Last updated: Friday, July 13, 2018
As they say, success is better when you can share it with others. As gaming becomes more mainstream a wider audience naturally becomes available. Game capture cards will help you showcase your game footage in an attractive way. They help you share your in-game plays, set up a stream, create a YouTube Channel, build a library of video clips, and much more.
Like it or not, our favorite pastime has developed its own social characteristics. All sorts of communities that support gaming have sprouted up. Sometimes these are within established social media platforms or on their own exclusive sites. Obviously Facebook, Reddit, YouTube, and Twitch comes to mind for most of us, but there are tons of others out there. In turn, those mad killing sprees, dirty no-scope trick shots, penta-kills, shopping cart drive-bys, and hilarious moments hold more value than ever before.
The best way for most gamers to capture and preserve these moments are by using a game capture card. Notice we said most gamers.
If you’re interested in streaming software head over to this page to read about viable and free options. On this page, we compiled a list of the best capture cards. We then discuss which gamers will benefit most from a capture card. We wrap up with a closer look at some of the most popular game capture cards.
- 1 Zoom Out: Comparison Table of the 20 Best Capture Cards
- 2 Capture Card Guide Part I: Info, Benefits, and Setup
- 3 Capture Card Guide Part II: Types of Capture Cards
- 4 Capture Card Guide Part III: Do I Even Need a Video Game Capture Card?
- 5 Capture Card Guide Part IV: Technical Issues with Capture Cards
- 6 Zoom In: 20 Best Game Capture Cards of 2018
Zoom Out: Comparison Table of the 20 Best Capture Cards
We’ve organized the most popular cards available, and sorted them by price ascending. This is our compiled list of the best capture cards. For HGG’s capture card reviews, head to our detailed review section.
Capture Card Guide Part I: Info, Benefits, and Setup
Capture Card Related Terms:
- Capture: The process of capturing live video and audio in analog composite video, RF modulated video, S-video, or digital video such as SDI (Serial Digital Interface) or HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface).
- Record: The process of recording video and/or audio into digital data (in the form of a media file) that is compatible with your computer.
- Stream: The process of transmitting or receiving data over a network as a constant, continuous flow allowing playback to proceed while subsequent data is being received.
- Encode: The process of converting raw sequences of characters into a coded form. CPU encoding to H.264 is one of the most commonly used formats of video content.
- Broadcast: The process of distributing and sharing video and/or audio content with an audience via any electronic mass communication medium. Along with broadcasts types such as podcasting for example, video game streaming is one of the latest types of modern broadcasting. It has recently been made possible by faster internet connections and better hardware.
A lot of gamers want get their gameplay on YouTube or Twitch. Whether it be for the fame, fortune, fun, or the women. Everyone knows the ladies love the big video game plays. These capture devices help gamers achieve their goals by providing them with a variety of broadcasting and recording options. Most commonly capture cards are being used by gamers to record themselves playing a game. Either they stream this content or save it for later. Some creative gamers will even do cool editing and whatnot, then upload the finished video to sites like YouTube. As you probably know, gamers will set up YouTube channels. They then use this platform to provide game walk-through videos, gameplay highlights, game reviews, and other creative content. If you want to learn the ins-and-outs of capture cards, read on.
Capture cards will enable you to have more freedom and control over your recorded and streamed footage. Other benefits include: better game performance while recording, versatile file formatting, uploading to social media outlets, personalize and edit game footage, and customize your stream’s experience for your viewers.
It is important to note that the quality of the video you capture is reliant on the source you are recording from. Obviously, there’s going to be a big difference between capturing N64 footage vs. capturing gameplay from a PS4. Additionally, quality is impacted by whether you’re using a high definition or standard definition connection.
Capture cards usually come bundled together with game capture software. Some of this software is useful and some of it frankly sucks. The better software can assist you in recording, setting up a gameplay library, and customize your Twitch channel. It may also assist you in recording voice commentary along with the in-game footage when producing videos. For streamers, there are free and paid streaming software options. We have a list of the most popular software here.
