Best Laptops for Live Streaming – Complete Buying Guide 2021

Last Updated on February 12, 2021

Live Streaming is a very demanding task for a laptop, a couple of years ago, it was considered to be a super CPU intensive task but now with technological developments such as Nvidia’s NVENC (stream encoder), this load is quite distributed between the CPU and the GPU. Regardless, to ensure that we get a smooth stream with no glitches, we need a decently specified machine.

The level of performance you need will surely vary with the task that you want to live stream i.e. gaming, lectures, or general screen shares, however, these will be discussed in detail in the buyer’s guide below.

List of the Best Laptops for Live Streaming

1. Acer Predator Helios

The Acer Predator Helios is the pinnacle of performance that you can find on a laptop. If your Live Streaming is focused on gaming, the Predator Helios is one of the best laptops that you can get. It has excellent performance featuring the latest processor and graphics card from Intel and Nvidia respectively. The display is great too. Although it is just a 1080p display, it does make up for it by having a 144 Hz refresh rate. Some would even argue that for a better gaming experience, the higher refresh rate is a very easy tradeoff for the lower yet still sharp 1080p resolution.

Furthermore, the RGB backlit keyboard of the Helios gives it a very gamer look that would look very nice if you choose to add video from an external camera to your stream too. Also, the Pro Wireless 1650i option included in the Predator Helios will ensure that you maintain a steady internet connection even when you are not connected to your router through a LAN cable. 

Overall, the Acer Predator Helios is a great pick for someone who’s looking to live stream while they game on their laptop. Especially considering its price, at just $1199, it outruns many of its competitors in not just its performance but its price too.

CPU: Core i7 10th Generation| GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 6GB | RAM: 16 GB DDR4 | Storage: 512 GB NVMe SSD | Size: 15.6 inch | Screen: 1920 x 1080 144 Hz

Pros:

  • Excellent Performance.
  • 144 Hz Display.
  • Good Selection of Ports.
  • Reasonable Price
  • Great Wireless capabilities.

Cons:

  • Heavy and bulky.

 

2. Dell G5

In terms of the performance, the Dell G5 is a great laptop. It would play almost all the new game titles and would even stream them to your favorite site.  Furthermore, it supports 5 GHz Radio Frequency so you can maintain an uninterrupted internet experience even if you are connected through WiFi. The Sleek Design also adds an element of uniqueness to the laptop. Unlike other gaming laptops, the Dell G5 is not all flashy and filled with RGB lights, instead, it features a more classic design which some people might prefer.

On the display front, the Dell G5 only has a 1080p display which although sufficient, is not like some of the models that feature a 1440p display. Moreover, the display is not even 144 Hz which some gamers might enjoy very much. All this combined with Dell’s improved cooling system, however, promises to keep the laptop considerably cool even during heavy loads to prevent massive drops in performance due to overheating. 

Overall, coming in at $1260, the Dell G5 is a very capable machine that would cater to all your needs without compromising on something that ruins your experience significantly.

CPU: Core i7 9th Generation| GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 4GB GDDR5 | RAM: 16 GB DDR4 | Storage: 256 GB SSD and 1 TB SATA Drive| Size: 15.6 inch | Screen: 1920 x 1080 144 Hz

Pros:

  • Great Performance.
  • Impressive Storage option.
  • Sleek and Simple Design.
  • New Cooling Design.
  • Decent Port Selection.

Cons:

  • Battery Life is not amazing.
  • Heavy.
  • Lack of a 144 Hz Display

 

3. MacBook Pro 16 inch

If live-streaming games is not your things and your live streaming schedule includes other tasks, the Macbook Pro 16 inch might be the best performing laptop in this list. Although this laptop is not gaming (especially considering that it runs macOS) this does not mean that the laptop is slow. Instead, it is extremely fast for any productivity work that you throw at it, be it video editing or photo editing or whatever else. 

The laptop also features a super high-quality retina display that would make it a pleasure for you to stream. Furthermore, the Macbook features improved cooling so you can hold your streaming sessions for longer without worrying about performance drops due to thermal throttling. 

There is a downside to the Macbook Pro though, and this is the limited selection of ports. There are no conventional ports on the Macbook Pro, instead, there are 4 thunderbolt ports. And although almost any of the conventional ports can be connected through a thunderbolt adapter, carrying and connecting dongles all the time might cause a problem for some.

Overall, the Macbook Pro 16 inch is a powerhouse and would provide a smooth experience for all of your live streaming needs. Although it is expensive at around $2000, the extreme performance that it provides is worth it.

CPU: Core i7 9th Generation| GPU: AMD Radeon Pro 5300M GDDR6 | RAM: 16 GB DDR4 | Storage: 512 GB SSD | Size: 16 inch | Screen: 3072 x 1920 Retina Display

Pros:

  • Elegant Design.
  • Great Performance.
  • Improved Cooling.
  • Portable compared to other 16 inches.

