If you are in the market for a capture card, then you already understand the potential lucrativeness of broadcasting your gaming online. The built in streaming capabilities of an Xbox or Playstation is not able to match the versatility and reliability of a capture card. In this buyer’s guide, the VG staff rounded up the best capture cards for console gaming.
Best External Capture Cards
The following cards are external cards meaning they connect to your computer via a USB connection. These cards are generally cheaper than internal capture cards and can be used with laptops. These capture cards can record - and stream - hours of HD footage.
1) Elgato HD60 S
When to Buy It: If you want high quality streaming at and affordable price and have a laptop.
The Elgato HD60 S is just a hair above being a budget purchase, but the 60 frames per second, 1080p streaming and recording makes this a valuable device. The main selling point for this capture card is the USB 3.0 technology
The USB 3.0 connection to your PC means there is near-zero latency when recording, giving you the smoothest connection short of buying an internal capture card which hooks up directly to your motherboard. The low latency means you can game while looking through the monitor that is capturing the footage.
- Record your Xbox, PlayStation, or Nintendo gameplay
- Flawless 1080p quality at 60 fps
- Unlimited capture right to your PC or Mac
- Flashback Recording: record retroactively
2) AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable
When to Buy It: Prefer recording to a SD card, have a laptop and have a portable gaming station
A standalone capture card, AVerMedia’s portable device is another quality option for console streamers and recorders. The card can capture at 60 frames per second through a USB 2.0 connection. It is a standalone system so you can choose to record directly to a micro SD card (which you would need to buy). This particular model is pocket size which, in addition to not needing a computer, makes this model very adaptable to different gaming setups. The Live Gamer also lets you stream directly to several different streaming platforms like Twitch and Youtube.
AVerMedia vs Elgato HD60 S
The reason why we think the Elgato system is a bit better is due to the price and the USB 3.0 vs 2.0 you get on the Elgato. If you are looking for a real low-latency device, the Elgato is going to be better for you. Not to mention its $50 cheaper as well.
- Stream and record Xbox One, PlayStation, WiiU, Nintendo Switch, or NES Classic...
- PC and PC-Free modes: record games with or without PC. Micro SD Class 10 card is...
- Console party chat: capture teammates' voices without hassle. Compatible...
- Hot button: one-click to stream and capture directly to Twitch, YouTube and more
3) Hauppauge - HD PVR 2
When to Buy It: If it's cheaper than the AVerMedia.
The Hauppauge HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition is another solid external capture card choice. We don't think it's as good as the Elgato, mostly because it has a USB 2.0 connection (which means more chance of latency). It's also about 2x the weight (0.8 lbs vs 2lbs) of the Elgato HD60. If portability is important to you, then you may want to consider the two we list above. Usually the Hauppauge is cheaper than the AVermedia and Elgato, but if the price range is within $20-$30, we say go with the Elgato still.
- Uses H.264 encoding in HD to capture your game play in stunning HD
- Uses HDMI to connect to your TV set from Xbox One, Xbox 360 or PS4. Component...
- Comes with a 6 ft long HDMI cable to connect to your Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PS4,...
- With no delay passthrough, so you can play your games while recording
Best Internal Capture Cards
Internal capture cards are meant to reduce latency to as close to zero as possible. These cards you attach directly to the motherboard of your computer as opposed to a USB 2 or 3 connection. Laptop users unfortunately cannot benefit from internal cards, but desktop users can often find an internal card at a great price without sacrificing game latency.
1) Elgato Game Capture HD60 Pro
When to Buy It: You have a desktop, want super high quality streaming at 60 fps, willing to spend a little extra
The first internal capture card on our round-up; this slightly more expensive version of the Elgato capture card steps up its game when it comes to minimizing lag and increasing quality. The internal card uses a PCIe connection as opposed to a USB 2 or 3, which ensures there is virtually no latency between what's happening on the tv and on your computer. Your computer just needs to be a desktop so that you may be able to connect the card to the motherboard.
Since the device has an HDMI In and Out, you technically do not even need a TV to play. You can just connect your console to the card and your card to the computer and play seamlessly on your monitor. Ordinarily this capture card goes for nearly $200 on Amazon but can drop to as low as $150, which we consider a steal. If you have a desktop we’d definitely recommend this capture card.
- Interface: PCIe x1
- Input: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Xbox360, Nintendo Switch & Wii U
- Output: HDMI (lag-free passthrough)
- Supported resolutions: 1080p60, 1080p30, 1080i, 720p60, 720p30, 576p, 576i, 480p
2) AVerMedia Live Gamer HD
When to Buy It: You have a desktop, need analog audio input, want super high quality streaming at 60 fps
There is not a whole lot to distinguish between the AverMedia Gamer 2 and the Elgato Pro. Like the Elgato, you get 60 FPS streaming and recording with very little, if any, latency. On OBS studio, both cards Depending on the day, both internal capture cards are essentially the same price as well.
There are just a few small features to keep in mind. The AVerMedia has an analog audio input on the capture card which is not available on the Elgato is the slightest bit sharper in terms of image quality, but it's nothing you could notice on anything less than a 4K monitor and zoomed in a bit. One possibly key feature that the AVerMedia doesnt - but the Elgato does have - is the Elgato is a game “flashback” feature which keeps a running buffer of your captured video - allowing you to go back and record footage you may have forgotten to record. Clearly the differences aren’t too tremendous and you would be making a good choice with either capture cards.
