Slack vs Discord: Which One Is Best for You?

Can a work team survive on Discord, or a gamer group work on Slack?

Discord and Slack are apps that have some superficial similarities despite one being positioned as free voice and text chat for gamers, while the other has the much more professional position as being the app where work happens. Those philosophies do a pretty decent job of describing each app, yet some people manage to use Discord for business, and others use Slack for gaming.

With such similar feature sets, we're taking a look at whether Discord or Slack is better, and whether or not either one is ready to stand up as a solution for both business and gaming.

Illustration of Slack vs Discord

Overall Findings

Slack
  • Business and productivity focused.

  • Basic service is free but extremely limited, most teams will have to pay a per-seat fee for each team member.

  • Large file uploads.

  • Great app integration.

Discord
  • Gaming and community focused.

  • Service is entirely free with an optional add-on Nitro plan that provides some bonuses.

  • Features like video conferencing and screen sharing are free.

  • No app integration.

The biggest difference between Slack and Discord is the specific focus of each app. Slack is designed for business, and Discord was originally envisioned as a free replacement for the likes of Mumble, Ventrillo, and TeamSpeak for gamers. Slack supports huge file uploads and has great app integration, while Discord is deeply rooted in video games and allows large numbers of users to drop in and out of voice channels at will.

Slack and Discord also diverge in that the free version of Slack is very basic, while the free version of Discord has all of its important features in place. Slack is also based around a team manager or company paying a monthly fee per user, while individuals sign up for Discord independently, join and leave servers as they please, and choose whether or not to pay for a premium membership.

Hardware Requirements: Both Are About the Same

Slack
  • MacOS 10.10 or above.

  • Windows 7 or above.

  • Linux Fedora 28, Ubunti LTS 16.04, or Red Hat Enterprise 7.0 or above.

  • iOS 11.1 or above.

  • Android 5.0 or above.

Discord
  • MacOS 10.10 or above.

  • Windows 7 or above.

  • Linux 64-bit only.

  • iOS 10.0 and up.

  • Android 5 and up.

Slack and Discord have very similar system requirements, which is to say that they both run on most hardware. They have very lenient requirements based on operating system version for Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS and Android, and both are also capable of running directly in most modern web browsers.

Pricing: Discord Nails the Free Plan

Slack
  • Free plan available with limited functionality.

  • Team manager pays $6.67 per user per month for standard plan, or $12.50 per user per month for the plus plan.

  • Free plan limited to 10,000 messages.

  • No group voice or video calls with free plan.

  • Screen sharing only with paid plans.

Discord
  • Free plan with all functionality.

  • Individual users can pay $4.99/month for premium Nitro plan.

  • No message limits on free plan.

  • Voice and video calling available on free plan.

  • Screen sharing available with free plan.

Slack and Discord both have free plans, but Discord provides a lot more value at that level. Slack limits your group calls, video calls, screen sharing, and other features if you don't pay, while Discord's premium plan only adds a few perks like larger file upload size limits and the ability to stream higher quality video.

The other difference is that Slack is based around organizations paying a per-seat fee for every team member, while the discord Nitro subscription is paid individually by users and provides benefits across all of the servers they belong to.

Interface: Slack is Easier to Use and Nvigate

Slack
  • Channels and direct messages in one central location.

  • Light and dark themes.

  • Highly customizable themes.

Discord
  • Servers and channels are in one menu, while direct messages are in another.

  • Light and dark themes.

  • No custom themes without installing BetterDiscord.

Slack is a little easier to use and navigate when you're first getting started, because it presents everything in one central location. After you join a team, you see all of the available public channels, private channels, contacts, and direct messages in the left column, all centrally located and easy to access.

The default Discord screen places all of your servers, which are like Slack teams, on the far left, with the text and voice servers for your currently active server being placed directly to the right of that. You can see a list of server members to the far right, but you have to navigate to a different menu if you want to view your contacts or check your direct messages.

These apps are both easy to use once you get used to them, but Slack is organized a little better, so more people are likely to have an easier time understanding it right away.

Text Chat: Slack Does Text Well

Slack
  • Divided into channels and direct messages.

  • Limited to 10,000 messages with the free plan.

Discord
  • Divided into channels and direct messages.

  • No message limit.

Text chat is the primary focus of Slack, and it does text chat quite well. The team leader is able to create separate channels for individual projects and other purposes, allow anyone to join, lock them to specific people, and have fine control over other settings.

In Slack, anything that isn't a channel is a direct message. Each of your contacts is clearly listed in the same directory structure as your channels, allowing you to easily switch between channels and direct messages. You can also easily create a group direct message to chat with multiple people.

Discord is more focused around voice chat, but it still has a very functional text chat system. Each server has one text channel by default, and the server admins can create as many additional channels as they like. Channels can be open to every member of the server, or locked via a robust permissions system to specific members.

