So, what equipment do you need for a gaming YouTube channel? Obviously, you don’t need every single item in this article: You can easily upload interesting content using only an inbuilt laptop webcam and mic or a cheap smartphone.
However, you can bet that your competitors are working hard to make sure their content is produced at the best possible quality, so you should, too. Deciding on the equipment you need will help you work out whether starting a YouTube gaming channel is worth it.
In the summary below, we’ve provided some rough budget guidelines for each category to help you make decisions according to your personal situation.
A Plan or Goal
This is a bit of a ‘cheat’ one to include in a list of ‘equipment’ you need for a YouTube channel, but we think it really is the most important. It’s also free!
What’s your plan for the channel? What’s your goal? Will you focus on game reviews, or live streaming gameplay, or showcasing cozy game boy advance games, or speedrunning? Whatever your angle is, its important that you have an idea before you get started.
Not only will having a plan or a goal in mind make it easier to plan and create content, but it will also help to make your content stand out from others’ early ob (“Hey, that N64 review guy posted a new vid”; “Woo! That girl interviewing indie game devs just uploaded this week’s episode!”).
Don’t be that YouTuber with all the gear and no idea – having a clear plan is just as, if not more important than any of the equipment listed below.
Hardware (Console, Gaming PC, Smartphone)
Budget: < $200
Mid-range: $200 – $1,000
High-end: $1,000 +
We’ll start off with the fairly obvious stuff. It would be fairly difficult to put together high-quality, engaging gaming content if you don’t at least have access to some sort of hardware on which to play your games.
If you’re keen to focus on PC gaming, it’s worth noting that, for various reasons, gaming PC’s are eye-wateringly expensive to build from scratch at the moment. A pre-built gaming PC is also something you’ll need to save up some pocket money for.
On the other hand, you could get by on a much cheaper machine if your content focuses on less intensive games (maybe you’ll be the go-to channel for pixel art game reviews, or 2D platformer streaming).
Consoles are the way to go if you want performance of a high-end PC at a generally lower price point and with a little less of the hassle. The same three manufacturers have dominated the console market over the last couple of decades – Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo.
Microsoft has really nailed it this generation in our opinion, with the Series S proving a more-than-capable ‘lite’ option for those of you on a smaller budget.
The Series X is the pinnacle though (if you can get your hands on one) and the PS5, needs no introduction. The Switch offers an entirely different experience and is outstanding in its own way.
Mobile gaming has really picked up in recent years, with major battle royale titles and other action games performing well on a range of smartphones and tablets.
Mobile gaming is a much more budget-friendly area to focus your YouTube channel on, and the interest among media consumers is definitely high.
One last category well worth a mention is emulator consoles (and we can lump retro hardware in here too). Old games and platforms often have active communities keen on new content, and there are more impressive new handheld emulator consoles released each year than we can keep track of.
Mid-range: $1 – $50
Another obvious one. Sorry. But there are a few different options here too so it’s worth covering!
Find games you think people want to watch original content about. However, in our opinion, the main point is to pick games that you enjoy playing.
You’ll never get anywhere if it feels like the content creation is a chore because you’ve committed to your Nintendogs channel because you saw people were interested in it but you hate the games.
PC gamers have the biggest library available to them. Distribution platforms like Steam are a gold mine for content creators as they have everything from AAA mega-budget releases right down to tiny independently made titles that sell for peanuts, or even for nothing.
There are plenty of other places to find indie games, too, including high-street retailers’ online stores, other distribution platforms such as Green Man and more community driven options like itch.io.
The main difference between Xbox and PS5 at the moment – aside from the major franchises and titles exclusive to each platform – is the fact Microsoft’s subscription service, Game Pass, is well and truly up and running.
It has a ton of fantastic new titles from AAAs like Halo Infinte to entertaining indies like Death’s Door. Game Pass ultimate is probably the best bang for your buck in the console gaming market just now.
There are plenty of games on Xbox, PlayStation and PC tjat also get a Nintendo Switch release. The Switch also benefits from a legendary library of exclusive IP, including the likes of Super Mario, Metroid, and Animal Crossing.
The major downside if you’re looking to focus on Nintendo gaming for your YouTube channel is that it’s rare for the top Switch games to go on sale, so it can be quite expensive to build your collection.
As far as mobile games are concerned, there are so, so many options on the official App Store and Play Store (for iOS and Android devices respectively).
There are plenty of popular console and PC titles that get mobile ports (like Fortnite) and plenty more games that are just far better suited to mobile than the big screen.
One thing to watch out for is that while a lot of mobile games are free to download and play, they tend to be loaded with in-game microtransactions that can add up quickly. Some free mobile games are practically unplayable unless you cough up for in-game unlocks.