- Stream and record Xbox, PlayStation, Wii U or Nintendo Switch and PC gameplay in...
- Plug and play support for Windows (except Win7). Real-time gameplay with low...
- Supports uncompressed video output for superior picture quality and compressed...
- Multi-card support. Use up to 4 cards on your gaming PC. AMD Ryzen Support
3) Elgato 4K60 Pro
When to Buy it: You have a strong PC desktop with Windows 10, want highest quality streaming available
This super high-end card is the best capture card money can buy - emphasis on money. The 4K60 pro can stream in in 4K as advertised. Furthermore, the PCLe 4x connection ensures zero latency like other capture cards.
- Ultra quality: Capture your gameplay in immaculate 4K resolution at 60 FPS
- Instant Gameview: power your workflow with superior low latency technology
- Dedicated software: Record with ease and export to your favorite editing app
- Supported Resolution- Upto 2160p60
Best Capture Cards on a Budget
Maybe you are still unsure about the whole “streaming” thing and don’t want to go all in on capture card just yet. Fret not, there are actually several high-quality budget options you can go with to get you started. Obviously there are going to be major trade-offs when you go with a budget option - usually subpar software or streaming. Nonetheless, we find these cards are the best for any prospective console video game streamer. The following devices are compatible with Xbox, Playstation and Wii U.
1) Hauppauge HD PVR Rocket
When to Buy It: If you are on a budget, and need a high-quality, easy to set up device thats portable. Also if you are not looking to stream.
The best features of the card are high quality video capture at 1080p30, and the fact that it is a stand alone device. You do not need a computer to capture the footage - just a flash drive which connects to the systems USB port. Another important feature is that it is pocket sized, allowing for lots of portability, so if your gaming station or place of recording is apt for constant movement, this video capture will be optimal for you. You should be able to start recording game footage, uploading to your computer and then to Youtube not long after getting the device.
Be aware this device is just meant for recording gameplay and not streaming. Another downside is that it only records in m2ts, ts, or mp4. Other formats like mpg and wmv are not available.
- Portable, small enough to carry in your pocket, with built-in microphone mixer...
- Record your gameplay in HD from Xbox, PlayStation consoles and PC gaming...
- NOTE: (Blu-ray burner software not included) Kindly refer the Instructions...
- Minimum Transfer Rate 2.5 MB/s
2) AGPtEK HD Game Capture Card
When to Buy It: You’re on a tight budget. Want something easy to setup and portable. Recording videos of less than an hour.
The AGPtEK card is the cheapest on our list, but still decent for recording your video game footage. The device streams in 1080p at 30 frames per second and is compatible with Xbox, Playstation and Nintendo consoles. You will need a not-included HDMI splitter if you want to use it with Xbox consoles and the Wii U however. At this price, you need to ask whether it gets the job done, and more or less, the AGPtEK HD Game Capture card does get it done - at least for a little while.
There are a decent amount of 1-star reviews of the product on Amazon however, with the common theme among them being a failing of the device after extended amount of time. The exact amount of time seems to depend on a variety of circumstances, but for safety, we wouldn’t recommend you use this if your intention is recording video for several hours.
- 【HDMI Game Capture】 -- Based on the high-speed USB 3.0 technology, It can...
- 【1080P 60fps HD Quality】 -- It can capture 4K@30hz video source and record...
- 【Live Streaming】 -- Audio & Video recordability from external devices via...
- 【Screen Share for Meeting】 -- A fast, familiar, and affordable way to share...
How We Made Our Picks
ValueGamers does the research so you don't have to. We scoured the web for the best capture cards and compiled this list based on the following criteria:
- If there were multiple reviews of the product online
- It was Amazon Prime eligible
- It had at least 100 reviews on Amazon
After meeting our criteria, we got to dissecting every aspect of our master list and bucketing each device into what each is best for. A capture card may be great but it may not be great for your situation, and that is where we are trying to find the most value for you, our reader.
How to Choose Your Capture Card
Obviously there are numerous options when it comes to picking a capture device. If you've made it down this far, you may still not be sure which capture card is right for you. Here are the factors you should consider when choosing a device for your Playstation, Xbox or Wii U.
Internal vs External Capture Cards
The main advantage of internal capture cards are the near-zero latency. They connect directly to a the motherboard of a computer through a PCLe connection. That zero latency gives you the option of playing directly on your computer screen without even needing to hook up a TV. If you intend on streaming, as opposed to just recording, and internal capture card is the more reliable option. Of course, you will need a desktop computer to use one.
An internal capture card reduces how portable your set up may be. If your gaming environment is prone to moving around, the small external capture cards like the Elgato HD60 S are going to be the better option for you. Some small external capture cards also have a functionality that lets you record directly to an SD card.
Internet Speed and Quality of Stream
All the devices in this roundup have the capability to stream at 1080p. If you have a PS4 or Xbox One X, you should be able to stream at 1080p, but only if your upload internet speed lets you. If you want to stream at 1080p, you are going to need at least an 8 Mbps upload speed.
- 5 Mbps for 720p HD quality
- 8 Mbps for 1080p HD quality
- 25 Mbps for 4K UHD quality