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10 Best Streaming Software for 2021

25 November 2021, Thursday By M. Konwar
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Live streaming is a great way to host a webinar, talk about an upcoming event, or just play a computer game and show it to other users. In addition, this opportunity also allows you to earn money: many viewers are willing to pay for a well-spent evening.

To start a career as a streamer, it is enough to install a program on your computer and use a special service, such as YouTube or Twitch. In today's article, we will not talk about how it all works, but only consider the best streaming programs that are suitable for both beginners and professionals.

1. OBS Studio

OBS Studio

OBS Studio is a leader in streaming broadcasting, popular with gamers and ordinary users who want to record video from the screen. The software is distinguished by high performance and free access.

This program synchronizes well with Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, Mixer and allows you to simultaneously broadcast live in each of the services. Speaking of broadcasts, it should be said that OBS Studio is multifaceted: live broadcasting allows you to combine a "picture" from different sources - a webcam, open windows, and so on. You can also overlay text, photos and much more on top of the main image.

System Requirements

Basic Requirements

Windows:

  • DirectX 10.1 compatible GPU
  • Windows 8/8.1/10

macOS:

  • Intel CPU (PPC is not supported)
  • OpenGL 3.3 compatible GPU
  • macOS High Sierra (10.13) or later

Linux/Unix

  • OpenGL 3.3 compatible GPU
  • X window system

Features:

  • the ability to conduct online streams in any service;
  • you can save records on your computer;
  • there is a function of capturing video from a web or external camera;
  • you can place video sources on different layers;
  • there is support for various filters: stickers, color correction and others;
  • very powerful chroma key module;
  • the ability to mirror and rotate video on the screen.

Cost: Free

Platforms: Windows, macOS 10.13+, Linux

Download: OBS Studio 

2. Twitch studio

Twitch studio

Twitch is not only a streaming platform, but also a full-fledged screen capture and broadcasting program. So far, it is in the testing stage, but is already available for users.

The application was created for novice streamers and therefore does not have a lot of functionality that similar software tools can show. Features include simplified setup, broadcast templates, overlays, and support for chat and multiple audio sources. In addition to this, the program optimizes the picture quality depending on the power of the computer.

System Requirements

Twitch Studio Minimum Requirements:
  • OS: Windows 7 64-bit
  • GPU: DirectX 11 compatible
  • RAM: 4+ GB (2GB free)
  • CPU: 4 core Intel or AMD
Twitch Studio Recommended Specifications:
  • OS: Windows 10 64-bit
  • GPU: NVIDIA GTX 10 series or newer, AMD RX400 series or newer
  • RAM: 8GB+
  • CPU: 8 thread Intel or AMD

Features:

  • focused on beginners;
  • built-in templates;
  • integration with Twitch;
  • great option for streaming games;
  • limited functionality, so it is unlikely to be suitable for something large-scale.

Cost: Free

Platforms: Windows, macOS

Download: Twitch studio

3. Streamlabs OBS

Streamlabs OBS

Streamlabs OBS is another feature-rich and powerful solution for those looking to host large-scale live broadcasts. And even though the app includes many features, it is quite simple and perfect for beginner streamers.

One of the key features of Streamlabs OBS is automatic quality optimization depending on the performance of the computer and the speed of the Internet connection. Also in the application there is a convenient choice of layout of elements, fast switching of sources and statistics on completed broadcasts.

System Requirements

There are very few minimum system requirements needed to run Streamlabs Desktop. However, depending on the types of streaming you plan to do, determine if your computer is up to the task.

Minimum requirements:
  • Operating System: Either Windows 10 or macOS 10.14 or higher;
  • RAM: 8GB

Features:

  • there are presets for popular streaming platforms, the ability to broadcast to your server;
  • correspondence in YouTube and Twitch chats is available;
  • you can accept donations directly through the program;
  • over 10 attractive widgets designed to engage viewers and monetize;
  • over 250 free overlay themes;
  • you can combine pictures from four sources in one window;
  • spam protection in chat;
  • adding entertainment features such as mini games, polls, loyalty points and so on.

Cost: Free

Platforms: Windows, macOS

Download: Streamlabs OBS

4. vMix

vMix

The capabilities of vMix professional software are not limited to streaming games: you can broadcast even webinars, or even regular communication with friends. It has an extensive set of settings and a rather difficult interface to master, but if you figure it out, you will have access to many functions that many similar streaming programs do not have.

For example, vMix can handle multiple content sources of different formats, has a built-in 3D accelerator, contains various effects for streams and allows you to create broadcasts of any complexity. Also in the program you can make video calls, create titles, professionally process sound and much more.