For those of you with PS4 and Xbox One consoles, there are built in recording features in both of these consoles. They don’t come without severe limitations, however. Big console streamers and YouTubers are still choosing to use game capture devices over the built-in software. This is because they need more options and freedom than what Sony and Microsoft is offering.
There are two parts of streaming that require significant computer resources: capturing and encoding. Video encoding is an extremely CPU-intensive task. Capturing is relatively low impact compared to the encoding process. Game capture cards are a useful tool for to help get these tasks done efficiently.
Setting up a capture card:
It’s a good idea to know what you’re getting into before buying one of these cards. In the image below, you can see what a fairly standard setup looks like.
Minimum System & Connection Requirements:
- Solid Upload Speed, ~5mb/sec for 720p, ~10mb/sec for 1080p
- PC, ~i7 Processor
- 2 HDMI Cables
- USB Cable
It might sound like more trouble than it’s worth, setting up one of these capture cards. Especially when there’s easy buttons like the “share” button on the PS4. We understand that argument. But using one and the powerful streaming software alongside it is the best way to turn heads. It gives you complete control over your stream.
The software will enable you to display custom graphics and intros, show scoreboards, show chats, insert multiple cameras, and re-position screens and a lot more cool stuff. A new console or PC gives you the power to stream. Using dedicated streaming hardware and software gives you the power to make a production.
Capture Card Guide Part II: Types of Capture Cards
There are two main types of capture cards: internal and external. A capture card is installed one of two ways. Internally, by installing it in a free expansion slot. Or, externally, connected via a USB or thunderbolt connection to a computer. Depending on the device and what you are capturing, you will be using HDMI cables, component cables, or DVI cables.
The nice thing about external capture cards is that you can use it with numerous computers. They are portable and you can take it over to your buddy’s house. External capture devices are protected by a hard case with the capture card hardware inside. There are also capture devices out now that can capture and record gameplay without a computer, using their own internal storage or a memory card. Sometimes you can even connect an external hard drive to the capture card that you can record to and transfer from later. There are HD and standard definition external capture cards.
Internal capture cards are typically designed for intensive use. Many gamers report much more success and reliability from these types of capture cards, though external cards have improved in recent years. These plug right into a PCIe slot. You install one of these and you don’t have to fear that your CPU and GPU will be overworked. It will reduce FPS spikes by taking the recording load off of them. Many dedicated PC streamers will install an internal capture card to their secondary streaming computer.
- External: Portability is a wonderful thing, particularly with game capture devices. This makes it easy to take to a friends and move to a different room. Some devices you don’t have to worry whether or not your PC is close because they either have built in internal memory, SD card slot, or the option to connect an external HD and record to there (or some combination of those features). If you’re a console gamer and you can’t get a PC/laptop close to your console set up this is the way to go.
- Internal: It is important to note that you will need an open PCIe slot to install this into your computer. These are best for those gamers doing strictly PC gaming. But obviously these are not a bad route for console gamers if you can get a desktop PC close to your console. These really shine in a two system streaming setup, where one of your computers is a dedicated streaming machine.
Capture Card Guide Part III: Do I Even Need a Video Game Capture Card?
Benefits of Capture Cards Over Streaming with Standalone Xbox One or PS4:
- Stream in High Quality (Consoles stream in low bitrates)
- Use Custom Overlays, Brand Your Stream to Set Yourself Apart from other Streamers
- Retain Viewers with a Lag Free, High Quality Stream
- Easily Create and Manage a Video Clip Library on External Storage
There is a lot of conflicting information out there surrounding these devices. Uneducated consumers and misleading advertising contribute to this problem. Furthermore, the devices themselves are complex. When you get into the realm of broadcasting, recording, encoding, capturing, and all the other technical language things can get complicated. On top of that, you have dozens of opinions on which is the best capture cards. Whatever the case, we are going to simplify this complex subject.
