How to Stream on a Laptop (Twitch)

Streaming has become an effective way for a player to share games with an audience who has a similar passion. Nowadays, many streamers also make a living from their hobby, and there are many others who want to follow their footsteps to make money as well.

If you want to broadcast your games to a large audience, Twitch.tv is the ultimate platform! It is positioned as the undisputed leader in the streaming world. Launched in 2011, the site has grown tremendously over a number of years and has posted impressive statistics throughout.

While it is getting easier to start a broadcast to stream games around the world, many players are still wondering how they can stream via Twitch. If you have decided to share your video games with the rest of the world but you don’t know where to start, this article will give you the basics of streaming to Twitch from your laptop.

I would suggest that you take note of all the little things you need to take into account before embarking on this incredible adventure and turning it into a real career. We will tell you everything, from recommended streaming configurations to encoding software and all the other essential accessories!

You need to have good equipment if you are looking to make money with streaming. If you have a standard gamer configuration, I will highly recommend that you upgrade! A strong microphone, a high-quality webcam, Full HD or 4 K UHD, are an absolute must if you want to go pro. However, if you are just doing this for fun, then even basic equipment will do just fine!

Step 1: Getting a Twitch Account

First of all, you need to create an account on Twitch, to do this you need to go to www.Twitch.tv and click on the sign up button on the top right.

how to use a laptop as a streaming pc

As soon as you are done signing up, you can go to your streaming channel by click on the “Channel” button.

Step 2: Downloading and Installing Streaming Software

I will advise you to download and install the Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) software. I will also add here that there are other similar applications available as well, one that comes to mind is called Xsplit. But I would suggest using OBS since I find it to be more user friendly. But you are welcome to check out both.

Follow these steps on OBS to start your streaming session:

  • Go to your computer and install the Open Broadcaster Software
  • Once installation is complete, open it and click on a button called “Start Streaming” to begin streaming your screen on the Twitch.TV site.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • Remember to first enter the stream key in your OBS software. Otherwise your stream won’t broadcast on Twitch.TV.
  • You must also start your game first, right click in the sources of your OBS software, add a “Game capture” source and select your game, then validate.

Step 3: Setting Up Your Webcam

This is a pivotal step! If you don’t have your Webcam setup right your audience won’t be able to view your stream properly.

Follow these steps to activate the webcam on your stream:

  • Open your OBS software.
  • Right click in the sources.
  • Add> Video Capture Device.
  • In the device tab select your webcam
  • Validate.

There you go! Now your webcam should be good to go, ready to stream your content on your channel!

Step 4: Setting Up Your Microphone

Finally, you need the sound to come through properly. Follow these steps to activate your microphone on your stream:

  • Open your OBS software.
  • Go to the settings.
  • Go to the Audio tab.
  • In the “Microphone / Auxiliary audio device” tab select your microphone.

Other Considerations for Streaming

Testing Your Internet Speed

To start, you can test the quality of your internet connection on www.speedtest.net

Simply go on the website and press Go

how to use a laptop as a streaming pc

Once you are done you will see something like this:

how to use a laptop as a streaming pc

The most important thing here is the upload speed! Why? Because that is essentially what you are doing while streaming: uploading you content on the internet for others to view.

Here are the recommendations for different broadcast quality options:

Bass: 240p

Average: 360p

High: 480p

Optimal: It’s a mix between 480p and 720p

Optimal HD: Which corresponds to 720p

Here is a list of estimated connection / quality ratio:

Less than 0.75 Mb / second: 240p

Between 0.75 Mb / s and 1.0 Mb / second: I recommend low or medium

Between 1.0 Mb / s and 2.0 Mb / second: I recommend high quality

Between 2.0 Mb / s and 3.0 Mb / second: Optimal option possible

Greater than 3.0 Mb / second: Optimal HD is widely possible.

To know if your stream is lagging or if it is of good quality, I recommend that you test by watching your own stream on your laptop or smartphone.

Should You Use One or Two Computers for Streaming?

When broadcasting on Twitch, the encoding of your stream is handled by your processor. It is therefore a key piece in the construction of a gaming / streaming oriented setup, which is why I would recommend a machine capable of multi-tasking in the best possible way.

With the arrival of new generations of AMD Ryzen processors, it is now possible to equip yourself with an 8-core CPU without breaking the bank. This will help you stream properly, while limiting the impact on your FPS. If you have an Nvidia RTX card, you can also opt for encoding via NVENC technology and thus free up your processor resources.

