Today, streaming has become so popular that, in order to stand out, you need high-quality, professional streams. The streaming software you choose has a big impact on your stream, both in terms of performance and ease of use. Two of the most popular software encoders available are OBS Studio and XSplit. Both have advantages and downsides, and one might be better suited to your streaming style than another.
In this XSplit vs. OBS guide, we’ll compare the two, covering similarities and differences in features, user interface, performance, and more. After reviewing each software, you can decide which one is best for you.
What is OBS?
OBS stands for Open Broadcaster Software, which is a fitting name for this free, open-source live streaming solution. When people talk about OBS, they’re usually referring to one of two versions: OBS Studio, which is the original streaming software, and Streamlabs OBS, which is an offshoot of OBS Studio. In this guide, we’re referring only to OBS Studio for the sake of simplicity. If you want a comparison between OBS Studio and Streamlabs OBS, we have a separate comparison article you can check out.
OBS Studio allows you to capture video and transmit it to live streaming platforms such as YouTube, Twitch, and Facebook. You can also use it for video recording. The software is free to download and compatible with Windows, macOS, and Linux. OBS Studio lets you fully customize your stream using its built-in features and expanded functionalities with plug-ins.
👉 Main Features of OBS
- Screen capture: OBS lets you easily share and broadcast your screen in HD.
- Video broadcasting: Stream live videos to platforms such as Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, and many others.
- Video recording: Capture unlimited hours of video and audio to edit for later.
- Audio mixing: OBS has multichannel, multi-language, single-channel, and surround sound audio options.
- Create unlimited scenes: Scenes are like your canvas in OBS, and you can create as many as you want, along with transitions between each.
- Many plug-ins available: OBS is open-source, so new plug-ins to add features and functionalities to the software come out all the time.
- Source and input management: OBS lets you add, duplicate, and toggle between multiple camera, microphone, capture card, image, and other input sources seamlessly.
➕ Main Pros of OBS
- Open-source and backed by community support
- Multiple options for input sources
- Several resolution settings available
- Easy connection to streaming platforms
- Stream and record simultaneously
- Fully customizable with plug-ins
➖ Main Cons of OBS
- High learning curve for beginning streamers
- Frequent updates
- Not-so-sleek user interface
Read later: How to choose the best streaming software 📍
What is XSplit?
XSplit Broadcaster is a live streaming and video-mixing app used primarily for capturing gameplay, streaming presentations, and hosting live events. XSplit has many features that appeal to streamers of all kinds, especially business and professional streamers. XSplit is not open-source, and it’s not free, but the accessible UX and many features are worth the price for many streamers.
👉 Main Features of XSplit
- Projector mode: XSplit lets you place your stream on multiple screens at once if they’re all connected to the streaming PC.
- Mixing from multiple audio devices: The built-in audio mixer lets you mix audio from multiple devices and preview it before publishing.
- Integration with Skype Video Calls: You can stream to Skype with XSplit.
- Scene preview editor: Arrange your scenes and preview them, just like in OBS.
- Background effects: XSplit lets you blur, remove, or replace the background of your stream so you don’t need to use a green screen.
- Local network streaming: Stream to a feed on a local network rather than to a public platform, for internal viewing.
➕ Main Pros of XSplit
- Many additional features to enhance streams
- User-friendly editing features
- Integrated green screen
- Stream delay to publish at a later time
- Keyframe transitions
➖ Main Cons of XSplit
- Best features behind paywall
- Slightly more demand on CPU
- Plug-ins cost extra
🦑 Using Restream with XSplit and OBS
Restream is an ultimate live streaming solution that lets you create professional live streams and broadcast them to multiple channels simultaneously. You can use Restream with encoding software such as XSplit and OBS to multistream to your favorite live streaming platforms. Simply connect your channels, such as Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, or Twitch, to your Restream account, then paste your Restream stream key into your OBS or XSplit software.
⚔️ OBS vs. XSplit
Now that you have a basic understanding of the best features and biggest drawbacks of OBS and XSplit, we can compare the two directly on factors like interface, performance, and more. Let’s see how these two live streaming software options stack up against each other in the following categories:
- Live streaming
- Video recording
- Ease of use
When it comes to the variety of premium features offered, XSplit takes the lead. When you consider the integration options with popular video calling apps, XSplit comes out on top.
Although both platforms have editing features, XSplit’s are easier to use. The only way OBS is superior in this category is that all of its features are free, whereas XSplit requires you to pay for its most useful features.
XSplit has a sleeker interface than OBS. You can easily access all of XSplit’s essential features within one dashboard, on one screen. With OBS, you often need more than one monitor to keep track of everything that’s going on with your stream.
