It’s hard to believe that there was a time where we had to wait for a specific hour of a specific day to watch the TV show that we wanted to see. There was even a time that, if we wanted to watch a movie, we had to leave the house, and go purchase the movie from a store, or hope it was available for rentals. It’s incredible how things have changed. Now, at a moment's notice, we are able to open up our laptops and watch whatever we want, whenever we want. Thanks to websites like YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon - anything that we'd want to watch is a few clicks away.
Along with the emergence of streaming technology, the need to purchase the best laptop for streaming has risen as well. While we all know that not all laptops are made the same - it’s important to know which features to look for when shopping for a laptop that has the best streaming capabilities. Not surprisingly, a good graphics card, a large screen, and a good sound card make for optimal viewing. Along with that, a high-speed internet connection is important to provide the highest quality stream possible.
The Top 5 Best Laptops for Streaming
CPU: 1.6 GHz Intel Core i7, Memory: 8 GB DDR4, Graphics: AMD Radeon 530, Screen: 15.6 inches, Storage: 1 TB HDD
The HP X360 is the perfect mix of high-level performance and lower-tier pricing that streamers will love. The 15.6-inch monitor with a Full HD resolution touch screen will make the video experience enjoyable, and the AMD Radeon 530 graphics card will help to display colors brilliantly. The Intel Core i7 processor and the DDR4 RAM will help this laptop run fast as well. The lack of a solid-state drive is sacrificed for the 1 TB of storage, and the missing dedicated ethernet port is backed up with an 802.11ac wireless card.
- Dedicated video card
- Full HD resolution touch screen monitor
- Intel Core i7 Processor
- No dedicated ethernet port
- No solid-state drive
CPU: 1.8 GHz Intel Core i7, Memory: 16 GB DDR4, Graphics: AMD Radeon 530, Screen: 17.3 inches, Storage: 2 TB SATA and 256 GB SSD
It’s hard to find any fault with the Dell Inspiron 17 5770. At $1032 - it's an expensive machine, but streamers are still getting decent value out of this machine. The 17.3 Full HD display is the streamer's dream monitor. The dedicated AMD Radeon 530 graphics card is sure to impress as well. The combination of a solid-state drive and a huge SATA drive will be attractive to users who are looking for a laptop with extra storage. Coming in with an i7 processor and 16 GBs of RAM will keep this laptop running fast all day long.
- Dedicated AMD Radeon 530 graphics card
- 17.3 inch full HD screen
- Combination of solid-state and SATA storage
CPU: 2.2 GHz Intel Core i7, Memory: 16 GB, Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060, Screen: 17.3 inches, Storage: 512 GB SSD
The MECH-17 is a very, very expensive laptop at $1399. Because of this pricing - this laptop has everything you’d look for in a streaming laptop. The dedicated NVIDIA card will please streamers who prefer NVIDIA over AMD and Intel graphics cards. The 17.3 Full HD screen offers anti-glare technology for streamers who are on the go and possibly in inconvenient lighting situations. Along with the excellent viewing experience, this laptop also offers streamers Realtek high definition audio speakers as well.
- Dedicated NVIDIA card
- 17.3 Inch Full HD Anti-Glare Display
- Realtek High Definition Audio
- Very expensive
- No optical drive
CPU: 4.6 GHz Intel Core i7, Memory: 16 GB DDR4, Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050, Screen: 17.3 inches, Storage: 256 SSD and 1 TB SATA
While the VivoBook Pro 17 is expensive, it has a good amount of features that help it stand out from its class. While it has a 17.3 inch full HD display - it is lightweight and slim, giving it maximum portability for a laptop of its size. The NVIDIA video card and super-fast speed specifications are everything that a streamer could ask for as well. The solid-state drive combined with the large SATA drive will make people looking for extra storage, along with speed, happy as well.
- Lightweight for its size
- NVIDIA graphics card
- Intel Core i7 processor and lots of RAM
- No optical drive
CPU: 2.5 GHz Intel Core i5, Memory: 12 GB DDR4, Graphics: Integrated, Screen: 17.3 inches, Storage: 1 TB SATA
The IdeaPad 330 is an ideal laptop for a streamer on a budget. There are some sacrifices to be made for the price - no dedicated graphics card, no solid-state drive, no true Full HD display. That being said - this laptop should be able to be fast enough with an Intel Core i5 processor, 12 GBs of DDR4 RAM, and an 802.11ac wireless card. The embedded Bluetooth card will also make it possible to connect to external speakers for a premium sound experience. At a low price point, this is very affordable to the average consumer.