Cons:

  • Only Thunderbolt ports for the I/O.
  • Expensive.

4. Lenovo Legion Y545

The Lenovo Legion Y545 is a very capable laptop. It features top of the line specifications that you will have no worry with while playing games. Even streaming directly from the laptop would be possible. It has a decent 1080p display, however, the lack of a 144 Hz refresh rate is something that might bothersome. Furthermore, for a gamer. The storage option is something to appreciate. The legion comes with a combination of a smaller PCIe SSD and a larger 1 TB HDD. This allows you to not compromise on the speed of an SSD for more important things like booting up into windows faster or launching apps faster but still lets you have the advantage of having a large storage space that is offered by the HDD for a low cost.

If you are aiming to use the laptop as the sole live streaming machine and don’t even intend to use a separate camera though, the Legion Y545 might cause issues for you with its webcam placement. The webcam is placed at the bottom of the screen which provides a very different and not so pleasing angled view of the user.

Overall, if you have a separate camera arrangement to incorporate in your live stream, the Lenovo Legion Y545 provides great specifications at a decent price of $1240.

CPU: Core i7 9th Generation| GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti 6GB DDR6 | RAM: 16 GB DDR4 | Storage: 512 GB PCIe SSD and 1 TB HDD | Size: 15.6 inch | Screen: 1920 x 1080 

Pros:

  • Great Performance.
  • Value for Money.
  • Decent Storage Options.

Cons:

  • Webcam placement.
  • Lack of 144 Hz Display.

5. Alienware Area 51M

The Alienware Area 51M is a very capable laptop. Its performance rivals the Acer Predator Helios that takes our number one spot. So it promises similar levels of gaming and streaming performance to the Acer Predator Helios. The biggest difference between these two laptops, however, is the price. Hence, the Alienware Area 51M being significantly more expensive gets a lower spot on our list.

There are a few reasons for which someone might want to spend the extra cash on this laptop though. First of all, Alienware laptops are more or less considered as a symbol of portable gaming. Also, Alienware promises better performance in a thinner chassis (compared to other gaming laptops).

Also, the Alienware Area 51M features a 1080p display with a super high refresh rate of 144 Hz which is a dream come true for all gaming fans. Furthermore, by fitting a larger, 76 WHr battery in the Area 51M, Alienware promises a longer lasting battery life so your gaming sessions can go on for longer.

If you think that the different design and the claimed better cooling design make a big enough difference for you to spend the extra money on the Alienware, it is available for $1799.

CPU: Core i7 9th Generation| GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 6GB | RAM: 16 GB DDR4 | Storage: 512 GB NVMe SSD | Size: 15.6 inch | Screen: 1920 x 1080 144 Hz

Pros:

  • Thin design for a gaming laptop.
  • Superior Build Quality.
  • Great Performance.
  • Improved Cooling.

Cons:

  • Expensive

6. Razer Blade 15

The Razer Blade 15 is for the user who wants the power to live stream high-quality video games while having a laptop that is portable and can be used for the day to day task easily. This is because of the Blade 15’s thinness. At just 0.78” thick, the Blade 15 has a much sleeker profile than almost all gaming laptops available to buy. This coupled with its black classic look makes it very appealing for those users who do not like the flashy design of gaming laptops.

Also, Blade 15 has a great port selection and with the availability of Gigabit Ethernet and WiFi 6, it promises that whether you are connected by LAN or by WiFi, you will have a smooth and uninterrupted streaming experience. The addition of Thunderbolt 3 and HDMI ports also makes it very feasible for you to connect it to any capture card or external encoder that you like.

The Razer Blade 15, although a little expensive at $1700, is a great pick for someone who wants a laptop that has all the performance and abilities of a full-fledge gaming laptop but prefers the mature look and portability of a business-class laptop.

CPU: Core i7 10th Generation| GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 6GB | RAM: 16 GB DDR4 | Storage: 512 GB SSD | Size: 15.6 inch | Screen: 1920 x 1080 144 Hz

Pros:

  • Great Performance.
  • 144 Hz Display.
  • Good port selection.
  • Good build quality.

Cons:

  • Expensive.

7. Dell XPS 15

The Dell XPS 15 is another laptop in our list that is focused on the nongaming users that want to live stream. This laptop features great performance for all the productivity tasks that you can possibly want to do. Furthermore, the high-resolution 4K display is a treat to look at. It is bright, vibrant and has very narrow bezels which give a very nice user experience.

Also, the XPS 15 is very portable especially compared to the gaming laptops on our list. Although it has a big size at 15.6 inches, it weighs under 4 pounds and is less than 10 inches thick which means that it does not have to be constrained to your streaming desk, instead, you can take it with you wherever you go for other tasks too. This is made better by the XPS 15’s great battery life which is better than any gaming laptop on our list. 

