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Live Streaming Software Vs Hardware: Which is Better?

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Mar 27, 2024• Proven solutions

Live Streaming Software Encoders:

Software encoders are specially designed programs that work on computing devices like desktop computer or laptop etc. They have specific features and abilities to update user streams to live platforms.

Video Quality:

Software encoders offer great content quality and here users have ability to change or tweak most of the aspects related to codecs. It helps them to adjust video quality and bit rate to gain higher results. Hardware Encoders are usually difficult to upgrade but when we talk about software encoders then it is much easier to step ahead to new versions because easy upgrading facility is available.


One of the most important thing to discuss about software encoders is their ability to serve with easy customization as per user needs and you will be glad to know that these tools are available at low price range comparatively. So many software encoders are available over internet and you can even get some of them for free. Adobe Flash Media Live Encoder tool is also available for free with all interactive features.

But the downside is that these tools lack somewhere in overall latency speed as compared to hardware encoders. As most of the time users keep on running multiple programs on their devices so it becomes difficult for encoder tools to access all desired resources freely.


Beginning Streamers: As we already discussed, Flash Live Media Encoder is available for free so beginners can access it to gain information about how these platforms actually work. This tool possesses so many incredible features and that is why it is being used by wide range of users throughout the world and they range from beginners to professionals.

Live Sporting Events: These sporting events often take place in field or in gym areas so it is good to have least complexities involved with encoders. Software encoders are most suitable to such needs because they take minimum space with just a camera and computer. Wirecast works with few impressive sports specific features.

Live Streaming from Home: If you are one of those broadcasters who rarely find time to update their live streams online then there is no need to spend on costly hardware arrangements rather free software encoder tools are most suitable for your needs.

Live Streaming Hardware Encoders:

Hardware encoders are based upon dedicated processors and they follow specific algorithms for video encoding. They are available in form of portable, small boxes.

Video Quality:

These encoders are commonly used by professionals due to their awesome video quality. It has fixed, non-adjustable yet impressive video quality. Note that hardware encoders demand more time for development or design and many times manufacturers add older codecs into them. It makes them inflexible as well as restricted with non-customizable platforms.


Latency and price point are two major factors that fit into comparison table of hardware and software encoders. You will not be able to get any hardware encoder for free like software encoders; but the price can be as low as up to $100. The professional encoders can be little expensive.


Production Companies: The most common application of hardware encoders in found in professional world due to their high price range, classic video quality and crisp details.

Advantages of Hardware Encoders:

  • They provide highly responsive live mixing experience with much smoother graphic details.
  • High quality encoding, even up to 1080p resolution level.
  • They are simple to use and entire encoding process is automated.
  • You need not to worry about CPU usage, network security issues and memory.


The best fit encoder can be picked up on the basis of desired features, specifications and budget range. Hardware encoders are considered as reliable option due to their dedicated operations whereas performance of software encoders is highly dependent upon computer over which they are installed.

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Richard Bennett
Richard Bennett is a writer and a lover of all things video.
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Richard Bennett

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