Best Twitch Streaming Software: RANKED (2022)

Jeff Nabors
Jeff Nabors
12 Min Read

People who want to get into streaming often have an uphill climb. It’s difficult to set up at first, most twitch streaming software is scary and clunky, and overall it can be a daunting task.

Thankfully, it doesn’t need to be that hard. I’ve been streaming on and off for nearly three years, and I’ve put plenty of time into testing all kinds of software.

Today we’ll be going over the best streaming software for Twitch and some bonus software too!

What Makes Streaming Software Good?

Most streaming software does the same thing, grabbing your video feed to be encoded and then shipped to Twitch. However, there are a few things that can make them stand out a little bit more:

  • Accessibility – Software that is easy to set up and use is always a win in my book, especially when it comes to Twitch streaming software. I’m not interested if I need to consult a guidebook to get into essential features.
  • Features – As we said earlier, most Twitch streaming software all does the same thing: streaming to Twitch. However, a lot of software adds in some additional benefits like chatbots, alert management, and other things to improve your streaming experience.
  • Customization – We don’t just mean overlays here, we’re talking deep customization options. There are hundreds of tools out there to enhance your experience, and your software should be able to accommodate them. This also extends to audio and visual filters, encoding metrics, and other technical stuff.
  • Performance – Streaming is always going to tax your system somehow, as the process is both CPU and GPU intensive, depending on how you encode the video. Some software can make this even harder for older computers, which is an important factor as well.

1

OBS Studio

OBS Studio
A typical OBS window with several sources.

OBS Studio is the best pick for Twitch streaming software, the granddaddy of them all. They set the standard for streaming software, and they have the most support from the community thanks to it being open source.

This powerful tool is entirely free, but they also will never ask you for a dime or try to get you to sign up for any services. You don’t even need an account, just download the software and get to streaming!

Their community is extremely hard working as well, which shows when it comes to the free plugins you can pick up. These add a plethora of new things to OBS that most other streaming software doesn’t have.

When it comes to accessibility, though, OBS tends to be lacking. It is a pretty complex program, and there is a lot to learn to get the most out of the software. But, there aren’t any built-in tutorials for it, and looking at a blank OBS window can be daunting for new streamers. Thankfully, there are hundreds of guides to get you set up as quickly as possible.

Pros:

  • A massive community for support.
  • The most customizable platform for streaming.
  • Limitless options for your stream.

Cons:

  • Not very accessible at first.

2

XSplit Broadcaster

XSplit Broadcaster
Some of the key features of Xsplit.

Slightly older than OBS, XSplit has been around the block for a while. Their software is a more polished approach to Twitch Streaming Software, and they have a few features that make them stand out.

They offer a lot of customization options for multi-cam setups and can even capture feeds from Discord and other VoIP software. That makes XSplit great for multiple people on screen simultaneously, such as podcasts or big events. Plus, it allows you to stream to other platforms simultaneously.

One of the bonuses is that it does come with VCam, which allows you to have a fake green screen effect if you so choose. This is a great addition but has its own flaws.

Not only can you set up a stream, but this software also works well to allow a more “professional” experience, which is excellent for those who might run shows or podcasts on Twitch. However, it doesn’t compete with OBS, as these features are easily replicated.

Price is a downside for them, as they have a lot of options locked behind a paywall. Compared to most other Twitch streaming software, the free version lacks the essentials that other free options have.

Pros:

  • Easy to set up and use.
  • Great for podcasts and multi-cam setups.

Cons:

  • Pricey, as most of the benefits for Premium are included in free alternatives.

3

Streamlabs

Streamlabs
A typical Streamlabs layout.

If you want an easy dive into Twitch streaming, Streamlabs is it. They offer the complete package, with an easy-to-use tutorial and tons of resources to get you up in no time.

Streamlabs OBS (SLOBS) is a “fork” of OBS, meaning they share the same code base with Streamlabs adding extra features. This means that if you know how to use one, you know how to use both.

