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Published Nov. 2, 2021

Image is everything … especially when you’re about to start a livestream. Sharp, vibrant image quality can make or break your content, whether you’re broadcasting live or recording for VOD (video-on-demand) content, using one of the best webcams can make you look like a consummate professional or a rank amateur. Logitech, master manufacturer of all things office tech, has an unsurprising hold on the webcam market, including options for streaming and content creation. However, with more and more manufacturers getting into streaming gear, the landscape is changing.

How we selected the best webcams for streaming

As a freelance technology critic for over 10 years, I’ve tested work-from-home gear, including webcams, for publications including Popular Mechanics, Tom’s Guide, The Daily Beast, Architectural Digest, Apartment Therapy, and Bob Vila. All of the recommendations, except for two, are based on personal testing. The remaining webcams were selected based on the glowing recommendations from my colleagues.

What to consider when buying the best webcam for streaming

There are a lot of factors to consider when selecting the right camera for your needs. Some of this information is actually on the back of the box or the website. However, there are also other factors you need to keep in mind.

Resolution and framerate

When choosing the best webcam for streaming, you’ll want the clearest image that you can get. When creating content for a stream, especially while gaming, we recommend targeting recording at 1080p resolution, often called “Full HD,” at 60 frames per second (fps). This ensures that your picture will be clear and your movements will look smooth. Having a sharper resolution also ensures that any graphics, including on-screen text, will look sharp without pixelated edges.

That said, upload speed plays a role in using this resolution. If you find that your PC struggles to stream at 1080p/60fps, most webcams should offer both 1080p/30fps and 720p/60fps options. When push comes to shove, we would choose a more clear, 1080p resolution over 60fps for a live webcam picture. We would not recommend buying a webcam for making streaming content with a maximum resolution below 1080p.

Do I need 4K for streaming?

Using a 4K webcam can ensure that you always record at the best possible resolution (even if most services don’t let you stream in 4K). In general, we only recommend 4K webcams if you plan to pair them with enterprise streaming software or to shoot and record content for YouTube or other non-live content.

Audio

Crisp, clear audio is something else to consider so viewers can hear you as well as they can see you. Other factors to think about include compatibility to streaming software, since you want to effortlessly stream to your preferred platform. We reviewed dozens of webcams—and every one of this list, except the Razer Kiyo—to arrive at the best webcams for streaming like a pro.

Software compatibility 

We reviewed one camera that appeared to be a strong contender—until we discovered that it didn’t work with any of the three popular streaming software, like XSplit, OBS, and Twitch.

Best overall webcam for streaming: Logitech StreamCam

Everything You Need

The Logitech StreamCam has incredible features for streamers, including some you didn’t even realize you’d want.

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Why it made the cut: The Logitech StreamCam offers lots of customization options that are great for all kinds of content creators, including streamers.

Specs

  • Max resolution: 1080p
  • Framerate: 60fps (all resolutions)
  • Field of view: 78 degrees
  • Privacy Shutter: No
  • Price: $169.99
ProsCons
Tilts and pansExpensive
Logitech Capture software
Adjustable landscape and portrait modes

Though most of Logitech’s modern webcams work perfectly well for video calls, the StreamCam offers some extra little touches that make it the best webcam for streaming for burgeoning content creators. It’s capable of streaming in 1080p at 60 frames per second, which is perfect for streaming. It features an adjustable mount that lets you manually frame your shot horizontally or vertically, rather than relying solely on software-based adjustments. The software goes above and beyond as well, though, with AI-driven auto-framing that will adjust the camera’s digital framing to keep the camera centered on your face. The StreamCam lets artists get the perfect shot, rather than simply framing up for a video chat or work-from-home meeting.

On the software front, the StreamCam supports Logitech Capture, a usual configuration app that plugs in most video platforms. It’s also optimized to work with XSplit, OBS, and Streamlabs to easily stream to your favorite platforms, like YouTube and Twitch. 

Best webcam for streaming pros: Elgato Facecam

Uncompressed to Impress

The Elgato Facecam makes professional streamers look like movie stars.

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Why it made the cut: Uncompressed audio provides smoother video.

Specs

  • Max resolution: 1080p
  • Framerate: 60fps in 1080p, 60fps in 720p, 60fps in 540p
  • Field of view: 82 degrees
  • Privacy Shutter: Yes
  • Price: $199.99
ProsCons
Uncompressed 1080/60fps videoNo microphone
Camera Hub app

Streaming pros will appreciate the Elgato Facecam, which has 1080p resolution at 60fps to smooth video. As the best webcam for streaming pros this webcam also automatically adjusts its settings to balance light and dark colors in any lighting environment. Most importantly for Twitch streamers, the Facecam uses uncompressed YUV video, eliminating the need to re-encode the feed, resulting in higher quality video. The 82-degree field of view is not too close and not too far away that you’ll get lost in the background.

