If you are in the market for a capture card, you already understand the potential lucrativeness of broadcasting your gaming online. Capture cards usually help PC gamers record or stream video on a parallel system.
In PC gaming, it is natural to want to share your gaming experience with your friends and the world, especially if you have a Youtube channel and you want to grow it. Therefore, successfully live-stream footage is one of the biggest obsessions in the gaming PC world.
The built-in streaming capabilities of an Xbox or Playstation cannot match the versatility and reliability of a capture card. So the VG staff rounded up the best capture cards for console gaming in this buyer's guide.
- 1 What is a Capture Card?
- 2 Which is the best capture card?
- 3 Best External Capture Devices
- 4 1) Elgato Game Capture HD60 S
- 5 2) AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus
- 6 3) Hauppauge - HD PVR 2
- 7 4. AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable 2
- 8 Best Internal Capture Card
- 9 1) Elgato Game Capture HD60 Pro
- 10 2) AVerMedia Live Gamer HD 2
- 11 3) Elgato Game Capture 4K60 Pro
- 12 Best Capture Cards on a Budget
- 13 1) Hauppauge HD PVR Rocket
- 14 2) AGPtEK HD Game Capture Card
- 15 3. AVerMedia Live Gamer Mini
- 16 Best Capture Card with 4K Passthrough
- 17 1. Razer Ripsaw HD Game Streaming Capture Card
- 18 2. AVerMedia Live Gamer Duo
- 19 How to Choose the Best Capture Card
- 20 Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Capture Card?
It is a card that allows you to capture footage from different sources, specifically gaming consoles and PCs. For example, gamers may use capture cards to connect consoles to PCs or capture footage to broadcast their live gameplay on platforms such as Youtube and Twitch. Also, capture cards can help gamers get gameplay footage that they can edit into a VOD later.
A capture card will give you more control over your live stream quality. Using a capture card, you can utilize some features such as adding commentary, overlay, or picture-in-picture webcam footage. These capture cards operate as middlemen where they steal a feed of your gameplay while you are playing and record gameplay to your computer or stream it to platforms like Youtube or Twitch.
Below we have listed a buying guide to help you make the best choice while purchasing the best capture card for your needs. We have also included the best external, internal or when on a budget.
Which is the best capture card?
Best External Capture Devices
The following cards are external cards meaning they connect to your computer via a USB connection. An external capture card is generally cheaper than an internal capture card and can be used with laptops. These capture cards can record - and stream - hours of HD footage.
1) Elgato Game Capture HD60 S
- 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
The Elgato Game Capture HD60 S is the best capture card to purchase if you want high-quality streaming at an affordable price and have a laptop. It is just a hair above a budget purchase, but the 60 frames per second, 1080p streaming and recording make this a valuable device. The main selling point for this Elgato Game Capture HD60 S 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 that hooks up directly to your motherboard. The low latency with the Elgato Game Capture HD60 S means you can game while looking through the monitor capturing the footage.
2) AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus
- 4K Zero-Lag Pass-through: Play your high-fidelity console games in their...
- PC and PC-Free modes: PC mode allows you to use the LGP 2 Plus with any...
- Plug and Play Technology: LGP2 Plus works right out of the box as it uses UVC...
- Live Commentary and Party Chat: adding commentaries to your live streams or...
AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus is one of the best capture cards when it comes to getting a capture card for your Nintendo Switch. The portable capture card allows you to record 4K videos with ease but keep in mind that you cannot stream using this mode because the native resolution of the Nintendo switch is 1080p.
AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus allows a user to record commentary and gameplay simultaneously with a 60 FPS frame rate which you can store on your micro SD card. In addition, AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus supports a single button operation. You will not need any LGP2+ connectivity to your device as the USB is enough to provide steady power to the AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus.
3) Hauppauge - HD PVR 2
- 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
The Hauppauge HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition is another solid external capture card choice. However, we don't think it's as good as the Elgato Game Capture, 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 Game Capture HD60.
