Best Capture Cards

Written by Billy Luu. Latest updated on July 21, 2021.
Best Capture Cards

Capture cards are used by people who not only love gaming but also love to stream or record and relive the gameplay. Live streaming the gameplays is becoming very popular with gamers and it adds to the experience of playing the game. A lot of gamers having gaming channels on websites like YouTube these days where they entertain their audience with their commentary and skills.

A capture card is a device extension that allows you to stream and capture gameplay on PC and consoles without messing with your gameplay experience. To capture high definition or standard data from PS4, Xbox One, or Wii type consoles you will definitely need a capture card.

But first, you need to know what a capture card actually is, to put it in simple terms, a capture card is a device that is used in conjunction with a computer to capture content on-screen and then encode it for playback. A capture card kind of serves as a middleman, it takes a feed of your gameplay while you’re playing and records it into your computer or streams it to an online platform. You can also upload the footage recorded to websites like YouTube etc.

To be able to record the perfect gameplay, you need a good capture card. One that has a host of user-friendly features.

When you enter the market to look for the perfect capture card for you, you’ll need to consider the following features:

  • HD image: The higher the quality of the image, the better. The high-definition image will allow you to have the perfect zoomed-in images without any distortion. Even without the need for zoom HD images provide a better visual experience than the standard definition.
  • User-friendly manual: A capture card that comes with a user-friendly manual is a lot of help. You can easily follow the instructions and set it up without any technical difficulties. Otherwise, it can prove to be quite a hassle.
  • Software: Pick a capture card that has a software with a host of different functionalities. These functions can prove to be very helpful while recording the gameplay.

We have provided a detailed buying guide for you later, which contains additional features to help you choose the best capture card for you.

5 Best Capture Cards

After carefully assessing various different products, we have come up with a list of the best capture cards in the market available right now.

Following are the 5 best capture cards

Elgato HD60 S+ Capture Card

Elgato is a well-recognized and sought after brand in the world of capture cards. With this brand, you can expect high-quality and the best performance at a good price. This product is the go-to for those who want a simpler device without the need to meddle inside the PC.

With the Elgato Game Capture HD60 S+ High Definition HDR Capture Card, you can capture your best gaming moments in all their graphical glory while simultaneously enhancing the quality of your content. With this product, you are able to capture your gameplay in 1080p60 HDR10 quality. You can play your console games in original format thanks to the 4K60 HDR10 zero-lag pass-through.

With the instant gameview technology, you can expect ultra-low latency to power your workflow. Its ease of use is what makes it even more appealing, with the HDMI input you can connect it to your PC or console. With the USB type C hardware interface, you can easily connect it to the desktop/laptop you’re streaming from. It has decent built quality and can fit into your pocket with ease. It contains a 4.6 stars rating on Amazon.

Best Features

  • Captures 1080p, 60 fps HDR Gameplay
  • 4K60 HDR10 Zero-Lag Passthrough
  • Has Ultra-Low Latency
  • Supports PS5, PS4/Pro, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One X/S
  • Weighs 109gms
  • Records unlimited footage on your hard drive
  • Hardware Interface: USB 3.0
  • Operating system: Windows 10

Pros

  • Provides lag-free capture
  • Works seamlessly
  • Plug and play design
  • Works well with most streaming platforms
  • Small and lightweight design

Cons

  • Blocks HDCP signals
  • The 4K Capture software does not support native HDR preview and playback

AVerMedia Live Gamer HD 2

The best thing about most of the AVerMedia capture card devices is that they do not require a PC. The PC free mode has managed to impress a lot of users.

The AVerMedia Live Gamer HD 2 is sure to satisfy both the professional and occasional streamers. This product does not have any stability issues with third-party softwares like OBS like other capture card seem to have. The device captures great quality images with full HD 1080p60. It offers plug and play support except for when using windows 7. Supports uncompressed video output for better picture quality. It also supports compressed video output with low bandwidth demand.

The Live gamer HD 2 requires no driver to run. Which means that you can use it right after taking it out of the box. You just need to insert it into a PCIe slot and it’s ready to go. It is compatible with majority of the users preferred streaming softwares. This device contains four ports, one for HDMI-In, one for HDMI-out and the other two are audio ports. This product contains a rating of 4.5 stars on Amazon.

Best Features:

  • Stream and record in full 1080p60
  • Low latency HDMI pass-through with real-time gameplay
  • Flexible audio connection
  • Plug and play
  • Supports compressed video output
  • Multi-card support
  • Support live editing
  • Customizable quality settings
  • Connector type: HDMI
  • 2-year warranty

Pros

  • It has PC-Free mode
  • Includes software with reliable PC-based capture
  • Crisp and smooth capture with 1080p60

Cons

  • Struggles with variable frame rate actions
  • Does not contain analog video options for older systems

AVerMedia Live Gamer ULTRA

Another great capture from AVerMedia is the AVerMedia Live Gamer ULTRA. It is also one of the smallest portable rigs in the market. This one is perfect for gaming content creators who travel a lot.

