If you’re a Twitch streamer, you might have come across the dilemma of choosing a streaming software. Since there are so many of them out there, choosing one can be difficult.
For anyone out there deciding which streaming software to use, I have created this guide that lists some of the most popular streaming softwares out there, and gives a brief description of each.
Best Software for Streaming on Twitch:
- Streamlabs OBS
- OBS Studio
- Nvidia Shadowplay
- Xsplit Gamecaster
Now let’s go into more detail about why I chose these softwares.
Streamlabs OBS is the most commonly used software for streaming on Twitch. It’s available for free and is super simple to use. Because it is so simple to use, it is the software that new streamers are recommended to use.
This software supports Windows and Mac. You need to download the executable file, install it, and get started. Since it is an open-source project, techies and nerds can contribute to the already existing code if they wish. You can download the software from the official website streamlabs.com.
Below are some of the advantages of Streamlabs OBS:
- Streamlabs OBS has its own cloud server. You might have heard of cloud-based tools, or simply cloud tools. These are just like the normal software, which you download and use on your computer. The only difference is that they run on your local machine, while the cloud-based tools run on the cloud server. You don’t have to own a super-fast computer to run heavy software. You don’t necessarily need to download the executable file. Instead, you may opt for the cloud version, and run things online. But make sure that you have a superfast internet connection for that.
- The free version has a pro stream overlay, but if you choose to upgrade and get the paid version known as Streamlabs Prime (click here to check it out), you can get hundreds of custom overlays, alerts and other tools only available to those with Streamlabs Prime.
- Easy to use interface. Perfect for those who are new to streaming.
- Like I mentioned, Streamlabs is open sourced and so there are tons of forums and people in these forums who can help you solve any problems you may have with the software.
- There are several tools available for better control and automation.
- If you upgrade to Streamlabs Prime (click here to view it on the website), you are able to multi-stream. This means you can stream to multiple platforms such as Twitch, Youtube and Facebook all at once.
- The software has optimized video encoding which results in low CPU usage in most cases.
- You can record videos on your computer using this software.
- Streamlabs OBS offers several GIFS, overlays and alerts that can all be used for free.
- Streamlabs OBS has functions that allow you to easily merge your merch store with your stream.
- Helps provide you with a donation link that your viewers can use to donate to your stream.
- Provides you with a chatbot to help moderate and run your chat.
Although I do love this streaming software, it is not perfect. Here are some of the disadvantages:
- The cloud-based version will require a decent internet speed in order to be run successfully.
- You have to pay for Streamlabs Prime in order to multi-stream and to access some of the other features.
With support for Windows, Mac OS, and Linux, OBS Studio is yet another powerful tool for streaming and is used by many top streamers. One of the best parts is that OBS Studio is completely free to use.
On top of that, techies and nerds can contribute to its code, since this is an open-source project. You can record media directly from your webcam and microphone. When it comes to video editing, you can add clips of gameplays within a portion of the screen.
These are some of the advantages of OBS Studio:
- Split window feature helps you manage multiple media sources.
- It supports Twitch, YouTube, Livecoding.tv, and other major broadcasting platforms.
- The user interface is rather easy and so it is not overly difficult for new streamers to pick up and use.
- The quality of this software is awesome and better yet, it’s free!
- The regular updates ensure that the software is not dead. Be ready to be surprised after every major update installation.
- If you wish, you can stream to multiple platforms at once. This feature is rare among streaming softwares.
These are some of the disadvantages to OBS Studio:
- Although the interface is pretty simple to use, it may take some time to learn some of the in depth features of this software.
- This software can be a lot for your PC to handle, so just keep this in mind when you are streaming with this software.
Streamelements is a newer streaming software. It has been growing in popularity and is used by several big name streamers such as Shroud, Harris Heller and Dakotaz. It is a growing software and many big time streamers love it because of the customizations it allows them to make on their streams.
Here are some of the advantages of Streamelements
- Free GIFs, overlays and alerts that you can use on your stream.
- Helps provide you with a donation link that your viewers can use to donate to your stream.
- Provides you with a chatbot that you can use to help moderate and run your chat.
- Streamelements is free to use.
- Streamelements has an easy to use interface.
- The basic features are easy for beginners to use, but some of the more advanced features will be difficult for beginner streamers to master.
- The chatbot provided for Streamelements is not as advanced as other chatbots provided by other streaming softwares.
