Image: Adam Patrick Murray
PC gaming isn’t just a pastime anymore. In fact, it’s entirely possible to turn your hobby into a very profitable business with live streaming. You can broadcast yourself as you play your favorite games to fans from all over the world. But to become the next Twitch superstar, you need a computer capable of HD streaming to all of those adoring fans. A good live streaming laptop requires high-performance components such as a powerful GPU and a fast CPU. It’s not always easy to discern which laptops will be optimal so we rounded up our top picks for live streaming to help.
These picks not only deliver lightning-fast GPU and CPU performance, but some of them are even portable enough to hit the road with. Knowing that not everyone is already making mega-star streamer bucks, we’ve also kept various budgets in mind. So, whether you’re just getting started with a tight budget or you’re looking to take the next step and upgrade to a premium setup, we’ve got you covered with these picks. For even more laptop options, see our comprehensive roundup of the best laptops for all purposes, at all price points.
Of course, if you’re serious about live streaming you’ll also need a good mic. So check out our picks for the best USB microphones to help your voice come through crystal clear while you thank your subscribers or trash talk the opposition.
1. Asus ROG Zephyrus S17 – Best overall
- Excellent CPU and GPU performance
- Robust and innovative design
- Comfortable and customizable keyboard
- Trackpad requires some pressure
- Very high price
$2,200 (base unit) up to $3,700 (review unit)
The Asus ROG Zephyrus S17 is a streamer’s ultimate dream. This laptop features lightning-fast GPU and CPU performance plus a stunning 17.3-inch 4K display with a 120Hz refresh rate. The rugged all-metal chassis, six speaker sound system, and customizable keyboard really adds to the premium experience as well. However, you’re going to pay out the nose for it. If you’ve got a flexible budget and you won’t settle for anything other than the best of the best, the Zephyrus S17 is truly the bees knees.
Read our full
Review Asus ROG Zephyrus S17
2. ROG Zephyrus G14 (2022) – Most portable
- Powerful CPU and GPU performance in a very compact design
- AniMe Matrix screams unique
- It has a webcam
- Half permanent RAM
- Keyboard backlighting is subpar
$1650 (base price) | $2500 (Radeon RX 6800S, 1TB SSD, 32GB RAM)
The ROG Zephyrus G14 is both lightweight and powerful. It weighs just a little over three pounds, which makes it a capable traveling laptop. Thanks to the AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS processor and AMD Radeon RX6800S GPU, you can expect strong performance as well. The only weakness is the keyboard, which our tester describes as “meh.” It feels a little mushy and the backlighting is rather unimpressive. That said, if you’re in the market for a portable laptop that delivers zippy performance, the Zephyrus G14 is a great pick.
Read our full
Review ROG Zephyrus G14 (2022)
3. XPG Xenia 15 KC – Most quiet
- Very light
- Very quiet
- (relatively) very fast
- Subpar RGB
- Just barely adequate audio
- SD card reader barely adequate
When it comes to gaming laptops, many, if not most, of them are pretty bulky and heavy, often tipping the scales at five or six pounds. Well, that’s not the case with the XPG Xenia 15 KC. It weighs a little over four pounds, which is fairly lightweight for a laptop that’s capable of delivering respectable gaming and streaming performance. Plus, it runs very quiet. According to our review, it “rarely makes noise under normal use.” That’s impressive, as most gaming laptops tend to sound like a rocket blasting off. If you’re looking for something that’s both quiet and portable, the Xenia 15 KC is an excellent choice.
Read our full
Review XPG Xenia 15 KC
4. GE76 Raider 12UHS – Best premium option
- 12th-gen Core i9-12900HK simply sings
- New “AI” performance mode greatly moderates fan noise.
- 1080p webcam and good mic and audio makes for decent video conferencing PC
- Third iteration in the same body
- MSI Center is confusing and cluttered UI
- Painful pricing
$4,200 (Core i9, RTX 3080 Ti)
The MSI GE76 is rocking a 17.3-inch 4K UHD 120Hz display and the latest 12th-gen Intel processor. In other words, it’s one slick machine. If it’s blazing-fast gaming performance that you’re after, this laptop will most definitely deliver. The display is pretty massive as well, which adds to the immersion factor. However, the biggest drawback is the astronomical price tag, as it costs over $4,000. Woof. But if you’re willing to cough up the cash in exchange for some serious power, you won’t be disappointed.
Read our full
Review GE76 Raider 12UHS
5. Predator Triton 500 – Good battery life
- Velvety 165 Hz refresh rate in a 16-inch, 16:10 display
- Strong battery life for a gaming laptop
- Port selection includes HDMI 2.1, gigabit ethernet, and dual USB-A
- Display could be more vibrant and better-calibrated out of the box
- Middling onboard speakers
- 16:10 aspect ratio isn’t ideal for all content types
The Predator Triton 500 is a good option for both work and play. According to our tester, the design “doesn’t scream gamer,” which is a good thing, especially if you’re shooting for a more mature aesthetic. As for performance, it does a fine job “balancing productivity and gaming duties.” You can thank the Intel Core i7-11800H CPU and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 (Max-Q with 6GB GDDR6 VRAM) GPU for that. Battery life is decent as well (8 hours and some change) for a gaming laptop, though you’ll likely always use this machine at a desk, as it weighs close to five pounds.