To further enhance your configuration, I would advise you to go for a dual computer setup. The first computer will take care of displaying your game, and you can use the second one to manage your stream and chat with your friends. Only the most serious streamers generally go for this solution. It makes it possible to separate the gaming part and the streaming part by dividing the tasks on two different machines.

When you have a dual configuration, all the resources of the gaming machine are allocated to the game, which helps to obtain the best possible performance. If you are encoding with your processor, the second machine will have the advantage of not requiring a powerful graphics card or a monster configuration. In this case you can use a cheap laptop as you second computer because all you need is a dedicated screen.

Other Hardware Requirements

Minimum Laptop Specifications

As with every game that you buy, certain hardware requirements also apply when you stream from your laptop. I will go ahead and list the minimum requirements below. You must at least have the following specifications on your machine if you want your stream to be of good quality.

CPU: At least an Intel i5 or an AMD Ryzen 5 should be used here. Regardless of the manufacturer, the CPU must have a minimum of 4 cores. 6 cores are ideal, as the processor must both keep the game running and do the encoding. If the CPU is overloaded, you audience will experience lag.

Graphics card (GPU): Buying the right graphics card should primarily be based on the requirements of the games you are playing. Either way, however, make sure that you have an internal memory of at least 4 GB. If you have a narrow-core CPU with, for example, 4 cores, you should invest in a stronger graphics card, as this can then take over the encoding and thus relieve the CPU. Furthermore, a more powerful model can also prevent drops in the frame rate. Recommended models in this case are: Nvidia GTX 1650 Super (AMD counterpart: Radeon RX 5600) or RTX 2060 Super (AMD counterpart: RX 5700), each with 8 GB of RAM.

RAM:  RAM is super important! Without enough RAM, everything will go to waste! So, invest in at least 8 GB of RAM, if it is possible for you to invest more then I would strongly recommend 16 GB. However, 8 would also suffice.

Microphone, Condenser or Dynamic?

The microphone is the first port of call when it comes to building a relationship between the viewer and the streamer. Before you reach for the first available microphone, you should ask yourself the following question: condenser or dynamic? Both have their own strengths and weaknesses.

Dynamic mics are popular with musicians since they are more robust and less susceptible to feedback. In dynamic mics you rarely find anything more than a moving coil and a protective basket, which makes them incredibly resilient. However, they are best suited for stage performances or recordings. If you want to conquer Twitch with your singing talent, you are probably best served with such a recording device 😊

Condenser mics on the other hand are known for finer sound structures and are therefore suited for having conversations. If you are going to be talking a lot, a good condenser microphone is the way to go. However, unlike the dynamic version, you will need a phantom power supply to connect the mic to your computer. You will also need an amplifier with an XLR port in between, which you can connect to your laptop via USB. You can get the Razer Seiren X, which is solid and also very cheap. If want to stretch out a little further, you will find that the ASUS Strix Magnus is a powerful alternative that you can work with for a long time.

Headset

For serious streamers, a good headset is non-negotiable! with the emergence games such as PUBG and Fortnite, this has become even more important. The question here is Wireless or Wired?

Wirless models have the great advantage of flexibility. You don’t need a cable, but you have to charge your device regularly. Devices that use Bluetooth and not proprietary technology such as Logitech or SteelSeries are mostly compatible with smartphones. Wireless is advisable for those who like walk around a lot!

Wired models are usually more universal and not as susceptible to interference. The cable can sometimes get in the way though. Many professional players rely on wired devices because every computer has USB and jack connections.

So each have their own positives and negatives, but honestly they’re both fine. If you don’t move around a lot and want to save some money, just go with the wired one. Otherwise a wireless headset would be ideal.

Webcam

Hearing the thunderous voices of our favorite streamers is one of the great advantages of live streaming, nevertheless, visual content has become a strong focus in recent years. It’s about getting personal insights into the lives of Twitch personalities or simply about capturing reactions to unusual game situations. A webcam with strong resolution is an important tool, especially for those who want to score points with their appearance or who want to be close to their viewers.

Three factors play a big role when choosing your streaming cam: resolution, format and frame rate. So, try to get a laptop with a 720p webcam, if not you also have the option to buy an external one cheaply. If you are approaching streaming professionally, then you should not ignore a Full HD cam. The same applies to the frame rate. Fortunately, the days of choppy webcams with a meager 15 frames per second are over, most gamers now use one with at least 60 FPS.

Final Words

You are now ready to stream your gameplay to twitch on your own channel. I wish you great success with your streaming project. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out via the Contact form on this site and if you liked this article, please go ahead and give it a share!