In general, game capture devices are of the most benefit to console gamers. Even with the newest consoles, there are limitations to how much game footage you can capture and what you can do with it. Capture cards may call for a more complicated setup initially, but will open the door to having more control over your recordings. It will also aid you in setting up a professional, high-quality video stream. This is a nice way to distinguish yourself from the multitudes of other streamers. It becomes easier to personalize your stream. Furthermore, High-Definition at 60 FPS will provide a much smoother viewing experience.
We are going to break it down by gaming system to help you decide whether you need one.
Most PC gamers out there will not benefit much from a capture card. For streaming PC games, it’s not too difficult to get up and running. You don’t need a capture card to stream or even just to record your games. All you need is broadcasting software (Xsplit, etc.) and a beefy system. There are two main categories of PC streamers: single system and dual system.
If you have a cutting edge system with a powerful GPU and CPU (AMD FX or i7 for example) you’re likely going to be just fine using screen recorder software to capture and record your game footage even while streaming. Yes, you’re game performance will take a big hit but you’ll still be able to do it. For gods sake, you’re live-encoding video while playing a graphically intensive game. Doing that a couple years ago was unthinkable.
Check out this post on the OBS Project Forum by Moderator Krazy:
Capture cards in single PC setups are pretty much completely useless unless you intend to do the encoding with the hardware encoder on the card, but the quality on anything under 200 bucks is going to be completely horrible. OBS can’t use most of the hardware encoders anyway (not that you want to…) so all encoding is still going to be done by your CPU. The built in capture methods in OBS are already absolutely as efficient as possible, so the only way to lower streaming impact without losing quality is to build a second, dedicated streaming PC and use the capture card to grab the image from your gaming rig.
This is why for single system streamers—if you are considering a capture card—your money is probably better spent on a better CPU.
The situation where investing in a capture card makes the most amount of sense is in those situations where individuals desire the ultimate solution: having a second PC that handles all the streaming. A capture device will help you connect this second PC to your primary PC. This will allow you to maintain optimal performance on your gaming PC. This is particularly important for competitive gamers. Gamers who need to play at a competitive FPS rate, capture & record, AND stream simultaneously.
This is how a two system setup works. Your primary computer is the dedicated gaming machine which outputs it’s video to the capture card. The second PC with the capture card works as a encoding/streaming machine only. For those of you with lower-end systems (or very concerned about game performance) you have two options. Buy/build a very expensive ultra-gaming machine or get a secondary streaming computer and a capture card.
Initially getting this set up can take some time, but it is worth it if you plan on using it a lot. The game capture unit is installed in the second PC. The second PC captures what is happening on the first PC. Consequently, the gaming PC is not affected by the heavy CPU-intensive encoding tasks when streaming. This will help you maintain a stable fps rate even when playing, recording, and streaming at the same time. This is because recording and compression work is done by the capture card and second computer, not by the main gaming computer’s CPU. This lowers your primary computer’s load, focusing all its resources on the game you’re playing. Therefore, a capture card is beneficial in a two system setup.
PS4 gamers will benefit from a capture card. A capture device will give you more flexibility and help you do all the extra fancy stuff. Instead of using Sony’s limited software, you’ll transfer footage to your laptop or PC where you can use the software of your choice to create a stream and/or record and edit gameplay footage.
Let’s go over what Sony has done right. Streaming is easy and quick with the PS4 software. You can directly stream to Twitch. There’s a “share” button right on the controller. All you need to do is link your account, give your channel/stream a title, and then select “Start Broadcast” after hitting the share button on the controller.
PS4 has some nifty built-in software that will record up to 15 minutes of gameplay at a time. The downside is, well its only 15 minutes of gameplay. The share button once again is the first stop to get the job done. Single-tapping will allow you to change settings. Double-tapping the share button will record clips. Sony has built in a video editor that is called Share Factory. If you want to export saved clips you can plug external memory into the PS4. Use the “Capture Gallery,” select options and choose copy video to USB. Obviously, having a game capture card will enable you to sidestep much of this hassle and give you more versatility when managing your gameplay footage. Also, you’ll not have to keep hitting “start recording” after every 15 minutes.
