Some basic OBS vs Xsplit info/testing
Hey everyone, with my paid Xsplit license about to expire, I decided it was high time to play around with OBS, here are some findings between the two:
1: General friendliness and UI
I'm pretty happy with both programs, although Xsplit gets a very small lead here, OBS is also fairly well polished. Both offer you an easy fast way to swap between scenes and control microphone vs computer source volumes to balance them. I found it a little harder to add content to OBS than Xsplit, but it wasn't overly complicated.
Xsplit, however, does pull a huge win when it comes to adding multiple sources to a single stream. The ability to "drag" around and resize and always see a live preview gives Xsplit a very nice win over OBS on this area. It won't be a feature most people will need, but if you plan to have many different sources making up your stream (i.e. adding custom logos, webcam, maybe a video, graphics, etc), this may or may not bother you. OBS gives you options to change how each source shows up/where it is, but these controls are all through menus and settings... will take you a lot more time to get it perfect.
Getting into the settings and configuring your stream is pretty easy on both and I find that OBS is about 2% better here due to a couple extra options. Nothing big. Also, it should be noted that OBS does support custom plugins, although at the time of posting it seems most or all of them are for automatic scene switching.
2. Stream quality:
Didn't notice any significant difference in quality between Xsplit and OBS, the quality diff I noticed was probably because I accidentally had OBS at 1400kbps instead of 1500kpbs. Both seem to offer very similar quality for the same bitrate, but OBS offers more high quality settings than the free version of Xsplit (which is important to note since OBS is free and the premium settings on Xsplit cost you a subscription fee).
3. Performance testing:
So, now that we know a few basics about using the programs and stream quality, let's see which one gives us better performance (if at all). For the test, I ran StarCraft 2 benchmark program that puts a large battle on the screen to stress the CPU and provide some scenes without a lot of motion, and some with many units milling around. For each program, I ran the benchmark once in SC 2 without benching, then I ran 3 tests and benchmarked with FRAPS each of the 3 runs while streaming. I then closed the program before switching to the other streaming program and repeated the process. After more use, I've had a couple experiences where OBS just doesn't send your stream to twitch properly and requires you to stop and start stream again to fix. Minor, but a problem.
OBS testing - SC 2 CPU benchmark
Max bitrate 1400 kbps - AAC audio 96 kbps
downscaling Bicubic sharper
23 fps 1280x720
disable windows Aero
CPU preset "fast" with multithreaded optimiaztions
7 - 16.5 - 39
8 - 17 - 45
8 - 17.5 - 54
Xsplit testing - SC 2 CPU benchmark
Max bitrate 1500 kbps - AAC audio 96 kbps
23 fps 1280x720
disable windows Aero
CPU preset "fast"
9 - 17.4 - 46
9 - 18 - 47
8 - 17.5 - 40
While I would give (paid) Xsplit the win based on a few factors, I will suggest OBS for most users. Xsplit gives slightly better performance, but it is so small it is hard to even say it performs better. Xsplit stream quality is only as good as OBS if you pay for it... and that is the main sticking point. Sure, Xsplit has better UI and makes it WAY easier to manage scenes and sources, but the fact that anyone wanting to go for a higher stream quality has to pay is just a deal breaker. Paid Xsplit pulls slightly ahead of OBS if you didn't care about price, but that difference is so small it's extremely hard to justify paying for a Xsplit subscription. Once OBS gets Intel quick sync working well, it will be a far superior choice, for most users, if Xsplit doesn't have an answer.
- Limited audio and stream quality without paid version
- Cannot capture game source (SUPER useful) without paid version
- Much easier to set up scenes and manage on the fly
- Very small performance lead over OBS
- Free... did I mention you can get access to all features without needing a paid version?
- Very similar performance and quality of Xsplit
- Fairly easy to set up, has a couple options Xsplit doesn't (most people won't notice)
- Harder to set up and manage scenes, but can end with same results as Xsplit
- Plugin support (mostly auto scene switchers)
I do a fair bit of streaming and exploring options, but I am not a power user of either program and I do not do a lot of scene modification (I don't have flashy banners, cool graphics, etc), so I'm not a complete expert by any means. Please feel free to provide more details if you feel there is something important I missed. Please also be able to back up your claims as I want this to be a FAIR representation between the programs.
In all my experimentation with streaming I've never found a balance of settings that resulted in acceptable fps and perfect quality. I want to know how people get 60 fps with 1080p or 1200p.
Dedicated streaming computer. If you wish to do 60 fps, you pretty much need to use a dedicated streaming computer. The other important thing to note, if you have crazy good bandwith, you could just set the compression method to the superfaster (or whatever the fastest is) to minimize CPU usage and then jack up your bit-rate to compensate. Sitting on a 2600k with an overclock, you should easily hit 30 fps, which is smooth for almost everyone when watching your stream. I haven't looked into capture cards because from what I read, they can't offer as high of quality as a good CPU can, but they have the benefit of being cheaper than building a dedicated streaming computer.
It took me a bit, but I got OBS to stream so much better than any application I've used in the past. Yes, there's a bit of a learning curve and experimenting to get it perfect for your PC. But it's nothing googling can't solve. In the end, I find it far superior. The fact that it's free just tops it.
The only thing that would make it even more awesome is if they develop some way to make use Intel's Quick Sync.
Oh snap, I didn't know they were already working on it
OK so I went ahead and tried the new experimental version of OBS with QSV support.
I can stream at 60fps, ~720p, and lanzos3 resizing with no noticeable lag. This is on a i3-2120.
Small point to add, sometimes (very rare) OBS has stopped sending to twitch, where I didn't really have problems with xsplit, so with OBS you need to keep an eye on it sometimes to make sure it's actually still live.
Using intel quick sync will be a boon! The speed and basically non existent CPU resources required!!! Only downside is a loss of image quality, but hey!
Edit: You'll also want to keep your eyes out for the screen capture software nvidia is putting out that allows 30 fps screen capture... it looks 3000% promising as an amazing option if you don't REALLY need the 60 fps capture.
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