Video game streaming has come a long way in the past few years. We now have laptops that can handle both gaming and streaming at the same time, games that take better advantage of the available hardware, and numerous platforms where players can show their gameplay. Additionally, streaming has become a viable way of making money, and this has left many people asking how they can get started. This is what we will be looking at below.
Can You Stream from a Laptop?
Yes, you can stream video games directly from your laptop. However, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, your older laptop might not have the performance to stream and game at the same time. It might have a weaker CPU and GPU that will not handle the sustained load of streaming.
Second, the laptop needs adequate thermal headroom to stream continuously. Your CPU and GPU are the hottest components inside a laptop, so they need to be adequately cooled if you would like their performance to stay at acceptable levels during your streams.
So, what specs does a laptop need to steam games? Arguably the most important one is the graphics card. You need one that can hit the high framerates you need for the stream to be enjoyable for your audience.
You also require a graphics card that can handle GPU-NVENC encoding. This feature is available on laptops with Nvidia mobile GPUs, and it allows the accelerated video recording and encoding to be handled by the GPU rather than the CPU.
Casual streamers who need their laptops for other things like schoolwork can also consider features like touch capabilities and weight. Touchscreen gaming laptops are available from platforms like Lenovo.com, and you can expect amazing performance whether gaming or doing something else with the laptop.
Other computer-specific specifications to consider are the CPU, RAM, and storage. You should have more than you need for playing offline games because of the additional demands of video streaming.
Knowing all this, what else do you need?
An Additional Monitor
Laptop screens have become much better, but you are still limited to about 17 inches of screen. An additional and larger monitor will improve your experience drastically. You can play the game on the larger monitor and keep an eye on your chat, comments, and viewers on the laptop monitor which becomes the secondary monitor.
Be careful not to buy a monitor that will place further stress on the laptop. The resolution, refresh rate, and size are the main considerations in this case.
A Reliable Internet Connection
Apart from the laptop’s internals, this will have the biggest impact on the experience you provide your audience. For streaming, always go with a wired connection. If your laptop does not have an ethernet connection, you can use an adapter with one of the high-speed USB ports on the computer.
The most important things are reliability and stable speeds because faster speeds with occasional dips are much worse for the viewer experience.
A Webcam and Microphone
The webcam on your laptop will not be enough. You need a webcam that has at least 720P resolution. That said, most streamers use a 1080P webcam.
There are a lot of features you need to sift through such as face tracking, portrait and landscape rotation, built-in ring lights, HDR recording, and many more. The more features the webcam camera has, the more expensive it will be, so keep this in mind.
You also need a microphone, and you can check out what most streamers use as those are all usually solid options.
A Capture Card
If your laptop is struggling to handle streaming and gaming at the same time, a lot of people use a second computer to handle the streaming while their laptop handles the gaming. To do this, you need a capture card. The capture card, well, captures a video stream, and sends it to the system that handles the encoding and uploading. It is just a pass-through card to allow all this.
A streaming card might not be important for you when starting out, but you might need it if you decide to build a dedicated streaming computer.
As you can see, it is possible to game on a laptop as long as you have the right one and have everything else set up right. You can always graduate to a dedicated gaming and streaming computer once you start building an audience.