Direct messages are available through a different menu, where you can view all of your Discord contacts, whether or not you share any servers, in a central location. You can also create group direct messages from this same menu that are primarily focused around text chat but also allow videoconferencing.

While Slack is organized quite well, Discord is the superior text chat app due to the way Discord allows you to add friends and chat whether or not you share any servers. That allows it to act as a general chat or messaging app on top of everything else.

Voice and Video Calls: Discord Surpasses Slack

Slack
  • No videoconferencing with the free plan.

  • No screen sharing with the free plan.

  • Voice and video calls for up to 15 team members on paid plans.

  • Voice messages available through third-party integrations.

Discord
  • Voice channels with up to 5,000 simultaneous users.

  • Voice calls and video conferencing for up to 9 users.

  • Screen sharing via group messages and voice channels.

  • All voice and video features available on the free plan, with higher resolutions gated behind the paid plan.

  • Advanced controls for voice calls, including push to talk.

Discord is focused primarily around voice chat, and it provides a far superior experience to Slack in almost every way. Slack locks videoconferencing and group voice calls behind the paid plans, while Discord allows free voice channels to host up to 5,000 users at once. Discord also allows group direct messages to host video calls for up to nine users at once.

The biggest difference between Slack and Discord in terms of voice calling and chat is that each Discord server has at least one dedicated voice channel. Users can join this voice channel, and immediately chat with anyone who is also in the channel. There is no need to place a call, as the channel is always active.

Admins also have the option to create multiple voice channels in a single Discord server for various reasons, allowing multiple groups to chat while playing different games, or for other purposes.

Discord also supports the sort of more traditional voice calling that is present in Slack. Users can place voice calls to each other regardless of whether they are on any mutual servers, and group calls can also be placed that allow three or more people to speak at the same time.

The free Slack plan is limited to basic two way voice calls, and even paid plans are limited to a maximum of 15 people.

Integrations: No Contest, Slack Has More

Slack
  • Integrates with over 800 apps.

  • No gaming integration.

Discord
  • Can't integrate with apps.

  • Bot integration allows you to extend the functionality of your server.

  • Tied in heavily to gaming, and also some social media platforms.

Slack is so far ahead of Discord in terms of integrations that it isn't even a contest. If you want to integrate with a third party app, Slack is the system that you're looking for. Slack actually has a list of more than 800 apps you can integrate with, while Discord lacks this functionality altogether.

Discord does support some game integration, like showing what game you're playing and sometimes even allowing people to join or spectate you from within Discord.

Discord also has robust bot integration that can perform some impressive tasks, but it isn't the sort of robust app integration that you get with Slack. Discord also has some limited integration with Spotify, Facebook, Xbox, and a few others, that allow Discord to show, for example, what music you're listening to or what game you're playing on another platform.

File Sharing: Depends on What You're Willing to Pay For

Slack
  • Files are limited to 1 GB in size.

  • Free plans limited to 5 GB total, paid limited to 10 GB total.

  • Older files are removed to make space for new ones.

  • Files are always easy to locate.

Discord
  • File upload size limited to 8 MB.

  • Nitro subscribers can upload up to 50 MB files.

  • Files are retained forever.

  • Older files can be tough to locate.

Slack and Discord both allow you to share files, with Slack limiting your uploads to 1 GB and Discord cutting you off at 8 MB. Subscribers to Discord's premium Nitro plan have their maximum upload size bumped to 50 MB.

Slack is clearly the winner in this department, although it's important to note that free Slack accounts can only upload a maximum of 5 GB before older files are rolled off. Paid plans can bump that up to 10 GB. Discord, with its much smaller file size limits, never removes your old files and does not place a maximum limit on total uploads.

Since Slack has such robust app integration, you can also share Google Drive files to get around the limitations.

Slack also the better option in terms of searching for previously uploaded files. While you do run the risk of old files being removed to make room for new ones, you can easily see a list of all the files uploaded to a channel. Discord has no such feature, instead requiring you to use the basic search.

Final Verdict: Slack is For Work and Discord is For Gaming

Slack and Discord are both great tools that serve very different purposes. Slack excels at facilitating collaboration between team members in both on-site and remote capacities, while Discord is a fantastic way for gamers and other communities to get together and chat about their common interests.

Slack has the superior collaborative tools, with a ton of third party integrations, large file uploads, easy file searching, and very basic video and voice calling. While it is possible to use Slack for both business and pleasure, it's definitely geared more toward business.

Discord has the superior voice and video capabilities, especially at the free level, making it perfect for gamers and other similar communities. It's certainly possible to use for both work and play, but Discord just isn't set up to facilitate collaborative teamwork so much as it is to allow people to easily chat via text and voice. Discord is probably the better option if you had to use one app for both purposes, but it's likely to leave you wanting for some important features.