OBS vs. Streamlabs: Which is better for livestreaming?

Learn about the two heavy hitters in livestreaming and find out whether OBS or Streamlabs is the best solution for you.
December 14, 2023
Vivian Tejeda
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In the world of recording software, two solutions stand out: OBS Studio and Streamlabs. Each offers unique advantages, whether you're a Twitch aficionado, a Facebook Live regular, or a streamer juggling multiple platforms. 

In this guide, you learn the big differences between the two, including CPU usage, customization, user experience, and overall functionality. That way, you can decide which software is best for your streaming needs.

What is Streamlabs?

Image of Streamlabs landing page
Source: Streamlabs

Streamlabs is a versatile streaming software used by creators for broadcasting on platforms like Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook Live. It offers a variety of easy-to-use tools that enhance the streaming experience for both creator and audience.

Here are some key features of Streamlabs:

  • Customizable overlays: You can design your broadcast with personalized graphics, banners, and alerts that pop up when you receive new followers, donations, or subscribers.
  • Integrated chat: View and interact with your audience directly in-stream, so you don’t have to switch between multiple windows or screens.
  • Mobile streaming: Streaming IRL? Streamlabs also offers a mobile app for when you’re away from your usual streaming setup. 
  • Merch store integration: Let viewers browse and purchase branded merch without leaving your stream.

Streamlabs is an excellent option for gamers who want to customize their streams. For example, a gamer streaming on Twitch might use Streamlabs to add an overlay that shows their current game, webcam footage, recent subscribers, and a chat window. They can also use animated transitions when switching between scenes, like moving from gameplay to a 'be right back' screen. Streamlabs also lets you hook up to your console, like Xbox Live, and stream directly from it. 

Image of Streamlabs user streaming gameplay from Xbox to Twitch

Music performers can also use Streamlabs to broadcast their live content. Say a musician or DJ wants to go live on YouTube; they can use Streamlabs to ensure top-notch audio quality. They can also add visual effects and overlays that react to the music in real time to engage fans.

Streamlabs stands out in the streaming software arena thanks to its extensive customization options and tools for community engagement. These features make it a go-to choice for novice and experienced content creators looking to produce high-quality, interactive live streams without getting too technical or clear a large learning curve. 

Pricing is also a subtle advantage here. Streamlabs has a free forever plan, but it puts a watermark on your videos. If you want to upgrade and access perks like higher resolution streaming and multi-streaming, the Standard plan is $9 per month. You’ll get everything you need right out of the box.

Streamlabs pros and cons

Streamlabs, which is widely used in the streaming community, offers a complete set of features for beginner and experienced streamers. Here's a detailed look at its advantages and drawbacks.

Advantages of Streamlabs

  • User-friendly interface: Streamlabs’ user interface is intuitive, so you can start streaming quickly. At the same time, it offers easy access to advanced features like noise gates and video encoding to enhance the viewing experience. 
  • Integrated features:Streamlabs offers a ton of awesome features like chat management, alerts, and plugins, all for a low price. 
  • Multi-platform support: With Streamlabs, you can stream on multiple platforms at once, including Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, and Trovo. You can also custom code a destination using RTMP and configure Streamlabs to send the stream to your custom server.
  • Mobile app: A dedicated mobile app is available for streaming on the go, which allows you to manage your stream directly from your iPad or smartphone, which is handy for IRL streamers.
  • Developer API: Streamlabs offers a REST API available to anyone wanting to create custom integrations.

Drawbacks of Streamlabs

  • Resource-intensive: Streamlabs can stress your system’s resources, which can lead to lower performance on weaker systems. 
  • Learning curve: While easy to use, Streamlabs has a lot of features that may take time to fully understand and use. 
  • Limited offline recording: Streamlabs focuses more on live streaming and less on offline content creation. Its offline recording and editing features are limited compared to dedicated video editing software. 

What is OBS Studio?

Image of OBS Studio landing page
Source: OBS Studio

Video streaming and video recording software Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) Studio is a solid choice for creators. It's used by a wide range of users, ranging from professionals to gamers, to connect with their audiences and broadcast their best content. With OBS, you can stream and record video on Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook Live with its open-source software.

This flexibility makes OBS Studio a popular choice among those who want complete control over their streaming setup, from adjusting audio quality to fine-tuning video formats and frame rates. Though a bit more technical, OBS Studio's popularity also comes from its compatibility with multiple operating systems, including Windows, macOS, and Linux. 

