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OBS vs NVIDIA ShadowPlay (2022)

OBS vs ShadowPlay
OBS vs ShadowPlay

With built-in tools like ShadowPlay and Game Bar, we don’t need to install a third-party app. OBS contrarily is a whole recording and streaming package. You might think that you don’t need it if you have ShadowPlay. Well, let’s find out in this OBS vs NVIDIA ShadowPlay report.

Quick overview

OBS is an open-source video recording and streaming platform. It has extensive features, making it a challenging program for beginners. NVIDIA ShadowPlay is a built-in feature in GeForce Experience, allowing you to quickly record and stream games.



OBS Studio
OBS Studio on Dell G3

Sources and scenes: OBS is an advanced streaming and recording program letting you create and switch scenes for different recording settings. It can be adjusted to record games as well as tutorial videos.

Plugins: OBS offers over a hundred plugins to extend its functionalities.

Many sources: OBS offers sources, including text, images, videos, and solid colours. You can add any of those to the screen to stream or record.

Mobile phone camera: With the help of the DroidCam OBS app for Android and Camera for OBS Studio for iOS, you can use your mobile’s camera in OBS.


Nvidia ShadowPlay
NVIDIA ShadowPlay

Computer performance: With the Alt + R keys, you can see the computer’s performance (GPU, render latency, CPU and GPU utilisation).

Recording format: On both high quality and indistinguishable settings, you can select the video size format. MKV, MP4, MOV, and a few others are supported.

Common features

Both are free to use: Yes, you can use either without paying for anything.

No limit: The only limit is your system’s performance and storage.

4K recording: On a supported device, you can record in 4K resolution.

Screenshot: Yes, both support screenshotting the window.


NVIDIA ShadowPlay

Limited webcam options: You can’t change or resize the webcam window.

Only on NVIDIA computers: NVIDIA ShadowPlay is only available on computers with NVIDIA cards. It does not support AMD devices.

No macOS version: The feature only works in GeForce Experience, which is unavailable on macOS devices.

Either record or stream: You can record and stream simultaneously as in OBS.

Limited support: NVIDIA ShadowPlay only supports recording and streaming games.

OBS vs ShadowPlay: Tests

Who does not like tests? I wanted to help you find the perfect program, so I did the below tests to help.

Recording quality test

OBS vs ShadowPlay video quality test

Both offer multiple video settings. OBS offers low, indistinguishable, and lossless qualities, while ShadowPlay comes with low, medium, and high settings.

Before recording, I checked the indistinguishable in the OBS settings and selected high quality in ShadowPlay. The reason I did that was that I did not find any difference between the indistinguishable and lossless qualities in OBS.

So this is the first test of this comparison. For this test, I recorded Cyberpunk 2077 gameplay on the above settings and found no difference. The above video is edited in Premiere Pro, and the video size is compressed.

Remarks: ShadowPlay enjoyed the victory in this round.

Related: StreamYard vs. OBS

Video size test

OBS vs NVIDIA ShadowPlay
Video Size Comparison of OBS and NVIDIA ShadowPlay

In this test, I recorded the GTA San Andreas (I know it’s old) game and found out that OBS occupied more space. The 1-minute and 19-second video in OBS took 605 MB of storage compared to 333 MB in ShadowPlay.

Remarks: OBS video occupied more space; hence this round goes to ShadowPlay.

Performance test

Performance test of OBS compared with ShadowPlay

One of the things I like about these programs is that they are highly optimised. During the Cyberpunk 2077 gameplay, I observed the performance of both. While recording on the indistinguishable settings, OBS CPU usage was less than 2%, while the power usage was low.

In comparison, ShadowPlay performed better. Its CPU usage was less than 1%, and the power usage was between very low and low.

Remarks: If you are concerned about the performance impact, ShadowPlay is better, but the difference between both is so minimal that a high-end PC won’t notice any difference.

Read next: Streamlabs and OBS comparison


Hands down, OBS is the best streaming platform if executed properly. In total, it supports over 50 platforms, including:

  • YouTube
  • Twitch
  • Facebook
  • Vimeo
  • DLive
  • ePlay

Each platform offers one or multiple connection ways. For example, you can either use the stream key or login with your account details to set up Twitch. Furthermore, you find several streaming settings to balance the computer and internet settings. Here are a few:

  • Video bitrate in kbps
  • Encoder (hardware or software)
  • Audio bitrate

Also, when you start the tool for the first time, it opens up a wizard to adjust the settings. ShadowPlay only focuses the on three major platforms:

  • YouTube
  • Twitch
  • Facebook

You can adjust the quality settings for each service separately. Along with low, medium, and high-quality settings, you can choose custom settings. But before starting the stream, you will need to go to the Connect option under settings to connect the platform.

Which one do you need?

If you want to record games and stuff periodically, ShadowPlay is the one you need. It’s an awesome tool for personal game recording.

However, if you are a streamer or record screen, including gaming regularly, you should consider OBS. Its performance score is great and offers a wide range of options to help you become an excellent streamer or content creator.


The bottom line

Alright, here I sign off from this OBS vs ShadowPlay battle. I hope the article helped you explore the best program. Feel free to use the comment box below if you have any questions or suggestions.


Sunday 24th of April 2022

Good article, but there was a typo or mistake with the "Video size test" where the conclusion states "The 1-minute and 19-second video in OBS took 605 MB of storage compared to 333 MB in ShadowPlay." However, the screenshot above it had "Shadowplay Video" in red below the pic with the 605 MB MKV recording and "OBS Video" in red below the side with the 333 Mp4. I'm assuming that screenshot was mislabeled (?)


Sunday 24th of April 2022

Thank you so much for pointing that out. The text was correct, but the labels in the image were switched. The issue is now fixed. Thank you again.