Side note: Sony released the all or nothing HDCP toggle last year in April. This was part of the 1.70 update. Disabling this option allows you to record game footage and audio. What you don’t want to do is record movies because the FBI will track you down and possibly shoot you (and you won’t re-spawn).
Like the PS4 a game capture device is going to give you more flexibility when working with your gameplay footage; it will give you more control over your streams and recordings. As is the case with Sony, using a capture card lets you step outside Microsoft’s limits. You’ll be able to capture an unlimited amount of footage and send it to your laptop or PC where you can then use the software of your choice to stream, record, edit, etc.
Broadcasting is baked into the Xbox One OS. Twitch direct broadcasting is available. As with the PS4, it is a simple setup. Open the Twitch app on the Xbox One, select log in, open twitch.tv/activate on your phone or computer, and then enter the six digit code on your TV to link the accounts. Now all you have to do is select the “Broadcast” tile to start streaming.
The Xbox One also has built-in “Game DVR.” The Game DVR allows you to record a clip of up to 5 minutes. When you’re ready to record go to snap an app and select start recording. When you’re done, choose stop recording. You and view these recordings in “Show my clips.” You can then edit these clips using the Upload Studio. If you want to transfer the videos to your PC, you can use the OneDrive app on your Xbox. These recording features come with even more limitations than the Playstation 4. If you’re looking to do some serious recording, it is going to be a pain in the ass stringing together 5 minute videos. You can being to see where a capture card comes in handy.
Side Note: As far as using game capture devices goes nothing has changed from the 360. This is nice if you or a friend has had experience setting one up on the 360. You can use the card to hook up to your computer to stream, record footage on the hard drive of your computer, and all that good stuff. The Xbox One seamlessly switches HDCP mode automatically for you. When playing games, HDCP is off allowing capture cards to work flawlessly. When watching a movie or using a video service such as Netflix, HDCP is enabled to protect video content.
Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and Older Consoles
If you do not have a PS4 or Xbox One you do need a capture card to stream your games. Game capture devices are going to be the only route for PS3 and Xbox 360 gamers. This generation of consoles and those preceding it are not capable of recording or streaming gameplay. They do not have built-in recording tools like the Xbox One and PS4. Having a capture card is the only way to capture, record, and get streams set up with older consoles.
Capture cards are the required middleman to get the gameplay footage from your console to PC to Twitch. You will also need broadcast software such as Xsplit, FFSplit, Wirecast, or one of the other options out there.
Capture Card Guide Part IV: Technical Issues with Capture Cards
Generally, if you are using relatively new capture card products with newer electronics you’re not going to run into any issues. Don’t expect HD quality without an HD ready device and HDMI cable. While capture technology isn’t brand new, it isn’t old either. Manufacturers are still perfecting their products. Audio and video quality results will vary, particularly with older components and Televisions.
When issues do pop up it usually is on the user, not using the correct cable, etc. Maybe their old TV doesn’t have an HDMI port or something like that. Whatever the case, the fact of the matter is there are 1000’s of TVs, different formats, and other electronic devices out there. Creating a device that is perfectly compatible with all of them is a tall order.
You’ll always want to check the required system specifications before buying a capture card. Following the directions that comes with the device and take your time setting things up. If you get stuck, there are YouTube videos covering most brands of capture cards and the common setups. If all else fails, you can get in touch with the support service backing your capture card and do some troubleshooting.
Zoom In: 20 Best Game Capture Cards of 2018
Here is our review section of the best game capture cards on the market this year.
As far as the capture card market is concerned, there are two key players: Elgato and AVerMedia. To be fair, there are a few other options available such as the likes of Hauppauge, Roxio, and the newcomer Razer. Other then that, there are some fringe manufacturers for those hipsters out there that must satisfy the need to be different. But if you want the best, those two major players Elgato and AVerMedia have been in the game the longest and it shows in the quality of their products. You could even say they’ve ‘captured’ the game itself.
Elgato Capture Cards
Elgato is the leading seller of capture cards for gamers. In recent news, Corsair and Elgato just inked a deal (June 2018) where Corsair acquired Elgato’s streaming and video production hardware.
