If you’re just getting started on your streaming journey, you’re probably looking for the best possible tools to help you along the way. There are so many big names out there — StreamElements and Streamlabs are just two of them. However, these two are some of the biggest and most popular tools that many streamers use in their arsenals.
StreamElements and Streamlabs have their similarities, that’s for sure. But there are also very distinct ways in which they are different from one another. In this comparison, we’ll discuss what both are, their features, their pros and cons, and which one you should choose for your unique situation.
Let’s get started!
What is StreamElements?
You may have come across StreamElements in a streamer’s chat before. Many know SE as the preferred chatbot of many streamers on Twitch (and even on other platforms). However, beyond just being a chatbot, StreamElements provides a cloud-based streaming tool that works and integrates with the biggest streaming platforms.
You won’t see StreamElements pulling the same stats as Streamlabs, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an excellent choice, either. SE has many loyal users that enjoy the many features available for free.
We would say, however, that one of the biggest reasons why StreamElements isn’t as popular is the fact that unlike Streamlabs, it does not offer a true broadcasting app. Instead, StreamElements is a tool/platform available on the cloud.
You can create and save your streaming assets, such as layouts and overlays, through its built-in features. The best part is, you can save everything into a single browser source which you can then plug into your OBS Studio. If you’re not sure why that’s good, it’s because the fewer sources you have on your broadcasting software, the fewer resources it uses.
You can also use SE.Live, the OBS Studio plugin, which makes things much easier in some ways!
Let’s look at Streamlabs’ main features:
- Unlike Streamlabs, which offers a desktop app, Stream Elements works with OBS Studio through its SE.Live plugin. Once you’ve set the plugin up on OBS Studio, you can use all the StreamElements assets that you’ve saved via the cloud.
- StreamElements also has a chatbot that helps you moderate your chat, create commands, use a stream currency, and use the built-in loyalty system for some extra fun for your viewers. StreamElements’ chatbot is available entirely through the cloud, no download necessary.
- StreamElements allows you to set your donations up through them (much like Streamlabs). You get a donation link through which your viewers can send in their support. StreamElements will not take a cut of whatever you receive. If it is available in your region (and you have the minimum of 100 followers on your channel), you may be able to use SE.Pay, which gives you even more payment options and other features such as chargeback protection on your donations.
- StreamElements has a mobile app available — but unfortunately, it’s Android only. You can use it to stream from your phone to Youtube and Twitch.
- StreamElements has alerts available for free. It also has tons of overlays available which you can customize and use entirely for free — no subscription necessary.
StreamElements Pros and Cons
StreamElements truly does seem like an excellent service that streamers can find extremely useful. But if you want to know more about the advantages and disadvantages of SE, the table below might help.
|– Available 100% for free, no subscriptions necessary|
– Everything is hosted for you in the cloud
– Massive library of FREE templates, overlays, alerts, widgets and more
– Offers one of the best chatbots available for streamers today
– SE.Pay is an excellent way to protect yourself when people tip/donate
– Integrates well with OBS Studio
– Much less taxing on your computer’s resources because it works with OBS Studio and allows you to save assets into a single browser source
|– SE.Pay not available for everyone|
– No app store, you’ll need to use third-party sources for more widgets, etc
– Not a standalone app, you will need OBS Studio for it to work
– Cannot multi-stream
– Mobile app is Android only
– Not as many users as Streamlabs, so not as much support is available if something goes wrong
What is Streamlabs?
There’s no doubt that out of these two, Streamlabs is the more popular one. There may be a number of reasons for that, but we’d venture a guess that one of the biggest ones is the fact that they have an easy-to-use broadcasting app available for free. Streamlabs Desktop is an alternative to OBS Studio and other streaming software like XSplit.
Beyond its broadcasting software offering, Streamlabs also offers many other tools, widgets, assets, and more for streamers to use on their channels. Because of how everything is centrally set up through Streamlabs, many beginners choose this tool. But of course, it’s not just beginners — tons of people like the simplicity that having a one-stop-shop provides.
And of course, like StreamElements, Streamlabs also offers its extremely popular chatbot for free. You can use the cloudbot, which (as you may have guessed it) is hosted on the cloud and requires no downloads. Or, you can download the desktop bot for more control.
Perhaps one of the main disadvantages of Streamlabs when compared to StreamElements is the fact that many of its features are now locked behind a paywall, also known as its Streamlabs Prime subscription.
Let’s look at Streamlabs’ main features:
- Streamlabs is available for free. But, if you want to take advantage of more features you’ll need to pay for Streamlabs Prime, which is a subscription-based service. Streamlabs Prime grants users access to more themes, apps, and more features to help level up their stream.
- Streamlabs has its free chatbot available either through the desktop app or through the cloud. Streamlabs’ chatbot (formerly known as AnkhBot) is one of the best and most popular bots available today. Although you can use it for free, there are certain features you can only access if you pay — such as the ability to rename your bot.