System Requirements

Minimum System Requirements:
  • Operating System: Windows 10
  • Processor: 2Ghz Quad-Core Processor
  • Memory: 4GB DDR4
  • Hard Drive: 7200 RPM Hard Drive (for recordings)
  • Graphics Card: Dedicated DirectX 10.1 Compatible Graphics Card
  • Screen Resolution: 1280x720
Recommended System Requirements:
  • Operating System: Windows 10
  • Processor: Intel Core i7 Processor 3Ghz+
  • Memory: 8GB DDR4 
  • Hard Drive: Solid State Disk
  • Graphics Card: Dedicated Nvidia Card with 2GB+ Memory
  • Screen Resolution: 1920x1080

Features:

  • work with formats AVI, WMV, MPEG, QuickTime;
  • high definition video support (up to 4K);
  • support for multiple inputs and outputs;
  • simultaneous image output to different devices;
  • it is possible to remotely capture the computer screen via the Internet;
  • the presence of an Audio Mixer for each input.

Cost: there is a trial version for 60 days; after that you have to pay for a subscription, which starts at $60

Platforms: Windows

Download: vMix

5. Wirecast

Wirecast

An expensive pleasure, but with huge functionality that is suitable for any broadcast - even for starting a television program. Wirecast combines a recorder, video editor, and streaming tool in one. This is a kind of mixer in which you can combine various media files and create video broadcasts for further sending to the Internet. It also features automatic sync between audio and video, which helps avoid out-of-sync when a microphone is connected.

Wirecast uses GPU acceleration to encode video files, so you can stream your broadcasts in high fidelity. However, this puts a heavy load on the system processor and especially the graphics card. There is also a slightly stripped-down version of Wirecast Play that only integrates with one camcorder and streams to YouTube Live.

System Requirements

Minimum System Requirements:
  • Operating System: Windows 10 version 1809 or higher, macOS Mojave 10.14, macOS Catalina 10.15, macOS Big Sur 11 or macOS Monterey 12
  • Processor: Intel® i5 dual-core @ 2.3GHz1, 6th generation2 or higher, Apple M1 Gen1
  • Memory: 4GB RAM 
  • Hard Drive: 7200 RPM Hard Drive (HDD) for record to disk 
  • Graphics Card: Intel HD3, DirectX 11 capable 
Recommended System Requirements:
  • Operating System: Windows 10 version 2004, macOS Big Sur 11
    Processor: Intel® i7 quad-core @ 2.8GHz+, 6th generation2 or higher, Apple M1 Gen1
    Memory: 16GB+ RAM 
    Hard Drive: Solid State Drive (SSD)
    Graphics Card: Nvidia GeForce or AMD Radeon, 1GB+ video memory

Features:

  • connection of several channels;
  • automatic synchronization of the audio track;
  • constant technical support for developers;
  • setting individual parameters for each scene.

Cost: from $599

Platforms: Windows, macOS

Download: Wirecast

6. XSplit Gamecaster

XSplit Gamecaster

XSplit Gamecaster has been designed specifically for game streaming. It allows you to stream on almost all platforms, including Twitch, YouTube, and Mixer.

The app is free, but you can only get full enjoyment of the streaming if you pay $3.95. If you stay on the standard version, the watermark will be displayed, and the quality cannot be higher than 720p. In addition, features such as chroma key, video capture from consoles, broadcast branding and Twitch in-game chat are not available in the free version.

System Requirements

Minimum System Requirements:
  • Processor: 4th Generation Core i5 or equivalent
  • Graphics Card: GeForce / Radeon Class (DirectX 10.1 compatible or better)
  • Memory: 8GB RAM

Features:

  • user-friendly interface;
  • it is possible to change the bitrate in just a couple of clicks;
  • extended console support;
  • the paid version has a built-in video editor;
  • a unique VCam feature is available that allows you to remove, change and blur the background on your webcam.

Cost: free or from $5.95

Platforms: Windows

Download: XSplit Gamecaster

7. Nvidia shadowplay

Nvidia shadowplay

Shadowplay is the official app from Nvidia that has been tailored specifically for GeForce video cards and runs exclusively on them. It can be used for both simple screen capture and online streaming. A stream is launched in just a few clicks, and the use of resources is minimized, which allows broadcasting on weak machines. And if you have a computer with a powerful graphics card, then content with a resolution of 4K HDR 60 fps or 8K HDR 30 fps is supported.

It is also worth mentioning another feature of the program - the technology for optimizing system resources, which is available in GeForce video cards. It doesn't matter how high the graphics requirements are for the game you are recording - there will be virtually no FPS drop and games will run smoothly and at the highest quality possible.