Their new capture cards — both internal and external — have been slam dunks and resonated well with the gaming community. One of their best attributes is their ease-of-use. All but the most technologically challenged won’t have difficulty setting them up.
The newest addition to Elgato’s capture card family is this new internal (PCIe interface) capture card. With 4K TVs and monitors coming out left and right it was only a matter of time for Elgato to jump on the 4K bandwagon. Still, we weren’t expecting this card quite so soon and it is yet another example of the rapidly increasing pace of innovation in the gaming hardware arena.
The 4K60 Pro works well with XSplit or OBS and the card isn’t too difficult to install especially if you’ve have experience building your own rig or upgrading components in the past. This is a great investment if your a gamer or creator that wants to stand out from the crowd and offer cutting edge resolution. It carries a whopper of a price tag but by reaching for the best you’re future proofing your setup.
The Elgato Game Capture HD60 Pro is a relatively new internal capture card offering. Elgato is known for their external cards, but they saw the opportunity to provide multi-system streamers with a rock solid option. If you’ve going the ultimate streaming set up with a dedicated streaming rig, it wouldn’t hurt to pop one of these bad boys in there. This capture card receives the gold stamp of approval from HGG. While not a globally recognized award, you can bet your sweet bippy we don’t hand this one out to just anyone.
Long story short: this enables you to do it all without sacrificing much performance.
Short story long: this internal capture card interfaces with a PCIe slot, so the big requirement here is a desktop computer. But if you can manage the install into your rig, you’ll be blessed with top tier performance. Thanks to the ‘Master Copy’ technology, Elgato boasts this card can simultaneously record in 1080p at 60 FPS while streaming at that same high quality. Via the lag free HDMI output, you can hook this up to your PS 4, Xbox One/360, or Wii U. Thanks to flash back recording, you’ll always have evidence of ‘that one time’ like when you single-handedly shot down 3 helicopters with your pistol.
Game Capture HD60 Pro Cool Tech:
- Stream Command: Built in live commentary, add webcam, manage overlays.. check, check, and check.
- Instant Gameview: Put your stream on steroids with Elgato’s low latency technology.
- Flashback Recording: Never miss a moment. Slide back in time on your PC and hit the record button.
- Master Copy: Stream and record in 1080p60 simultaneously.
If you’re looking to invest in something sure to make your content and/or stream stand out, this is the one.
The latest and greatest external capture card from Elgato, the HD60 S is an external card that features the state of the art USB 3.0 Type C connection. This connection is the most efficient and reliable technology to date which is of great importance when in the realm of streaming. As you probably know, anything to do with streaming and recording requires a lot of juice. Incorporating the optimal USB 3.0 will aid in data transmission and reduce risk of hindering game performance.
Other than the upgraded interface, much stays the same as the standard HD60. You’re still getting the 1080p/60 fps capability and all of the bonus features such as flashback recording. If you’ve got another $20 and USB 3.0 capability, it’s a no brainer to upgrade to this model. Plus, you get that light purple S appended to the ‘HD 60’. Worth.
The Elgato HD60 Game Capture is the updated version of the Elgato HD. They’ve made it look even sleeker with the rounded corners and matte black finish. More importantly, you can now record in 1080p at 60fps. Essentially the quality will look nearly identical to the live feed of your game.
Elgato is still working out some of the kinks with the software, as sometimes it stutters, particularly when you use the flashback recording. Additionally, sometimes the audio will desync from the video, creating a awkward recording. A solution one of our readers presented was to run a 3.5mm audio cable from your console to the PC and set the line-in to listen (enabling it to play through your speakers). Then in the capture software set Global Audio Offset to 700ms to sync the audio to the Elgato video feed. Then delay your cam by 700ms.
3/21/16 Update: these technical issues (on most setups) have been resolved by subsequent updates. As with any recording or streaming set up, mileage varies depending on what hardware/software you’re working with.