The Facecam is specifically made with hobbyist and professional video game streamers in mind, which makes it great for advanced users, but less so for beginners. It doesn’t have a built-in microphone, which is fine for pros who already plan to use a separate mic, but may be a problem for casual users looking for a one-size-fits-all webcam solution. It also lacks autofocus (a feature usually found on higher-end webcams), so you may find that you’ll need to maintain your position in frame to avoid technical hiccups.

Best webcam with pro audio: Poly Studio P15 Personal Video Bar

Hear and Be Heard

The Poly Studio P15 Personal Video Bar provides much better sound than most webcams.

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Why it made the cut: You need a dedicated mic for pro-grade sound, but the Poly Studio P15 is a cut above most webcam audio.

Specs

  • Max resolution: 4K
  • Framerate: 30 fps (all resolutions)
  • Field of view: 90 degrees
  • Privacy Shutter: Yes
  • Price: $599.99
ProsCons
4K resolution Really, really expensive
Excellent audio 30 fps only
Pan, tilt, and zoom
Poly Lens Desktop App

Most webcams have a built-in microphone, which is usually fine for casual chats but isn’t clear enough for content creators. Most streamers elevate their audio by buying a separate microphone for streaming. The Poly Studio P15 Personal Video Bar, however, is the rare webcam with professional-grade audio clarity. The P15 uses a three-microphone beamforming array and multiple AI-driven noise-cancelling techniques to ensure the camera only captures the sound it’s supposed to, without any background noise.

While the audio is its most novel quality, the P15 is also an incredible webcam. It can record in up to 4K resolution at 30 frames per second, with up to 4X digital zoom. It features a robust selection of image quality customization features through its configuration software, Poly Lens. At 1080p, which you’ll use most often for Twitch, the picture is remarkably clear and accurate. 

While it’s great in many ways, it’s worth pointing out that the P15 is the very definition of overkill. The soundbar in the webcam makes it large and heavy. (If pairing with a laptop, be prepared to use a tripod.) It’s also remarkably expensive. You can probably get a great webcam and a great USB microphone for the same price. But if you have to have it all in one package, the Poly Studio P15 does things that no other webcam can, making it our pick for best webcam with pro audio.

Best webcam with ring light: Razer Kiyo  

Ring Light … Camera … Action!

The Razer Kiyo solves your lighting issues with a built-in ring light.

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Why it made the cut: The Razer Kiyo’s built-in ring light is a practical, convenient feature that reduces workspace clutter.

Specs

  • Max resolution: 1080p/720p
  • Framerate: 30fps in 1080p, 60fps in 720p
  • Field of view:  81.6 degrees
  • Privacy Shutter: No
  • Price: $99.99
ProsCons
Integrated ring light Mediocre microphone
Adjustable dial for brightness adjustments
Compatible with most streaming software

Lighting is critically important when you’re on camera. Many streamers have adopted the ring light—an affordable LED light that brightens up your face when you look into a webcam or phone. As the best webcam with a ring light, the Razer Kiyo integrates a ring light into your webcam, making it easy to set up and adjust on the fly. Even in low-light environments, the Kiyo gets a very clear picture. And if you want to turn the light off or adjust the brightness mid-stream, you can tweak its power using a physical onboard dial around the camera’s bezel.

Though it’s more than a gimmick, the Kiyo also has some weaknesses in its core functionality. It can record in 1080p at 30fps or 720 at 60fps, but not 1080p at 60fps. And while the Kiyo has a microphone, the audio quality is less than stellar. (Again, though, you should consider investing in a separate microphone to create a professional-grade stream.)

Best budget webcam for streaming: Logitech C922x Pro Stream Webcam

Budget-Friendly Streaming

Just because the Logitech 922x isn’t made specifically for content creation, doesn’t mean it can’t get the job done.

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Why it made the cut: It doesn’t have all of the creator-focused features of the StreamCam, but Logitech’s generalist webcam is the best budget webcam for streaming and works well.

Specs

  • Max resolution: 1080p
  • Framerate: 30fps in 1080p, 60fps in 720p
  • Field of view: 78 degrees
  • Privacy shutter: No
  • Price: $99.99
ProsCons
Cheaper than the Logitech StreamCam Does not have a privacy shutter
Zooms, pans, tilts
Includes tripod

While it isn’t “cheap,” per se, Logitech’s c922x Pro is a great all-around webcam that you can use for streaming and it costs less than many of the best webcams made specifically for streaming. The c922x can stream in 1080p at 30 frames per second, or 720p at 60fps, but not 1080/60, so it’s close to what you want, but not perfect.

The C922x Pro is often compared to (and confused for) the Logitech C920 and C920s, our overall best webcam pick. We picked the C922x for streamers because of its superior light correction capabilities, and offers a 60fps option, albeit at a lower resolution.

Beyond the picture, the 922x Pro does everything reasonably well. Its two omnidirectional microphones do a good job of picking up my voice while minimizing the sound of background noise. And it has one feature that even StreamCam lacks: There’s a tripod right in the box, in case you want to set it up somewhere other than on top of a monitor.

Best adjustable field-of-view: Anker PowerConf C300

Go Wide

The Anker PowerConf C300 offers a wide field of view, which is great for streams with multiple hosts.