This software is bundled with the Nvidia graphics card’s drivers, so you don’t have to take time to download and install it separately. This streaming software is a great alternative to other more common streaming softwares such as StreamLabs OBS and OBS Studio. Here are some of the pros and cons:
- Let your CPU rest for a while. Nvidia Shadowplay is the only streaming software that encodes data on the graphics cards rather than CPUs. This affects the entire process dramatically.
- Your CPU can be used for a lot more important tasks. Besides, what’s the point of overheating that poor chip, when you can substitute it with your GPU.
- You can leave the software running in the background, and it won’t bother you. Since it utilizes most of the graphics card’s resources, leaving it open is no big deal.
- Dedicated hotkeys act like shortcuts. Simply press the hotkey, and a major task can be performed.
- There’s a special feature, which allows gamers to record the previous 30 seconds and easily upload it to your social media accounts.
- It receives regular updates.
- It is recommended that you use an Nvidia graphics card if you are going to stream with this software. Graphics cards from other manufacturers aren’t compatible with this software.
- Since it uses GPU, your game may be forced to use fewer resources from that chip. After all, games do run majorly on the graphics card.
- Running Nvidia Shadowplay and your video game together on the graphics card can put it at a major risk. Ensure necessary cooling arrangements for that chip too.
- This software doesn’t support the notebook’s graphics cards. Huge blow to the laptop gamers!
If you’re looking for a premium or a paid software for streaming on Twitch, try this out! It does offer excellent features but for a price. Don’t worry, there’s a free version too.
Most of the tasks are automated, so you don’t have to spend too much time setting things up. Within a few clicks, you can get started with your recording and streaming.
Let’s take a look at some of the pros of Xsplit Gamecaster:
- Simple and straightforward interface so you won’t get lost in its flow.
- The paid version offers amazing features. It’s a must-try version.
- Not only can you stream on Twitch, but you can also stream directly on Facebook Live and YouTube Live.
- The recording quality can go up to High Definition.
- Hotkeys ensure that you can assign tasks to the software while playing the game.
- Even if you aren’t an advanced broadcaster, Gamecaster is a great tool to get started with. It’ll let you dive deeper into the sea of streaming.
There are a lot of great things about Split, but there are some cons as well:
- Streaming above 720p? Be ready to face the irremovable watermark. The only way to get rid of that is by purchasing the paid version.
- Heavy system requirements. Not suitable for average or slow machines.
- Doesn’t support resolutions beyond 1080p. That’s unacceptable in the 21st century.
- The subscription fee is USD $4.17 per month.
- Sadly, there are so many reports on the internet, which confirm that Gamecaster doesn’t support older games.
You must have heard of Wirecast. It’s capable of turning your house into a TV studio. Stunned? Too soon! There is plenty of stuff you can do with this tool. For instance, if you want, you can make your own webinars, stream live, make training videos, etc.
Think of any type of videography, Wirecast will help you do it all. Fortunately, there’s a freeware version available for those who don’t want to spend money. On the other hand, there’s a paid version, but that starts at $600 a year!
If you’re lucky enough, you may end up buying it at a discounted price through coupons and or sales.
- When you get started, there’s an initial tutorial. It ensures that you get the exact idea of what this tool can do. So don’t worry about getting lost in while using this software.
- Several pre-designed and ready to use templates ensure that you get started quickly. This is a great way to keep you all cheered up.
- It possesses several features rich in functionalities.
- Unfortunately, it’s very expensive if you’re looking to switch to the paid version.
- Despite the fact that you’ll get started with the tutorials, you’ll still need a lot of time to get familiar with the overall user interface and its flow. That’s why the developers have already given those tutorials to reduce the complexity in the beginning.
- Since it has several powerful features, confining its use solely for streaming purposes would be a total waste. If that’s your only purpose, then it’s advised to try out other rival softwares.
Lightstream is a popular streaming software, which runs in the web browser. Its free to use, and you don’t have to download anything on your PC. That’s a great way to save some space on your SSD (if you’re using a hard disk, you probably need to graduate from that old and nasty hardware technology).
Its totally free of cost, and there’s no paid version available. Since most of the stuff is automated like other rivals, you can get started quickly. The main reason why this software has gained popularity is because of its ability to run in web browsers.
- There’s a separate PC tool, to add layers from your PC. However, most of the work will be done in the browser-based tool only.
- The software is ready to use within 60 seconds of visiting the website.
- It works better than its rivals when capturing media at 720p resolution. (At least that’s what the developers claim).
- You can add other people to your feed by sending the invitation link.
- There’s a support team, which offers quality support.
Let’s take a look at some goofs of this wonderful looking software:
- It doesn’t support any web browser other than Google Chrome.
