It has never been easier than it is now to set up a professional Twitch stream for yourself and show off your skills and charisma to the world.
We could take a look at all the different software on the market, but we chose to narrow it down to the only real contenders. XSplit, Open Broadcaster Software, and the brand new SLOBS.
So in this guide, we will take a look at the best broadcasting software for Twitch streamers today.
Make sure to check out our Twitch stream setup guide for step-by-step guidance.
OBS, SLOBS, or XSplit – Which is Best for streaming?
Unlike most software, when it comes to streaming, there are only a few good choices that make it quite easy to make a decision and get started right away.
Open Broadcaster Software(OBS) – Editor’s Pick
OBS has long been the go-to software for setting up high-quality streams and don’t let the fact that it’s free fool you. Open Broadcaster Software is the best there currently is on the market, even when compared to paid solutions.
There is a reason OBS is by far the most popular option among streamers right now. It is entirely free, exceptionally well coded, and of top-notch quality. On top of that, it is also reasonably straightforward, and it shouldn’t take you long to get it set up. Although if you have never used a broadcasting software before, it can seem a little overwhelming at first. Luckily there are hundreds of capable guides on how to set it up.
OBS has almost limitless settings and ways to set it up that guarantees that it can satisfy pretty much any streamer’s needs. However, we do recommend you start with some simple settings to get a feel for it before jumping into advanced setups, but it is nice to know that the possibilities are there.
Being the most popular broadcasting software is, of course, significant in on itself, but it also has the benefit of being becoming the industry standard. This means that every overlay site and other additional streaming software is built to work correctly with OBS first and foremost. Not saying that it won’t work with Xsplit or other broadcasters, but OBS is usually the priority.
The Good: The industry standard, top-notch software with little-to-no bugs, feature-rich, open-source, most reliable streaming broadcaster on the market, easy on CPU.
The Bad: Is lacking some features that the new Streamlabs OBS have.
Streamlabs OBS(SLOBS) – One to look out for
The creators of Open Broadcaster Software has been so generous as to make their software as open-source, hence the name. This means that the code for the program is freely available for everyone to alter or build on as they see fit. While most attempts haven’t looked like an improvement, SLOBS might be the first to improve on the already excellent formula.
Streamlabs is the most popular streaming application on the market and is well known for being the easiest way to set up an excellent looking overlay. They have long worked with the OBS software and decided it was time for them to try and make their version of the broadcaster. The most popular broadcaster put together with the most popular streaming application excites us and is one to look out for.
Streamlabs OBS will feel extremely familiar to users of OBS as it is just an advanced version with integrated Twitch and Streamlabs features. It offers all that OBS offer as well as everything Streamlab has to offer, all combined in one delicious mix. Among our favorite features is the integrated Twitch chat, which can be set to pop up, and the viewer counter. Perhaps most importantly of all, it puts less of a strain on your CPU as it does not require you to have a browser open.
So why is it not our top pick? Well, just because as of writing this, it is in its late Beta phase, meaning that you will encounter a few more issues and perhaps even a rare crash from time to time. Also, OBS is the more clean version, meaning if you want something simple and straightforward, then the classic version is still better. However, if they manage to make this software as smooth as the traditional OBS, it might just become our new favorite streaming software.
The Good: Ideal if you are already using Streamlab, really user-friendly, has many fantastic additional features that the standard OBS is lacking, has everything that OBS has, and more, easy on CPU.
The Bad: It is less clean and simple than regular OBS.
XSplit Broadcaster – The Paid Alternative
XSplit is, without a doubt, a professional and competent broadcaster that millions of streamers use still to this day. However, it is being held back by a greedy business model, as well as the overall superiority of Open Broadcaster Software.
XSplit is a freemium software and thus can be used entirely free of charge, but that comes with a bunch of restrictions that can hurt your stream.
Most noteworthy of these restrictions are the watermarks. If you want to stream at above 720p, then XSplit will add a watermark to your stream. In case you don’t know, watermarks are usually used by free software solutions that want to push you to buy a premium product. Often, it is just a small seethrough logo in one of the corners of the program, which is one of the first things that will make either your stream or videos look unprofessional. XSplit will also add a watermark if you want to stream at more than 30 frames per second. This is just one of many restrictions that makes the free version worthless compared to the likes of OBS.
