5 Best CPU for Dedicated Streaming PC in 2021

Last Updated on May 30, 2021

While most streamers use a single PC for gaming as well as streaming, some go an extra mile and build a dedicated streaming PC for themselves just so that they can have the best performance and viewing experience for their audience.

There are many benefits to building a second PC for streaming the biggest of which is that it frees up resources on your primary gaming PC. There are also disadvantages particularly the added the cost of building one.

Fortunately, your second PC for streaming does not have to be expensive. Here in this article we look at the best CPU for dedicated streaming PC.

Again, you don’t have to go anywhere near top of the line CPUs in order to achieve 1080p @ 60 FPS on a dedicated streaming PC.

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Processors for Dedicated Streaming PC Compared

List of Best CPU for Dedicated Streaming PC in 2021

The following are fairly capable processor for a streaming build. They are not top of the line, but more than sufficient.

  1. AMD Ryzen 5 3400G – Recommended Mainstream CPU for Dedicated Streaming PC
  2. Intel Core i5-10400 – Lower-mid Range Intel Mainstream CPU
  3. AMD Ryzen 5 3600XT – High-Mid Range Mainstream CPU for 1080 and 1440P Streaming
  4. AMD Ryzen 7 5800X – High Performance Processor for 4K Streaming
  5. AMD Ryzen 3 3200G – Budget CPU for Low Level Streaming

Processor Requirement for Building a Streaming PC

As mentioned earlier, you don’t need a powerful CPU in order to use x264 software based encoding to stream videos at 1080p @60FPS.

A good low-mid range processor from the Intel Core i3, AMD Ryzen 3 or from Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 line would do just fine.

On top of that, you don’t need to invest on top of the line motherboard either. For instance you can go with the budget H series motherboards for Intel or A series motherboard for Rzyen processor so long as they have the compatible sockets.

Does Streaming Processor Need More Cores?

Since you will likely be using the x264 software encoding in your dedicated machine (which uses CPU resources instead of the GPU), then your system will definitely benefit from as many cores as you can give it.

x264 is designed to scale with multiple cores. x264 can use more cores (and threads) to distribute the encoding workload. However, there is a consensus (read here and here) that having a lot of threads can actually harm the encoding process. 22-24 threads is generally considered the maximum point before the performance starts to diminish.

However, since a dedicated streaming PC is a budget build, it would not feature a processor that comes near this many amount of threads or cores.

As far as official guidelines from Twitch are concerned, they go as follows:

Encoding can be taxing on your system. x264 will utilize a lot of your CPU, resulting in lower FPS. Alternatively, GPU encoding (e.g. NVIDIA NVENC) utilizes a dedicated encoder in the GPU, allowing you to play and stream without compromising game performance . If you want to use x264, start with veryfast preset, and experiment with them until you find your sweet spot. – stream.twitch.tv

Single Core vs Mutli Core Performance

We have already established that multi-core performance matters for x264 encoding.

However, single-core performance, generally attributed to the clock speed, matter as well. The higher the clock speed, the faster the video can be encoded.

Think of this as a conveyor belt. The more cores/threads you have, the more conveyor belts you have that are passing encoding data. The higher the clock speed you have, the FASTER the conveyor belt operates.

Hence, the overall idea here is to strike the right balance between clock speed and core count.

Processors for Streaming Build Reviewed

1. AMD Ryzen 5 3400G – Recommended Mainstream CPU for Dedicated Streaming PC

AMD Ryzen 5 3400G

Affordable AMD processor with 4 cores and 8 threads. Features dedicated graphics card.

First up we have an excellent, and a rather affordable, processor for building your dedicated streaming PC.

This is essentially a lower-mid range mainstream processor that features 4 cores and 8 threads. While this is certainly not an extraordinary CPU, for streaming on 1080p and 60 frames per second, this is one of the best CPU for dedicated streaming PC.

The CPU has a low 4.2 GHz clock and does not support 3200 MHz RAM like its more expensive counterparts, but for simple streaming, this should more than suffice.

We must reiterate this again, your streaming PC does not have to have a powerful CPU. x264 encoding, while heavily reliant on the CPU performance, would be performed at sufficient levels given the fact that 90-100% of the CPU resources will be entirely dedicated to streaming here.

AMD Ryzen 5 3400G Cinebench R20 Benchmark

  • Single Core: 412
  • Multi Core: 1969

2. Intel Core i5-10400 – Lower-mid Range Intel Mainstream CPU

Intel Core i5-10400

A low grade mainstream processor by Intel for basic builds.

Next up we have yet another mainstream processor from the lower-mid range price bracket.

Unlike its more powerful counterpart, the Intel Core i5-10600K, this processor is weaker both in terms of single core and multi core performance, but is also much cheaper.

Compared to the Ryzen 5 3400G, however, this is much more capable. Not only does this have 6 cores and 12 threads, it also has a higher max clock speed of 4.3 GHz.

Recall from earlier that a higher core count and a higher clock speed both contribute to improving the performance.