Retro games are a final category you might want to base your YouTube channel around. If you don’t have the original hardware and cartridge/disc, then you might be able to find a remastered/re-released version on PC or console.
Even if you do have the original game, it might be easier if you are creating content for YouTube to play an emulated version. If you know where to look, you can find roms or disc image files that can be played using an emulator.
Of course, we at ProCasual can only condone that if you own an original copy of the game in question.
Budget: < $100
Mid-range: $100 – $300
High-end: $300 +
Sound quality is definitely one of the most important factors in determining whether viewers persist with your videos and return to watch more uploads in the future.
With so much high-quality content out there, it’s pretty much a guarantee that crackly, quiet, or otherwise difficult to hear audio is a recipe for YouTube channel disaster.
There are several different things you’ll want to check out before you go ahead and purchase a microphone to record audio for your YouTube channel.
These include sound quality (obviously), build quality/durability, included accessories (like stands/arms and pop filters), and ease of use.
What you pick will also depend on the type of content that you want to put together. For example, if you’re planning to be out and about covering industry events and interviewing people for your channel, you’ll need something completely different to if you are planning to focus mostly on live streaming.
Check out the different patterns available for each mic and make sure they’re suited to the goal you’re trying to achieve. Cardioid mics are good for anything in the 180 degree field directly in front of the mic, but won’t pick up anything from behind.
They’re a good choice for streaming and general recording of personal audio.
Bidirectional mics, as the name suggests, are good at picking up sound from both in front and behind the position of the mic. That means they’re a good choice for situations like one-to-one interviews.
Omnidirectional mics should pick up sound pretty much evenly from wherever the source is in relation to the mic, so this type is good for things like podcasts with several participants.
Stereo mics pick up soundwaves using two separate microphones, which produces a recording with a more immersive sound. It’s great for recording music but you probably won’t need it for most YouTube channel formats.
Note that a lot of good microphone options will allow you to switch between these different patterns.
One accessory that’s going to make voice recordings sound a million times better on any mic straight out of the box is a pop filter.
A pop filter is a shield of interwoven material (often nylon) that is positioned just in front of the microphone to help to stop air from flowing too quickly over the microphone pickups when the speaker uses ‘aspirated plosives’ (in English this includes sounds like ‘p’, ‘t’, ‘k’ and others).
Without a pop filter, your recording will suffer undesirable ‘popping’ or clipping when these sounds are recorded.
Budget: < $50
Mid-range: $50 – $150
High-end: $150 +
There are a few different reasons for investing in a decent headset for your YouTube channel. First is for when you’re actually playing the games.
In our experience, unless you have an absolutely top-of-the-range cinema system at home, it’s almost always better to play video games using a decent pair of headphones.
Trust us on this one, there are some games (especially things like first-person shooters) where you just hear so much more of what’s going on around you in headphones.
If you’re reviewing games for your channel, for example, it’s pretty important that you know exactly what the in-game audio is like.
Another reason for picking up a headset is that many gaming headsets available nowadays have pretty impressive-quality microphones on them, so you can kill two birds with one stone if you invest in a high-quality gaming headset and that might negate the need for purchasing a separate mic (depending on the focus of your channel).
Finally, if you’re gonna put together high-quality YouTube content, a good quality pair of studio headphones for use during the video editing process will definitely make your life a whole lot easier.
The best headphones for this task will be ones that deliver a neutral/flat response (lots of headphones marketed for listening to music have enhanced bass frequencies that won’t be helpful for audio editing).
There are plenty of budget-friendly options that will do a perfectly good job for most tasks.
Budget: < $150
Mid-range: $150 – $300
High-end: $300 +
We said at the start of this article that you don’t need to invest in every single item on this list to be able to make content that you can upload on YouTube.
I mean, some of the stuff on YouTube looks like it was filmed with a modified Game Boy Camera or something equally low-resolution.
Whether you’ll need a camera (and tripod) will depend on the type of content that you’re making. Game reviews, for example, don’t necessarily need to be accompanied by video of the reviewer but other types of reviews, like product or event reviews, will obviously be greatly enhanced by some high-quality original video.
Cameras are one of the more expensive items on this list and there are broadly speaking types of camera to pick from: Webcams, smartphones, and dedicated cameras.
Webcams are limited to live content, so they are great for streaming but not a huge deal else. There are a lot of webcam options that output in up to 4k resolution and 60 frames per second, so you can really blow the competition out of the water with a high quality stream if your budget stretches far enough.
For dedicated cameras, your main decision will be whether to go for a mirrorless or DSLR camera. A DSLR camera uses a mirror to reflect light on to a sensor and your viewfinder; on a mirrorless the light hits the sensor directly.
Mirrorless cameras are typically smaller and more lightweight, and the fact that they work using an electronic viewfinder allows you to preview different setting adjustments (like exposure and saturation) in real time. The downside is that mirrorless cameras tend to be more expensive.