OBS Studio is a powerful, customizable, and resource-efficient solution particularly favored by users on Twitch and other streaming platforms. However, its complexity and limitations in advanced editing and streaming functionalities may require additional tools or software to complement its features.

OBS pros and cons

OBS is better suited for users who need a highly customizable and efficient streaming solution. Here’s a breakdown of its pros and cons. 

Advantages of OBS Studio

  • Open-source and free. You can customize OBS Studio to meet your specific needs, making it a cost-effective solution for content creators and streamers. 
  • Cross-platform compatibility. It runs smoothly on all three major operating systems, including Windows, macOS, and Linux. 
  • Highly customizable. OBS Studio has over 120 plugins you can use to tailor your streamlining experience. You can use custom scripts to automate tasks, control bitrate and codecs, and use VST plugins for audio processing.
  • Low resource usage: Users with less powerful computers can still enjoy live video and screen capture with OBS Studio, thanks to its low CPU usage.

Drawbacks of OBS Studio

  • No advanced editing features. While OBS is great for live streaming, it lacks editing features for screen recording. You’ll need video editing software to refine and publish professional videos. 
  • Complexity. OBS has way more settings and customizations to tackle versus Streamlabs. Beginners may be turned off by the learning curve. 
  • No centralized support. Due to OBS Studio's open-source nature, there isn't a centralized support system. Although there is a community with help and resources, the lack of dedicated support is a downside.
🎮 Learn: Capture Cards: How to Use a Capture Card for Streaming

So, which is better: OBS or Streamlabs?

Choosing between OBS and Streamlabs comes down to your needs as a streamer. Believe it or not, Streamlabs is actually built on the OBS engine, so you can find a lot of the same features inside the platform. Streamlabs OBS is a long-term commitment between both parties.

In short:

  • OBS is better for those who want more control, customization, and have some experience with streaming software.
  • Streamlabs is ideal for beginners or those who want an all-in-one solution with integrated streaming tools. 

Here’s a quick overview of both features:

OBS:

  • Completely free and open-source, allowing for more customization and control.
  • Works with a wide range of streaming services and platforms.
  • Generally lighter on system resources.
  • Offers more advanced settings and customization options for experienced users.
  • Supports a wide range of third-party plugins for added functionality.

Streamlabs:

  • Known for its user-friendly interface.
  • Comes with integrated alerts, widgets, and overlays.
  • Includes built-in tools for donations and merchandising.
  • Tends to be more resource-intensive than OBS.
  • Offers a paid subscription with additional themes, apps, and features.

Ultimately, the choice hinges on your priorities. If you need powerful, customizable, and low-resource streaming software, OBS Studio is the way to go. For a more streamlined, user-friendly experience with built-in features for engaging with your audience, Streamlabs is the better choice.

The best recording alternative for high-quality content

If you’re still looking for recording software alternatives, Descript is an excellent choice. You can’t live stream directly from Descript, but you can create high-quality screen recordings in 4K and edit them all in one place.

Descript’s additional features make it stand out as both accessible and effective for users of all experience levels. With Descript, you can:

While OBS Studio and Streamlabs are excellent live streaming software with options like built-in chat, transitions, and multistreaming, Descript is a superior choice for content creators focusing on recording and editing high-quality videos with advanced features and minimal impact on resources. 

Want to join the thousands of creators already using Descript’s recording and editing features? Take a tour of the dashboard today.

Streamlabs vs OBS FAQs

What is the best streaming software?

The "best" streaming software depends on your specific needs as a streamer or content creator. OBS Studio stands out for its low CPU usage, open-source software flexibility, and extensive customization through plugins and overlays. Streamlabs is more user-friendly and resource-intensive, offering additional built-in features like chatbot, notifications, and widgets.

Is Descript better than OBS?

Descript is not necessarily "better" than OBS. Rather, it serves a different purpose. While OBS Studio and Streamlabs are designed for live streaming, Descript is more focused on high-quality screen capture and video recording. 

How do you choose the best recording software?

Choosing the best recording software involves considering several factors:

  • System compatibility: Ensure the software works well with your operating system, whether it's Windows, macOS, or Linux.
  • Resource requirements: Assess your computer's capabilities. If you have a powerful GPU and CPU, you might opt for resource-intensive software. For less powerful systems, consider software with low CPU usage like OBS Studio.
  • Customization and features: Consider the level of customization you need. OBS Studio offers extensive customization with open-source plugins, while Streamlabs provides built-in features and widgets for a more streamlined setup.
Vivian Tejeda
Vivian is a content marketer who loves writing, creativity, and is obsessed with the art of storytelling. Her free time is taken up by learning golf, reading books, and touching grass.
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OBS vs. Streamlabs: Which is better for livestreaming?

orange monitor with microphone coming out of its screen with orange background

In the world of recording software, two solutions stand out: OBS Studio and Streamlabs. Each offers unique advantages, whether you're a Twitch aficionado, a Facebook Live regular, or a streamer juggling multiple platforms. 