- There’s no way you can record videos higher than 720p resolution. That is so lame, since 8k is emerging, and the developers still don’t want to let the users record in at least Full HD.
- Since it works over the internet in a web browser, you’ll need access to a high-speed internet connection. If the bandwidth goes low at any point, it can possibly ruin your project and put all your efforts in vain.
This software is very similar to Wirecast, as both of them are built on the same lines. With the help of vMix, you can turn your room into a TV studio. This tool offers some of the most interesting features when it comes to video capturing and streaming. Consider it to be a replica of Wirecast in terms of their internal structure. It has free and paid versions available.
Let’s see what are the pros of vMix over other rivals.
- Here’s the long-awaited feature finally! This software has the capability to let you stream content in SD, HD and 4K.
- It can process multiple inputs from various sources simultaneously. That’s something you won’t see in every software.
- You can use 13 pre-designed transition effects. This way, you can easily make your streaming content appear professional, as seen on TV.
- There’s a 3D acceleration package available, which is absent in most of the rival software.
- It offers multi-view with live video effects.
- This software is designed for heavy use. If you wish to stream an entire tournament, (which may run for hours), then this software is strongly advised.
- There’s a provision of a 60 days free trial, which offers you to use each and every feature of this software for free.
- It receives regular updates whether minor or major. So, never assume that the software is dead. There’s a huge team working hard on the backstage.
There are strong cons to this software as well. You must not ignore them.
- After your free 60 days end, there’s no way you can enjoy the stuff for free. You have to switch to the paid version, which totally stinks!
- The interface can be very confusing for first-timers. If you’re a newbie in the world of streaming, then good luck!
This is yet another underrated tool, which allows you to stream content on Twitch. The product has recently started to gain a lot of popularity due to its simplicity and pretty decent features. It’s completely free of cost, and there’s no paid version available. There’s a downloadable PC version available, unlike other software that run on web browsers.
Despite a lot of limitations, there are pretty interesting pros to it.
- A special feature leaves a light resource footprint. It can be very useful for some advanced and veteran users.
- You can broadcast to multiple platforms at the same time. This is helpful if you’re a pro streamer, who wish to publish content to various websites simultaneously.
- The software is perfect for a novice. You’ll love the simple and straightforward interface.
It’s still a new software and has still managed to make it to the best streaming software list. So, you should pardon some of its cons.
- It supports Windows OS only.
- No paid version can be frustrating for some users, who’re looking for advanced features. That’s hard to believe but it’s true.
- There are a lot of reported bugs, and the developers take time to resolve the issues.
- It lacks some of the basic features such as rotate, pan, crop, zoom, etc.
- You can’t make adjustments to color, gamma, brightness, etc.
As always, if you have any questions or just want to hang with me, stop by my Twitch channel here and say what’s up!
Interested in Streaming? Check Out My Recommendations
Not Sure Which Streaming Software to Use?
Streamlabs Prime comes with the ability to multi-stream, free overlays and is widely considered the easiest streaming software to use. Use my link here and you get a sweet discount!
In Need of Emotes, Overlays or Alerts?
OWN3D.TV has everything you need to make your stream stand out ! They have hundreds of options and are who I use for my overlays and emotes. Check them out here.
Concerned About DMCA?
DMCA claims have gotten many streamers suspended and even banned from streaming platforms. In order to avoid getting in trouble, I get all of my music and sounds from Tune Pocket. They have tons of copyright free music for you to jam to.
Looking to Upgrade Your Streaming Equipment?
Below is some equipment that will take your stream to the next level:
- Stream Deck (Click Here)
- Webcam (Click Here)
- Microphone (Click Here)
- Lighting (Click Here)
- Capture Card (Click Here)
For my complete list of recommended equipment click here.
Also, if you are feeling generous, I would really appreciate it if you followed my Twitch channel, you can do so by clicking here. I am trying to grow so that way I can better help you all. I am also up to helping you answer any streaming questions that you may have so feel free to stop by. I really appreciate you all !
And for even more tips, tricks and how tos subscribe to my Youtube channel here. I post two videos a week to help you with your streams.
By the end of this guide, you’ve gone through some of the best softwares for streaming on Twitch. Most of them are free to use, while some have their paid version alternatives. It is strongly recommended to try out and get satisfied with the free versions before switching to the paid versions.
There’s no way of getting refunds, so choose wisely. Since some of the paid versions are very expensive, there’s no harm or shame in going for its alternatives. Also, keep updating the applications, as you never know what exciting stuff you’ll get with the updates.
Good luck making your streams come true my friends!