The Best Streaming Software for Low-end PCs

With the rise in popularity of Twitch streaming and live broadcasting of gaming events, streaming software has continued to evolve to meet the demands of a growing streamer base. Featuring over nine million streaming accounts as of 2019, there are countless streamers using a wide range of streaming softwares. From free to freemium to paid-for subscriptions, there’s a host of streaming software choices for every kind of streamer. When choosing the best streaming software for low-end PCs, you’ll have to decide what features are essential to your stream and how much you’re willing to invest (in terms of both time and money) in your channel. 

Minimum Requirements for Streaming

Before choosing a streaming software, it’s essential that your PC meets at least the minimum system requirements for streaming, though for the best quality stream you should aim for PC specs above the bare minimum for streaming. Twitch recommends at least an Intel Core i5-4670 or AMD equivalent, and 8BG of RAM. You’ll also need a reliable internet connection, with a minimum upload speed of 3mbps to deliver a 1080p stream at 30fps, with substantially higher minimum requirements for 1440p+ streaming at 60fps. 

Software Features 

With several software options available for streaming across a wide price range, the best way to compare softwares is to look at the features they offer (or lack). Free streaming softwares like OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) or Streamlabs will lack the advanced features of paid-for softwares like multi-streams, virtual sets, and stream overlays. Free softwares also lack the centralized support teams of their subscription based competitors, meaning that any troubleshooting for technical issues will require some additional time and effort. Fortunately, due to the wide-spread usage of free streaming softwares like OBS, there is a wealth of community guides and active forums offering support in everything from stream setup and optimized stream settings to in-depth technical support. 

OBS (Open Broadcast Software)

When it comes to streaming software, OBS is the overwhelming community favorite for both advanced users and streamers new to the scene. A free open-source software with an active development team consistently pushing out extensive updates with new features and plug-ins, OBS is the first stop for the majority of streamers. With a host of advanced configuration features, savvy users will find an almost limitless amount of settings to fine-tune their stream to be perfectly optimized for their system and streaming preferences. 

For many users, the sheer amount of customization options and endless configurations for various stream settings can be daunting, as new users will face a steep learning curve when first starting out. This difficulty for beginners is often compounded by the lack of a centralized support team for OBS, with no clear line of communication for users to receive direct help from developers. When using a lower-end PC setup, this can compound the number of issues new users will face, as lower end PCs will require additional optimization to run smoothly. 

Yet OBS’s lack of a dedicated support team shouldn’t discourage new streamers from starting their channels, as the widespread usage of OBS across the streaming community means that a host of resources are available for those in need of help. With so many streamers currently running OBS, everything from settings optimization to advanced customization guides are available on the extensive OBS forums, as well as youtube tutorials. As an incredibly customizable streaming software with low CPU usage, OBS is one of the best free streaming softwares available today.

Streamlabs (SLOBS)

Originally starting as just a streaming tool within OBS, Streamlabs (or SLOBS) has evolved into its own standalone streaming software specifically oriented towards gamers. SLOBS has done an admirable job streamlining the whole streaming process to address the difficulty old OBS users faced when first starting out. Taking a number of lessons from its predecessor, SLOBS started by creating a new intuitive UI, incorporating many of OBS’s plugins into a single, easily manageable interface. Features like an integrated chat, sub/follower/donation notifications, real time game alerts, thousands of free overlays, easily implemented (and highly customizable) stream overlays, and a host of other intuitive options make SLOBS the perfect streaming software for anyone wanting to skip the lengthy setup process of OBS. Adding to this, all of these features are housed within a single, easy to navigate interface! No more juggling several different windows to adjust your stream on the fly. 

For users with low-end streaming PCs, SLOBS has an auto-optimization feature which automatically adjusts the software settings to match your PCs specs. With many converts from OBS complaining of the poor optimization they experienced due to the overwhelming number of settings, SLOBS is the best software for streamers wanting to jump right into delivering quality streams without the fuss of a lengthy settings management process. This is largely possible due to a SLOBS’s game specific encoding system, which allows users to optimize SLOB for each specific game they stream, reducing the CPU usage necessary to run SLOB in the background. 

Unfortunately, as a software originally based off of OBS, any major changes/updates to OBS will require a similar update by SLOB, though the software often lags behind the development of its parent software. With a smaller, less active development team, this means that users of SLOB will often have longer wait periods between important updates, as well as less extensive updates when they do arise. SLOB is also a streaming software still within BETA development, meaning a number of bugs/crashes should be expected by users. As a final downside, SLOB is only available on the Windows OS, so Mac users will have to look for other alternatives for streaming software. 

Xsplit

The final software on our list, Xsplit is an advanced streaming software with a freemium service model. While the software’s free version does allow for standard streaming, any streams over 30fps/720p will include watermarks on their live feed. Anyone wanting access to Xsplit’s premium features will have to pay for a monthly subscription ($5) or a substantial one-time fee ($200). For new streamers wishing to use their stream as a source of income, Xsplit will cut into any revenue generated by their stream until they gain a more substantial following to offset the subscription cost of Xsplit. 

Yet while Xsplit doesn’t offer users a completely free price tag, it distinguishes itself as one of the best premium streaming softwares with a number of premium features unavailable in free streaming softwares such as OBS and SLOB. Xsplit’s premium subscription comes with a virtual camera, Skype video camera, local streaming, stream delay, simultaneous broadcasting to multiple streaming sites, source transitions and projector, editing resources, priority support, and countless other premium features which can help your stream stand out from others. 

Despite the overwhelming positives of using Xsplit’s streaming software, it does come with a few inconvenient limitations. Experienced streamers may find Xsplits recording formats limiting, as they are only available in FLV and MP4 file types. On top of this, Xsplit does not offer popular presets for the most common streaming sites such as Youtbe or Twitch. This means that without prior knowledge of encoding, new users may experience some difficulty when starting out. Finally, Xsplit is only available on the Windows OS. 

Conclusion

Ultimately, there are several solid streaming softwares for all experience levels, but the best streaming software for low-end PCs will depend on your priorities when streaming. Want to customize every aspect of your stream with an endless list of configuration and fine-tuning possibilities? OBS is the gold standard for both new and veteran streamers, with countless settings and options to tinker with. Just want to hop right in to streaming without any setup hassle? SLOBS is the perfect streaming software for gamers wanting to skip a lengthy settings configuration process, and go directly to streaming. If you want to distinguish your stream from your competitors, Xsplit has a wealth of premium content and features which will give you the tools to separate your stream from the other channels.