Video game streaming is a popular and fun way to play games, entertain an audience, and interact with your friends and viewers. However, streaming can be incredibly confusing when it comes to getting started and figuring out what you need. That's why we've tested a multitude of products--from USB microphones and capture cards to webcams and gaming headsets--to help you find the best streaming accessories that are perfect for Twitch, YouTube, or anywhere else that lets you stream your gaming skills to the world.
If you want to start streaming, then there are some things you need to consider. First and foremost, you need a PC that is capable of streaming. In most cases, dedicated desktop PCs will be able to handle this task much better than laptops, and if you're also gaming on that PC, you should take your specs and settings into consideration as you'll need to split the workload between the game and the stream. As for the type of accessories you'll need, the bare essentials tend to be a capture card, USB microphone, headphones, and webcam. Some of the accessories that'll improve your stream (but aren't exactly necessary) include a second monitor and a controller like Elgato's Streamdeck. In fact, Elgato makes a number of great products made specifically with streamers in mind.
Of course, there are plenty of professional-grade products that producers and top-tier streamers take advantage of, but in this guide, we've focused on products that are affordable and accessible to those who want to start streaming or improve their setup--products from streaming-focused companies like Elgato, Razer, and HyperX. All of these USB microphones, capture cards, and other accessories are excellent and easy-to-use, and if you're looking to get started, then this guide will be perfect for you.
As we test more accessories that are great for streaming, we'll update this guide with our recommendations. For now, read on for the best streaming accessories we've tested and swear by.
Note: The prices shown below indicate a product's standard list price and may not reflect any current discounts or other fluctuations.
Quick look: The best streaming accessories for 2021
Best streaming capture cards
If you want to capture and stream your PS4, Xbox One, or Switch, then you'll need a capture card to bring the signal into your PC and out to your live stream. They come in compact form factors, sometimes even as internal PCIe cards that you can plug directly into your PC's motherboard, and thankfully, there are a couple of great options to choose from.
The Elgato 4K60 S+ is one of the most exciting capture cards on the market today--it's definitely the most premium-priced one. This is due to its wide capability, including being able to record gameplay straight to an SD card--no software or PC required. All you need to do is plug your console into it with an HDMI cable and then press the capacitive-touch button to start recording. This makes it a great option for travelling and events. Another huge bonus is its ability to passthrough 4K, 60 FPS, and HDR. Unfortunately, it can't passthrough 1080p and 240Hz or 1440p and 144Hz. Despite this, it's still Elgato's best capture card.
Once plugged into your PC's motherboard, internal PCIe capture cards are the most convenient way to capture gameplay footage, and Elgato's 4K60 Pro is one of the best. Capable of capturing gameplay up to 4K and 60 frames per second, the 4K60 Pro can also capture HDR10 and passthrough a 1080p signal at 240Hz and a 1440p signal at 144Hz. It's more than enough to capture any video game console, but it's also an absolute beast when it comes to capturing your own PC's feed. If you're looking for an excellent capture card that won't kneecap your own gaming experience, then the Elgato 4K60 Pro is your best bet.
The HD60 S+ is Elgato's latest external capture card for 1080p60. The new model is powered by USB-C, and while it's only capable of capturing 1080p60 and HDR10, it has the ability to pass through a 4K60 signal with no noticeable latency. It's not the best card for capturing PC gameplay--it doesn't feature 1080p240 or 1440p144 passthrough--but it's an excellent card for PS4, Xbox One, and Switch. Elgato's upcoming 4K60 S+ is exciting, especially with the ability to capture straight to an SD card, but streaming at 4K is a huge task that requires powerful specs and very fast internet speed, so for most people, the Elgato HD60 S+ will be an excellent option.
The Razer Ripsaw HD is perhaps the most attractive-looking capture card, thanks to its discrete profile and shape. It can fit in almost any space easily and looks good doing so. It's capable of 1080p and 60 FPS capture with a passthrough for 4K and 60 FPS--no HDR passthrough for this capture card. Its 3.5mm audio jacks let you plug in headphones and a microphone to monitor your feed and record your voice, too--a big plus for those using gaming headsets.
Best streaming microphones
There are some really excellent microphones out there, hitting price ranges that are out-of-reach for most people. There's no doubt these microphones are going to outmatch the ones on this list, but they're also quite expensive and not as easy to use, as most will require a separate interface to connect to your computer. As someone who has spent a lot of time editing podcasts, audio interviews, and radio documentaries over the past six years, I have always been hesitant about USB microphones, but to my surprise, USB microphones have come a long way--the quality is quite impressive. We've selected the best microphones that are specifically optimized for streaming.
The Wave 3 is Elgato's first premium microphone, and thankfully, the company has done a great job with it. It looks sleek, sounds fantastic, and features easy-to-use onboard controls--one knob controls mic volume, headset volume, and sound mix, while gently tapping the top of the mic mutes it. Perhaps the most exciting feature is the Wave 3's Clipguard technology, which keeps your audio from clipping during moments where you might be frightened by a jump scare or excited about a clutch moment. This ensures your audio sounds good no matter how abrupt your change in volume is--you don't have to worry about dipping your own levels.
The Wave 3's audio sounds clean and pairs nicely with Elgato's Wave Link software, which lets you adjust the audio levels, filters, and sources that you output to your stream--for example, if you don't want your friends' voice chat coming through on your stream, you can disable that in Wave Link. And as far as USB microphones go, the Wave 3 is one of the best and easy-to-use we've tested.