Although the XPS 15 is expensive at $1700 considering it does not have the performance to run and stream the latest games, for productivity tasks and for the sheer joy of using that beautiful screen, it is totally worth it. 

CPU: Core i7 9th Generation| GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 4GB GDDR5 | RAM: 16 GB DDR4 | Storage: 512 GB NVMe SSD | Size: 15.6 inch | Screen: 3840 x 2160 4K UHD OLED

Pros:

  • Stunning 4K display.
  • Great Performance.
  • Very portable.
  • Great Battery Life.
  • Good Port Selection.

Cons:

  • Expensive

 

8. MacBook Pro 13 inch

The Macbook Pro 13 inch is another addition to our list of laptops where we focus more on the user who needs to live stream things other than gaming but still wants the practicality and usability of a regular laptop. If this user sounds like yourself, the Macbook Pro 13 inch is a great option. It has great performance to run through all of your tasks really well, although the absence of a dedicated graphics card does make it lack somewhat in some very demanding tasks. Nevertheless, for most usage scenarios, the Macbook Pro performs really well.

Coming to the portability, the Macbook Pro has a compact form factor and is light enough to be used and carried around in a very regular manner. Furthermore, the 13-inch retina display has a very high resolution which makes it a pleasure to use.

For the Live streamers, there is one issue that is the selection of ports. On this model, there are just two Thunderbolt 3 ports which might cause an issue if you want to plug in different things such as a capture card and external encoding machine. If you expect to face these problems, we would suggest you upgrade to the higher-spec variant of the 13-inch model or altogether shift to the 16-inch model.

CPU: Core i5 8th Generation| GPU: Intel Irus Plus Graphics 645 | RAM: 8 GB DDR4 | Storage: 256 GB NVMe SSD | Size: 13.3 inch | Screen: 2560 x 1600 Retina Display

Pros:

  • Amazing Retina Display.
  • Decent Performance.
  • Very portable.

Cons:

  • Limited Port Selection.
  • Lack of a dedicated graphics card.

 

 

Best Laptops for Live Streaming Buying guide

Assess your needs

What you want to live stream is very important to decide before you start looking for a laptop. This is because the performance you need varies with what you need to do on your machine. If you are streaming games, for example, you need a very good laptop that has adequate power to not only run your games but stream them on the internet as well. On the other hand, however, if you are live streaming PowerPoint presentations or doing other similar tasks that do not require a lot of processing power on their own, you might want to hold back on the specifications of your laptop. This would not only be lighter on your pocket but would also provide you with a laptop that is much more portable and can be used for daily usage.

Another factor to consider is the choice of an operating system. If your live streaming work revolves around a specific software such as Final Cut Pro, you have no option but to go for a Macbook. However, if you use software that is not exclusive to Apple laptops, you can pick your choice from the whole market.

Separate encoding machine or not

Another important factor is the presence of a separate encoding machine. If you are using an external machine for encoding, a lot of loads is lifted from your laptop and it only needs enough power to run the applications or games that are open on it. However, if you intend to use your laptop as the sole machine for live streaming, you would need much better specifications that give you headroom over the requirements of the tasks or games at hand. If your laptop will be used as a sole live streaming machine, it is very important to pay special attention to the cooling too. This combined workload can be very demanding and your laptop components can get hot very fast. If the laptop is not well cooled by design, there are chances of thermal throttling which will result in the laptop slowing itself down to cool the temperature and this might cause you to have a glitchy streaming experience.

Streaming Environment

Determining where you are going to stream for the majority of your time is important too. If you are based in a single room where your laptop will stay on your desk most of the time, then getting the bulkier options such as the Acer Predator Helios or the Dell G5 will give you a lot more value for your money. However, if your needs require you to start your live stream from different locations such as gaming events or other conferences, you would need to think of portability as well which would come at a price in case of the gaming laptops such as the Razer Blade 5. In the productivity department, most of the laptops in our list will be sufficiently portable to cater to a wide array of needs.

Resolution you want to stream on

The resolution that you stream on is crucial too. If you do not require your streams to be at the highest resolution, you will have a much easier time choosing a laptop. It would require lesser specifications and again, lesser cooling. However, live streaming at the highest resolution would do the complete opposite and would require a very fast internet connection to support the higher bit rate of the resolution as well.

Ports (I/O Selection)

If you use an external capturing card and plug your laptop in an external encoding machine, the I/O ports offered on your laptop will be very important too. Although it is possible for single thunderbolt ports to like on the Macbook to be adapted to any other port too, it can be a hassle. Carrying around and plugging in dongles for almost anything that you need to use with your laptop is not for everyone and if you don’t like a bunch of cables hanging around on your table, you should make sure that your laptop has plenty of ports that you require.

Although almost anyone reading this article will be a live streamer, live streaming needs can be very different.  By following our buying guide, you will be able to choose the laptop from our list that best suits your individual needs for live streaming. Happy Shopping!