To live stream, you absolutely must have two things: a stable internet connection and a broadcasting app or software. Without both, streaming is impossible. The two most popular options for live streaming software are OBS Studio and Streamlabs. Nearly every streamer on YouTube, Twitch and Facebook Live uses one of these programs. Although the apps are similar, they have different pros and cons. This article will help you decide which one is better for you.
🤓 First things first: streaming software basics
Before we compare the key features and characteristics of Streamlabs and OBS Studio, let’s cover the basics of broadcasting — or streaming — software.
Streaming software enables you to live stream your videos. It transforms (or encodes) the video into a format that allows for broadcasting (streaming) on the internet.
A major feature of streaming programs is live mixing, which lets you do the following during your live stream:
- Switch cameras
- Switch audio sources
- Play a pre-recorded video over your live stream
- Insert images
- Add a green screen and other video effects
- Share your screen on camera
When choosing broadcasting software, the three main characteristics to consider are compatibility, performance and price. Streamlabs and OBS Studio rate highly on each of these factors. They are free to use, and you can start live streaming immediately.
👉 OBS Studio (Open Broadcaster Software)
Even if you’re new to live streaming, you may have heard about OBS Studio. This free, open-source, high-performance broadcasting program is considered the precursor to all modern streaming software. So it’s no surprise that Streamlabs and OBS Studio have almost the same code, except for a few tweaks.
➕ Open-source code
Open Broadcaster Software was officially released in 2012. It is open-source, which means developers can create customizable plug-ins and awesome effects. Because anyone can review the code at any time, it also means bugs and glitches get resolved quickly.
➕ User-friendly interface
The OBS Studio interface is fully customizable, from the position of the screen to the size of the windows. Simply drag and drop every element of the workspace. Additionally, the variety of settings lets you configure the program to meet your specs, including the frame rate (FPS).
➕ Low CPU usage
Another advantage of OBS Studio is its low CPU usage — an especially vital characteristic for streaming. To achieve the smoothest stream possible, there are two options: either buy a powerful computer or use software that doesn’t put a heavy load on your system’s central processor.
➕ First to get updated
Because OBS Studio is the oldest software of its kind, it receives the latest updates, features, and patches quickly. For example, if Nvidia releases an update, like a new GPU encoder or driver, OBS Studio will be among the first broadcasting programs to receive it.
➕ Multi-platform support
OBS Studio supports live streams on practically every popular streaming platform, including Twitch, YouTube Live, Facebook Live and more. It’s also compatible with Windows, macOS and Linux.
➖ Low variety of plug-ins
Although the OBS Studio interface is user-friendly and straightforward, it comes with a downside. The software lacks a variety of features, like chats and customizable themes, also called overlays. There are ways to add these, but unfortunately, the plug-ins aren’t included in the standard software.
➖ No audio files as sources
If you have an audio playlist on your PC that you want to play on your stream, you won’t be able to link to those audio files as sources.
➖ No Windows XP support
Unfortunately, OBS Studio doesn’t run on Windows XP. Not many would find this a huge minus, but it’s still a downside nonetheless.
👉 Streamlabs Desktop
Streamlabs was developed as an improved version of OBS Studio. Logitech took into account the smallest flaws and fixed them — and they did a great job!
➕ Easy setup process
To set up Streamlabs, complete these five simple steps:
- Download the installer on your PC.
- Run the installer.
- Link your streaming account.
- Run the optimizer (to automatically adjust the settings).
- Add your stream key, and run the stream!
➕ Built-in chat
With a built-in chat function, you don’t need to keep several browser tabs open. Streamlabs lets you manage the chat inside the program. The chat itself has tons of perks to help you engage the audience, including a chatbot with useful moderation tools.
➕ Free customization
Streamlabs offers a variety of free integrated themes with multiple overlays — from casual static themes to amazing animated visuals. You can choose one to suit the game you play or your personal preferences.
➕ Test button
One of the most practical features Streamlabs offers is the test widget. This button lets you check everything with one simple click before going live. You can also make sure your stream alerts are set up properly.
➕ Undo changes easily
One feature that comes in handy for many streamers is the ability to undo any changes with the simple Ctrl+Z command. It’s a small thing, but it makes editing your scenes quicker.
➖ More CPU usage
Unfortunately, all the fancy features, custom themes, and useful widgets demand more resources from your computer. Therefore, make sure you have a PC with strong processing power before using Streamlabs.
➖ No sound commands
The integrated chatbot doesn’t include sound commands for your chat, unlike the standalone version. As a result, you’ll need to run the chatbot separately from Streamlabs if you need the sound commands.
🤩 Live streaming with Restream Studio
Broadcasting software is a must for high-quality live streaming, but what if you didn’t have to download any software and could use a browser-based solution instead? With Restream Studio, you can start streaming in just two clicks, without tweaking any settings.
Restream Studio also lets you broadcast live content to multiple popular platforms at the same time, including YouTube, Facebook, Twitch, Twitter and LinkedIn. With Restream Studio, you can add guests directly to your stream, apply custom visuals, add copyright-free background music, share your screen, and much more! Check out all the features in our ultimate guide to Restream Studio.
Streamlabs and OBS Studio each have positive and negative factors you should consider when deciding which one to use. They’re both free and open-source, so they’re easy to download and try out. Performance-wise, both Streamlabs and OBS Studio achieve excellent results. However, OBS Studio requires fewer system resources. If you’re a gamer and have a powerful PC, Streamlabs is the better choice.
However, if you want to get the most out of your live streams, try multistreaming with Restream. You can choose from 30+ social channels to stream to at once! We also offer full support to ensure your streaming setup is optimized for the best experience. If you want to quickly grow your audience, multistreaming is the best choice for you.