OBS vs XSplit: What’s the Best Streaming App?

In the world of streaming on platforms like Twitch, YouTube Gaming and more, there are two big names: Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) and XSplit. The big question that I found myself asking once I started experimenting with Team Fortress 2 (TF2) streaming was simple: in the fight between OBS vs XSplit, who wins?

Looking through Google, I didn’t find any source that looked, in detail, into both products and compared them earnestly. All I saw were people saying “OBS is better because X” in one result and “XSplit is better because Y” in another, but a true in-depth comparison eluded me.

Being the tech writer I am, I found this difficult. So I alternated between XSplit Premium and Open Broadcaster Software for some time, learning the ins and outs of both programs and experiencing the benefits both had to offer. Once I was done, I realized that the conclusion I came to was difficult and required a lot of experimentation. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

So, I decided to make it easier. In this article I’ll be comparing Open Broadcaster Software and XSplit Gamecaster directly, as well as some information on XSplit Broadcaster at the end of the article. Let’s begin!

First, we’ll start by comparing and discussing the pricing of both products.

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Open Broadcaster Software: Free, For All Features, Forever

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XSplit Gamecaster: Price: Free For Gimped Version, $2.50/mo for Good Version, $4.17/mo for Best Version

Now, I know what you might be thinking here: if OBS offers all of its features upfront and for free, how does XSplit even compare?

There’s actually a few more things to take into consideration than just the pricing of the products. Streaming games and other media requires powerful hardware and sometimes extra hardware. By default, OBS manages audio quality better but doesn’t have certain features that premium versions of XSplit has, such as a simulated greenscreen. These are considered staples of streaming.

Additionally, despite the benefits OBS poses, it’s missing some features that Gamecaster has. More specifically, it’s missing a very powerful in-game overlay. Streamers like to watch and respond to their chats, and XSplit’s overlay allows you to do all those main functions on a single screen. Using OBS basically requires you to have a second monitor to be just as efficient, which adds considerably to the price.

If you already have a second monitor and greenscreen handy, OBS is an obvious choice as far as budget goes. Otherwise, XSplit might actually save you a little bit of money.

Winner: Undecided

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Open Broadcaster Software

  • My rig was able to stream 720p at 30fps with little noticeable performance drops in TF2 but couldn’t do 720p at 60.
  • However, it could achieve 60fps at 1152×658, which is only marginally less detailed than 1280×720.

XSplit Gamecaster

  • My rig was able to stream 720p at 30fps with some noticeable performance drops in TF2 and obviously couldn’t do 720p at 60.
  • Unfortunately, it also could not achieve 60fps at 1152×658, and attempting to do this made the game entirely unplayable.

OBS takes this one, hands down. The main game that I play on my PC is Team Fortress 2, which is more CPU-dependent than GPU-dependent. I used the same Intel QuickSync rendering on both OBS and XSplit, but OBS still consistently performed better on my machine than XSplit managed to.

Winner: Open Broadcaster Software

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Open Broadcaster Software

  • Initial setup can be complex for new users. Despite being fairly tech-savvy, I needed some guidance to get started.
  • Additionally, the lack of an in-game overlay, performance monitor and other stream-controlling features makes OBS suffer in comparison.

XSplit Gamecaster

  • Incredibly straightforward to setup. Default configuration works fine, but it is recommended you tweak resolution and other settings within XSplit.
  • An in-game overlay allows the chat to be seen at all times, and there is also the easy setup of subscribe/follow boxes and a webcam feed. XSplit beats OBS handily here but at the unfortunate price of some features and performance.

XSplit takes this home fairly easily. While it may suffer significantly in the area of performance (and price of entry to good features may put people off), the ease of use makes it very enjoyable to use.  XSplit’s in-game overlay is the biggest thing at play here and almost completely negates the need for a second screen. Meanwhile, OBS basically needs to be used with a browser open in the background, and if you don’t have a second monitor that means a LOT of alt-tabbing, which can hurt stream quality and performance and be a general pain.

Winner: XSplit Gamecaster

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Open Broadcaster Software

  • OBS comes with a lot of customization options and plugin support right out of the box.
  • While this can be difficult to get up and running initially, you’re in way more control of your experience on OBS vs. XSplit.

XSplit Gamecaster

  • XSplit sacrifices a lot of customization options, and Gamecaster seems to completely lack plugins entirely.
  • While you can do most streamings on XSplit without plugins, it comes down to the age-old Android vs. iOS conflict: do you want customization and power or ease of use?

OBS runs circles around XSplit Gamecaster in this category. The Android/Apple comparison is apt, too. While complex interfaces and options can be difficult for new users, experience makes these barriers very short over time. While easy-to-use programs will always be easy  to use, they will remain at that low floor of entry, usually at the expense of advanced features and customization.

Winner: Open Broadcaster Software

However, there is another XSplit program to talk about.

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XSplit Broadcaster is an odd cookie. Billed as a more professional solution and lacking the easy setup and in-game overlay of XSplit Gamecaster, Broadcaster is more set up to take on Open Broadcaster Software. From the research I’ve been doing, however, it looks like the two are just about even in terms of plugin support and features. Pretty much anything you can do on XSplit Broadcaster, you can do on OBS with sufficient technical know-how. In addition, XSplit still has worse performance than OBS.

I don’t believe Broadcaster is a viable competitor to OBS, but discussion is welcome in the comments. However, I feel like it gives away the benefits that Gamecaster has over OBS without really doing anything to make up for its weaknesses in comparison to its main rival.

Overall, here’s how it breaks down. There’s virtually no reason to use the free XSplit over OBS; XSplit Broadcaster and OBS are about equally viable (but with Broadcaster at a much higher price), and while OBS is definitely more powerful than Gamecaster, Gamecaster is easier to use and set up.

My overall winner is Open Broadcaster Software, but you’re welcome to choose one of the XSplits instead.

What streaming software do you use? Do you stream on Twitch, Hitbox or YouTube Gaming? Hit me up in the comments below, and we can talk about it!

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