Three action bar addons faceoff in this World of Warcraft Addon Showdown — Bartender4, Dominos, and ElvUI
I tried 3 popular action bar addons for World of Warcraft to see which one is the best. The 3 I chose were Bartender4, Dominos, and ElvUI. To crown a winner, I decided to rank them on a scale of 1 to 10 across 5 different categories — features, author support, customization, testing, and setup. Which action bar addon is the best?
I tested out the addons in the retail version of the game, but they work exactly the same in Burning Crusade Classic.
If you are more of a visual person, you can check out the video I made for this article. It covers many of the same points and shows what the nameplates look like in the addons.
Purpose of this Review
Before we jump into the scores for each addon, I want to make something clear. The purpose of this article is to help you compare similar addons across several categories. Hopefully, it can help you choose the addon which suits your needs best.
The scores on not meant to bash on any particular addon or author. Addons are created as a labor of love by community members, and we should be grateful for that work.
With that out of the way, let’s look at some features!
Okay, let’s start by taking a look at the features shared across the addons.
1. Moving action bar location
All the addons I looked at allow you to change the location or position of your action bars by left-clicking on their minimap icon or the “Toggle Anchors” button for ElvUI. From there, you can drag the bars to where you like.
2. Changing bar appearance
The addons also allow you to change the appearance of your bars. You can easily change the size and number of icons with each addon. If you want to really change the style and look of your bars, you can use the Masque addon to apply skins to your icons. To use it, simply install Masque and any Masque style you want and then type /msq in chat and use the dropdown to change the look of your bars!
3. Adjust other UI elements
You can also use any of the addons to customize other UI elements like the location of the talking heads dialogue window, the micro menu, experience bar, stance bar, and bags. Essentially you can move everything except the health bars, map, and chat window.
4. Easy keybinding
Each of the addons also has a built-in keybinding mode which allows you to hover over icons and press a key to set the binds you want.
5. Other advanced features
The addons have several other advanced features like profiles to share settings across characters, state setup for stealth and druid forms, and visibility conditionals. State setup and visibility conditionals allow you to customize your bars to only show in certain situations.
For example, you could set your bars to only show up in combat or when you have a target. You can do a lot with that power, but it takes a little bit of tinkering to get started, so we’ll have to cover that in another article.
So far, we’ve only looked at the major features shared between the addons, but each addon also has its own set of unique features. Let’s look at a couple unique things in each addon.
1. Built-in cooldown text
After using an ability, you will notice a countdown appear on your icons in ElvUI. This handy feature allows you to more easily track the time until you can use a spell again. Without this feature, I find myself slamming abilities before they are ready because I can’t see the thin grey cooldown sliver.
You can also get the same functionality in Dominos or Bartender, but it requires downloading another addon like OmniCC.
2. Customize font size and style
Surprisingly, this is something that you can only do in ElvUI. WoW addons usually let you change a font wherever possible, but in this case, ElvUI is the only one that lets you change the size and style of the fonts on your action bars.
1. Art bar customizations
ElvUI and Dominos both strip the art bar and gryphons from your action bars when you install them. In Bartender, you can also remove the art bar or customize it to your liking. You can turn the gryphons off one side or change the configuration to look like WoW Classic action bars. It’s up to you!
Bartender also comes with a couple built-in presets that help you get started quickly. These are nice because they allow you to rotate from a small list in a dropdown and watch your bars move. My favorite preset to start with is “Three Bars Stacked,” which can be found by typing /bt in chat and then by clicking on “Presets.”
3. Centering bars
The last unique feature I really like in Bartender is the ability to center bars horizontally by going to each bar’s “Positioning” tab. This is a simple feature, but really nice if you have OCD like me and want your bars to be perfectly aligned on your screen.
1. One bar mode
The first unique feature that jumps out in Dominos is the one-bar mode setting. This setting bundles your various progress bars like honor, experience, and reputation into one bar that allows you to left click to switch between them.
2. Micro menu customization
You can also use Dominos to customize the menu bar and remove individual icons that you don’t want. Suppose you want to remove the icon for the in-game shop or guild finder. In that case, you can just remove them from the checklist after right-clicking the menu in configuration mode.
3. Macro conditionals
The last unique feature of Dominos is the easy-to-use macro conditional options. These allow you to display bars based on what button you are pressing or based on your target. You can use this feature to do cool things like changing your bar to healing spells if your target is friendly or damaging spells for enemy targets.
Feature Scores for each action bar addon
So, how does each addon stack up on features? Based on the factors I discussed above, I gave the following scores to each addon:
- Bartender4 — 9
- Dominos — 10
- ElvUI — 9
I also compared the addons to see whether they are up-to-date, how many updates they have received in the last year, and whether the author responds to community questions and bugs. Here is what I found:
|Up-to-date?||Updates in last 12 months?||Responds?|
Again, this isn’t me bashing any authors; I am just reporting what I found. Based on these findings, I assigned the following scores:
- Bartender4 — 7
- Dominos — 9
- ElvUI — 10
When it comes to customization, the addons were all pretty comparable. You can move and resize the bars and use masque appearances in each one, so I decided to call it a tie and give each addon a 10.
- Bartender4 — 10
- Dominos — 10
- ElvUI — 10
One of my favorite aspects of testing addons is seeing how lightweight they are in CPU use since that has the biggest impact on frame rate. In my tests, I found that ElvUI was the heaviest addon out of the box with more than 20 ms/s load on the CPU.
However, to keep things fair, I disabled every piece of ElvUI except the action bar and found that it used about 5.5 ms/s for just the action bars. Bartender4 used almost half of this, around 2.7 ms/s.
Dominos was the most lightweight action bar addon at around 0.05 ms/s!
From a player experience perspective, I personally like the clean look and feel of Bartender and Dominos the best. To each their own! ElvUI adds a lot of black panels and style to the UI which make be something you like, but I prefer something much more minimal.
Based on my performance testing, I doled out the following scores:
- Bartender4 — 9
- Dominos — 10
- ElvUI — 7
The last thing I compared between the addons was their setup process. I wanted to know how easy it was to get started using the addon.
Based on my experience, I would have to say that Dominos and Bartender were both pretty easy to set up but required a little work to figure out which bars were which.
ElvUI, on the other hand, has a much more elaborate setup. While it does walk you through a series of steps to get started, I still had to do a lot of work to get my bars set up the way I wanted. If you plan to use ElvUI for everything in your UI, the setup time or time spent trying to find a profile might be worth it.
Based on my experience, I scored the addons like this:
- Bartender4 — 9
- Dominos — 9
- ElvUI — 6
Which action bar addon should you use?
The best action bar will depend somewhat on the type of content you plan and how you want your UI to look. However, if you are looking for a lightweight action bar addon with great features, support, and easy setup, you may want to go with the winner of this comparison…
If you are interested in trying out Dominos, you can check out my guide to Setting Up and Using the Dominos Action Bar Addon.
To be honest, I have been an avid Bartender user for over 6 years now, so I was a little surprised with the result. But whether you decide to use Dominos or not, any of these addons are a huge improvement over the default bars.
I hope that the FACTS score can serve as a useful comparison to help you decide which addon might be the best for you. I would love to hear which addon you choose in the comments!
If you like this type of content, you can also check out my articles on the best nameplate addon and the best DPS rotation helper addon!
Links for each addon:
Michael O'Hara says
Have you tried CT_BarMod? I’d be interested in how you feel it stacks up to the three you wrote about.