I have been waiting a long time for an invention such as capture cards, and I thank the heavens that technology has made this possible. Every gamer needs to prove to others that they are the best and while scoreboards did the trick, it wasn’t enough. You could opt to use the multiplayer option, which guarantees that other people will see your techniques and gameplay, but sometimes the best way to showcase your skill is by uploading a video. Which, of course, brings us to the best capture cards.
Every gamer can attest to the fact that capturing high definition data from an Xbox or PS4 is no easy task. However, capture cards not only make this possible but also offer amazing streaming capabilities for better gameplay. Even better, there are capture cards that have built-in encoders, which function the same way a CPU does during streaming.
At first, I thought capture cards could only capture videos and store them in a specified format. However, you can convert the recorded videos to any format that is compatible with your PC. My latest and best capture cards not only lets me capture and edit my videos but also burn the data into DVDs with ease. However, before settling for a capture card, you need to check its compatibility with your PC.
In addition to this, factors such as internal vs. external capture cards, which depend on your preference and PC are also defining considerations before making a purchase. Here are other factors to consider before buying a capture card for your PC and game streaming.
Different capture cards currently on the market have varying features. Just like any other hardware, you have to be sure about the set of features you need on your capture card based on its intended use. Do you want to use the card to record videos only or would you like the one with a video conversion feature? Can you back up the raw videos? What format does the capture card use to save your videos and can they be edited later? If your purpose for buying a capture card is to only capture videos, be sure to check the format the card saves them in for easy playback. If you are working on a budget and can only afford a capture card that only saves but doesn’t leave room for editing, you can download a free video converter to change the files to a suitable format.
The Cost of the Capture Card
When I first heard of capture cards, I thought they would be among the items I would have to save a lot of money for to acquire. However, after a little research, I found out that capture cards come with different features, which in turn dictate their price. While some manufacturers naturally have expensive capture cards on their catalog, most of these products have feature-dictated prices.
As such, if your wish is to capture a few videos every once in a while, then you don’t require expensive hardware. However, if you are looking for one with added features and extra capabilities, then a branded capture card is your best option. People using capture cards professionally are advised to spend more money to ensure rich video quality.
Capture cards might be able to record videos, but the quality is up to the specific device. What’s more, while they might be able to edit recorded videos, capture cards cannot change video quality. As such, the device you choose should be not only able to deliver high-quality videos but also support high image resolutions.
The best capture cards with the best video quality often have a high frame rate, which enables them to record high-quality content. Seeing most people are playing powerful games lately, consider buying a capture card that supports 4K or Full HD resolution to get perfect results every time you stream. However, if you intend to purchase this type of capture card, ensure that your system is powerful enough to allow for smooth gameplay while rendering videos.
Ensure that the capture card you buy matches your PC’s specifications for better streaming and gameplay. Your PC’s input should be supported by the capture card you intend to purchase for seamless connectivity. Most capture cards rely on HDMI cables for data transfer, which are also supported PC’s, Wii U, Xbox 360, and Play Station just to mention a few.
However, some systems require additional component cables to connect to your system. Besides, other hardware factors such as memory, speed, and storage space must be compatible with your card. As such, make sure that you consider console variations before making a purchase.
Consider buying your capture card from a trusted manufacturer to get support in the form of tutorials, user manuals, and customer care service. This feature helps a lot especially when you run into problems with your console.
Ease of Use
As stated above, trusted manufacturers offer service such as user manuals with the help of customer care representatives to enhance your capture card’s performance. Aside from the company’s help, capture cards come with a broad range of features that come in handy at different points. Consider going through the user manual extensively to understand if your capture card will be easy to use or will take some getting used to.
If you want to purchase the best capture cards, focus on interface, input, image quality, and software support. Here are some of the best capture cards currently on the market for your consideration.
Best Capture Cards for PC and Game Streaming
1. Elgato Game Capture HD60 S
The Elgato HD60 S is a favorite among most gamers lately especially due to its system requirements and technical specifications. Additionally, it comes with a broad range of features merged with modern technological advancements for smooth and efficient use. The Elgato HD60 S also has a sleek design and an LED strip, but even its good look can’t match its performance.
As far as its video quality goes, the Elgato HD60 S provides clear 1080p videos, which are streamed instantly to your PC thanks to a high-performance USB 3.0 connection. The connection is also instant due to a reversible USB-C connector, which also allows for plug-n-play. Aside from that, a built-in live commentary feature enables you to add your voice taking your gameplay experience to a higher level.
The Elgato HD60 S also has a low-latency technology, which besides from powering your streaming also enables you to upload your videos to YouTube and Twitch. It also allows for seamless internet connection and is not only compatible with your PC but PlayStation, Xbox One, and Wii among others.
- Stunning 1080p quality with 60 fps. For Mac- GPU- AMD or NVIDIA. For windows- GPU- Intel HD, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 600 series graphics (or better). CPU- Intel i5-4xxx quad or better for both OS
- State-of-the-art USB 3.0 Type C connection
2. AVerMedia Capture Card Live Gamer Portable (LGP)
The AVerMedia Capture Card Live Gamer Portable allows you to stream and record videos on your PC in full HD 1080p resolution. Recording and streaming are made easy thanks to an H.264 hardware encoder. With the AVerMedia Capture Card Live Gamer Portable, you also record your videos retroactively due to a TimeShift feature.