Additionally, the OBS interface can be a bit overwhelming for beginning streamers, as there are several menu options, such as Scene, Sources, Scene Transitions, Audio Mixer, and Controls. While XSplit’s interface is a bit more simplified, changing scene transitions does take fewer clicks in OBS. You also need an account to use XSpilt — either a dedicated XSplit account or your Twitch, Facebook, or YouTube account.
You want streaming software that only uses a small portion of your computer’s resources, especially if you’re streaming gameplay with just one PC. When tested, OBS tends to use one to two percent less CPU resources than XSplit.
Tech writer Patrick Hearn of Online Tech Tips tested both OBS and XSplit while idling and streaming. Idling, OBS used 0.1 percent of resources, and XSplit used two percent. When streaming, OBS took up 1.3 percent at launch but then settled at 0.7 percent. XSplit, on the other hand, used 12 percent of resources when the stream launched, then settled between three and four percent afterward. If CPU resources are a concern for you, then you’ll likely be better off with OBS.
4. Live streaming
XSplit lets you capture videos in 4k with its video recording feature, but the max resolution you can stream is 1080p at 60fps. OBS lets you capture and stream video in 4k; however, you have to ensure the rest of your setup is suited for 4k streaming to achieve the results you want.
Currently, YouTube is the only major live streaming platform that supports 4k, and you need a camera, bandwidth, monitor, and the right hardware resources to stream in 4k. Both OBS and XSplit have options to stream in 60fps as well.
5. Video recording
Both OBS and XSplit are capable of recording video as well as live streaming. For local recording, XSplit has x264 and x265 video codecs, so it’s better suited for YouTube uploads than OBS. XSplit also has more options for optimizing audio and video. But OBS has more file format options available, including VLC.
Both XSplit and OBS stream to all major live streaming platforms; however, connecting your platforms takes fewer steps with XSplit. With OBS, you have to get the stream key from the channel you want to stream to, whether it’s YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, or another platform. You then have to paste the stream key into OBS to connect your channel.
With XSplit, you can connect your accounts simply by entering your credentials and authorizing access for XSplit. You can also stream to more than one location simultaneously using XSplit. If you want to multistream using OBS, you need a third-party tool such as Restream.
Restream lets you choose from more than thirty social channels (YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitch, Twitter, Facebook, and many others) to stream at once. In under two minutes, you can add your favorite channels and go live to all of them simultaneously.
Read later: Use cases for live streaming with Restream 📍
OBS and XSplit allow you to customize by adding plug-ins. Plug-ins expand the base functionality of the software, providing you with more editing tools, audio mixing, or other effects. As OBS is open-source and anyone can create a plug-in, there are significantly more plug-ins available than there are for XSplit. Adding plug-ins to OBS is also a simpler process, and the plug-ins are free, unlike XSplit. You may have access to fewer plug-ins with XSplit, but they’re high-quality and sure to enhance the quality of your stream.
8. Ease of use
Most users find XSplit easier to use than OBS, particularly when first starting as a streamer. OBS relies on users to customize their experience by adding plug-ins and adjusting settings, but this setup creates a steep learning curve for new streamers. XSplit, on the other hand, has a more straightforward interface, and making adjustments is easy.
There’s a clear winner when it comes to price: OBS is free and XSplit is not (mostly). You can get limited access to XSplit Broadcaster for free, and video using VCam and Presenter will be watermarked.
XSplit states that the free plan is generally for testing out its software and if you want a better streaming experience or to use your streams for commercial purposes, then you have to purchase a plan. A Premium XSplit license for Broadcaster costs $5.00 per month. You’ll have to pay more for Premium access to VCam and Presenter if you’re interested in those XSplit apps as well.
🤩 Stream from your browser with Restream Studio
If you don’t want to download any streaming software, prefering to go live directly from your web browser instead, you can use Restream Studio. Go live on multiple platforms simultaneously with professional-looking streams in less than two clicks. Restream Studio is also packed with features that help make your live stream more engaging, such as:
- Split-screen streaming
- Screen share
- Playing local video files
- Adding custom logo and background graphics
- Playing copyright-free background music
- Inviting guests to the stream
🔥 And so much more. Read our full guide to Restream Studio to get started.
XSplit vs. OBS: Who’s the winner?
In a comparison between XSplit and OBS, there isn’t really a “winner.” Rather, each software is suited to different types of streamers. The best choice also depends on your needs and background knowledge as a streamer. If you have a large budget to spend on streaming and don’t want to spend more time learning to use software, then XSplit is a good choice. If you have some experience as a streamer or don’t mind tinkering with your software a bit, then OBS can be the perfect solution for you.
By reviewing the major pros and cons of each software, you can decide which one suits your needs. Hopefully, our comparison guide has made your choice easier!