Hence if you want the best CPU for Dedicated Streaming PC where you plan to not just encode your streams comfortably at 1080 and 60 FPS, but also do light multitasking, then we recommend this.

Intel Core i5-10400 Cinebench R20 Benchmark

  • Single Core: 450
  • Multi Core: 3197

3. AMD Ryzen 5 3600XT – High-Mid Range Mainstream CPU for 1080 and 1440P Streaming

AMD Ryzen 5 3600XT

Recommended high performance mainstream processor for heavier streaming loads.

Here we have one of the most capable processor out there not just for your streaming PC, but for gaming in general.

This is a processor that you can use to stream your games at 1440P and at frame rates higher than 60 comfortably. This is simply due to the fact that this processor features an excellent clock speed of 4.5 GHz per core.

This processor also has 6 cores and 12 threads like the Intel Core i5-10400 above, however, it performs significantly better both in single core and mutli core benchmarks which can be attributable to higher clock speed, large cache memory, faster RAM support etc.

All in all if you have a respectable budget and you want to make a highly capable system, then this is one of the best CPU for dedicated streaming PC.

AMD Ryzen 5 3600XT Cinebench R20 Benchmark

  • Single Core: 519
  • Multi Core: 3855

4. AMD Ryzen 7 5800X – High Performance Processor for 4K Streaming

AMD Ryzen 7 5800X

A high performance processor suitable for 4k streaming if you wish.

This processor is more powerful processor that we would recommend here. For streaming on 4K at 60 frames per second, or streaming QHD but with higher than 60 frames per second, then this one of the best CPU for dedicated streaming PC.

Note that most of the streaming services out there have a cap limit. For instance, twitch has a bitrate limit of 6000 and 1080P resolution max. Youtube does not have a cap.

But in order to stream at 4k, you would need to factor in the fact that you would need a very fast internet speed as well.

Regardless of that, if you do not aim for 4K streaming, but instead you plan to do heavy multitasking on your dedicated streaming PC while also encoding the stream, then a high performance CPU with many cores and threads will definitely come in handy.

AMD Ryzen 7 5800XT Cinebench R20 Benchmark

  • Since Core: 628
  • Multi Core: 5724

5. AMD Ryzen 3 3200G – Budget CPU for Low Level Streaming

AMD Ryzen 3 3200G

A highly affordable low-budget CPU for HD (720p) streaming.

AMD Ryzen 3 3200G is weakest processor in the list and only recommend for those who have a limited budget for their streaming builds.

This is a processor that is perhaps suitable for 720p streaming at 60 FPS, but can be pushed to 1080p after some tweak with the settings.

Building a system with this CPU would mean that you would literally be doing nothing else while this system is encoding the streams.

Hence if budget is of significant concern, then we highly recommend this.

AMD Ryzen 3 3200G Cinebench R20 Benchmark

  • Single Core: 390
  • Multi Core: 1481

FAQ

Why Go for a Dedicated PC for Streaming?

Best CPU for Dedicated Streaming PC 2
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There are many advantages to building a dedicated streaming build for yourself.

For starters, it saves up resources on your primary PC. This basically can translate to better gaming performance.

Secondly, since the dedicated PC does not need to have a dedicated graphics card, not only would this save up on cost, but you would not need to worry about setting up hardware encoding like NVENC either.

Thirdly, if you play a lot of CPU intensive games like strategy games or simulation games then having a dedicated PC becomes a must for x264 encoding.

Fourthly, it creates a a separate streaming environment for your where you have dedicated drives, microphone and all the essential software installed in one while your primary PC houses all the games.

Fifthly, in case if your primary PC decides to shut down due to an error, or just restarts randomly (as mine does), your stream will still stay live.

And finally, you get to have better quality stream sent to twitch or your dedicated streaming platform. The streams are reliable and stable making your audience happy.

Why NOT Go for a Dedicated Streaming System?

Well the first and the obvious downside to building a dedicated system is the financial loss that you will incur. But even if you are able to handle that, there are few more cons to building one.

The other important con is the issue of connecting the two PC and tweaking the settings so that there is no quality issue. This is particularly true if you are using a virtual network like the NDI where instead of using a capture card, you use networking.

Furthermore, there are issues with audio synchronization that may occur between two PC on both capture card or the NDI method. To fix this you may have to invest even more on a mixer.

Then there is the issue of space requirement. You obviously need a fairly comprehensive desk setup to house both systems as well as your streaming equipment comfortably.

Single Vs Dual PC Streaming Setup Recommended Video

Final Words

If you want to build a second system for streaming, then getting the best CPU for dedicated streaming build is the first step to follow.

As we saw, the best CPU for streaming is far from being the top of the line processor out there. Any good mid range processor would suffice for your streaming PC.

The real challenge is setting the entire setup with excellent video capture cards so that the quality turns out to be pristine.

Atif Qazi

Atif Qazi is the founder of PCGearLab. He is a PC enthusiast as well as engineer with a keen interest in PC hardware and all stuff related to tech and games.

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