This device requires Windows 7, 8.1, and 10 and IntelCore i5-3330 or beyond. Also, your PC should have GeForce NVIDIA GTX 650 or Radeon AMD R7 250X or any other graphics card higher than the two. Having said that, the AVerMedia Capture Card Live Gamer Portable also comes with an integrated graphics card as well as a microSDHC Class 10 SD card optimized for PC-free recording.
The LGP2 also streams instantly as opposed to many cards that waste your time with setup and installation procedures. Seeing that most people lose storage cards due to frequent removal, the LGP2 act as a breath of fresh air thanks to its storage mode feature, which enables it to serve as a card reader. This device also has a party chat and commentary feature as well as live editing, which saves hours of footage perusal.
- Stream and record Xbox, PlayStation, WiiU, Nintendo Switch, or NES Classic Edition console gameplay
- Capture in full HD 1080p with H.264 hardware encoder
3. StarTech Capture Card Device
It might be a little pricey and less appealing to the eyes, but the StarTech.com capture card guarantees amazing results. You can capture High-Definition HDMI, VGA, DVI, or Component videos directly to your PC. The StarTech.com capture card is compatible with Windows 10, 8, 8.1, 7, Vista, and XP and requires an i3 Dual-Core 2.8GHZ CPU or higher.
The StarTech.com capture card encodes its videos in H.264 guaranteeing its compatibility with multiple devices ranging from PC, Mac, Android, and iOS. Also, no editing or converting is required with this capture card although it is supported by programs such as Adobe Premiere and Windows Media Encounter, which allow for video editing. Aside from capturing and exporting videos, the software can also help you take screenshots, schedule recordings, and stream your videos instantly.
The StarTech.com capture card also has USB 3.0 bandwidth, which enables you to capture 1080p videos at 60 frames per second providing excellent picture quality. You can also convert analog videos to digital formats thanks to professional video archiving applications.
- Capture High-Definition HDMI, DVI, VGA, or Component video to your PC
- Capable of capturing lossless raw video making it compatible with Microsoft DirectShow
4. Elgato Game Capture HD60 Pro
The Elgato HD60 Pro is the perfect capture card to buy if you seek precision. It allows for optimum video capture, dedicating encoding, and runs courtesy of ultra-low latency technology. This device also has an impressive attention to detail and is guaranteed to show every texture, shadow or tone with clarity thanks to a built-in H.264 encoder.
This encoder has a bitrate of 60Mbps and records unlimited images in 1080p60 quality while keeping your CPU load low, and project files small in size. The Elgato HD60 Pro also guarantees instant game view thanks to low latency technology and provides a unique broadcasting experience. Thanks to a Master Copy feature, you can simultaneously record your gameplay in excellent quality and bump it up for upload.
The Elgato HD60 Pro also has a sleek design constituting of an electro-galvanized steel casing, classy port labels, and slick grilles.
- Stream and record your Xbox, PlayStation, or Nintendo Switch gameplay. 1080p quality with 60 fps.
- Built-in live streaming to Twitch, YouTube & more.
5. Hauppauge – HD PVR 2 Gaming Game Capture Device with Digital Audio
Hauppauge has been on the capture card business for a while now and has a long series of products to attest to that fact. Their latest, the HD PVR 2 is among their best thus far considering its broad range of features. The HD PVR 2 is compatible with PC and Mac and can support your home theatre system thanks to a 5.1 channel surround sound audio pass-through and recording feature.
The HD PVR 2 also has a Showbiz application and comes with a link to download all its capture applications for Macs for free. With a 1080p60 resolution, this capture card guarantees videos of the highest quality, which are also recorded with no-delay pass-through. The coolest feature for this device is perhaps the personal logo inserter, which allows gamers to burn their logos into their recordings. This device also comes with a Hauppauge Capture application that has a quick response record button for instant recording.
- Includes AC3 digital audio (SPDIF) with a 5.1 surround sound.
- Uses H.264 encoding in HD to capture your game play in stunning HD. System requirements- laptop or desktop PC with 3.0 GHz single core or 2.0 GHz multi-core
6. Magewell XI10 & 3.0 HD Video Capture Dongle
Of all the products discussed in this list, the Magewell USB capture is the least attractive. However, it makes up for this with excellent performance and extensive compatibility. This capture card is compatible with Linux, Windows, and Mac OS. Seeing most gamers use Windows as the operating system for their PC’s, this device’s compatibility is good news.
It also enables you to capture full HD videos thanks to 1080 by 720p resolution and allows for up and downscaling. The ultra-low USB capture is also among the few cards on the market that allow for quality image control thanks to many output color spaces. It also allows de-interfacing making it possible to use multiple devices on one host.
The connection is instantaneous with the Dual-Core USB capture thanks to a plug-and-play feature. The device also supports UVC protocol and allows for a firmware upgrade to ensure your video recording and upload is seamless.
- Magewell XI100DUSB One Channel HDMI Gen 2 USB 3.0 Capture Dongle - USB 3.0 Cable - Magewell 1 Year Warranty
- Supported OS: Windows 7/8/8.1/10/2008/2008 R2/2012 (x86 & x64)Linux (Ubuntu 12.04-16.10, CentOS 7)OS X 10.9-10.11macOS 10.12
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Purchasing a capture card is as vital as buying any other hardware meant to improve your gaming experience. As such, much caution is needed since a simple miscalculation can lead to wasted time and funds. Before purchasing any of these cards, be sure to check their compatibility with your PC as well as the features contained, not forgetting the ease of use.