3 Factors to Consider When Choosing a CPU for Streaming

Posted on: 31 March 2017

If you are planning to build a new computer for streaming video games online, the CPU, or processor, will be the most important part of your computer. Here are three factors to keep in mind when you are choosing a CPU for your game streaming PC.

Core Count

The more cores your CPU has, the more processes it can handle at once. While video games can create dozens or even hundreds of processes, there are only a few major processes for features such as audio, AI, and syncing large numbers of players, that take up significant CPU time. For this reason, a quad-core CPU is usually considered to be sufficient for gaming.

The requirements for core count change significantly when you are gaming and streaming at the same time. Transcoding your display in real time into a streamable video format places a heavy load on your CPU, so you will need more cores to distribute the load evenly. 

Instructions Per Cycle

The strength of your CPU's cores is just as important as the number of cores you have. The best metric for the strength of a CPU core is known as Instructions Per Clock, or IPC. Unfortunately, processor manufacturers do not provide specific measurements of the IPCs of their products, so you must use indirect evidence to evaluate a chip's IPC.

One of the most reliable ways to get an idea of a CPU's IPC is to look for single-core benchmarks. These benchmarks force the CPU to perform calculations on one core at maximum speed. Between two processors that are running at the same clock speed - measured in gigahertz for modern CPUs - the CPU with the highest single-core benchmark score will have the greater IPC. Many computer hardware review sites will post benchmark results regularly as new processors are released.

Overclocking Capability

While overclockable, or unlocked, processors will be more expensive initially, you can expect to keep them for longer periods between upgrades than you would their non-overclockable counterparts. The clock speed of an unlocked processor can be increased through your motherboard's BIOS as long as you purchase a board that is compatible with overclocking. As new games are released that demand more from your CPU, you will be able to continue streaming your games without sacrificing the fidelity of either the game or the stream.

Keep these tips in mind when you build your next streaming PC so you can find the processor that will best suit your needs for gaming and streaming. Check out sites like VideoGameBroadcasts.com to test out your PC's streaming capabilities.