In this guide, you learn the big differences between the two, including CPU usage, customization, user experience, and overall functionality. That way, you can decide which software is best for your streaming needs.

Our full-featured video editing tool is as powerful as it is easy to use.
Look for our all-in-one audio & video production that’s as easy as editing a doc.

What is Streamlabs?

Image of Streamlabs landing page
Source: Streamlabs

Streamlabs is a versatile streaming software used by creators for broadcasting on platforms like Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook Live. It offers a variety of easy-to-use tools that enhance the streaming experience for both creator and audience.

Here are some key features of Streamlabs:

  • Customizable overlays: You can design your broadcast with personalized graphics, banners, and alerts that pop up when you receive new followers, donations, or subscribers.
  • Integrated chat: View and interact with your audience directly in-stream, so you don’t have to switch between multiple windows or screens.
  • Mobile streaming: Streaming IRL? Streamlabs also offers a mobile app for when you’re away from your usual streaming setup. 
  • Merch store integration: Let viewers browse and purchase branded merch without leaving your stream.

Streamlabs is an excellent option for gamers who want to customize their streams. For example, a gamer streaming on Twitch might use Streamlabs to add an overlay that shows their current game, webcam footage, recent subscribers, and a chat window. They can also use animated transitions when switching between scenes, like moving from gameplay to a 'be right back' screen. Streamlabs also lets you hook up to your console, like Xbox Live, and stream directly from it. 

Image of Streamlabs user streaming gameplay from Xbox to Twitch

Music performers can also use Streamlabs to broadcast their live content. Say a musician or DJ wants to go live on YouTube; they can use Streamlabs to ensure top-notch audio quality. They can also add visual effects and overlays that react to the music in real time to engage fans.

Streamlabs stands out in the streaming software arena thanks to its extensive customization options and tools for community engagement. These features make it a go-to choice for novice and experienced content creators looking to produce high-quality, interactive live streams without getting too technical or clear a large learning curve. 

Pricing is also a subtle advantage here. Streamlabs has a free forever plan, but it puts a watermark on your videos. If you want to upgrade and access perks like higher resolution streaming and multi-streaming, the Standard plan is $9 per month. You’ll get everything you need right out of the box.

Streamlabs pros and cons

Streamlabs, which is widely used in the streaming community, offers a complete set of features for beginner and experienced streamers. Here's a detailed look at its advantages and drawbacks.

Advantages of Streamlabs

  • User-friendly interface: Streamlabs’ user interface is intuitive, so you can start streaming quickly. At the same time, it offers easy access to advanced features like noise gates and video encoding to enhance the viewing experience. 
  • Integrated features:Streamlabs offers a ton of awesome features like chat management, alerts, and plugins, all for a low price. 
  • Multi-platform support: With Streamlabs, you can stream on multiple platforms at once, including Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, and Trovo. You can also custom code a destination using RTMP and configure Streamlabs to send the stream to your custom server.
  • Mobile app: A dedicated mobile app is available for streaming on the go, which allows you to manage your stream directly from your iPad or smartphone, which is handy for IRL streamers.
  • Developer API: Streamlabs offers a REST API available to anyone wanting to create custom integrations.

Drawbacks of Streamlabs

  • Resource-intensive: Streamlabs can stress your system’s resources, which can lead to lower performance on weaker systems. 
  • Learning curve: While easy to use, Streamlabs has a lot of features that may take time to fully understand and use. 
  • Limited offline recording: Streamlabs focuses more on live streaming and less on offline content creation. Its offline recording and editing features are limited compared to dedicated video editing software. 

What is OBS Studio?

Image of OBS Studio landing page
Source: OBS Studio

Video streaming and video recording software Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) Studio is a solid choice for creators. It's used by a wide range of users, ranging from professionals to gamers, to connect with their audiences and broadcast their best content. With OBS, you can stream and record video on Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook Live with its open-source software.

This flexibility makes OBS Studio a popular choice among those who want complete control over their streaming setup, from adjusting audio quality to fine-tuning video formats and frame rates. Though a bit more technical, OBS Studio's popularity also comes from its compatibility with multiple operating systems, including Windows, macOS, and Linux. 