- Through Streamlabs’ chat bot, you can create commands and timers. You can also take advantage of the integrated currency and loyalty systems to help make your stream more engaging.
- You can set donations up through Streamlabs, which has five payment methods available for more flexibility. Through Streamlabs, not only can viewers give you standalone tips, they also get the option of giving you a monthly tip. The monthly tip option is an excellent way for viewers to support you, especially since Streamlabs does not take a cut from your tips. Monthly tips are paid to you every month.
- Streamlabs allows multi-streaming, which means you can go live to different platforms simultaneously. Streamlabs also supports multiple platforms, including Youtube, Facebook, Trovo, and of course — Twitch.
- Streamlabs’ desktop app is a full-featured broadcasting software that allows you to customize your stream’s look and feel prior to going live. It also allows you to record videos.
- Streamlabs has alerts available for free. There are also overlays available, though the bulk of them require a Streamlabs Prime subscription.
- Streamlabs has mobile apps available for Android and iOS. The apps allow you to stream from your mobile device and also allow you to access your Streamlabs desktop app’s functionality.
Streamlabs Pros and Cons
Although Streamlabs is an incredibly popular company offering all sorts of tools to help streamers with their productions, it’s not immune to having advantages and disadvantages. Here are the most obvious ones:
|– Majority of the features and apps are available for free, but extra ones are understandably behind a paywall|
– Standalone desktop app with all sorts of features to help you improve your stream’s production
– Some free resources available for assets such as overlays and alerts
– One of the best chatbots available today (available through a downloadable app or through the cloudbot)
– Customized donation link, monthly tipping, many payment methods accepted
|– Many feel uncomfortable with supporting Streamlabs due to its past shady business practices|
– Quite taxing to the system — many report Streamlabs uses a significant portion of your CPU resources
– Many features that seem handy are locked behind a Streamlabs Prime subscription (again, understandable since businesses do need to make money!)
How Are They the Same?
Even just from reading the sections above, you’ve probably already noticed the major similarities between these apps, such as:
- Availability of templates – Streamlabs and StreamElements both offer premade assets such as alerts and overlays. You can use these assets for free to help design your stream’s overall look and feel. Overlays and alerts are a quick way to boost your stream’s production value without much effort — as long as you tastefully select your designs, of course (try to avoid too much clutter on the screen!). Note that although Streamlabs does offer many assets for free, much of what they have in their library is only available if you have a Streamlabs Prime subscription.
- Customized alerts for extra fun – Alerts are a great way to make your stream unique and show off your personality. Both these tools allow you to use alerts and even customize them with GIFs, audio alerts, and more. We’d say that between these two, there’s really not much difference when it comes to alerts.
- Extremely popular chatbots – The chatbot offerings of both companies are truly quite comparable. You won’t really find too many differences, except perhaps for the fact that SE offers its bot 100% through the cloud while Streamlabs has a cloudbot and a desktop bot available.
Both of these tools also offer ways for you to take donations, although Streamlabs may have a bit of an edge on that front thanks to the addition of their relatively new monthly tipping feature. We don’t really have any hard data as to how many people use this feature, however, so it’s purely speculation at this point!
Another thing worth mentioning is Streamlabs and StreamElements have media share features that allow viewers to request music or videos to be queued to play on your stream. We discourage the use of this feature, however, as it can open you up to issues with DMCA and copyright strikes.
How Are They Different?
One of the main differences, of course, is the fact that Streamlabs offers a desktop broadcasting app, while StreamElements is more of a cloud-based tool (that also offers an OBS Studio plugin). But there are also some other notable differences, such as:
- Pricing – Streamlabs locks many features behind its Streamlabs Prime subscription. StreamElements, on the other hand, has pretty much all of its features available entirely for free.
- Resource intensiveness – Streamlabs Desktop is known to be quite resource-intensive and as such isn’t the best option for streamers whose computers aren’t the best. StreamElements is much better if you want to use fewer resources.
- User-friendliness – Both of these tools are quite intuitive and user-friendly. However, beginners may prefer Streamlabs as everything is all in one place, with an easy-to-understand user interface.
- Asset availability – Though Streamlabs gives you plenty of free assets, there’s no denying StreamElements offers far more at no cost.
StreamElements vs Streamlabs: Which One Should You Choose?
Both StreamElements and Streamlabs seem to be really good tools that offer you excellent ways of improving your stream’s production quality. Both can also help to make your life as a streamer much easier. But which one should you choose?
We would recommend you try Streamlabs if you’re brand new and just want to get set up without having to venture out from your broadcasting app. It’s a great choice if you can find your own assets so you don’t have to pay for a Streamlabs Prime subscription. Just make sure that your computer can handle the resource intensiveness!
StreamElements is what we would recommend if you want more customization options and assets available for free. It’s also a great choice if you’re already familiar with the OG broadcasting software, OBS Studio.
The choice between StreamElements and Streamlabs is entirely yours to make. In the end, it all comes down to which tool suits your needs and your individual situation best. We hope that this guide has helped you figure out the difference between the two!
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