The Best Cheap Streaming Cameras of 2019

Many gamers use an external camera to stream video on YouTube and Twitch.

The best live streaming setups use 4K DSLRs, mirrorless cameras or camcorders in conjunction with a 4K capture card or HDMI-to-USB dongle. These professional streaming setups cost thousands of dollars and require ultra-high end GPUs. This article focuses on entry-level streaming cameras (i.e. external webcams).

A good streaming camera has better picture quality than an integrated webcam. Plus, using an external camera makes it easier to frame and compose shots. The best webcams have high-quality lenses, HD-resolution and the ability to output at least 30 video frames per second (fps).

Don't expect the world from a budget streaming camera: Many webcams have modest low-light capabilities, cheap built-in microphones and so-so background replacement (chroma-key) software. Nevertheless, a good game stream is about entertainment more than technical perfection. Everyone has to start somewhere. 

To that end, here are the best cheap HD webcams that support 30fps and have sold for $50 or less:

Good Price: $20 | Great Deal: $12

Logitech's entry-level webcam streams a crisp, clear picture without blur or distortion, according to several Amazon customers. Reviewers were also impressed by the quality of the integrated microphone. On the critical side, some reviewers say the camera is easy to knock over because it doesn't "clip" into place.

Good Price: $64 | Great Deal: $40

This camera has great picture quality and works out of the box on most Windows PCs, according to several Amazon customers. Many reviewers were disappointed by the onboard microphone. Some say the included Logitech software is poor; others were frustrated using this webcam with Open Broadcaster Software (OBS).

Good Price: $74 | Great Deal: $50

Logitech's C922x Pro has wonderful picture-quality and low-light performance, but does not include drivers or software, according to several Amazon customers. Many reviewers say the background removal feature (i.e. chroma key) doesn't work well. Some say that Logitech's older camera, the C920, is a better value.

Good Price: $34 | Great Deal: $25

This webcam is acceptable for the money, according to several Amazon customers, but it has quirks and drawbacks. Some reviewers say the camera doesn't perform well in low light; others were not used to manually adjusting focus on a camera. This camera doesn't work on Macs, but because there are no printed instructions in the box, a few Mac owners discovered this the hard way.


John DeFeo