CPU & memory
Right, memory first. Let’s be realistic: You don’t need a lot of memory for a rig like this. Anything more than 16GB and you’re kidding yourself. In fact, outside of some intensive couch-gaming sessions, even 16GB is perhaps a little too exuberant. If it’s just media streaming you’re after, 4-8GB of single-channel memory should cut the mustard. Media streaming isn’t that intensive, so cutting back here is a quick and smart way to save a buck or two to spend on a better CPU, GPU, storage, or even cooling.
When it comes to processors, on the other hand, that’s a different matter. If you’re after the holy grail of 4K streaming from the likes of Amazon or Netflix, you’ll want a CPU with an integrated GPU that can power 4K @ 30fps and support the HDCP 2.2 encoder.
For Intel, this is anything past the seventh generation of chips (aka Kaby Lake). The entire range and above—from the mighty Core i7s to the lowly Celerons— all support HDCP 2.2 and 4K resolutions on the integrated GPU. We recommend either the Core i3-8100 or the Pentium G5400.
For AMD, pickings are far slimmer. You’re limited to either the Ryzen 5 2400G or the Ryzen 3 2200G, as they’re the only two Ryzen parts with integrated GPUs. If you want to do a bit of gaming on the side, we recommend the 2400G as your chip of choice.