The Razer Seiren Elite is one of the most impressive USB microphones I've ever used. The audio quality is great, and with it being USB, it's easy to set up and start streaming. It features a switch that enables a high-pass filter, which gets rid of a lot of the static room noise you might hear and makes your voice come through more clearly. The Seiren Elite also has an LED ring around the microphone that lights up red when your voice is coming in a little hot, making it easy to tell when you need to lower the microphone's gain. The Seiren Elite lives up to its name, making for a great streaming microphone.
The HyperX QuadCast is a great mic for streaming, but it's also quite versatile, making it an excellent microphone for a number of different activities. It has four different polar patterns, which helps it adapt to different settings--stereo, omnidirectional, cardioid, and bidirectional. The main polar pattern you'll want to use for streaming is cardioid, which pulls in the audio from one direction--your voice. Stereo works great for recording music, omnidirectional is best for podcasts with multiple people, and bidirectional is perfect if you're interviewing or doing a podcast with one other person. Thankfully, the QuadCast sounds great no matter which pattern you use, and if you need to mute the mic, it's an easy tap on the top--the mic's red light (pictured above) turns off in this instance. For the price, it's an excellent, versatile streaming microphone that you'll definitely love using.
The Razer Seiren Emote rocks its gimmick well--syncing your microphone's LED functionality to what emojis your chat is using most. You connect it to your Twitch account through Razer's Streamer Companion app, at which point it can display a large number of different emojis, from smiley faces, salt shakers, and the infamous eggplant. Thankfully, it's also quite good in terms of audio quality. It doesn't quite match up to the QuadCast and Seiren Elite, but its fun, emoji-powered gimmick makes up for it.
Best streaming webcams
There are a lot of bad webcams out there, and it can be hard to tell which ones are worth your money. Thankfully, with the upturn in the popularity of streaming, companies have released higher-quality webcams that make it easy to set up and get your face on Twitch, YouTube, Mixer, or anywhere else. There's even a great option to connect your high-quality DSLR camera to your computer and use it as your webcam.
The Razer Kiyo is a webcam that features its own built-in light to brighten up your face and image for your stream. It's quite effective if you happen to be streaming from a dimly lit room, and the convenience of not needing a separate light is appreciated. Thankfully, the image quality is great and smooth no matter how you're streaming. It can handle up to 720p60 or 1080p30 and features auto-focus.
The Logitech C920S is a solid webcam that I've used for a long time, and if you're looking for something on the affordable side of things, then it's the way to go. You may need to adjust your lighting to get the best-looking image, but the C920S delivers a great picture for the price. It also now comes with a privacy shutter, which makes it easy to stop your webcam from seeing you when you don't want it to--the webcam also has two blue LEDs that light up when the webcam is active.
Best streaming headsets
Gaming headsets aren't going to compete with dedicated microphones in terms of audio quality, but sometimes, the convenience of getting your headphones and microphone in one package is hard to turn down. Thankfully, several companies have made great headsets with quality microphones that can definitely keep your stream entertaining and sounding good--one headset even boasts a unique feature that adds a little extra charm. And if you want to take a look at more options, check out our guide to the best gaming headsets of 2020.
The HyperX Cloud Alpha S is our favorite wired gaming headset for good reason. It features a sturdy aluminum frame, extremely comfortable earpads, and top-notch sound quality. On top of that, its microphone is quite good, making it a great option for those wanting to go with a gaming headset as opposed to a dedicated mic.
The Razer Kraken Kitty is a special headset, and it's easy to see why--yes, it's the cat ears. The LED lights fitted within the headset's cat ears can sync up with your live stream through Razer's Streamer Companion app. The audio quality is pretty good as well, though the microphone doesn't match up against the HyperX's Cloud Alpha S. The Kraken Kitty is a fun headset that is sure to get a reaction from your viewers, though it may be best to invest in a dedicated microphone if you pick them up for the light-up cat ears.
Best streaming controllers
Controlling your stream in the middle of a game can be a difficult process, from switching scenes and sources to playing fun sounds and videos. Thankfully, there are some easy solutions to this that don't cost nearly as much as a proper control board would.
The Elgato Streamdeck is one of the most fun tools you can have at your streaming disposal. It gives you the ability to control your stream with just a button press and, in my case, play funny sounds and music at key moments. Elgato's Streamdeck software is extremely easy to use, and there's a community that has figured out ways to get it working with various other apps as well. The 15-key version is compact and small, though I wish the stand was built-in, as I've found it can easily slip out of its stand or fold in on itself on a crowded desk. Regardless, the Streamdeck definitely feels like an essential accessory.
The Streamdeck XL is what I would go with. It features 32 keys, and while that might be a bit overwhelming for some, it gives you room to grow your desired actions. It's one solid piece of plastic and feels much more sturdy than its 15-key counterpart. If you want a great-feeling device that will make you feel safe and secure in controlling your stream, then the XL is a great upgrade over the standard Streamdeck.
Best budget monitors
If you're looking to get serious about streaming, then a second monitor is paramount. With a single screen, it can be hard to see your chat and monitor your stream's feed as you try to game and entertain your viewers--and the best part is you won't have to break the bank to solve this problem. There are a number of great monitors that you can get on the cheap and are perfect for that second-screen experience. We've got a guide to the best budget monitors, and we've selected a few you can see below.
If you're looking for a cheap monitor that'll be great for viewing your chat, monitoring your stream, or any other activity you need to do while streaming, then the Acer R240HY is a great option at $130. It features a 23.8-inch, 1080 display at 60Hz and 4ms of latency. That means you can even game on it if need be.
The HP VH240a monitor is a popular one for a reason. It's a solid cheaper option, and while it's not the best for gaming, it will work perfectly for all streaming-adjacent activities. It features a 23.8-inch, 1080p display at 60Hz and 5ms of latency and is capable of being rotated vertically for a portrait display.