A Mini-ITX Streaming PC wasn't a viable option up until a few years back. However, with faster, more powerful processors and a plethora of great hardware options in the market today, it’s all about picking the right components for your build.
What does a streaming PC need?
Before picking the components that will go into your PC, it's important to be aware of what factors affect streaming the most. This will allow you to make smart choices not only now, but in the future too, as you encounter newer hardware releases.
Here are the factors that affect gaming and streaming:
- Framerates or FPS: If you're an avid gamer, you know how important framerates are for an enjoyable gaming experience. Building a streaming PC that can deliver great FPS not only improves your own gaming experience, but it also enhances the quality of your stream. Lower framerates translate into a terrible, slideshow-like stream that massacres both the viewer and your own gaming experience. We recommend picking components that can sustain a steady 60 FPS.
- Processor Cores: Streaming involves capturing whatever’s rendered on your screen and transcoding it into a usable video stream. What makes this task especially hard is that it has to be done on-the-fly, while you’re gaming. Higher core count processors are ideal for this task thanks to their multi-tasking potential. We recommend a 6-core AMD Ryzen processor for a streaming PC in 2018.
- Heat: Since Mini-ITX builds are more compact compared to M-ATX and ATX PCs, airflow can’t be expected to be as efficient. Hence, make sure that your build won’t run into any thermal throttling issues. There's no point of splurging on powerful hardware if they can’t deliver the best possible performance. Strike a balance between heat generated and performance delivered.
Our Processor of Choice for a Mini-ITX Streaming PC – AMD Ryzen CPUs
AMD's latest releases have turned the processor market on its head. Gone are the days when even a 6-core processor used to command a hefty HEDT (High End Desktop) premium. Ryzen brings powerful, premium computing to the budget user – making budget streaming PCs like this one possible.
We chose the AMD Ryzen 5 2600 for this build because it offers a high-core count (6 physical cores and 12 threads) and its heat dissipation is within reasonable limits. Moreover, when combined with the right components, these processors can run even cooler and faster.
Yes, there are better processors for purely gaming uses. But AMD Ryzen has most of the competition beat when it comes to gaming and streaming simultaneously at every price point.
Our Motherboard of choice for Optimal Streaming Performance – MSI B450I GAMING PLUS AC
MSI's B450I GAMING PLUS AC motherboard is an ideal choice for a Mini-ITX streaming PC. Packed with a plethora of features that are designed to extract the most out of the 2nd generation AMD Ryzen CPUs, these motherboards unlock the power you need for streaming and gaming, even in a compact form factor PC.
Some features packed into this motherboard are:
- Core Boost – Finely-engineered circuitry meets a digital power delivery design for maximum power efficiency. Not only does this ensure that high-core-count processors can work at peak performance for long gaming and streaming sessions, it also ensures they run at lower temperatures.
- 9 Power Phases – AMD Ryzen CPUs feature unlocked cores and threads. The 9 power phases ensure that you can overclock your processor higher than ever, without compromising on system stability or operating temperatures.
- Turbo M.2 and AMD StoreMI – These technologies speed up your storage devices. They reduce game load times and make your gaming and streaming experiences smoother. While StoreMI combines your hard drives and solid-state drives into single, faster drives, Turbo M.2 allows your NVMe SSDs to reach peak performance easily.
Other Build Components
GPU: MSI RADEON RX 580 MECH 2 8G OC
The RX 580 offers a great gaming experience for gamers at 1080p, especially if you’re looking to pair your PC with an AMD FreeSync monitor. The MSI Radeon RX 580 Mech 2 8G OC is a factory overclocked graphics card that allows it operate at peak performance without running into any stability issues.
It can sustain blistering high framerates that give you an advantage in competitive games. Moreover, it can tackle the latest games and consistently deliver the recommended FPS of 60 as well. This ensures that your viewers get a smooth stream to watch while you enjoy a fluid gaming experience.
Memory: 16 GB DDR4 HyperX FURY
This DDR4 HyperX FURY 16 GB memory will give your streaming PC more than enough RAM to play the latest games and stream to your audience simultaneously. This means more breathing room for multitasking, multiple browser tabs, and many other things.
SSD: 256GB Samsung 950 Pro NVMe
This solid-state drive is large enough to house a Windows installation as well as a selection of frequently-played games. Since the Turbo M.2 slots can unlock this drive’s full potential, it makes an excellent addition to this compact build – delivering substantial performance improvements over using only a Hard Disk Drive (HDD).
PSU: 600W InWin 80+ Bronze
A modular PSU is a no-brainer for a compact PC build like this one. This 600W PSU’s efficiency is rated bronze, ensuring that at least 80% of the power drawn by this unit is utilized. The InWin 80+ Bronze PSU’s slim cables make it perfect for Mini-ITX streaming PCs that need the power but do not have the space to house the bulkier wires. Moreover, its silent fans operate at below 38 decibels to ensure that your gaming sessions aren’t interrupted by a noisy fan.
Fans: 3X 120mm InWin Polaris
Cooling is extremely important, especially in smaller Mini-ITX builds. Since airflow is limited, these 3 120mm InWin Polaris fans will provide the cooling your components need to maintain excellent temperatures that will allow you to extend your gaming and streaming sessions without worrying about performance. The fans’ LED RGB lighting is an added bonus; you can never go wrong with a bit of flair in your streaming PC.
Cabinet/Case: InWin A1 Mini-ITX Tower
InWin blends a modern Scandinavian design with tempered glass and brushed aluminum to craft a gorgeous Mini-ITX cabinet that looks absolutely stunning. It can comfortably house CPU coolers of up to 160mm height and graphics cards of 300mm length. A transparent side panel completes the design to ensure that your elegant lighting and component choices don’t remain hidden from sight.
A Qi Wireless Charging station is literally the cherry on top – allowing you to charge your Qi-enabled mobile devices without any hassle. Simply place your phone or tablet on top of the cabinet, and voila, it starts to charge. What’s more. Wireless charging works even when your PC is powered off!
Monitor: MSI OPTIX MPG27CQ
This Full HD Curved Gaming Monitor from MSI features top-notch specs and nifty features that make it one of the best gaming monitors out there. A 144Hz refresh rate, 1 ms response time, and AMD FreeSync support gives this monitor all the hardware and software support it needs to complement your AMD GPU and Ryzen CPU. Even though you’re building a streaming PC, you have to make sure that you aren't compromising on your own gaming experience.
What to expect from this Mini-ITX Streaming PC
Unlike Mini-ITX PCs built a few years ago when they meant having to compromise on performance, today's Mini-ITX builds are almost as powerful as their full-sized counterparts. This particular build offers a great balance between performance and price – making it a great budget option for gamers who want to stream their gameplay to a live audience.
AMD’s Ryzen processors bring powerful multi-core processing to the budget market. So, you can use this Mini-ITX PC to play games and stream them simultaneously. Although competitive titles like Dota 2, Overwatch, League of Legends, and so on would be ideal, you can also play the latest games without any loss in fluidity thanks to AMD FreeSync.
In addition to delivering a smooth, enjoyable stream to your viewers, you can expect to maintain competitive frame rates to fuel your high-refresh rate monitors in most competitive game titles.
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