Today we’re going to break down the heated StreamElements vs Streamlabs debate so you can decide which software you want to use for your stream.
At first glance it might look like Streamlabs and StreamElements provide the same features and experience, but there are a few key differences that might sway you into choosing one over the other.
If you’re looking for the fastest advice on which one to choose, pay special attention to the section right below this.
And if after that you still can’t decide, continue reading to learn a bit more about what Streamlabs and StreamElements has to offer, as well as some pros and cons of each.
Can’t Decide Between Streamlabs or StreamElements? Read This Part!
Whether you end up using Streamlabs or StreamElements they both more or less have the same basic features you would expect for streaming.
They both have alerts, chat bots, overlays, donations, merch, analytics, media share, etc.
However, like any competing products there will be some slight differences that end up making some streamers choose Streamlabs, and others StreamElements.
Here are the top 9 main differences between StreamElements vs Streamlabs to help you decide which one is best for you:
1. CPU Usage
Since StreamElements doesn’t run locally off your computer (it’s all hosted online), you should get better CPU performance using StreamElements over Streamlabs OBS.
2. Paid Features
As of August 2021, everything on StreamElements is free. Compared to Streamlabs where a lot of their extra features/better looking graphics require you to pay for Streamlabs Prime.
Almost all the widgets and features you can find on StreamElements are also available on Streamlabs for free. It’s just when you start getting into the Apps, and nicer looking stream graphics is when you’ll need to pay on Streamlabs.
3. Custom Chatbot Name
The main difference here is that with StreamElements it’s free to do, but with Streamlabs you need to pay for this feature.
4. OBS Plugins
If you’re using Streamlabs OBS, you won’t be able to use any of the plugins that are made for native OBS Studio. You’re limited to whatever SLOBS decides to add to their version of OBS.
For StreamElements, since it’s just an OBS plugin itself (OBS.Live), you’re free to add other plugins as well.
Although if you’re just using Streamlabs widgets via the browser source option in OBS Studio, you’ll be good to use any plugins. SLOBS is just the issue here.
5. Overlays Quality
This is personal preference here; StreamElements has nicer overlays compared to Streamlabs’ free overlay options. But once you get into the paid overlays on Streamlabs these are more professional looking than what StreamElements has to offer.
6. Browser Sources
You can use Streamlabs without using Streamlabs OBS. You’ll just need to add the widgets you want to use using browser sources in OBS Studio. Same with StreamElements.
The big difference here is that with StreamElements all your widgets can be under one browser source. With Streamlabs you need to create new links/browser sources for each individual widget you want on your stream.
7. Ease of Use
This is personal preference, but Streamlabs has a slightly better user experience so in my opinion it’s the easier of the two to get set up and running.
8. App Store
Streamlabs has an app store, whereas StreamElements doesn’t. The apps can be for added fun and quality of life improvements depending on what type of streamer you are. The apps require Streamlabs Prime (paid subscription).
Streamlabs lets you custom code alerts, but so does StreamElements and basically any element beyond that through their web-based editor.
With StreamElements you have more control over your scene if you’re looking to make more customized additions (CSS/HTML/JS).
Should You Choose Streamlabs or StreamElements?
So we’ve just outlined the core differences between Streamlabs and StreamElements. At a glance it seems StreamElements has a lot more going for it than Streamlabs. So why is Streamlabs more popular then?
Likely due to brand recognition and their user friendly setup experience.
Either way, you should have enough info to base your decision off of. If you’re still on the fence, then try this:
- If hardcore customizations aren’t important to you, you have a moderate to high end computer (you don’t worry about CPU performance), and you prefer everything in one app, try Streamlabs.
- If you value lower CPU usage, want more freedom with your scene customizations, and don’t want to worry about paying for anything, try StreamElements.
Streamlabs & StreamElements
StreamLabs was founded in 2014 and has been one of the most popular streaming software to date. Its closest rival would be StreamElements which was created back in 2016.
Both platforms are similar as they serve one purpose, which is to help you improve the production quality of your stream. It’s a necessity if you want to stream on Twitch or other social platforms like YouTube and Facebook.
Let’s go over some of the advantages and disadvantages each service has to offer. By the end of the article, you should have a good idea of which one would better suit your needs.
Streamlabs has a massive community as it’s one of the earliest streaming broadcasting software made. Its popularity also makes it the largest streamer app to date.
It prides itself on being a ‘three-clicks to live’ solution and focuses more on user-friendliness and ease of set-up. It’s easy to navigate and has tons of useful tools such as selective recording and remote control for creators.
These tools make editing your highlights much easier as you’ll be able to easily take the parts you want and remove any copyrighted background music. They have their own OBS (Streamlabs OBS), and it’s an all-in-one solution to get you started streaming.
However, you might have to subscribe to Streamlabs Prime to gain access to the whole experience.
If you’re wondering the differences between SLOBS and OBS Studio, check out our Streamlabs OBS vs OBS Studio comparison.
The dashboard is extremely easy to navigate. You shouldn’t have much trouble setting up your stream (even if you do, Streamlabs offers a large archive of guides to help you with anything).
Here you’ll adjust how your overall stream will look. This is perfect as it gives you an idea of how your graphics (tip jars, sponsor banners, etc.) and alerts will look in certain positions.
