What Makes a Streaming PC Different from a Gaming PC?

What Makes a Streaming PC Different from a Gaming PC?

A common misconception that people have while getting a new computer is that they can get into streaming on an average gaming PC. While you can do that, streaming PCs require different components for optimal performance compared to gaming PCs. 

The main difference between gaming and streaming PCs is the CPU and GPU. A dedicated streaming PC prioritizes a powerful CPU for handling intensive tasks like streaming, while a gaming computer emphasizes a high-performance GPU for rendering games.

Let's discuss the further distinguishing factors that separate a primarily gaming-oriented PC from a streaming PC.

Hardware Differences Between Streaming & Gaming PCs

When getting a PC for gaming vs getting one for streaming, you'll have to account for several hardware differences. To make things easier to understand, here is a breakdown of all the different components for streaming PCs compared to those strictly for gaming.

Processor (CPU)

The processor, CPU, is responsible for handling all the intensive tasks, which include streaming. While a particular processor may comfortably handle any video game, it might need help with providing even half-decent live streams. Therefore, we recommend a CPU with at least eight cores to play video games and stream on it without any performance drops.

Graphics Card (GPU)

While playing video games, your GPU’s main job is to render or generate all the frames on your screen. However, when you're streaming, the entire gameplay video has to be encoded, which is done by the GPU. Budget-oriented GPUs might work fine for gaming and deliver impressive performance, but you'll have to spend a few extra bucks on a GPU for a streaming machine.

Memory (RAM)

The minimum streaming requirement listed on the official requirements for Twitch and YouTube is 8GB. However, considering how cheap RAM has become, we recommend getting nothing under 16GB. Going for 8GB will likely result in frequent framerate drops and stuttery gameplay.


An HDD is an absolute no-go for streaming PCs. You can add an HDD if you want more storage for games you play less often. But we strongly recommend getting an SSD where you install the operating system, the streaming software, and the game you wish to stream.

Capture Card

A capture card is a PC component that allows you to capture and record audio and video signals from external sources such as consoles. In other words, you can use it to stream your console gameplay. It's another piece of hardware recommended in a streaming PC build but unnecessary for a gaming rig. 

What You Need in a Gaming PC

A gaming PC requires a high-performance GPU to render games at optimal settings. However, even a four-core CPU like the latest-gen Intel i3 or the Ryzen 3 is more than enough for any video game you throw at it.

For RAM, while most official system requirements typically suggest 8GB, we recommend getting nothing below 16GB to ensure smooth gameplay without severe framerate drops. Finally, you'll need an SSD for fast loading times, but you can get an HDD along with the SSD for more storage.  

What You Need in a Streaming PC

In contrast, while a capable GPU is essential, preferably a bit more powerful than one for gaming performance, it takes a backseat in a streaming PC. A streaming PC requires a powerful CPU with at least eight cores for live streams. 

You'll also need a capture card, especially if you plan to stream gameplay from one of your consoles, like the PS5 or the Xbox. RAM and storage requirements, on the other hand, are the same as a gaming PC, including at least 16GB of RAM and an SSD for the streaming software, the game files, and the operating system. 

Using a Gaming PC In Tandem with a Streaming Desktop

Strictly streaming on its own doesn't require a high-performance PC. You only have to spend that extra cash on expensive PC components when you're streaming on the same PC as the one you're gaming on. You need that extra performance because everything else under will get chewed up by the game you are playing.

Fortunately, if you don't want to get all those powerful parts just so you can stream your gameplay, you can always opt for a dual PC streaming setup where one would be your primary gaming PC and the other would be a dedicated streaming desktop. This way, you can optimize your gaming PC more towards gaming.

It's a great option because when most gamers decide to get a new gaming PC, they already have a spare capable PC that can easily handle streaming. Check out our complete dual PC setup guide to learn how to use two computers together, where one takes care of the gaming, and the other does the streaming.

Streaming Vs. Gaming PC FAQs

To help you understand the differences between streaming and gaming PCs, here are answers to some of the most common FAQs on that topic.

Can a Gaming PC Be Used for Streaming?

Yes, you can use a gaming PC for streaming, but for optimal performance, it must have a powerful CPU with at least eight cores and a capable GPU for encoding.

Do You Need a Powerful PC to Stream Games?

Yes! You need a powerful PC for streaming games. If you plan on getting into streaming, check out the Apex Streamer prebuilt PC, packed with high-performance hardware capable of handling any video game and high-quality streaming. 

Why Do Streamers Use 2 PCs?

Streamers often use two PCs, one for gaming and the other for streaming. This is done through capture cards, as one PC is dedicated to gaming, and another can easily handle encoding and broadcasting.

Is CPU or GPU More Important for Streaming?

For streaming, the CPU is more important than the GPU. A powerful CPU with at least eight cores is essential, while the GPU primarily handles rendering games during gameplay. 

Summary of Streaming Vs. Gaming PCs

The distinction between streaming and gaming PCs lies primarily in their emphasis on hardware. Gaming PCs prioritize high-performance GPUs for rendering gameplay, while streaming PCs require CPUs with at least eight cores for encoding and handling something as intensive as streaming. Streaming setups often include a capture card, allowing gamers to stream gameplay from consoles. 

While both require 16GB RAM and SSD storage for faster load times, gaming PCs focus more on GPU power, while streaming PCs rely heavily on the CPU's ability to multitask. However, many people separate both tasks and get a PC for each, where one takes care of the gaming part, and the other handles the streaming. Understanding these differences will allow you to decide the best route for your requirements.

Written By Dani K

Edited By Will Wilson

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