If portability is important to you, you may want to consider the two we list above. Usually, the Hauppauge is cheaper than the AVermedia Live Gamer 4K and Elgato Game Capture, but if the price range is within $20-$30, we say go with the Elgato Game Capture still. However, this capture device can work if you want a cheaper card than the AVerMedia.
4. AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable 2
- 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
AVerMedia's portable device is another quality option for console streamers and recorders, a stand-alone capture card. The card can capture 60 frames per second through a USB 2.0 connection. But, again, it is a stand-alone system, so you can choose to record directly to a micro SD card (which you would need to buy).
This particular model is the pocket size which, in addition to not needing a computer, makes this model very adaptable to different gaming setups. The AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable 2 lets you stream directly to several streaming platforms like Twitch and Youtube. AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable 2 is the best external capture card if you prefer recording to an SD card, having a laptop, and having a portable gaming station.
AVerMedia vs Elgato HD60 S
We think the Elgato system is a bit better due to the price and the USB 3.0 vs. 2.0 you get on the Elgato Game Capture 4K60 Pro. Therefore, if you are looking for a real low-latency device, the Elgato Game Capture 4K60 Pro is going to be better for you. Not to mention it's $50 cheaper as well.
Best Internal Capture Card
Internal capture cards are meant to reduce latency to as close to zero as possible. These cards you attach directly to your computer's motherboard instead of 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
- Interface: PCIe x1
- Input: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Xbox360, Nintendo Switch and Wii U
- Output: HDMI (lag-free pass-through)
- Supported resolutions: 1080p60, 1080p30, 1080i, 720p60, 720p30, 576p, 576i, 480p
Elgato Game Capture HD60 Pro is 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 Elgato Game Capture HD60 Pro internal card uses a PCIe connection instead of a USB 2 or 3, which ensures virtually no latency between what's happening on TV and your computer. Your computer just needs to be a desktop so that you may be able to connect the Elgato Game Capture HD60 Pro card to the motherboard.
Since the Elgato Game Capture HD60 Pro 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 and want super high-quality streaming at 60 fps, are willing to spend a little extra, we'd recommend this Elgato Game Capture HD60 Pro capture card and
2) AVerMedia Live Gamer HD 2
- 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
There is not much 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. It is the best capture device if you have a desktop, need analog audio input, want super high-quality streaming at 60 fps.
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. Still, it's nothing you could notice on anything less than a 4K monitor and zoom in a bit. A one possibly key feature that the AVerMedia doesn't - but the Elgato does have - is the Elgato is a game "flashback" feature that keeps a running buffer of your captured video - allowing you to go back and record footage you may have forgotten to record. The differences aren't too tremendous, and you would be making a good choice with either capture card.
3) Elgato Game Capture 4K60 Pro
- 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
Elgato Game Capture 4K60 Pro is a super high-end card and is the best capture card money can buy - the emphasis is on money and is more suitable for pro-users who want nothing but the best. It is a capture device to capture game footage at the highest resolution and frame rate possible. In addition, it is the best capture device. So if you have a strong PC desktop with Windows 10, want the highest-quality streaming available, choose the Elgato Game Capture 4K60 Pro capture card.
The Elgato Game Capture 4K60 Pro can stream in in 4K as advertised but ensure you have enough storage space for the videos since it can get huge quickly. Elgato Game Capture 4K60 Pro has an encoder that can reduce file size and help to save you the needed memory, but it can still be chunky sometimes.
Furthermore, the PCLe 4x connection in the Elgato Game Capture 4K60 Pro ensures zero latency like other capture devices.
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, and there are several high-quality budget options you can go with to get you started. Of course, there will 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
- 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
The card's best features 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 that connects to the system's 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 it 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 Unfortunately, other formats like mpg and wmv are unavailable. Nevertheless, it is the best capture device if you are on a budget and need a high-quality, easy-to-set-up device that's portable if you are not looking to stream.
2) AGPtEK HD Game Capture Card
- With extral Audio input, allows you record your own live voice from Microphone...
- With 1080P Hdmi by through, you can play HD gameplay when you're recording It.
- The HDMI recorder is a box that records your gameplay up to 1080P. 1080P...
- Bring it out of your room and share the gameplay and Fun with your friends...
