you can use this system for gaming or tethered VR (like the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, for example) in addition to streaming and video editing. For wireless connectivity, the system is Wi-Fi 6 ready in addition to the requisite Bluetooth.
7. HP Pavilion Gaming DesktopPros:
- Media card, DVD, and USB-C up front
- SSD and HDD for 1.5TB of storage
- Professional styling
- No dedicated mic jack up front
- Graphics might need an upgrade
- Case requires a tool to open up
A lot of desktop towers these days are pretty big, almost as if vendors think that there’s value in sheer size. In reality, you don’t need an enormous tower unless you plan to add a lot of expansion cards or storage drives. If you don’t need to expand it a lot, you’re probably better off with a more modestly sized tower like the HP Pavilion Gaming Desktop. This mid-sized tower looks sharp (though it has no glass panels that let you peer inside), has a slew of handy quick-access ports and such up front, and good performance under the hood.
The case looks genuinely unique, especially in a world of gamer-aesthetic fishbowl-style towers with illuminated innards. The front gives you easy access to a pair of US ports, one USB-C, a 3-in-1 media card slot, and an audio jack. Unfortunately, that’s a combination headset jack rather than separate headphone and microphone inputs. There’s also a vertically-mounted DVD-RW drive.
Inside, you’ll find an Intel Core i5-9400F processor, 16GB RAM, and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti GPU — beefy enough for streaming, gaming, and video editing, though you might find you need more muscle, in which case you can upgrade the graphics card to something like a GeForce 2080. As for storage, HP includes a 512GB SSD for the system drive and a 1TB hard drive for data. There’s also a ton of connectivity here: Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, of course, along with VGA and HDMI, USB and Ethernet in back.
How Powerful Does Your Computer Need to Be For Streaming?
Thankfully, Twitch has taken a lot of the guesswork out of choosing the right computer for streaming audio and video. Twitch has specific recommendations for what you need, and there's nothing magical about Twitch; these specs are generally applicable to video production and streaming on any platform.
Specifically, you'll want a minimum of a 3.4 GHz Intel Core i5-4670 CPU. If you're buying an AMD-based system, the Ryzen 5 1600 is roughly comparable.
Beyond the CPU, you should also have at least 8GB RAM and, according to Twitch, an NVidia GTX 700M graphics card or better. But that graphics chipset debuted in 2013 and virtually any modern GPU will outperform it, so you really don't need to worry about graphics performance when choosing a computer for streaming.
These are minimum guidelines, and you need to take into consideration what kind of streaming you want to do. A head-and-shoulders audio-video stream using just your mic and camera won't put too much of a load on your computer, and a modest Intel Core i5-based computer is fine.
If you are creating audio-only content -- such as a podcast -- then you can even get away with an Intel Core i3. But if you intend to stream a software feed along with a picture-in-picture of you hosting a game or software demo, and you'll need significantly more CPU and RAM. It's a good idea to step up to an Intel Core i7 and 16GB RAM.
The Best Value in a Computer for Twitch Streaming
So which of these computers will serve you best? Of course, your mileage may vary -- your specific needs determine which of these PCs is right for you. But I can make some recommendations.
If your needs are modest -- and by that, I mean you mainly intend to broadcast yourself on camera without simultaneously blending in gameplay or content from another program on your desktop -- then you can hew to the minimum Twitch guidelines. The Acer Aspire TC-895-UA92 Desktop is an excellent choice, especially considering the Wi-Fi 6 support.
For more ambitious streaming, I am very partial to the MSI Aegis R 10SC-017US, which has great specs that you won't need to upgrade anytime soon, as well as a massive 1.5TB of storage (divided between the SSD system drive and HDD data drive).
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