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OBS vs ShadowPlay

Liza Brown
Liza Brown
Originally published Mar 08, 22, updated May 20, 24

If you are an avid gamer and you are not recording your gameplay and uploading on online platforms, you are missing out on the trend. Gamers are uploading their gameplay on video streaming platforms like Twitch and YouTube and earning followers, fame as well as money. No matter which game you play on your computer, you should record it. Thereafter, you can make it interesting with editing and voiceover and upload on video streaming and social media platforms.

Primarily, you will need a gameplay recording software and there is no dearth of gameplay and screen recording software. The two most popular free gameplay recorders are OBS Studio and ShadowPlay. In order to help you choose OBS or ShadowPlay, we have provided you with a complete comparison of ShadowPlay vs OBS recording software. Go through all the points minutely and understand their differences and pick the perfect one for recording your gameplay.

Part 1. Key Features of OBS and ShadowPlay

OBS and ShadowPlay are both completely free to use for recording your gameplay as well as your capturing desktop screen. OBS is open-source software and it has a cross-platform structure which is why it supports all computer operating systems. It is popular among gamers for live streaming on Twitch and YouTube.

ShadowPlay comes from Nvidia which is the largest manufacturer for GPU. That is why gamers who prefer Nvidia GPU, they have a special preference for ShadowPlay. Here are the key features of OBS and ShadowPlay you should be aware of.

OBS Studio

obs studio

Screen Capture - You can capture high-quality gameplay when you play games on your computer as well as on a gaming console. You can tweak the parameters on video quality so that you can get the recording just like you want.

Webcam Capture - OBS lets you add webcam as an overlay so that you can record your gameplay as well as show your reaction so that the recording is more interactive and engaging. You can also use green screen setup to make the video more professional and eye-catching.

Better Audio - You can record your game sound as well as your voice from external mic. This is useful for voiceover and live commentary to make the video interesting and showcase your personality traits verbally. There are also audio filters, audio mixers, and audio effects available to apply.

Advanced Editor - The built-in editing software allows performing different post-recording tasks like sharpening, cropping, and color correction. It has advanced filters that enable Chroma keying, image masking, and color correction.

Easy Switching - It comes with a one-click solution for switching between transitions and scenes. The tool can be perfect for going back and forth between games and devices. You can also add multiple screens and audio sources as required.

Most importantly, you can live stream your gameplay on almost any online video streaming platform.

Nvidia ShadowPlay


Gameplay Capture - ShadowPlay lets you record gameplay at 8K with 30FPS. This is unmatched by any free video recording software. You can also record gameplay at 4K HDR with 60FPS. It comes with hardware acceleration to ensure the performance does not get affected while recording in the background.

Instant Replay - ShadowPlay keeps recording in the background and therefore, if something important has happened in the game, you can get the last 30 seconds of instant replay clip and you can share it anywhere you want. This is highly useful to share short clips on social media platforms.

ShadowPlay Highlights - The feature will automatically record the best gaming moments and create a perfect highlight video. This is useful when you want to upload the best parts of the gameplay rather than the entire part.

Screenshots - ShadowPlay lets you capture 8K screenshots of your game that you can use as thumbnails for your videos as well as put them up on social media platforms.

GIF Creator -  With ShadowPlay, you don't have to leave the game to create GIFs. You can create high-quality GIFs of duration 15 seconds. You can also add text to the GIFs and share anything you want.

Just like OBS, ShadowPlay enables you to broadcast gameplay in real-time on YouTube Live, Twitch, and Facebook Live.

Part 2. Comparison ShadowPlay vs OBS

Here are the key points of differences between OBS and ShadowPlay that will help you decide between OBS or ShadowPlay.

ShadowPlay vs OBS Recording: 

While recording, OBS allows faster processing of the recorded video files. Besides, it can compress the file size during the encoding process so that the recorded video files take relatively less space. This makes it ideal for longer sessions of gameplay recording. However, in the process, OBS can reduce the frame rate significantly, and hence, the video may not be as smooth as you expect it to be. Therefore, OBS is suitable for regular game recording where not much compression is required.

On the contrary, ShadowPlay does not reduce the file size or frame rate, and hence, it is a great choice for high-end games where you need the recorded to be as smooth as possible. However, ShadowPlay requires more space on the hard drive. When you upload on video streaming platforms, there will be some automatic compression. Therefore, the less compression you do during your encoding phase, the better will be the output.

ShadowPlay vs OBS Performance: 

OBS uses significant CPU power and resources. This is one of the reasons why it reduces the frame rate while recording to use less CPU resources. In fact, it can affect the game performance if you are playing and recording a high-end game. However, you can customize various configuration parameters to reduce its burden on CPU performance.

ShadowPlay does not affect the CPU performance as it comes with hardware acceleration. It supports higher frame rates for high-end games as well. If at all, it can bring about 5%-10% effect on CPU performance which is almost ignorable in comparison to OBS.

ShadowPlay vs OBS File Format:

OBS consumes less space for recorded videos. It compresses the format which can drastically reduce the output file size. The best thing about OBS is that it comes with the NVENC hardware encoded chip that allows choosing from different supported file formats.

On the contrary, ShadowPlay supports MP4 formats by default which makes it require more space. It uses codec. MP4 file format is the most popular video file format that you can play across all media players and upload on online platforms.

ShadowPlay vs OBS Live Streaming:

You cannot live stream as well as record on ShadowPlay. This is a major drawback that OBS has overcome. That is why most gamers prefer OBS Studio for live streaming as they can record the gaming session for future reference. If you want to just broadcast your gameplay, ShadowPlay is good enough. But if you want to have multiple scenes and overlay adjustments in live streaming, OBS is the best choice.

ShadowPlay vs OBS Editing:

OBS offers better editing options thanks to its built-in editor. Starting customizable transitions to real-time editing before broadcasting, OBS has different editing scopes tailor-made for gamers. On the contrary, ShadowPlay has very limited editing options as the main focus is on recording only. But if we talk about true video editing, both applications are still underdeveloped on this front.

Part 3. Alternative Way To Record Games

If you are looking for a premium gameplay recording software, we recommend Wondershare Filmora. Filmora is a perfect combination of screen recorder and professional video editor. In comparison to OBS or ShadowPlay, Filmora has better features and options in terms of editing. You can record your gameplay as well as webcam in overlay for professional recording. You can add video effects as well as audio effects to make the video more appealing. Here are the steps to record gameplay with Filmora.

Try It Free

For Win 7 or later (64-bit)

Try It Free

For macOS 10.12 or later

Step 1: Download and install Wondershare Filmora. Open Filmora and click on PC Screen option to record your gameplay.

filmora screen recorder

Step 2: Select the recording screen size which is likely to be full screen for gaming. You can select the microphone if you want to record your voice for live commentary. Besides, turn on Record the Camera Stream option if you want your face video to be present as an overlay.

Step 3: To start recording, click on Record button. You will get a few buffer seconds to switch to your game after which recording will start automatically.

You can press F9 key to stop recording. You can edit the recorded gameplay and export in any desired file format.


If you want to record high-end games, ShadowPlay is ideal as it does not affect game performance as well as does not reduce frame rate. For not so high-end games, OBS does the job perfectly. OBS is particularly useful when you want to live stream as well as record your gameplay. If you are looking for a premium software and a better alternative, Wondershare Filmora is the perfect choice.

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