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. 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 being a failing of the device after an extended amount of time. The exact amount of time seems to depend on various circumstances. Still, for safety, we wouldn't recommend you use this if you intend to record video for several hours. It's among the best capture cards when you are on a tight budget and want something easy to set up and portable, recording videos of less than an hour.
3. AVerMedia Live Gamer Mini
- Full HD HDMI Game Capture Card: The Live Gamer Mini compact in size but mighty...
- Zero-Lag Pass-Through Video: This capture card provides optimized gaming...
- Plug & Play: The Live Gamer Mini supports UVC-technology; Simply plug it on the...
- H.264 Hardware Encoder: The Live Gamer Mini has a H.264 hardware encoder built...
AVerMedia Live Gamer Mini is the best budget capture card, and not only is it affordable, but it's also portable, and it's a capable companion for any new gamer getting into video capture and streaming. It is a simple unit and features a micro-USB connection and two HDMI ports that can pass a 1080p signal at 60fps without any lag or compression.
AVerMedia Live Gamer Mini game capture card has a built-in hardware encoder that uses H.264 standard, and this means that recording gameplay footage won't affect your PC's gaming performance. In addition, the game capture card comes with RECentral software to start you off, and it can also work with other video capture software.
Best Capture Card with 4K Passthrough
1. Razer Ripsaw HD Game Streaming Capture Card
- Full HD 1080p at 60 FPS – for powerful stream performance
- 4K 60 FPS pass-through – for uninterrupted, smooth gameplay
- Full audio mixing capabilities – for hassle-free audio management
- HDMI 2.0 and USB 3.0 connectivity - for zero latency output and maximum details
Razer Ripsaw HD is another great capture card for your Nintendo Switch dock, with its only downside being that it doesn't include its broadcasting software. However, it allows a user to enjoy next-level streaming allowing 4K streaming at a 60FPS frame rate, and you can enjoy uninterrupted gameplay with zero latency. Opt for this capture device if you are a PC gamer who wants to share their gameplay online, but you don't want to miss the high visual fidelity brought about by your expensive and powerful graphics cards.
Razer Ripsaw HD also supports built-in software and easy-to-use audio mixing with the help of the hassle-free mic and headphone jacks. Thanks to the built-in audio mixer, you can get fine audio quality and high video fidelity with the touch of a button. However, it's limited to 1080p streaming and capture, but the Razer Ripsaw HD allows you to experience your favorite games while capturing or streaming at 4K 60fps.
2. AVerMedia Live Gamer Duo
- Prevents snakes from entering, nesting and foraging
- Safe for people, pets and plants when used as directed
- Delivers long-lasting and rain resistant performance
- No-stink formula using essential oils
AVerMedia Live Gamer Duo is the best capture card thanks to its ability to record two sources simultaneously, unlike most cards that come with only a single output and input. To top it all, you can also stream the full 1080p signal at 60 fps from the two sources.
AVerMedia Live Gamer Duo is a PCIe card and, therefore, will need a free PCIe slot on your streaming computer. Also, it needs a sixth-generation i5 or first-generation Ryzen 5, GTX 1050, R7 560 or better and 8GB RAM. In addition, it doesn't support 4K recording or streaming but will support a 4K passthrough at 60 fps which will still allow you to enjoy a full graphical fidelity.
How to Choose the Best Capture Card
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.
1. External vs. Internal Capture Cards
The main advantage of internal capture cards is the near-zero latency. They connect directly to 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, an internal capture card is a more reliable option. Of course, you will need a desktop computer to use one.
An internal capture card reduces how portable your setup may be. If your gaming environment is prone to moving around, small external capture cards like the Elgato HD60 S will be the better option for you. Some small external capture cards also have functionality that lets you record directly to an SD card.
3. Internet Speed and Quality of Stream
All the devices in this round-up can stream at 1080p. If you have a PS4 or Xbox One X, you should stream at 1080p, but only if your upload internet speed lets you. If you want to stream at 1080p, you will 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
4. Video and Image Quality
If you are getting a capture card for capturing gameplay, the image quality is important, and you should consider it. Capture cards have different recording capabilities where some go up to a 1080p resolution, and others reach 4k.