The AVerMedia Live Gamer Ultra has a nice compact and slim design, and it is built-in high-quality ABS plastic. It has a lot of pass-through capabilities. The frame rate is double of what you can normally capture with a capture card. You can play uncompressed video on your PC monitor with little to no latency. It has indicating lights on the device with different colored indicators for when the device connected and for when it is recording.

It comes with all the cables that will be needed and an easy to read user manual. This device is recommended to be used with an Intel chipset.

Best Features

  • Has 4Kp60 High Dynamic Range (HDR) Pass-through
  • Has a high refresh rate
  • Ultra low latency
  • Plug and play
  • Interface of USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type C
  • Dedicated Light Indicator
  • Video input HDMI
  • Video output (pass through HDMI
  • Operating system: Windows 10
  • Max Recording: 4Kp30 / 1440p60 / 1080p120 / 1080p60HDR
  • Cyber link Power Director 15 for 4K video editing

Pros

  • It has 4k/30 capture in portable form
  • Has variety of resolutions/framerate combinations
  • Recentral is good alternative to OBS
  • Has multi-streaming capabilities

Cons

  • 60fps or HDR passthru, not for capture
  • Complicated requirements for high resolution/frame rates

Elgato 4K60 Pro MK.2

The Elgato 4K60 Pro MK.2 is an improved version of the old but popularly used Elgato 4K60 Pro. With all the new improvements it is almost like a new device and hence it bears the “MK.2” with its name. This newer model however, is a bit pricey compared to the other capture cards, so if you’re someone who doesn’t mind spending a few more bucks, this product is definitely for you.

The dimensions of this model are smaller compared to the older version. It supports HDR and 240 Hz pass-through. It doesn’t require any driver installation so you can just plug and play right after taking it out of the box. The 4K60 pro mk.2 has its own hardware to capture the video signal, due to which there is little to no stress to your graphics card or CPU.

This capture also has a high refresh rate,zero lag pass-through and ultra low latency. It is compatible with all the popular gaming consoles.

This product has a rating of 4.6 stars on Amazon.

Best Features:

  • Hardware Interface: PCI express x4 and PCI express x8
  • Weighs 0.23 pounds
  • Video input: HDMI
  • Video output: HDMI (lag-free pass through)
  • Encoding: HEVC/H.265 HDR, AVC/H.264
  • Supports resolutions upto 2160p60
  • Frame rate: 60fps
  • Resolution 4K

Pros

  • Does video encoding
  • 4k capture with 60 fps
  • Compatible with the latest consoles
  • Great performance
  • Uses low video resource

Cons

  • High price
  • Does not support mac OS

https://www.amazon.com/Elgato-Game-Capture-4K60-MK-2/dp/B07VWXCXM7

Elgato Game Capture HD60 Pro

Our last pick also comes from Elgato, the Elgato Game Capture HD60 Pro can be used to effortlessly record the gameplay while simultananeouly streaming games from your console.

The inclusion of lag-free instant gameview in this device has distinguished it from the others. The feature allows you to play the game through the capture software. It has small dimensions and is light in weight. It is capable of capturing high quality footage and has low latency.

This product has a 4.6 star rating on Amazon.

Best Features:

  • Onboard H.264 encoder
  • PCIe x1 hardware interface
  • Records in 60fps 1080p
  • Supports PS5, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch & Wii U etc
  • Input: HDMI
  • Output: HDMI (lag-free pass through)
  • Maximum bitrate of 60mbps
  • Weighs 0.23 pounds

Pros

  • High quality recording
  • Software easy to use
  • Lag-free view due to PCI interface
  • Easy to record and stream

Cons

  • PCIe interface tends to limit portability
  • A bit pricey

Buying guide for the Best Capture Cards

I have already discussed with you the best features, pros, and cons of the best capture cards available in the market right now. There is a huge variety available in the market right now. To select the right capture card that fits your needs and expectations, you need to able to know what to look for when you search the market.

To help you know exactly what to look for while buying a capture card, We have created a buying guide that will hopefully aid you in achieving your purpose.

The Image Quality

You should no doubt be able to record your gaming videos and live streams in high quality. It is important to look for a high resolution capture card. You’ll have to pay attention to the number of frames per second it is able to record and the supported image resolutions.

There are two options available for resolution: Standard and High definition. You will most likely not be able to achieve satisfying image quality with the standard definition capture card. You should search for a high-definition capture card for better results. Look for something that records in 1080p or Full HD. If you increase your budget, you can also get one capable of capturing the image in “4K” or “Ultra HD”.

