So you want to build a streaming or gaming computer
Building a computer can seem like a very daunting task, there are a plethora of parts to choose from and on top of that the stress of actually putting together the computer itself. I assure you that neither of these tasks are difficult at all, and i am going to walk you through how to do both of them.
As i have previously stated, there are a plethora of parts available to the consumer for a computer, and each of them have specific workloads that they are best at. Fast lower core count CPUs are very good when it comes to gaming, while higher core count CPUs are far better for rendering and multithreaded workloads. One of the most common misconceptions about actually putting a computer together is about how fragile the parts are. It is not very easy to break the parts as long as you are careful, and as long as you refer to a guide like this when you are confused you will be more than fine. This guide will layout what parts to use for different workloads, i will not be covering every workload, so if you need to build something for a workload that is not specified in this article then i highly recommend you look up optimal builds for that workload. The most limiting factor to how good any build can be is really your budget. I highly recommend having a firm budget before you even start looking at parts. An amazing utility for choosing parts is www.pcpartpicker.com , i use this specific utility a lot.
Gaming is probably the single biggest reason that people build their own computers. There are plenty of companies out there that will build one for you, but you will be paying the company as well as for the parts, and a lot of times these companies use subpar motherboards and ram to save money. This makes building your own computer a very attractive option. As for components, the single most important thing to consider while building a gaming computer is making sure you build is balanced, because it doesn't make any sense to get a RTX 2080 ti (Nvidia's newest flagship GPU) and a 1080p 60Hz monitor. In this case the GPU is way overkill for the monitor, since the monitor can only display up to 60 fps, the power of the 2080 ti is wasted on the monitor. All that aside, the GPU is the most important part in this use case. I recommend getting the best GPU you can get and then choosing a processor from there, if you are limited by budget get a cheaper CPU, but just remember that you have to make sure the CPU will not bottleneck the GPU. Bottlenecking occurs when one portion of the computer is limiting the rest of the computer. The most common case of this is usually when someone gets a powerful GPU, but does not have a fast enough CPU to feed the GPU. For specific GPUs, i would recommend Nvidia GTX 10xx series cards as well as the new GTX/RTX 20xx cards. I however would not buy the founders edition cards, i would always get a custom PCB and cooler card from a company like EVGA and ASUS (these are the manufacturers that i trust and like the most). I would especially exercise this idea with the new RTX cards, They are extremely power limited (meaning that the only thing that stops how far you can overclock it is the cards power draw limit). This segways nicely into the next topic which is overclocking. Overclocking is very scary for some people, but my question to that person is why wouldn't you overclock? If you do not overclock you are paying for a feature and performance that you are not going to use, which is ridiculous. There is a common misconception that overclocking has a chance of killing whatever component you are overclocking. This is somewhat true, but only applies to people who are trying to break world records and attempting unsafe overclocks. The average user who implements a safe overclock will never come close to encountering this problem. Overclocking has even been made extremely easy over the last few years with the maturity of the UEFI bios. The next topic, or group of topics is CPUs and Motherboards. The CPU is still very important for gaming, and there are really only four things about a CPU that mater, lithography, clock speed, cores, and threads. Of these, only two really matter for gaming, these are lithography and clock speed. Games are very poorly optimized for CPU utilization and will usually only use a couple cores/threads, it is because of this that speed it key. The faster the CPU can feed the GPU information the better. This is actually a very good rule to remember, everything can benefit from a higher clock speed, but not everything can benefit from more cores/threads. That is why for strictly gaming, i recommend an intel processor (because of genetically better single core performance) of whatever price point you can afford. THIS NEXT POINT WILL BE THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THIS ARTICLE. Intel has two sockets for “mainstream use”, The LGA 1151 and LGA 2066, LGA 2066 is a workstation socket that has a family of CPUs that are far better for multithreaded applications. The LGA 1151 socket has a CPU family that has lower core counts and higher speeds which make it far better for gaming, the LGA 1151 CPU family is also far cheaper than LGA 2066. AMD also has a similar structure with their AM4 and TR4 sockets. I still always recommend intel for gaming. Now for the really important part, current generation intel LGA 1151 socketed CPUs have a pretty easy to learn naming scheme, which is (for i7) 8700 (k) and (for i5) 8x00 (k). The “k” variants of both are 8700k for i7 and 8600k for i5. The “k” means overclockable, which is very important to remember. Respectively there are different tiers of motherboards, the most popular of which are b360 and z370. The z370 chipset is the flagship chipset and supports overclocking, while the b360 chipset does not. This means that is you buy a non k series CPU from intel, do not buy a z370 motherboard!!! You will be wasting money on a feature you cannot use, the same goes for the vice vera situation. As for a manufacturer to buy from, i would highly recommend anything ASUS, in my opinion they have the best software and production quality. Cooling the CPU is also very important, to which there are really three different options, custom loop, air cooling, and AIO. I will not be touching on custom loop because it's really only for vanity and is very expensive. If you want to go the air cooler route i recommend the Cooler Master Hyper 212 evo, as it is excellent quality and fairly inexpensive. If you want something higher quality go with Noctua, as they make by far the best air coolers. If you are looking for an AIO then the choice doesn't really matter because they are pretty much all manufactured by the same company (Asetek), but i would still recommend NZXT and Corsair. RAM is the last subject i will touch on because the others simply do not really matter. Each CPU has an optimal frequency, AMD Ryzen Chips tend to like a higher frequency while intel is fairly balanced. The way i see it, you should always buy 16gb for gaming and there is no real reason to go above 3200 mHz for ddr4. And always get a dual channel kit for better bandwidth and higher speeds.
Steaming is a little more complicated than gaming, but it can be split into two different categories, single pc streaming and dual pc streaming. We will first focus on single pc streaming. Single pc streaming is very demanding on a lot of parts on a computer. I recommend a higher core count (8 and up) and as powerful as a GPU as you can get with your budget. As for RAM, 16 gb will probably be fine, but 32gb will be far safer. AS for Dual pc streaming, it is by far the better set up, but also far more expensive. Dual pc streaming means that you have one pc that runs the game and a second one to run the stream and encoding. I already covered what goes into a gaming pc so i will only be covering the streaming portion. You will still need a GPU, and in addition you will need a capture card. Streaming is extremely CPU intensive and benefits from a large amount of cores, so if you have the money i would recommend a Thread Ripper or an intel i9 as well as 32 gb of ram. The graphics card in this system is only used for one reason, H.264 encoding. This is called hardware acceleration, it essentially uses the GPU compress what the CPU is encoding to make the process faster. You do not need a very good GPU to do this, i recommend the GTX 1050 ti from ASUS or EVGA for this task. The final thing you will need is the capture card. This is what connects the gaming and streaming pc together. It takes an hdmi cable input from the gaming pc’s GPU and then feeds the video to the streaming pc’s CPU. I would highly recommend any elgato product, but make sure to get a pci-e mounting capture card to reduce latency. The 1080p 60fps model will be enough for pretty much anything, especially because twitch limits the bitrate of a streams output.