Your streaming career is dead, without high-quality imagery as potential viewers usually hope to see and hear crisp sound and video quality. This helps get a total immersion in your world and not be taken out with the constant glitches and fuzzy images.
Resolution is among the factors that determine video quality, and in the least, you will need your capture card to do 1080p (FullHD). If you plan to stream footage in UHD, you need to purchase a capture card that supports 4K and HDR10 video and image resolutions.
However, before you get to the capture card with the highest resolution, you will need to think about whether you can comfortably stream it in HD or not.
A capture card capable of streaming in 4K will be useless if you lack other equipment to support the speed and resolution, such as your bandwidth speed. Additionally, a 4K and HD capture card will need plenty of storage and be pricy than the 1080 counterparts.
b). Frame Rate
This is the other factor determining the image and video quality, and if you have a screen with a 60Hz frame rate, it can show you 60 images per second or 60 frames per second. The biggest majority of capture cards will only capture up to 60 FPS, and therefore you will not need to worry too much about this.
If you are a video podcaster, you can comfortably work with a frame rate of 30fps. However, if you are playing on a PC, you may still want to enjoy your high refresh rates while recording, where the passthrough will come in.
Check the platforms you want to put your gameplay on and check the max output resolution they allow. Also, remember that when you stream in a higher resolution, it will need more bandwidth to ensure the internet connection can comfortably handle it.
5. Streaming software included with the Capture Card
Some capture cards are ready to use straight from the box and may include built-in software, but others have a more complicated installation process. To use the capture card with your computer, you will need to install the capture software that it comes with or third-party software for capture cards that will not come with proprietary software. It's up to you to decide whether the extra installation hassle is worth it, so before making your purchase, ensure you check what software is included.
In addition, ensure you opt for cards with user-friendly robust capture software packed with plenty of features such as adding overlays or incorporating your webcam. Others may also come with audio mixing options, built-in basic editing software and automatically adjust the resolution and other capabilities.
6. Input and Output
Input and output are how your capture card connects to your computer or device, where the most popular types are USB. They are popular because they are pretty easy to set up, and they are harder to use but records footage with no delay.
Ensure you get one that connects to the correct cable because otherwise, you might need to scramble for cable converters. Also, remember to check the cables your gaming system is using where if you are a gamer, some systems like Nintendo 64 will have their specific cable requirements.
In addition, ensure the capture card's input method is compatible with the console you will be using to stream. Typically, the input is HDMI but always ensure you confirm this before purchasing.
When a capture card promises to transform your streaming career, it might be so easy to get carried away by the detailed specifications, and you might need to be mindful of your bandwidth and budget. Depending on what you want to stream, the best choice might not always be an expensive capture card.
Usually, the price increases because of image quality, especially resolution, but if your streaming setup doesn't support UHD imagery, it will not be worth paying for a capture card that records videos in 4K. You may also need to think about your streaming goals when figuring out your equipment budget. For example, if you are unsure whether you will stream the game for a few friends or turn your streaming into a lucrative career or side hustle, you can start with an affordable option.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why would you need a capture card if I use OBS?
Even though OBS, other third-party capture and streaming software work, they have limitations. If you need to stream gameplay from a game console, you should use an HDMI camera instead of a webcam. This is the easiest way to ensure they work with your desktop PC without using an external or an internal capture card.
The OBS software makes you entirely reliant on the system's resources, such as your GPU or CPU, for capturing video inputs. The software can be a downside, especially if you capture a high bitrate and play a game simultaneously. Notably, modern CPUs have become great at the needed multitasking, but using a dedicated capture card helps lighten the load only with a small amount.
2. Do capture cards reduce quality?
No, the best capture card will increase your stream's quality, and this potentially lightens the load on your main PC and improves the performance of your games while you stream gameplay. One of the most crucial factors of live streaming is bandwidth. However, these game capture cards may cause fps to drop, but it won't hinder your FPS. Notably, you can still see the small percentage drop even though it won't be as much as you would see with FRAPS.
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