OBS Studio is a powerful, customizable, and resource-efficient solution particularly favored by users on Twitch and other streaming platforms. However, its complexity and limitations in advanced editing and streaming functionalities may require additional tools or software to complement its features.

OBS pros and cons

OBS is better suited for users who need a highly customizable and efficient streaming solution. Here’s a breakdown of its pros and cons. 

Advantages of OBS Studio

  • Open-source and free. You can customize OBS Studio to meet your specific needs, making it a cost-effective solution for content creators and streamers. 
  • Cross-platform compatibility. It runs smoothly on all three major operating systems, including Windows, macOS, and Linux. 
  • Highly customizable. OBS Studio has over 120 plugins you can use to tailor your streamlining experience. You can use custom scripts to automate tasks, control bitrate and codecs, and use VST plugins for audio processing.
  • Low resource usage: Users with less powerful computers can still enjoy live video and screen capture with OBS Studio, thanks to its low CPU usage.

Drawbacks of OBS Studio

  • No advanced editing features. While OBS is great for live streaming, it lacks editing features for screen recording. You’ll need video editing software to refine and publish professional videos. 
  • Complexity. OBS has way more settings and customizations to tackle versus Streamlabs. Beginners may be turned off by the learning curve. 
  • No centralized support. Due to OBS Studio's open-source nature, there isn't a centralized support system. Although there is a community with help and resources, the lack of dedicated support is a downside.
🎮 Learn: Capture Cards: How to Use a Capture Card for Streaming

So, which is better: OBS or Streamlabs?

Choosing between OBS and Streamlabs comes down to your needs as a streamer. Believe it or not, Streamlabs is actually built on the OBS engine, so you can find a lot of the same features inside the platform. Streamlabs OBS is a long-term commitment between both parties.

In short:

  • OBS is better for those who want more control, customization, and have some experience with streaming software.
  • Streamlabs is ideal for beginners or those who want an all-in-one solution with integrated streaming tools. 

Here’s a quick overview of both features:

OBS:

  • Completely free and open-source, allowing for more customization and control.
  • Works with a wide range of streaming services and platforms.
  • Generally lighter on system resources.
  • Offers more advanced settings and customization options for experienced users.
  • Supports a wide range of third-party plugins for added functionality.

Streamlabs:

  • Known for its user-friendly interface.
  • Comes with integrated alerts, widgets, and overlays.
  • Includes built-in tools for donations and merchandising.
  • Tends to be more resource-intensive than OBS.
  • Offers a paid subscription with additional themes, apps, and features.

Ultimately, the choice hinges on your priorities. If you need powerful, customizable, and low-resource streaming software, OBS Studio is the way to go. For a more streamlined, user-friendly experience with built-in features for engaging with your audience, Streamlabs is the better choice.

The best recording alternative for high-quality content

If you’re still looking for recording software alternatives, Descript is an excellent choice. You can’t live stream directly from Descript, but you can create high-quality screen recordings in 4K and edit them all in one place.

Descript’s additional features make it stand out as both accessible and effective for users of all experience levels. With Descript, you can:

While OBS Studio and Streamlabs are excellent live streaming software with options like built-in chat, transitions, and multistreaming, Descript is a superior choice for content creators focusing on recording and editing high-quality videos with advanced features and minimal impact on resources. 

Want to join the thousands of creators already using Descript’s recording and editing features? Take a tour of the dashboard today.

Streamlabs vs OBS FAQs

What is the best streaming software?

The "best" streaming software depends on your specific needs as a streamer or content creator. OBS Studio stands out for its low CPU usage, open-source software flexibility, and extensive customization through plugins and overlays. Streamlabs is more user-friendly and resource-intensive, offering additional built-in features like chatbot, notifications, and widgets.

Is Descript better than OBS?

Descript is not necessarily "better" than OBS. Rather, it serves a different purpose. While OBS Studio and Streamlabs are designed for live streaming, Descript is more focused on high-quality screen capture and video recording. 

How do you choose the best recording software?

Choosing the best recording software involves considering several factors:

  • System compatibility: Ensure the software works well with your operating system, whether it's Windows, macOS, or Linux.
  • Resource requirements: Assess your computer's capabilities. If you have a powerful GPU and CPU, you might opt for resource-intensive software. For less powerful systems, consider software with low CPU usage like OBS Studio.
  • Customization and features: Consider the level of customization you need. OBS Studio offers extensive customization with open-source plugins, while Streamlabs provides built-in features and widgets for a more streamlined setup.

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