Smartphones are another good camera option for a YouTube gaming channel. Some of the cameras on even low-end smartphones are seriously impressive these days and their features are increasingly being optimised by manufacturers for social media content creation.
This is probably the most budget-friendly option given that most of you budding YouTubers will already have a smartphone with a half-decent camera.
Budget: < $150
Mid-range: $150 – $300
High-end: $300 +
If your gaming YouTube channel content does feature a lot of original video, then one thing that will drastically improve the quality of that video is proper lighting.
The advantage for you is that, given the exponential increase in demand for these products over recent years as vlogging has become more popular, there are great options available at good prices.
For the absolute best lighting setup, you’ll want to get yourself a main (‘key’) light, a background light, and a fill light.
The key light is the main light source, the fill light is placed opposite the key light and helps reduce any shadows produced by the key light and the background light, well, it illuminates the background.
Chances are, though, if you’re just starting out with this YouTube gaming channel stuff, you won’t want to go to such great lengths.
Perhaps you don’t have the budget, or you simply don’t have the space to sort out a proper three-light set-up. Not to worry though, as single LED panels or ring lights can also make a huge difference.
I’m sounding like a broken record at this point but your lighting requirements depend on the type of content you want to create. If you’re going to be out and about or regularly on the move, then portable battery-operated lights are available that can attach to your camera or smartphone.
If you’re going to be making content at home or in a dedicated studio then there are lots of mains-operated studio lighting options out there.
Useful lighting accessories to look out for include stands and mounts, diffusion filters, softboxes, carry cases, and grip handles.
Screen Recording Software
Mid-range: $1 – $50
High-end: $50 +
Most gaming YouTube gaming channels will, at some point, feature some sort of in-game footage. If you’re not a news-type channel that publishes officially released gameplay, then that footage is going to come from your own gaming sessions.
There are a few different ways to capture that footage depending on which console or device you’re using to play the game.
PC gamers are the only ones that will need to use some sort of dedicated software to capture in-game footage. There are plenty of different options, including free programs and apps with varying features and output qualities.
Not all screen capture software has the ability to simultaneously record and stream what you’re playing, so make sure to read the specifications of the software you’re interested in if that’s a key requirement for your YouTube gaming channel plans.
All three of the major consoles have built-in video capture functionalities, however their usefulness varies.
On Xbox consoles, you can retrospectively capture up to the last two minutes of play, or record up to one hour (when you have sufficient external storage) of gameplay as you are playing.
On PS5, you are able to record up to one hour of gameplay as you play, or up to one hour of previous gameplay retrospectively.
The Nintendo Switch is the least impressive of the three when it comes to screen capture – it only allows 30 seconds of gameplay capture. For anything longer you’ll need a separate capture card.
For mobile gaming and handheld devices, plenty of YouTube channels get by perfectly fine using an overhead shot of someone actually playing the device.
With this technique you can save yourself the trouble and expense of buying and setting up software and sometimes it’s also kind of useful to be able to see the physical button presses/input.
The other option is to output your handheld console or smartphone to a monitor or TV via a capture card. Some smartphone gamers even run android environments within their PC and can then capture gameplay using screen recording software that way.
Video Editing Software
Mid-range: $1 – $100
High-end: $100 +
The best gaming YouTube channels have memorable splash screens (usually a short animation or introduction at the start of a video that introduces the brand or video topic), smooth transitions between segments, flawless audio and great overlays.
To create all this, you’ll need video editing software.
If you’re on a particularly tight budget then you’re in luck again here: There are some very good free video editing programs out there. Of course, if you want premium features and easier, faster workflows then you will need to shell out for a more premium option.
Some paid software is available as a one-time purchase that means you own the software outright, while other options are offered on a subscription model.
This is arguably less desirable as you never actually own the software and over time it ends up being much more expensive than purchasing a software licence outright at the start.
Lots of the available options work on multiple operating systems (Windows, Mac, and Linux being the three most common), so you won’t struggle to find a solution that fits the hardware you’ve got available.
As we mentioned above, it’s really helpful to use a good pair of headphones when you’re editing your video content.
Unless you have studio monitors at home or are sitting in an actual editing studio, we guarantee the final content will be much better if you make sure it sounds good in some quality headphones before uploading.
PC or Laptop for Video Editing
Mid-range: $800 – $2000
High-end: $2000 +
At least as important, if not more important, than the video editing software is the video editing hardware. PC and laptop tech has come on in leaps and bounds over the last decade or two and we are now at the point where the vast majority of mid-range laptops can comfortably handle the heavy processing that is required for video production.
In terms of system requirements, the specs you should be most interested in are CPU, RAM, Storage, Display, GPU and battery life.