Cost

Knowing your budget is important when buying any product. One way to decide on a price range is to assess your usage of it. If you’re someone who likes to record a few videos on occasion, it’s probably a better idea to go for a more budget-friendly capture card. For a professional however, it is important to choose a high-end option, so they are better able to record good and high-quality videos.

The Capture Card Software

Capture cards come with their own software through which you can use them. Every capture card manufacturer creates its own unique software that is different from others and contains different features. You need to consider the quality and functionality of the software of the brand you’re planning on choosing. Some manufacturers add a streaming overlay to their software. Others add functionalities like commentary and a webcam over your gameplay.

Interface

The interface of a capture card is the way it connects to the computer that is used for recording. USB is the one you should go for because it is very easy to set-up. USB is also the most popular one used. Another option to consider is PCIe, this interface is a little tricky to set up, but it does help to record without delay.

The Type Of Input

There are many different types of input devices that can be used with a capture card. To choose the right capture card you have to make sure the capture card has the right input for the device you want to record with. Your capture card must be able to support the recording device input type. The most popular input right now is HDMI which is used by most gaming consoles like PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii U, Xbox 360, and xbox one.

Your capture card should be compatible with hardware factors like memory, storage space and speed, etc. If you are using an older console system then it will support component cables and will also need a component video input feature.

You need to able to consider these variations to find the right match for your console.

Ease of Use

A good and easy-to-understand user manual is a must to achieve the ease of use of a capture card. The best gaming capture cards come with a wide range of features that assist users at various points. An easy-to-read user manual will help you explore the right methods to utilize all the available features.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are capture cards used for?

A capture card is basically used as an input device that can be used to convert gameplay signals to digital data, which can be later uploaded to the internet for various purposes.

Is it better to stream with a capture card?

It depends on the system that you're using. If you're using a single PC system, a capture will not improve your performance and will prove to be useless. A capture card will be useful while capturing your gameplay on console.

Do capture cards reduce lag?

The amount of lag your capture causes is related to several factors like how fast your computer hardware is, the type of game that you're playing, and how good your capture card is etc. Most capture cards do lag to a certain extent.

Is a capture card better than OBS?

Using a Capture card on a single PC setup does not help boost performance over just capturing the game with game capture or window capture. It does, however, help when a console is being used to capture the gameplay.

Are capture cards better?

If you are a serious streamer, the best capture card is an important tool for you. A capture will help you focus on capturing the best footage of your gameplay without any hassle.

Do capture cards affect FPS?

If you're using the same system to capture gameplay, it will slow down your performance. You should be using a secondary system like a console to capture your gameplay from in order for the performance to not get affected.

Can I live stream without a capture card?

Yes, you can. You can use "OBS" or "Shadowplay" for both streaming and recording from your PC. You just need to make sure that you apply the appropriate settings according to your internet bandwidth and PC system.

Which is better, NDI or capture card?

It depends on your type of usage and your budget. If you're okay with spending a bit more money and looking for something cutting edge, you should go for NDI. If you're on a budget and want to keep things nice and simple, a capture will definitely work better for you.

Do I need a capture card to stream ps5?

The latest consoles these days come with built-in features to capture gameplay. But using a capture card is still the best way to go to achieve the best quality performance.

Should I get an internal or external capture card?

This depends on the devices that you’re using to record/stream from. If all the devices that you’re using to record your gameplay can be easily connected to your desktop PC, then you can just use an internal capture card. But if you’re using a laptop to edit or the devices simply cannot be connected to the PC, then you’ll need to get a portable external capture card.

Conclusion

In present times when online video streaming an video recordings are not only a trend, but also huge money makers.Whether you’re a content creator or simply someones who likes to stream occasionally, a capture card makes it a lot easier to efficiently and effortlessly record a gameplay. But in order to buy one, you need to know exactly what to look for in the market. In addition to presenting our best picks, we have explained to you the different features that you can assess while searching for the right capture card.

The video quality, storage, types of input, interface etc. are all things that either aid or hinder your experience. So hopefully we were able to present detailed guidelines for you to select the right capture card according to your needs

Here are some of our favourite products from the list above:

Best Overall Capture Card

Our pick for the best overall capture card is the Elgato HD60 S+ Capture Card.

Best Budget Friendly Capture Card

From our list, the AVerMedia Live Gamer HD 2 is the most budget friendly product with all the necessary features required.

Best Editor’s Choice Capture Card

Our Editors choice is the Elgato 4K60 Pro MK.2 for it’s amazing features.

Article written by Billy Luu
Symbie.org is a YouTube channel for tech enthusiasts Here, you can see and read all of the latest tech news in the world. We also do a lot of tech product/gadget reviews. Support us by subscribing to your Youtube channel and our email newsletter.
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