If you’re on a budget, you may want to go with their older model. The Elgato Game Capture HD is one of the most popular game capture devices used by gamers, and for good reason. It is easy to use, involves a minimal hassle setup, and does not require extra pieces of equipment to work. The Elgato is definitely one of our favorites because of its simplicity.
The package from Elgato includes some really nice game capture software, a USB cable, HDMI cable, component adapter, and PS3 cable. It has a unique “time shift” feature which is a flash back recording function allowing you to retroactively record a gaming moment if you miss it live. Unlike some of the products we look at below, it does require a desktop or laptop to function.
The software is the best among the capture cards we have reviewed, making recording and sharing a breeze. Elgato regularly updates the software to keep in running smoothly. In addition, the software enables users to quickly edit the length of their recorded gaming scenes. You can then pass them on to more high powered video editing software for detailed editing.
AVerMedia Capture Cards
AVerMedia is one of the biggest names in the game capture hardware space and has a robust line of products. AVerMedia is Elgato’s main competitor and has an abundance of capture card options available. While we hear some complaints about their customer service from time-to-time, it doesn’t erase the fact their hardware is among the best out there.
This is AVerMedia’s answer to the 4K60 Pro. It can capture 4K at 60 FPS and 1080p at up to 240 FPS. That’s a huge jump in capability over their previous cards cap of 1080p at 60 FPS. That extra FPS comes in handy considering the leaps and bounds gaming monitors have made in recent years. This capture card includes Cyber Link PowerDirector 15 which is actually a solid piece of video editing software.
The Live Gamer ULTRA is the beefiest external capture card on the market right now. This unit can pass-through 4K content @ 60 FPS but it is limited to 30 FPS when it comes to recording at 4K. At 1080 you can pass through at 240 FPS and capture in 120 FPS. Not bad at all for a USB interfacing card! Like the GC573 above, this card comes with a product key for PowerDirector 15.
AVerMedia’s newest portable capture card is the Live Gamer Portable 2. Pop in your microSD card and you’re ready to go. This enables you to record games with or without a PC unlike older models and internal capture cards. Improving from 30 FPS to 60 FPS (@1080p) capability from the first generation Live Gamer Portable, it is a rock solid option and one of the best portable capture cards right now. We dig the hot button one tap to stream directly to your platform of choice such as YouTube or Twitch.
Bolstered by AVerMedia’s latest RECentral 3 software, this unit is about as all purpose plug and play as they come. While it may not have USB 3.0 interface abilities such as its big brother the LGX, that’s about the only thing you are missing out on in terms of features. If that’s not important to you, save yourself about $20 bucks and go with this model.
This card is essentially AVerMedia’s version of the Elgato Game Capture HD60 S. With the low latency USB 3.0 capability and full 1080p HD @ 60 FPS, it is AVerMedia’s high performance streaming card. The upgraded RECentral 2 software allows you easily stream and share recordings to social media. Editing, trimming, time-shifting, and merging are some of the other features RECentral brings to the table. Want to do background music or add commentary? No problem, it has audio mix in support with auxiliary and microphone audio source capabilities.
The LGP Lite is a great solution for all platforms, even PS4 and Xbox One users. Along with the Elgato, it is undoubtedly one of those most highly regarded units out there.
This portable unit from AVerMedia draws power from its USB connection for minimal cord running. This means the possibilities are just about limitless, you can record just about anything anywhere. One click recording is initiated by tapping the middle AVermedia Logo button in the center of the device. This device offers encoding of up to 1080p and 60Mbps with HDMI pass thru to capture gameplay in high definition.
It features a H.264 hardware encoder. The high bit-rate offers the best replication you will get over actually seeing it on the screen yourself. The built-in hardware encoder keeps video file sizes small while still retaining the quality. Recording and streaming can all be managed with their RECentral software that is included.
We must mention that RECentral leaves more to be desired by serious streamers, and that it doesn’t come close to matching XSplit in functionality. The good news is, AVerMedia has thrown in a 3 month premium license for XSplit Broadcasting software. You’ve probably heard of XSplit or perhaps even used it. Its fairly easy get up and running. Also included in the bundle are HDMI, mini USB 2.0, component AV, audio and PS3 cables.
