F**k. StreamElements vs StreamLabs?
Right? StreamElements vs StreamLabs is nearly as polarizing as black and white, or so it would seem. This decision for me was a tough one, but ultimately I’ve found as a heavy user of both platforms that they aren’t as split as you’d think.
The TL;DR version is that I chose StreamElements early on, because it allowed me to get the most out of my single-PC (at the time). Let’s examine that decision, though, with a few different variables.
First, the obligatory plug; I stream Monday – Wednesday – Friday from about 7pm to midnight on Facebook. There’s literally a follow button on every page and I won’t even link there, I’m sure you can find it if you really want to.
Important question 1: One PC or two?
This is a VERY important question. Here’s the basics; StreamElements will (mostly) benefit single-PC users, and StreamLabs will mostly benefit new users. Right, there isn’t a direct correlation between their biggest benefits. Single-PC users are already getting a leg-up on StreamElements.
SE uses what are known as “browser” sources to render graphics on your OBS software. A “browser” source essentially uses network bandwidth to “pull” the image from the web-unicorns, rather than have your system use resources to pull it from your file-system. In most gaming applications, resources are a VERY important aspect to gaming, which is literally the whole purpose behind gaming on a PC in the first place. StreamElements has developed an add-on to OBS which makes things even more integrated with your streaming platform, StreamElements OBS.Live. That will directly-integrate with your chat and with StreamElements to put all your stuff right into OBS, similar to StreamLabs. More about that now.
In-contrast to StreamElements, uses your file-system to pull its graphics sources from. StreamLabs has their own iteration of OBS (StreamLabs OBS or SLOBS for short), which still allows you to use “browser” sources for StreamElements alerting, etc., but that would remove your opportunity to use some of the built-in features of SLOBS. These platforms are designed to work holistically, not as separate functions. If PC resources are sacred to you, StreamLabs might not be the choice.
If you’re using a single-PC, and need to or want to conserve computing power (it can be quite a bit to stream), I’d recommend going with StreamElements.
Ronnie’s Choice: StreamElements
Important question 2: How much time do you have to dedicate against setting things up?
Here’s why that’s important, and it’s OKAY to say “not a lot”. Streaming is part time for me at the moment. I have a corporate job that pays the bills, but if I could stream full-time I would. Each platform makes certain aspects to streaming helpful, though they each fall flat right in the middle, too.
StreamLabs is self-contained within the SLOBS application. Everything that you need to get started, from overlays to alerts and donations is right there, jam-packed into one screen. This makes adding graphics and doohickeys pretty simple to add. That said, some of the functionality and customization can be a bit wonky. For instance, I regularly test each of these applications’ new features by keeping a version of my stream on each. I become somewhat frustrated at times with text editing in alerts, as well as sizing my overlays. StreamLabs DOES have a pretty nutty “initial setup” guide, that really is great at helping you get started with setting up your stream.
StreamElements, on the other hand, requires that you log-on to your StreamElements dashboard as an additional step. Their interface is relatively simple from there, but there’s another additional step of “exporting” overlays (getting a link) and importing the overlay into a browser source in (hopefully) OBS.Live. These additional steps don’t seem daunting at first, but I’ve had many-a-streamer (new in most cases) come to me frustrated that they can’t figure out how to get their overlay into OBS. Oftentimes, they were just a bit impatient, but I digress.
StreamElements vs StreamLabs is a difficult one for “Simplicity”. On one-hand, StreamLabs has everything self-contained, and on the other, StreamElements’ dashboard is a bit easier to navigate.
Ronnie’s Choice: StreamElements
Important question 3: Who’s your favorite streamer?
This shouldn’t matter, but it does. When used properly and with the right content, anyone can grow to be a streaming-great. It’s important to understand that the streaming software and service you use isn’t going to make you a better streamer, and outside of the above differences, many of the services you should care about are offered by both. Ultimately, there are pro’s and con’s of each.
That said, here are two bigger names out there on each platform:
- Shroud – 7 Million followers (Twitch), 1 Million (Mixer)
- Timthetatman – 4.2 Million Followers (Twitch)
When you access each of the main pages of StreamElements and StreamLabs, they both do a good job of letting you know that the “influencers” use their platform. In my opinion, though, StreamLabs’ list of streamers has a few more “big hitters” (in my circles) than StreamElements.
If it all comes crashing down, and you still don’t know which to choose, figure out what your favorite streamer is using and use that one. They ARE “influencers” after all, right?
Ronnie’s Choice: StreamElements (with OBS.Live)
That’s it. The decision is a relatively simple one, though there are small nuances to each application/platform that can make or break it for you. I chose StreamElements, but like I mentioned, I keep both pretty updated and may choose to move again. they each provide “import” functions for the other, which makes switching pretty easy. It’s not as close to a binary decision as you might think.
Thanks for reading, and I hope this was somewhat helpful. Check back in for more Streaming 101 guides and articles.