- Lots of DDR4 memory
- Affordable pricing
- Bluetooth card
- Integrated graphics card
- No solid-state drive
4 Specifications To Consider When Choosing a Laptop for Streaming
The first specification for the graphics cards on any laptop is an overview of the physical graphics card - integrated or dedicated. An integrated card lies on the motherboard of the PC. Integrated cards generally don’t allow for higher quality performance due to the fact that resources need to be shared with the rest of the computer. A dedicated card is detached from the motherboard and has its own memory resources for providing the highest quality performance for the user.
NVIDIA is the industry leader for today’s graphic card selections, while other companies, such as Intel and AMD, make good graphics cards as well. A good start to look at dedicated graphics cards the RAM. Just like a PC, a dedicated card has its own RAM - and the higher the RAM, the better the performance. You can expect a good graphics card to have anywhere between 2 and 8 GBs of dedicated RAM.
Screen Size and Resolution
Another important factor to evaluate for a streaming laptop the screen. While it’s great to have a high quality, dedicated graphics card, if you don’t have a screen to support it, you won’t be able to use the graphics card effectively. The two major factors to look for in a screen are screen size, and screen resolution.
Most laptops today come in screen sizes in between 11.6 and 17.3 inches. Different screen sizes offer different things to various users. Laptop users who are often on the go tend to like a smaller screen size for a portable, lightweight laptop. Users that want to spend most of their time online watching TV shows, movies, and other videos will want to use a larger screen for premium viewing.
When looking at resolution specifications, it’s important to know what each resolution number means. A good resolution standard for most larger screen laptops today is HD 1080p - of which the resolution is 1920 x 1080. For any high-quality streaming, users are going to need a laptop with HD 1080p resolution advertised.
Now that we’ve covered every aspect of the visual experience of streaming online video - the audio experience, as well, cannot be ignored. The excitement of beautiful visual effects needs to be balanced out by a high-quality, complex audio immersion as well. A combination of good laptop speakers and the possibility of using even better external speakers or headphones are what will bring out the audio experience for streamers.
Not all laptop speakers are made the same. Overall, of course, it’s hard to get a great audio experience out of laptop speakers alone. The nature of not having a lot of space to work with and lack of direct power resources are reasons for this. That being said - some laptops put out better sound quality than others. It’s very difficult to find one audio specification that will indicate good sound quality. The best way to figure out which laptops have the best native speakers would be through the advertised branding. Some laptops will advertise speakers by well-known speaker companies, such as JBL and Harman Kardon. This is a good indicator that the audio quality will stand out.
The best way to bring out the best audio experience as a streamer would be to use external speakers or headphones. To be able to do this, any laptop that is purchased must either have an audio output connection or preferably, a Bluetooth card. Users can use speakers that are powered by battery, USB cable, or a traditional power outlet. Bluetooth headphones will need to be fully charged for the best experience.
High-Speed Internet Connection
To be able to have a high definition streaming experience, streamers need to have a high-speed internet connection. Netflix, for example, has a bare minimum of 5 Mbps for streaming HD content, and 25 Mbps for streaming Ultra HD content. Streamers need to verify that there are no bottlenecks in their internet connection that would decrease speeds.
Streamers should be shopping for wireless cards that support the 802.11ac wireless standard, and also take into consideration laptops that also have an embedded ethernet port for using a wired connection, when convenient as well. Wireless routers should also support the 802.11ac standard as well - and have an internet connection that supports at least the 25 Mbps Ultra HD standard from the internet service provider.
Streaming is now a cultural phenomenon. It used to be a weeklong wait for new episodes - now streamers everywhere are able to take in an entire “season” of a TV show in an evening, or over a weekend. Binging TV shows has become a lot like binging on other more vile products - delays and hold-ups are painful! Having one of the best laptops for streaming is very important to those who are hooked on the drug of back-to-back-to-back episode viewing. Streamers should be sure that they are providing themselves with the best visual and audio experiences possible, and have a high-speed internet connection to be able to deliver the content quickly, and in the best quality possible. Streaming appears to be the future of all television and even cinema as well - having the best laptop for streaming helps to be prepared for the future!