The right free streaming software will give your videos a professional advantage with custom logos, well-mixed audio, high resolution, everything that distinguishes amateur professionals. Fortunately, the software you need to create an attractive stream doesn't have to be expensive, and some of the best are free.
It can be difficult to choose the free streaming software that's right for you. Transmission is a growing market, and developers are fighting for their attention with claims of better performance, ease of use and quick setup, so how to choose?
Some of the key features to consider are compatible platforms, the choice of input sources, user support and compatible games (some streaming applications make you choose from a list of titles, while others allow you to record anything).
With that in mind, here is our selection of the best free streaming software you can download today.
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The best Free streaming software at a glance
- OBS Studio
- OBS Streamlabs
- Nvidia Shadowplay
- Xsplit Gamecaster
You won't find a more powerful free transmission tool for any platform
Open source, powerful and flexible, OBS Studio is easily our best choice when it comes to software Free streaming It is available for Windows, Mac and Linux, and receives regular updates from an enthusiastic team of collaborators.
It has a reputation for being complicated to configure, but if you are only interested in simple transmission, then there is no need to immerse yourself in the most sophisticated capture settings.
If you want more granular control, it's all there. You can create scenes from multiple sources (windows, images, text, webcams, capture cards, the list continues), mix audio and adjust virtually every aspect of your broadcasts. The options are wide, but they are clearly established and explained.
OBS Studio can stream directly to Twitch, YouTube, Mixer, Facebook and many other platforms, a much wider range than what you'll find in other streaming software. It is even possible to stream to multiple platforms at once.
OBS Studio is also our best option if you are looking for a high quality free screen recorder. Other tools may be simpler, but if you want to capture games or anything else on your desktop, you won't find a more flexible tool for the job.
A friendlier face for OBS Studio, but there is little to differentiate it in another way
indicates, Streamlabs OBS is built on the same basis as OBS Studio, putting a friendlier face on the powerful streaming software. Streamlabs offers claims to offer improved performance through automatic optimization, although the difference in our tests was negligible.
Its cleaner interface makes Streamlabs a reasonable option for streamers for the first time, but if you are already satisfied with the use of OBS Studio, there is little advantage in the change. It is currently in beta, so it will be interesting to see if it moves further away from OBS Studio in the future, but at the moment there is little difference between the two.
It is worth noting that Streamlabs currently lacks a study mode: a feature that came to OBS Studio two years ago. It is an advanced tool that many users will not miss, but it is worth considering.
The game, the whole game and nothing but the game
If you have a GeForce graphics card, Nvidia Shadowplay is included with the drivers. It has a great advantage over most streaming software: it encodes in the GPU instead of the CPU, which means it has a negligible impact on performance, but is much less flexible than OBS Studio. There are no overlays or scenes from multiple sources, just the game itself.
If you're only interested in streaming games, then Nvidia Shadowplay will do the job, but if you want to create something more sophisticated, then you'll be better off with OBS, especially because you can configure OBS to use NVENC's Nvidia encoding.
Shadowplay's video recording and screen capture tools are excellent, but streaming is not your best option.
Excellent software quality, but premium features are priced high
Unlike most of the free streaming software in this summary, Xsplit Gamecaster is a free and reduced version of a premium application. As such, it looks more elegant and benefits from premium online support, but several features are locked behind a payment wall.
Gamecaster is a specific version of the Xsplit Broadcaster game, with a more optimized interface. It supports streaming to Twitch, YouTube Live and Facebook Live, and is incredibly easy to use: just start your game and press a keyboard shortcut to open the overlay and start streaming.
The biggest drawback is that it transmits at 720px or more will carry an Xsplit watermark; It is not ideal if you want your transmission to look professional. You will also have to open your wallet if you want cromakeying (green screen), Twitch chat in the game, console support through a capture card and custom logos. Commercial use also requires a license.
Prices start at US $ 4.17 (around £ 3 / AU $ 5) per month for a 36-month license, up to US $ 199 (around £ 150 / AU $ 250) for a license for lifetime.