A CPU (central processing unit) is the most important bit of any device – it executes and processes all the instructions the software and users make. For making 1080p edits that use LUP and other effects, you’ll want something like an Intel core i5 at an absolute minimum.
RAM (random access memory) is a short-term memory store that the CPU can use to help it execute processes quickly. If there’s not enough RAM, processes won’t run quickly, or might not even run at all. You’ll want at least 8GB RAM (ideally more) for smooth video editing.
Storage is pretty self explanatory. Video files can get big, so you don’t want to run out. A 256GB SSD is a good starting point, but storage is relatively cheap to expand so most budgets will be able to manage more than that.
A high-quality display goes without saying – we would recommend a display capable of resolutions of at least 1920×1080. GPUs (graphics processing units) are pretty important little pieces of kit and unfortunately one of the more expensive elements to buy separately or upgrade.
A 4GB GPU should be plenty to get most basic video editing tasks done, but more is always better.
Battery life is only a consideration if you’re planning to be editing on the move. It’s often the case that in order to get increased battery life you have to sacrifice performance somewhere, so make sure that the option you go for is best suited to your needs.
Mouse & Mousepad
Budget: < $50
Mid-range: $50 – $150
High-end: $150 +
This one might sound a bit overkill but if you are going to be spending serious hours in front of the PC editing videos (not to mention gaming if you are a PC gamer), your wrist and hand will absolutely thank you if you pick up a decent mouse and mousepad.
As far as mouse pads go, we reckon you only need to go all in on the top-of-the-range stuff if you’re going to be using the PC a lot for mouse-and-keyboard gaming.
If that’s the case, there are options out there with specialised surfaces designed to improve gilde and responsiveness (plus fun gimmicks like RGB lighting). Other features, like wireless charging capabilities for your mouse, are useful whether you’re gaming or not.
For mice, your options are wired or wireless.
Wired mouses will generally provide a quicker response but the difference is negligible for the purposes of editing videos for YouTube gaming channels. More important is that you find a mouse that works for you ergonomically.
Something that might be useful are extra buttons in addition to the left-click, right-click and scroll wheel.
With Apple’s Magic Mouse this is achieved with gestures, but for Windows users, an extra button or two could be mapped to different commands that can speed up tedious processes.
A Good Chair
Budget: < $150
Mid-range: $150 – $300
High-end: $300 +
This is key equipment for YouTube gaming channels and just about any other sedentary activity we can think of. Nothing will wreck your back quicker than spending hours sitting in an uncomfortable, ergonomic chair.
You don’t need to break the bank to find something that works for you: The most comfortable office chair I’ve ever used only cost me $50 but it just worked perfectly for me.
We’d say that this is probably the only piece of equipment on this list that is pretty much crucial to go and test in person. Go to the store and sit in a few different models, you’ll soon find out what sort of thing works for you.
There are specific gaming chairs that are better for short people or tall people, or any shape of person for that matter.
If you don’t want to look like you’re sitting in a sports car on the grid at your local racetrack, you don’t necessarily have to go for a gaming chair. There are plenty of office chairs that are as good, if not better, than the most expensive gaming chairs out there.
However, for looks alone, you can’t deny that the gaming chair is the way to go if your YouTube gaming channel features a lot of footage of yourself sitting in said chair.
Reliable Internet Connection
Budget: < $20 per month
Mid-range: $20 – $50 per month
High-end: $300 + per month
So you’ve finally got to the end. You’ve planned, shot, and edited your first batch of videos to be uploaded to your new YouTube gaming channel. All that’s left is to actually log in to YouTube and upload all that top-quality content.
But hold on, what’s that? Does that progress bar really say ‘16 hours remaining’? Are you really going to sit there for that long, hoping that your sketchy Wi-Fi doesn’t cut out, forcing you to start the process all over again?
Don’t be the YouTuber that decides to cheap out on your internet. We get that for many of you there isn’t much of a choice – you just have to take what’s available in your building or area.
However, there are ways to make sure you aren’t the victim of choppy signals or lower than expected speeds.
The most useful piece of advice we can give would be to always use an ethernet cable connection where possible. Ethernet connects always provide a faster, more reliable internet connection than wifi, which can be prone to interruptions and drops in signal strength.
What Equipment do You Need for a Gaming YouTube Channel – Conclusion
The above is an overview of the different pieces of kit you might benefit from having if you’re keen on creating content for a YouTube gaming channel.
As we said at the top, not all of this is strictly necessary – in fact, we reckon that as long as you have a solid plan or goal in mind, then the rest of it is of secondary importance.
You can get by on an absolute bare-bones set-up if you have to.
For each bit of gear above there are budget options that do the job, so we hope that this guide has shown that YouTube gaming channels are open to anyone who has the passion to get stuck in.