Maybe you’re about to start your first speedrun but you’re not sure which timer you should use. Which timer is the best for speedrunning? Well, “best” is based on your situation and preferences. You will be best off with a timer unique to your setup and interests.
If you want the TL;DR version — just straight answers — we’ve got you covered. Just click the following link and it’ll drag you down the page to some links to get downloading and speedrunning in no time! Show me the timers!
In this article we’ll cover several options for timing your speedruns, a quick note on how to get started with each, our personal preferences, and a couple technical points to smooth out any road-bumps along the way!
And, of course, every timer mentioned in this article will be completely free to use!
Let’s get started!
The most common timer used for speedrunning is LiveSplit. It’s no wonder it is so common when it is such a great tool for Windows users, as you can very easily customize just about every aspect of the timer to make it fit your stream and match your style. This is our recommended timer.
To get started with LiveSplit, the first thing you’ll want to take care of is setting up your hotkeys. Hotkeys will be used to start your timer, split, stop, pause, and plenty more! These hotkeys can be used globally on your machine — meaning you can use the hotkeys even when you are clicked into another window — which is very useful if you are emulating or speedrunning PC games (preferably DOS games, because the world needs more DOS speedruns). To get to the settings for the hotkeys, right click on the timer once you have it opened, and go to Settings. Once you are in the settings you can simply just click on the hotkey you’d like to change, and then press the button you’d like to use for that action — easy!
*Note: Start, split, and stopping the timer at the end of the run will all be the SAME hotkey! There is no need to remember pressing different buttons throughout your run.
To set up your splits, right click on the timer, and click “Edit Splits”.
Everything is optional, so if you aren’t interested in setting up anything, just ignore it! At the top, you’ll type in your game name and the category for the speedrun — for example “Any%”, “100%”, “Hard Mode”, or “Feeding Bacon to All Cats%”… whatever you’re into. No judgement passed.
The “Start Timer At” area is for games where the timer starts a set amount of time after your first input. For example, when speedrunning Contra for NES, the timing of the run doesn’t actually begin until you gain control of the character. For some people, it might prove easier to set the timer to a negative starting position equal to the amount of time between pressing start and gaining control of the character. This will make it so you can press Start on both your game and timer at the simultaneously. It’s more convenient and often results in higher accuracy with your initial timing of the run.
You start off with 1 split, so you will start the timer, and when you “split” you will end the timer. To add more splits, click “Insert Below”. Once you have the number of splits you would like, you can start naming them. Just go into the “Segment Name” field for each split and type in a name that makes you happy. As an example, you could name the splits “Level 1”, “Level 2”, “Level 3″… but that’s just an example. We have faith that you can be a little more creative than that. That should be good enough for now! You can always come back and edit anything involving your splits later. Press ‘OK’, okay?
Once you finish your first run (and any run after), you will be asked if you want to save your splits. If you just got your first PB, then absolutely, save those splits!
Once you’re feeling a bit more brave, right click the timer and ‘Edit Layout’. There you will be able to make your timer truly yours. Unique to you and your stream, however you’d like it displayed to the world. Just be sure to save your layout when you’re done!
LiveSplit is absolutely our favorite timer, but everything has a downside. LiveSplit is so loaded with customization and so good at accommodating the user that it unfortunately is a little bloated. It takes a few seconds to load up your splits… or even just the timer itself without splits. Personally, we believe the few seconds sacrificed is worth the wait. It’s a great program, and looks sharp!
WSplit is another great timer that runs on Windows OS. Most people will say it’s not as pretty as LiveSplit, but what it lacks in design, it makes up for in usability. It’s lightweight, loads quickly, and gets the job done. Some people also do prefer the default look of this software compared to the default look of other timers.
If you plan to switch between games and categories often, or you close out of your timer more than a couple times per speedrun session, or if you simply don’t like bulky software installed on your machine, this might be your better choice.
Ultimately, you can still customize this timer quite a bit, it just takes a little longer to get it looking as sexy as you and your stream deserve it to look — but, it does come down to personal preference!
Not on a Windows operating system? Try out Llanfair for a Mac OS & Unix timer that is well received among the speedrunning community. This is a pretty nice piece of software. It has a clean user interface, and it’ll be a breeze to start it up and edit it to your preferences.
All you’ll have to do to get moving with this Llanfair is open it up, bring up the menu and select “New”.
Name your run. You can ignore the “Goal” section. Click on the big ol’ plus button to start adding splits, and with just one more click on the name will allow you to change the name of your individual splits.
In the settings you’ll be able to change colors, fonts, components, language, and much more. The setup will be fairly straight forward. However, in order to run this program you will need to have a minimum of Java 7 on your computer. You can find updates to your java here at their official page: Most up-to-date version of Java here!
And lastly but not least.
Well, maybe least.
This is a bit of an off option. If you really don’t want to download anything, or otherwise are having issues with other timers (we know, technology can be incredibly finicky), you can open a timer right in your browser. LiveSplit One has pretty much all of the same functionality as the software for LiveSplit, though it doesn’t allow for a global hotkey option — which makes it a console-only timer.
Being that we’ve already given a bit of an idea of how to get started with LiveSplit, and this is essentially the same concept, we won’t go too in depth. We just want to let you know the option is available!
To start editing this timer, give it a right click and all the options will open in a side panel!
With that said, here’s a quick list for you to reference with all the timers we suggest.
Our Timer Recommendations:
- LiveSplit though maybe a little bulky, is great for customization. This is typically what you’ll find speedrunners using. This option works only on Windows OS.
- WSplit is lightweight (faster loading) timer with slightly less visual aesthetic (depending on who you ask). WSplit is also a Windows OS only option.
- Llanfair can be your MacOS or Unix solution!
- LiveSplit One is a browser option if you don’t want to make any downloads.
The speedrun timer you choose to make yours is up to you and comes down to personal preference and your setup, but we hope we’ve guided you in the right direction!
Don’t get too hung up on the little details, ultimately it’s just a timer. These exist for their functionality, and they are all perfectly functional!
If you would like to contribute an article of your own, you absolutely can! We’ll even edit it for you for free! Think of it as Medium, specifically for speedrunning! What tools or resources do you know that might help out new or even veteran speedrunners? Go ahead, write it up!
Catch you around!