This is the non-portable, internal version of the C875 that is installed into your computer’s PCIe slot. It comes with a snazzy external button, maintaining that easy-record one tap functionality that you saw before with the external device. You can capture from a PC or a game console using RECentral. This uses very low amount of CPU and will support game performance in those situations where you are both streaming and recording simultaneously. Pass-thru HDMI & DVI cables & adapters are included with this as well. This card has HDMI and AUX inputs and outputs only. It does not have component or composite inputs unless you buy an adapter.
If you’re looking for a PC-free unit with similar features it’s worth your time to check out the C285 Game Capture HD II Recorder. The C285 is a device like the AVerCapture and it is outstanding. This allows you to commentate, edit, and share console gameplay footage without a PC. We also love the GameMate app that is paired with this device, it enables you to monitor your recording status and use other control features with your smart phone. A super nice feature with the C285 is you can record directly to an external hard drive via USB.
This is AVerMedia’s brand new PCIe capture card and the second generation of its Liver Gamer HD series. An internal capture card, you may want include this in your next PC gaming build component list or add it to your existing rig if you’ve got an open PCIe slot. If you are a performance junkie and can’t settle for anything unless it’s the cutting edge, you want to take a close look at this unit.
The big win here is being able to capture uncompressed video output, enabling you to achieve the pinnacle of visual picture quality. You better have that 10TB external hard drive ready to go, because those uncompressed HD video files like to hog up a lot of room as you can imagine. You get a lot of other features, MIJPEG functionality, RECentral 3 software, Xsplit & OBS support if you don’t like RECentral, and AMD Ryzen support. If its sleek looks manage to win you over, make sure to jump on AVerMedia’s website and register to receive your free 2 year warranty.
Other Capture Cards
You probably know of a little gaming company called Razer. If you don’t we will ask you to kindly escort yourself out. Performance wise the Razer Ripsaw is on par with the AVerMedia LGX and Elgato HD60s. The Ripsaw is Razer’s first entry into the complex capture, record, stream world and it is not without problems.
Fortunately, it is Razer we are talking about here, and they aren’t going to leave gamers hanging with a medicore product. Most of the major problems (crashing during streams, random reboots, software incompatibilities, audio issues) have been sorted out since its release, and it’s a safer option to buy. Notice we said ‘safer’, if you want to minimize your chances of running into problems we suggest one of the tried and true models from AVerMedia or Elgato; or even wait until Razer comes out with version 2.
Of course, Razer jumped straight to USB 3.0 interface and we applaud them for that. The drawback is that the retro port is component only, so you’ll need a AV to HDMI converter to use it for NES and SNES games and the like. Problems aside, what we have heard about the Ripsaw time and again is that the learning curve is steep and there’s typically some troubleshooting to get things going, but once setup, the ride is smooth and it performs well. Whether it is worth the trouble is up to you, but we must admit it is hard to resist the lure of Razer’s sleek green and black design.
AGBtek’s capture card is a decent budget option and was recently updated by AGBtek. It is a good card for those gamers and streamers who don’t feel they need 6o FPS in 1080p. You’ve got 1080p capability here without having to dish over $100 over (and 720p @ 60FPS). Overall, we think that’s a fair compromise for the price. This unit has 3 input modes – Composite, Component, or HDMI. One neat feature of this bundle is the included remote control, which allows you to easily switch between settings and input modes. The snapshot button enables the user to capture one still with a simple tap.
Hauppauge has been in the video capture business for a long time. They manufacturer a line of capable PVRs (personal video recorder). Their HD PVR 2 comes with all cables you need to start recording including component cables. There are no extra adapters needed with this guy. The max video bit rate is relatively low at 14MBps. This is not quite as high as the other capture cards. Also, it’s a pretty bulky unit.
One nice thing about Hauppauges PVR is that It comes in numerous models. You can get the exact model based on your specific needs and won’t be paying extra for things you don’t need. The file sizes are big with this unit but the video quality is pretty good. 15 minutes of recorded gameplay in 1080i or 1080p is going to run you about 1.25gigs. Additionally the PVR 2 has the ability to record 5.1 channel audio.