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Why it made the cut: A 115-degree field of view of unheard of and is ideal in many streaming scenarios.

Specs

  • Max resolution: 1080p
  • Framerate: 60fps at 1080p
  • Field of view: 78/90/115 degrees
  • Privacy shutter: Yes
  • Price: $129.99
ProsCons
Extra wide field of view Only shoots in wide FOVs
1080p/60fps
AI auto-framing

The Anker PowerConf C300 is the best adjustable field-of-view and great for streamers who occasionally want to have multiple people on camera. It has ridiculously wide field-of-view options:  78, 90, or 115 degrees. This allows you to expand and contract the size of the screen when you have co-hosts, guests, or want to incorporate background elements like charts. A 1080p/60fps camera ensures clear, detailed video. It even has AI-controlled auto-framing like the StreamCam, and adjusts settings to offset less-than-ideal lighting conditions.

The PowerConf C300 also features solid audio, a privacy cover, and clear configuration software to adjust its settings, including the field of view. However, if you prefer the standard head and shoulders view (which is recommended for making eye contact) none of the FOVs will allow you to be that close up.

Best 4K webcam: Logitech Brio

4K HDR

With 4K and HDR, the Logitech Brio can produce beautiful video.

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Why it made the cut: The Logitech Brio is a powerful webcam with features you won’t find anywhere else, including high-dynamic range (HDR), which makes colors brighter and more vivid.

Specs

  • Max resolution: 4K
  • Framerate: 30fps at 4K, 60 fps at 1080p, 90fps at 720p
  • Field of view: 65/78/90 degrees
  • Privacy Shutter: Yes
  • Price: $199.99
ProsCons
Adjustable field of view Very expensive 
High-dynamic range
Lots of high resolution/framerate combos
Camera panning feature

The Logitech Brio is the best 4K webcam and my favorite webcam. Its sleek design looks sharp in your setup. It’s also extremely powerful. It can shoot in 4k at 30fps, 1080p at 60fps (aka the sweet spot), and 720p at a very rare 90fps. (Like streaming in 4K, there aren’t many services that actually support 90fps live video, so that’s for offline/VOD projects). The Brio also has three field-of-view presets: 65, 78, and 90 degrees. It has two omnidirectional mics and an attachable privacy shutter. Using the LogiCapture app, it’s easy to control the pan, tilt, and other functions. The webcam is compatible with XSplit, OBS, and Twitch.

The best part, though, is that it supports high-dynamic range (HDR), which enhances the brightness and darkness of high- and low-light elements in your webcam’s picture. It also features Logitech’s RightLight 3, the company’s most advanced lighting technology designed to create the best lighting in any environment. Logitech reserves both of these features for its most high-powered webcams.

The downside, as you may have noticed, is that some of these hardware features are more powerful than what Twitch and Zoom can handle. You can’t really run a livestream in 4K or 90fps. Between that and its $200 price tag, the Brio is more than you need. It’s a camera lover’s webcam.

FAQs

Q: What resolution webcam do I need?

For streaming video content like Twitch and YouTube Live, we recommend using a webcam that can output live video in 1080p at 60 frames per second. The framerate is particularly important if your webcam footage sits alongside game footage running at the same rate. For video calls and meetings, we still recommend a 1080p resolution, as it’s sharper and clearer, but 30 frames per second looks fine in most cases.

In a pinch, 720p at 60fps may look slightly rough around the edges, the picture is clear enough. No one’s going to judge you for it. That said, we would only recommend a webcam with a maximum output of 720p/60fps if it were extremely cheap.

Q: Are webcams better than laptop cameras?

Webcams are better than laptop cameras in so many ways. Even my new MacBook Air with the M1 chip maxes out at 720p. Some Windows laptops have 1080p webcams, but without the room for a proper glass lens, the picture still pales in comparison to what you get from an external webcam. They’re also more adjustable: You can affix them to the top of a monitor, like an integrated webcam, but you can slide them to any place on the monitor, or put them on a tripod. 

As a streamer, you want to have a crisp, clear picture. All of these webcams will deliver much higher quality video than the camera built into your laptop. 

Q: What about those cheap webcams on Amazon or eBay?

As a streamer, you’re generally looking for a higher standard of quality than what you can expect from an ultra-cheap webcam from a mysterious brand with no reputation in the U.S. In general, we don’t recommend them. At the bare minimum, you should set your expectations low. Don’t expect 1080p or 4K video, or great audio, from a $50 webcam. Plus, many of them won’t work with popular streaming software like XStream and OBS. 

Final thoughts on the best webcams for streaming

There are a lot of factors to consider when putting together a streaming video setup. Your webcam is, honestly, one of the easier decisions to make. There’s a specific quality standard to look for: 1080p at 60fps. Remember to keep in mind that your streaming PC and internet connection may not support the best possible stream, though. Buying a webcam that can shoot 1080p live video at 60 frames per second doesn’t mean you’ll actually be able to stream at that resolution and framerate. That said, the right gear opens the door for the best possible stream.

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