If you want to stream to Twitch and have the ability to modify your broadcast’s appearance, you’ll need good streaming software. Personally, I use XSplit. However, I wanted to test out why so many people prefer Open Broadcaster Software. So, I decided to compare XSplit to OBS to see which is better.
9 Points of Streaming Software Important to Me
For this article, I am going to look at 9 important aspects for me when it comes to using streaming software. Since I am a fan of XSplit, I’ll try to be as impartial as possible. Who knows, I might find myself more attracted to OBS by the time I am done with this.
I am comparing the abilities of XSplit Broadcaster against OBS Studio 18.0.1.
While everyone has their own requirements for good applications, these are the elements I find the most important. Your list may be different, so it is up to you to determine if the software is what you’re looking for.
1. Cost to Use: OBS
While both are free to use, XSplit Broadcaster and Gamecaster are limited to what’s available for non-paying users. It’s still possible to stream in 720, but you’ll have to deal with watermarks for XSplit and a lack of features.
The OBS software is completely free to use and comes with the same tools and features that are included in a paid version of XSplit.
2. Ease of Use: XSplit
While OBS does have an “OK” interface, I find XSplit to be much easier to operate. The overall layout is easier to manage and there are less advanced features that may be confusing to new streamers.
When I am in the middle of creating a video, I don’t want to spend too much time thinking about what I am doing. I want quick access to the elements that I need. In this regard, I think XSplit is the best option. I like how I can quickly shift scenes during a stream with a quick click to start and stop.
I would like to point out how I like the common buttons laid out on the right of OBS as opposed to XSplit.
3. Resource Use: Tie
Resource use is perhaps the most important element when streaming to Twitch or YouTube. How much of your CPU and GPU have to be used during a live stream to make it appear crisp at high-definition.
In this first test, I only have a game running while using my Logitech C920 camera while playing Gauntlet: Slayer Edition.
OBS: Open Broadcaster Software didn’t exceed 9.5% CPU use while playing an entire level of the game. The operating was set at 60 FPS at full 1080 HD.
XSplit Broadcaster: XSplit hit up to 65% of CPU use while slightly tapping the video card. This was also ran at 30 FPS at 720p.
Why is this important?
Because encoding video to be broadcasted live from streaming software requires a great deal of CPU usage. The more CPU you have available during game play, the smoother the broadcast is. This is especially true if you want to stream in high-definition.
What about actually streaming to Twitch?
So, I ran a test using both pieces of software to see how they would handle live streaming. Both OBS and XSplit will be set to 1080p at 60 FPS.
Here is where everything gets weird. Using the exact same settings for both OBS and XSplit streaming software, XSplit was the one that provided the best quality of stream by far even though it taxes the CPU to 100%. OBS never went above 60% total when streaming, but the quality was insanely poor, laggy and was completely unwatchable…even though the settings for both of them were identical in every regard.
You would think that not using the CPU all the way would vastly alter the quality and lag, but that wasn’t the case. In fact, I was streaming the test live and have a witness who can attest to how poor the stream handled.
Even after spending several hours modifying the settings for the best possible output, I could not get OBS to broadcast live at more than five fps…I’m not kidding. I went through the settings with a fine toothed comb, research settings on YouTube and Reddit, nothing seemed to work.
However, when I changed the encoding to use Nvenc, nVidia’s encoder for video at H264, OBS streamed at an unbelievably better quality. Unfortunately, XSplit doesn’t detect that I have a compatible video card for Nvenc, which I clearly do.
If you have any idea why this is happening, I would love to know. Leave a comment down below and I will be sure to read it.
UPDATE January 2, 2018:
XSplit now supports Nvenc with no problems. In fact, I was able to broadcast with incredible clarity once setting the option. The only worry I have is how hot my video card was getting.
4. Integration Abilities: XSplit
This was actually quite a difficult one to determine. Both types of streaming software have incredible ability when it comes to integration. You can easily add various broadcast abilities, use RTMP streaming and add features from things like Streamlabs without a problem in XSplit and OBS.
What puts it over the top for me in terms of XSplit Broadcaster is the ability to add apps for specific connections. For instance, I am able to add my Extra Life banner for donations with just a few clicks of the mouse in XSplit.
This isn’t saying that OBS is a slacker, though. The system has a wide selection of methods to integrate other features as well. I just find it a bit easier to use XSplit Broadcaster when adding these elements.
5. Customization Settings: OBS
Both XSplit and OBS have a large number of customization options available. From changing the bitrate to other audio and video enhancements, both of these systems work exceptionally well. The only real difference is the interface. Because it seems to handle the operations better, I have to give this to OBS.
The overall settings adjustments for XSplit are just a bit too clunky. Although it is easy to follow and make your adjustments, it just seems ultimately easier to do this in Open Broadcaster Software.
6. Layout Control: Tie
Both systems have an incredibly amount of flexibility when it comes to the layout of your stream. Both types of streaming software allow for a wide range of add-ons and resizing capabilities.
I found it just as easy to add elements from Streamlabs to XSplit as it is for OBS. There really isn’t much of a difference between the two in this regard. As both use an easy-to-understand interface, it’s not much effort at all for even the most novice of streamers to get started broadcasting.
If you like scene transitions, XSplit seems to have more available. Of course, not everyone cares about transitions during recording or streaming. Especially since you can add these with most video editing software anyway.
7. Camera Options: OBS
One of the first things I wanted to do was set up a green screen. Although both pieces of software are capable of this, OBS takes it to a whole new level. Not only can you specify the color, but it also has the ability to encompass more shades of that color. This is important if your lighting isn’t perfect.
See, unless you’re able to evenly spread the light across the screen behind you, there will undoubtedly be shades that are not picked up by the chroma key. As a result, shadows can cause the green screen to appear in your broadcast. Using OBS gives you the ability to shift across a spectrum of likely colors to pick up many of those shadows.
Another bonus to OBS is the number of customization settings available in the camera control. Sharpen, scrolling, crop and scaling are just a handful of things you can do with the video camera.
8. Direct Video Recording: XSplit
I use XSplit to create my YouTube videos, which I plan on making more of in the near future. While both of these systems do a fairly good job of recording directly to the computer, I just find the interface and editing abilities of XSplit to be better for what I use it for.
On the other hand, those who use OBS may be accustomed to recording video for YouTube and may have a different opinion. I suggest trying both and sticking with the one that works best for you.
9. Support: Tie
This was another difficult part to consider. Although there is a huge following for OBS and many of the forums are very helpful, the direct customer support from XSplit is just amazing. I’ve interacted with them on a few occasions and they were pretty fast to respond.
The only negative I can think of for XSplit is the forums are rarely answered by others or by staff. However, direct communication has worked very well for me in the past. I haven’t contacted them lately as everything seems to be working pretty good at the moment. Well, except for the drain on CPU usage.
And the Winner Is: A Tie!
Out of both pieces of streaming software, it’s almost impossible for me to determine which one is better. This is especially true considering the issue I am having with Nvenc not being detected in XSplit. But because the quality is so much better in OBS using Nvenc, I am going to use it for now.
At least until I figure out how to fix XSplit Broadcaster to use it correctly. UPDATE: Which it does now.
I hope this helps you decide on a good piece of streaming software for your own needs. Like I said, everyone holds different parts of software in higher regards. This is simply my own opinion for what drives me to use either of these applications.
Because both of these can be used in a free environment, it’s worth the time to explore both before making up your mind.
Good luck to you and may your streams be plentiful.