System Requirements

General System Requirements
  • Operating System: Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 10
  • RAM: 2GB system memory
  • Disc Space Required: 1GB

Features:

  • high definition live broadcasts (up to 8K);
  • does not load the system when recording;
  • Shield support;
  • it is possible to quickly optimize games for the characteristics of the computer;
  • fast update of video card drivers;
  • the ability to stream video directly from the video card is available.

Cost: Free

Download: Nvidia Shadowplay

8. Bandicam

Bandicam

Bandicam includes special settings for recording gameplay, allows you to create videos at 480 frames per second and send them to YouTube in high definition: HD (720p) and Full HD (1080p).

The program can record 2D and 3D video games that use DirectX, OpenGL or Vulkan technologies. Since third-party device connectivity is available in the app, you can record your voice and even add a picture-in-picture webcam image.

It is worth noting that Bandicam is simple to use: to start, it is enough to outline the monitor area. It is possible to record the movement of the cursor and keystrokes.

System requirements

Minimum Requirements
  • OS: Windows Vista, 7, 8, 10, 11 (64-bit), Bandicam 5.1.1 for 32-bit Windows, Bandicam 2.3.1 for Windows XP
  • CPU: Intel Pentium 4 1.3 GHz or AMD Athlon XP 1500+
  • RAM: 512 MB or more of RAM
  • HDD: 1 GB or more of HDD
  • VGA: 800x600 16bit Color
Recommended Specifications
  • OS: Windows Vista, 7, 8, 10, 11 (64-bit), Bandicam 5.1.1 for 32-bit Windows, Bandicam 2.3.1 for Windows XP
  • CPU: Dual-core processor, such as the Intel Pentium D or AMD Athlon 64 X2
  • RAM: 1 GB or more of RAM
  • HDD: 10 GB or more of HDD
  • VGA: 1024x768 16bit Color

Features:

  • high quality recording (up to 4K UHD);
  • simple control;
  • special settings for capturing gameplay;
  • support for libraries of components DirectX and OpenGL;
  • minimum system load.

Cost: there is a free version with restrictions, the full package starts at $39.95

Platforms: Windows

Download: Bandicam

9. Steam

Steam

Steam is a platform for purchasing official games from Valve. To set up the general display and play of the game, you will need to download and install a desktop client. When you start a stream, you can choose privacy: show the video only to your friends on the service (freely or by invitation) or conduct a general show.

On the site, you can join a community of like-minded people, set up a co-op mode, track updates and discounts on your favorite products. Cloud sync is also available so you can save your progress and play from any device.

System Requirements

  • CPU: Intel Core i5-3470 or AMD FX 4350 minimum (Intel Core i7-3770 or AMD FX 8350 recommended)
  • RAM: 4Gb minimum (8Gb recommended)
  • HDD: 40 Gb for Steam files (more for each installed game)
  • VGA: NVIDIA GTX 670 or AMD Radeon HD 7870 minimum (GTX 760 or Radeon R9 270X recommended)
  • Resolution: 1280×720 minimum (1920×1080 recommended)
  • OS: Windows 10, 8.1, 8, 7 SP1 (64-bit only, Windows 10 recommended)
  • Other: DirectX 11.0

Features:

  • a large collection of games;
  • you can broadcast any action from the monitor screen;
  • joint passage;
  • internal community, contests and chat;
  • stream is available only on internal servers;
  • you cannot record custom actions.

Cost: Free

Platforms: Windows, macOS,

Download: Steam

10. FFSplit

FFSplit

The last streaming software I'll talk about is FFSplit. It was created specifically for streaming and live broadcasts. In the application, you can manually select the resolution and image quality, adjust the bit rate and connect multiple sources at the same time. The created videos can be combined into one project and sent directly to the network or saved to a local disk in MP4, MKV, FLV format.

The built-in editor allows you to overlay text and graphic elements on the video sequence and view the result before creating a stream. You can also create multiple scenes, add unlimited layers and adjust the volume. In addition to this, FFSplit automatically checks and downloads DirectX updates to run PC games faster.

Features:

  • records actions from the monitor, webcam, browser;
  • basic editing tools are present;
  • there are built-in presets for broadcasting to YouTube, Twitch and Facebook;
  • installation of "hot keys" for quick work.

Cost: Free

Download: FFSplit

Conclusion

Today we looked at popular free and premium desktop streaming software, suitable for both ordinary users and professionals who need smooth and continuous operation of such software. Which option is right for you is a matter of taste and preference. It all depends on what you want to stream and what kind of result you expect to get from it. 

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