So what about the paid version, that must be better than OBS, right?
Well, no, not really. Open Broadcaster Software can do anything you want for your stream, and you should only consider buying XSplit if you much prefer the way the software is set up.
Don’t get me wrong, the paid version of XSplit is an excellent broadcaster, but it’s still not better than OBS, and therefore it will be a waste for most streamers to pay for it.
It is also important to note that because OBS is the industry standard, there are a lot of applications and such that only work for OBS, which means that even when you pay for XSplit, it does tend to be worse.
However, it is not too expensive to try it out, so if you prefer the way XSplit is put together over OBS, then you shouldn’t be afraid to try a month of the paid version, at least. But for most streamers, I would recommend going with Open Broadcaster Software. It’s just that good.
The Good: Paid version is an excellent streaming software on par with OBS, reasonably user-friendly, it has the easiest to use console streaming feature.
The Bad: Free version has way too many restrictions, no reason to pay for it when it’s not better than its free competitor, some applications, and overlays don’t work with XSplit.
What makes an excellent Twitch streaming software
Let us take a quick look at the most important things to consider when deciding on which live stream broadcaster you want to use.
Streaming is much more demanding than you might think, and find a software that doesn’t put as much of a strain on your CPU is ideal. Generally speaking, the lighter and better coded the software is, the better of you are.
Once again, we will recommend Open Broadcaster Software as the least CPU demanding option, which is just one of the many reasons it is so popular. SLOBS is also really good and probably in the same tier in this department.
However, if you don’t have a powerful gaming PC, then you will likely experience CPU issues even with the best broadcasters out there. If that is the case, we do recommend you upgrade your computer altogether. You could try just to upgrade your CPU or maybe even get a CPU cooler, and this might be enough if your current PC has room for upgrades.
Streaming is not only demanding of your computer but also your internet connection. While upgrading to the best possible internet in your area is usually quite cheap these days, it is not always an option. Some places don’t have a strong enough connection for streaming.
Luckily your internet connection is something you can test beforehand. If you happen to be among the unlucky gamers that can’t get a strong enough connection in your area, then you might want to consider looking for a reliable gaming router to enhance what connection you have.
Overlays & Applications
Having a professional overlay is one of the most important things to get done if you want to start streaming. It is also essential to choose a software that is compatible with most big Twitch streaming applications such as Streamlabs. Luckily Streamlab works perfectly fine with the three options but is mostly made for OBS and their software, SLOBS.
For overlays and other streaming applications, I always recommend Streamlabs first and foremost. It is exceptionally user-friendly, free, and has everything you need in one.
This software from 2014 is an exciting one as it not only brings a decently high-quality broadcaster but also one of the best recording software the market has to offer. Shadowplay is exceptionally intuitive to use and has a LOT of premium features despite being entirely free.
The only catch is that it requires you to have Geforce Experience on your computer, which a lot of gaming PC’s have. So if you are on the lookout for software to stream and record videos with then, Shadowplay is excellent. That being said, if you look purely at streaming capabilities, then OBS is still preferable, just because there are so many overlays and applications that don’t work with Shadowplay. You also need to have Geforce for it even to work.
This is an expensive piece of software and should only be considered if you want to create top-notch content of all sorts. Meaning if you want an excellent recorder, editor, and streamer in one, then this could be for you. This is the software that some companies use, for example, when streaming from big events. Wirecast can handle just about any broadcast but is made for corporations and is way too expensive for any single streamer.
However, it is still no better than most other options for streaming, and its price tag is just way too big even to consider recommending it. It does have a free trial, though, so if you want to test it out, you can do that free of charge.
One of the better-paid options on the market right now is Gameshow live streamer, which feels much like Streamlabs OBS as it includes a lot of applications, overlays, and such which is usually downloaded from a third party.
Gameshow promises a smooth ride with low CPU usage and a high-quality stream, which they do deliver on but not in an exceptional way that makes it worth its price tag. It’s not that it’s expensive. It is not worth it compared to OBS, SLOBS, or even XSplit.