In the long list of added features to SLOBS, they include built-in overlays, alerts, chatbots, and apps to add to your experience. But these can come at a steep cost.

Performance issues are a real risk with SLOBS, as the program comes with a lot of extra processes. I could barely run newer games while streaming with my old computer because of how many resources SLOBS took up. Budget gamers might want to look elsewhere, as performance is too important.

Pros:

  • Super easy setup.
  • Tons of tools are included for all your streaming needs.

Cons:

  • Extremely resource-heavy, making streaming on low-end PCs difficult.

4

Twitch Studio

Twitch Studio
An example of Twitch Studio, a more beginner-friendly platform.

You’d think that the company that hosts all these streamers would offer their own streaming software, right? Surprisingly enough, they only jumped into the game in 2019.

As you’d expect, it offers an incredibly easy way to get yourself streaming in no time. Their awesome setup gets all your essentials checked off and working for you, so you’re ready for the spotlight.

However, the program is still in beta, and there are a few missing features to keep it from the top. There isn’t a way to add plugins or tweak the software anywhere close to OBS, and installing overlays is a pain.

Hopefully, we will see more progress with Twitch Studio as it develops and comes out of beta to a full release, but that isn’t for a while.

Pros:

  • Best platform for new streamers or those who just want to get their feet wet.
  • It is the easiest to set up, as it comes with Twitch integration by default.

Cons:

  • It’s not as robust as other streaming software.
  • You can ONLY stream on Twitch, so no restreaming is possible.
  • Adding in overlays and UI elements is clunky.

5

Lightstream

Lightstream
Loghtstream’s simplistic web interface.

The only cloud-based platform on our list, Lightstream offers all the functionality within a browser window. Unlike other software, Lightstream allows you to stream directly from your console, skipping the need for a capture card.

However, this does come at a cost, as the software isn’t free. They offer a few different paid tiers, ranging from $7/mo for 720p 30fps all the way up to $14 for 1080p at the same frame rate. They also offer a “Creator” tier with the same resolution but allows more remote guests.

Next, if you’ll notice, they don’t support streaming above 1080p 60fps, regardless of the tier. Meaning that if you have a stellar setup, you’ll be losing quality through them. There doesn’t seem to be any way around this.

For console-only gamers who don’t have a PC and capture card for streaming, Lightstream is the only option I know of that allows you to have overlays. This is huge, as overlays are crucial to viewer engagement.

Pros:

  • Cloud-based, so it doesn’t impact PC performance.
  • Great for console streamers.

Cons:

  • A monthly fee is annoying when other solutions are free.
  • No 1080p/60fps option in any paid tier.

Which Streaming Software is Best For Me?

For most streamers, I think OBS will always be the best pick. It offers the most features overall, and it only requires a little time to get used to the software.

However, some other edge cases might change my answer, so let’s cover them.

Best For New Streamers

For those just getting into Twitch streaming, I think starting with Twitch Studio is the best step. It’s easy to get up and running with minimal knowledge, and it’s already integrated with Twitch. Once you get used to streaming, you can make the jump to SLOBS or regular OBS with confidence.

Best For Podcasters and Live Shows

If you’re running a live show (like a D&D Actual-play or something) or podcast, you should look at XSplit. It offers excellent multi-cam support, and it’s pretty similar to professional software for productions. However, you may need to pay for their premium version for some features.

Best All-Around Twitch Streaming Software

Like our list, OBS is still the reigning champ for Twitch streaming software. It’s incredibly robust and offers everything a streamer needs, plus it’s entirely free. What else can you ask for? Unlike other software, it also supports every little gadget that a streamer might want.

Wrapping It Up

If you want to get started streaming on Twitch, or you want to up your game, there are many options out there. If you want the absolute best, you’ll want to start with OBS. It’s the king of streaming for a reason, and almost everyone uses it.

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Jeff Nabors is a self-described "internet person". He's been writing about tech and gaming for the last few years now, between running podcasts and Dungeons and Dragons games. You can learn more at www.jeffnabors.best, or catch him live on Twitch www.twitch.tv/RKDnc
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