Here you’re given a ton of selections to beautiful alerts. You can even upload your own static or GIF alerts on Streamlabs.
All Streamlabs alerts can be easily setup and installed with the click of a button.
With Streamlabs themes, you can select from a wide range of ready-made themes and overlays. You can filter through these themes based on your color scheme and what you’re looking for (i.e., scene themes, widget themes, tip-page themes, etc.)
Here you’ll be given access to additional apps (through Streamlabs Prime). Examples of available apps are Monstercat music player, Annotate and draw!, Emotes Creator Tool (to create custom emotes). These apps help improve the production quality of your stream and are great tools to boost engagement.
On the growth tab, you’ll be able to set goals and analyze your stream’s performance. Once you have your social accounts linked, you’ll also be able to multistream to multiple social platforms like Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook.
Highlighter is a new feature that will allow you to clip the best moments from your Livestream, edit them, and directly upload them to YouTube. It saves a ton of time as you’ll be able to capture and share the best moments from your streams easily.
Revenue, Donations, and Payments
Streamlabs allows users to make payments through PayPal, Skrill, Unitpay, direct debit, or credit. It has more payment options than StreamElements, and just like them, they don’t charge a fee. All revenue made from donations and tips will go towards the streamer!
Pros of using Streamlabs
- Three-click live solution with a built-in OBS.
- Additional payment options for donations.
- A wide selection of apps and plugins through Streamlabs Prime.
- Customizable alerts.
- Built-in merch store.
Cons of using Streamlabs
- Hosted locally and can eat up CPU usage, especially when gaming.
- Limited free overlay options.
- Potentially limited customizability down the road, especially when compared to StreamElements.
- Most extra features are only available with a subscription to Streamlabs Prime.
- Limited merch with some only available to users with Streamlabs Prime.
Since StreamElements was founded more recently, it took what users liked about other streaming platforms and fixed what users didn’t like. It’s been designed with the end-user (AKA your audience) in mind.
Your alerts and overlays are not hosted on your PC but instead on their cloud. This eases the burden on your CPU and allows for a better user experience as your FPS when playing games will not suffer.
With StreamElements, you have the option of integrating their OBS.Live plugin into OBS Studio which gives you your stream activity feed (new followers, donations, etc.), chat feed, and some other features all within your OBS window.
Your dashboard is where you’ll find all your tools and everything you’ll need to customize your stream. The menu will be located on the left-hand side of the page and is divided into a few sections.
You’ll be able to find your Dashboard under Data & Reports. In this section, you’ll find all the stats like your followers, tips, hosts, and raids.
Your activity feed will show your stream activity in real-time. In the last section of your data and reports, we have the revenue history, arguably the most important part, especially if you’re looking into streaming as a career.
This section will let you know how much you’re bringing in from tips, merch, and cheers.
The streaming tools section is where you’ll be selecting and customizing your overlays. You’ll have the choice of choosing from hundreds of premade templates or creating your own from scratch.
The in-browser overlay manager makes it easy to manage your layout and all the graphics in your stream. You’ll also be able to visualize all your alerts (i.e., tips, subs, followers, hosts, and cheers).
Revenue, Donations, and Payments
StreamElements makes it easy for creators to monetize their brand. Under the revenue tab, you’ll have access to the Stream Elements Merch store, where you can create your own branded merch.
In terms of payment methods, you’ll be slightly limited as StreamElements only accepts payments through PayPal, credit, or debit. This also means that your audience will only be to donate through these select methods.
While this isn’t an issue for most people, your audience will have significantly fewer choices when compared to other platforms. One good thing about this is StreamElements doesn’t take any cut from your donations.
Their chatbot includes commands, modules, timers, and spam filters and is your all-around solution for managing the chat. It allows for a wide variety of engagement and enforcement options and is fully integrated with the StreamElements Loyalty system.
It keeps spammers at bay and regulates your chat, and allows your audience to get relevant information about the stream.
Loyalty Reward Program
StreamElements offers loyalty points to viewers who tune in to your stream. Loyalty points accumulated can be spent on various activities, including games, stream store, contests, and giveaways.
It’s a great incentive to keep people tuning in, and it helps you build a better relationship with your audience.
Pros of using StreamElements
- All your alerts and overlays are hosted online and won’t eat up your CPU usage.
- Most elements of your stream are highly customizable.
- A good selection of overlays with premade templates.
- Integrated chatbot to handle chat moderation and give useful information about the stream.
- Easy-to-use and globally recognized payment methods for donations.
- Built-in merch store with a Loyalty Points system.
Cons of using StreamElements
- A steeper learning curve as you’ll have to learn how to use OBS
- Fewer apps and overlays compared to other platforms (but everything on StreamElements is free)
- Donations can only be made through PayPal, credit, and debit
If you’re just starting out, you’ve likely been recommended to use Streamlabs since it’s the most popular choice.
Even though Streamlabs gives you the ease of going live in three clicks, some people may value the additional customizability StreamElements offers more.
It all boils down to your particular needs and what you’re looking to get out of your stream. You’re going to have to start somewhere, and you’ll learn what you do and don’t like along the way, so try one out first and if you’re not feeling it, try out the other!
Got any other things you like or dislike about Streamlabs or StreamElements that you think other streamers should know about?
Leave a comment below to share your opinions!