Read our full
Review Predator Triton 500
6. HP Victus 16 (16-d0097nr) – Good value
- Very good value
- Surprisingly comfortable keyboard
- Large 16-inch 1080p screen with a high 144Hz refresh rate
- Budget RTX GPU
- Audio doesn’t feel quite right
- Display hinge is a bit flimsy
From solid performance to a decent display, the HP Victus 16 is a well-rounded option for most people. The 16-inch screen has a 1080p resolution and a high refresh rate of 144Hz, and the keyboard is pretty darn comfortable. In our review, the tester was “happy to use the keyboard on a long-term basis.” HP even squeezed in a number pad, which is perfect for gamers. Although this laptop has a lot to offer, it isn’t the sexiest-looking machine in the world. But if you can live with the plain design, the Victus 16 is a good choice.
Read our full
Review HP Victus 16 (16-d0097nr)
7. Nitro 5 17-inch (2021) – Value alternative
- Strong CPU/GPU pairing for the price
- Roomy 1TB SSD with room to add second drive
- Plastic chassis is bulky
- Dim display
- Terrible webcam
$1099.99 base price | $2099.99 as reviewed
The Acer Nitro 5 17 is a good buy if you’re looking for a decent value. It delivers respectable graphics performance and it can easily handle more demanding tasks like photo editing. Acer even provides the bits and bobs (i.e, screws) for swapping out the storage or RAM. That said, the bulky plastic chassis won’t have anyone mistaking this for a premium product and the display is pretty dim. If those trade-offs don’t bother you much, then the Nitro 5 is definitely worth considering.
Read our full
Review Nitro 5 17-inch (2021)
How we tested
The PCWorld team puts each and every Windows laptop through a series of benchmarks that test GPU and CPU performance, battery life, and so on. The idea is to push the laptop to its limits and then compare it against others we’ve tested. Below, you’ll find a breakdown of each test and the reasons why we run them.
- PCMark 10: PCMark 10 is how we determine how well the laptop handles lighter tasks like web browsing, word processing, spreadsheets, and so on.
- HandBrake: HandBrake is more intensive than PCMark 10. It basically measures how long a laptop’s CPU takes to encode a beefy 30GB file.
- Cinebench: Cinebench is a brief stress test of the CPU cores. It does this by rendering a 2D scene over a short period of time.
- 3DMark: 3DMark checks if 3D performance remains consistent over time by running graphic-intensive clips.
- Video rundown test: To gauge battery life, we loop a 4K video using Windows 10’s Movies & TV app until the laptop dies.
What to look for in a streaming laptop
When it comes to picking the right laptop for live streaming, it really depends on what you want to do with it. Do you plan on broadcasting lightweight indie titles like Stardew Valley (no shade, I love this game) or something more visually demanding like Cyberpunk 2077? Are you going to use the machine for work as well as play? While it’s possible to get reliable streaming and gaming performance out of laptop that costs under a grand, you’ll need to take a hard look at the individual components. You don’t need a powerful GPU for something like Fortnite, say. It’s all in the individual components. That’s what matters.
- GPU: The thing about the GPU is that it can’t be swapped out and upgraded later, so you need to be real choosy about which one you pick, as this component will determine how well your machine runs games. Luckily, you don’t need the best of the best to get reliable gaming performance. The GTX 1650 is an entry-level GPU that’s affordable and good enough for 1080p gaming with mid-to-high graphics settings. That said, expect lower frame rates on newer titles. If you’re looking for a bit more power, we recommend opting for a GTX 1660 Ti or higher, or a more current RTX 30-series GPU.
- CPU: Like the GPU, the processor can’t be upgraded either, so you’ll want to be selective. For Intel, we recommend an 11th-gen Intel Core i5 or i7. For AMD, you’ll want to spring for a Ryzen 4000 or 5000. A processor with at least four cores is good, but six cores or more is better.
- RAM: You’ll want at least 8GB of RAM. If you can afford 16GB of RAM, go for it. Memory is normally upgradable, so you can always swap it out and add more later on.
- Storage: Storage impacts how many games and applications you can install on your laptop. Like RAM, storage is upgradable and can be swapped out later. However, you should aim for at least 512GB of SSD storage plus a hard drive, as AAA titles tend to eat up a lot of space. SSDs load games faster, as data is stored on chips rather than spinning disks.
- Display: 1080p with a 60Hz refresh rate is the bare minimum. As for size, that’s a personal preference. If you’re streaming and dealing with multiple windows, I’d recommend springing for something big like 17-inches.
- Battery life: Generally speaking, gaming laptops are known for having poor battery life. That’s because they use a ton of power. They also tend to be heavier than other laptops because they need more space for heatsinks and other cooling components. Depending on the use, most will last anywhere from four to six hours on a single charge.
Author: Ashley Biancuzzo, Associate Editor
Ashley is a professional writer and editor with a strong background in tech and pop culture. She has written for high traffic websites such as Polygon, Kotaku, StarWars.com, and Nerdist. In her off time, she enjoys playing video games, reading science fiction novels, and hanging out with her rescue greyhound.