XenForo 2 is way better VBulletin 5. Here is a feature by feature comparison of XenForo 2 with VBulletin 5 to conclude the best.
XenForo is so much better than Vbulletin that it is a sin to compare both. Still, I have a few clients who wanted some features which exist in Vbulletin 5 and not in XenForo 2. I had to explain, can live without those vBulletin features.
As I have done so many discussions with clients over minute features details, I thought I would share a full feature by feature comparison of vBulletin and XenForo for my blog readers. Moreover, I can use the same article as a reference for my future clients as well.
The acceptance of vBulletin 5 Vs. XenForo 2
You may be wondering, this article will all be from a XenForo Fan, but that is not the case. I have been using vBulletin Since 2009, and you can see I loved it as compared to phpBB3 and love being forum owner as compared to a blog.
I loved vBulletin 3.x, which was by Jelsoft. However, after Internet Brands acquired it and I hare what they did to it. You can read the complete story about it here and why and when I gave up on vBulletin.
Still, if you think have doubts about the biased view when comparing vBulletin 5 to XenForo 2, let me share the forums owned by Internet Brands that were never moved over to vBulletin 4 and not even to vBulletin 5.
As of writing this article, here are a few of the sites, including forums owned by Internet Brands.
I see them still using vBulletin 3x and haven’t updated to vBulletin 4 or vBulletin 5.
Moreover, the official vBulletin modification site, which is vBulletin.org is still using vBulletin 3x despite the fact it isn’t mobile-friendly.
The forums owned by the company developing vBulletin 4 and 5 don’t upgrade to it, who was one of the larger customers of Jelsoft’s vBulletin, speaks for its acceptance.
The vBulletin 5 Vs. XenForo 2 Trends
Google Trends shows a clear picture of what I had experience using vBulletin since 2004.
Moreover, here is a total comparison of vBulletin Vs. XenForo at BuiltWith.
Moreover, here is the comparison of vBulletin 5.x with XenForo 2.x at BuiltWith.
Only 1767 live sites in VBulletin 5 as compared to 4973 websites for XenForo 2.
Winner: XenForo 2 for sure. Websites are moving over to XenForo 2. I am yet to move my forums from XenForo 1.5.x to XenForo 2, and so is the case with many forum owners. However, I don’t see too many people keen on moving from vBulletin 4 to 5.
Forum Loading Speed
For testing loading speed, I went ahead to test the forum home page for both vBulletin and XenForo.
Out of all the metrics, because both the pages and content are different, still, what is important is the load time, a first-byte time, and FCP or first content paint.
Load time is the page load time, where though XenForo’s page is larger, it still loads much faster. First Byte time is when all the server-side PHP processing is done, and content is sent to the browser. Finally, FCP or first content paint, which means the first content being shown to the user in the browser.
SEO options that come out of the box with XenForo are way above and beyond what vBulletin 5.x offers.
There are so many experiments that many webmasters have shared over time. As they moved over from vBulletin to XenForo, their traffic from Google has increased considerably.
VBulletin 5 looked promising at the start, but then, as usual, things got clumsy. However, with XenForo, there is so much SEO Friendly HTML in XenForo as opposed to vBulletin. XenForo is a clear winner in every aspect of SEO.
Both vBulletin 5 and XenForo 2 are mobile-friendly and responsive. So it all depends on which one you prefer more on mobile.
Because it is a personal choice, my suggestion will be to browse both the official forums on mobile to see which one you prefer.
My verdict will be a tie between vBulletin 5 and XenForo 2 when it comes to mobile-friendliness is concerned.
Spam prevention is still very basic in vBulletin. However, in XenForo, they have much-advanced spam prevention integration, including the stopforumspam API integration to block new spammers.
Moreover, you can block and ban spammers, and new users registering from already blocked spammers IP can be held for moderation as well. Quite an innovative way to combat spam.
UIX is a matter of choice. It all depends on which one you prefer more. However, when it comes to vBulletin 5, there are very few options to customize and style the forum easily.
Because the community is shrinking with very few forums accepting it, there aren’t many premium themes available to give a completely new look to a forum. So unless you like the default vBulletin 5 look, it is better off to be using XenForo.
Moreover, there is a front end to change, but it is minimal as well. For example, to add or remove some sections on a page, you may have to change the code instead of using the front end.
XenForo costs $160, whereas VBulletin is $250. The upgrade for VBulletin is $209.
VBulletin doesn’t offer only the forum, and one has to have Blog, Articles, etc. bundled all-together even when you don’t plan to be using them.
The Community for Addons and Extensions
There is hardly any mods or template modifications available contribution from members. See how the number of mods count has declined from vBulletin 4 to vBulletin 5.
Comparing that to XenForo 2, we already have modifications count passing the 2k mark.
There is no point guessing the winner here. The vBulletin if it is not already dead, it will surely die soon.
Missing vBulletin 5 Features in XenForo 2
Finally, some features only exist in VBulletin, and I don’t see them becoming part of XenForo anytime. Let me
- Blog – Blogs in VBulletin never picked up the needed attraction because members aren’t too keen to write long-form articles. Having a WordPress for those who are interested in blogging is a much better choice instead of allowing any member to write a blog.
- Articles – Not sure how blog and Articles differ, but they do have it as a feature in VBulletin 5.
- Events and Calendar – Calendar isn’t part of the XenForo forum.
- Reputation – Member reputation is only part of the VBulletin forum. However, to enable reputation in XenForo 2, one may have to use an addon.
- Mobile App – VBulletin also offers mobile bundled where you can have your app for the forum. For XenForo, one has to again opt for a third-party tool like Tapatalk.
- Front End to Edit Styles and Themes – Vbulletin 5 offers front end editor for styles and themes. For XenForo, there is a backend template that may need editing. Developers don’t prefer the front-end editor as it doesn’t have the search option. Moreover, template modifications are a much better option for upgrades.
- Friends System – XenForo doesn’t provide an opportunity to friend someone in the forum, which VBulletin does. However, there isn’t much one can do apart from being friends. Features like timeline and notifications of friends’ posts are missing.
Missing XenForo 2 Features in vBulletin 5
- Powerful Search – Vbulletin offers a basic search. For XenForo, there is an option to use enhanced search, which requires Elasticsearch to be installed on the server. Only possible for forums hosted on a dedicated server, but an enhanced search is needed for large forums only.
- Resources – There is no option for Vbulletin to have resources for members to download.
- Alerts and Notifications – The bubble alerts systems out of the box in XenForo is a very cute functionality. It notifies the content being liked by others, mentions, etc.
- Mentions – VBulletin does offer mentions of members but nothing beyond being a mention. Members being mention aren’t notified. However, in XenForo, alerts help inform the members being mentioned.
vB5 doesn’t scale well, and never will due to its fundamental flaw in the database design. Moreover, there are bugs everywhere.
The below screenshot on the official VBulletin website when I hover my mouse on one of the articles speaks for the software. It has two tooltips – one the default one and the other custom one. When showing the custom one, ideally, the default should be suppressed.
So unless there is a very compelling reason for you to use Vbulletin, XenForo should be the choice of forum for everyone as an alternative to Vbulletin.