If you’re looking for something portable, you can get any smaller then the Hauppauge 1540. You can carry this little guy around in your pocket no problems. The only downside is that you need to buy your own external USB compatible storage As you can see in the pic that’s where it records footage to.
Diamond Multimedia is a lesser known option but still valid for those who don’t need the cutting edge. For less than $100, you get a 1080P HDMI game recorder and streaming box. The only downside with this unit is the USB 2.0 port. Another thing that may turn off buyers is that it doesn’t come with its own full featured software. That isn’t too big of a deal if you’re comfortable with Open Broadcast Software (OBS), which most streamers prefer anyway.
We have to provide a few words of caution against this device. Many gamers have experienced compatibility, customer service, and software issues with Roxio and their game capture product. The Roxio Video Wave software is lacking when compared to the other options we have looked at.
Some gamers have complained that this device isn’t compatible with video editing software such as Sony Vegas. However, Roxio has come through with a quick fix that can be downloaded from their site. One of the highs of Roxio’s device is the price, at around $100 its a bit less expensive then most other options. If your interested in this unit, just make sure to research whether or not this will be compatible with your system before buying.
Blackmagic offers a line of high-end video input and editing capture devices. The Blackmagic Design Intensity Extreme is more of a niche solution for videographers. Their devices are for serious recorders and video editors. This device can be set to capture in absolute uncompressed format. Uncompressed translates to some huge video files (around 1GB/per minute of 1080p footage). Sure that’s leads to some huge file sizes, but you will get true HD resolution on your recordings.
It also has handy built-in commentary features. This unit is compatible with MAC and Linux systems and nearly all editing software such as Adobe After Effects and Final Cut Pro. If you have specific video editing and recording needs The Blackmagic Intensity Pro might be the right card for you.
Magewell isn’t as well known as the Elgatos and AVerMedias of the world but they are still worth a gander. We’ve heard the main strengths of this compact unit are its plug-and-play ability — it is super easy to setup with OBS and on top of that very mobile. Weaknesses of this card are the lackluster audio quality and that it gets really hot after extended use.
Magewell’s Pro Capture is the most expensive capture card on our list. This is an advanced capture card with 4 channel capability and probably overkill for most gaming and streaming setups — though some specialized users may need each and every one of those four HDMI ports. This unique niche card’s versatile compatibility with most applications propelled it onto our best capture cards list.
Cool New Streaming Devices
Here’s a few other devices to check out if you’re a content producer.
Yes truth be told this is actually not a capture card. But it is a neat little doohickey that we felt we needed to include in this list. The Elgato Stream Deck is for the dedicated streamer’s laboratory. This command center offers the stream master 15 customizable LCD keys. This allows you to multitask like a boss: recognize donations and subs, fine tune audio and other settings, launch special effects, ‘Tweet your feats’, and other such actions with a single touch.
Gone will be the days you have to flip between all those windows and tabs to trigger an action. Those precious seconds are the difference between an enjoyable content experience for viewers or one that’s just blah. The Stream Deck integrates with OBS Studio, Tipeeestream, Elgato’s Game Capture, and of course Twitch. A premium accessory commands a premium price, and Elgato isn’t letting this one go for less than about $150.
As the name implies this gadget helps connect your action cam or DSLR to a Mac or PC. It’ll let you broadcast up to 1080p / 60 FPS quality. For those who turn up their nose at the subpar quality of most webcams, the Cam Link is a solution to integrate a quality DSLR or camcorder into your production arsenal.
Elgato, Elgato, Elgato. Somehow they keep popping up on our page but truth be told, they’ve really solidified themselves as a go-to for gamer-friendly streaming and recording hardware. This is a very mobile green screen solution that collapses into a hard case to easily travel with and stow away when not in use. If it is time to step your game up and create your own little production studio, the Elgato Green Screen is a great addition for chroma keying post-production.