(Last updated: October 2017)
If you want to stream without any worries and compromises, you may want to get a great game capture card. In this guide, we will present you our handpicked top capture card choices based on thorough research and testing.
You can see our table of the best capture cards just further down;
Streaming game-play footage has taken over the largest parts of the internet and one can almost feel its influence wherever video games have a significant hold. The most appealing part about watching someone play and enjoy a video game is the sheer simplicity of it; the fact that you could simply boot your game up and then instantly broadcast it to spectators via the magic of Twitch.tv or Steam Broadcasting and give people a view of an enjoyable part of your life, through a window they can access at their convenience.
The best part of streaming is that, contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to stuff your PC with the best hardware the market can muster to successfully stream content. It’s commonly known that stream encoding does leverage quite a few CPU cycles away from your game and the performance hit is definitely visible when encoding at higher resolutions. Now, the performance hit is significant in certain situations and with certain games, but most folk just live with it; but if you want to get serious about your stream quality, don’t want to shell out large amounts of cash on new graphics hardware and have a spare gaming laptop that you don’t mind dumping the heavy lifting and encoding on to, then a cheap capture card is just the thing for you.
A capture card will let you stream sound and video output from your graphics card to another computer by using itself as an intermediary host for the data; encoding the images received and then streaming them over to the next machine as data that can be decoded and re coded immediately or at a time of your choosing. This takes the heavy encoding off of your gaming machine and lets your secondary computer handle the resource intensive encoding process.
We’ve rummaged through a large box’s worth of capture cards to present you with this list of, what we think, are the best capture cards for every budget. Read on to take a look at our favorite picks for the best streaming experience!
All 14 Best Capture Cards For Streaming
You can find our Capture Card Reviews below the table
|Best Capture Card 2017||Latest Price||Works With||Type||Specs|
|1. Elgato Game Capture HD 60 Pro||Check Price||PC Only||Internal - PCI||1080p - 60FPS|
|2. AVerMedia Live Gamer HD 2||Check Price||PC Only||Internal - PCI||1080p - 60FPS|
|3. AVerMedia Live Gamer HD||Check Price||PC Only||Internal - PCI||1080p - 30FPS|
|4. Blackmagic Design Intensity Pro 4K||Check Price||PC Only||Internal - PCI||4K - 30FPS|
|5. AVerMedia Live Gamer EXTREME||Check Price||PC,XBOX,PS4||External - USB||1080p - 60FPS|
|6. Elgato Game Capture HD60S||Check Price||PC,XBOX,PS4||External - USB||1080p - 60FPS|
|7. Razer Ripsaw||Check Price||PC,XBOX,PS4||External - USB||1080p - 60FPS|
|8. AVerMedia ExtremeCap U3||Check Price||PC,XBOX,PS4||External - USB||1080p - 60FPS|
|9. StarTech HDMI Video Capture Device||Check Price||PC,XBOX,PS4||External - USB||1080p - 60FPS|
|10. AGPtek HDMI/YPBPR||Check Price||PC,XBOX,PS4||External - USB||1080p - 30FPS|
|11. Roxio Game Capture HD PRO||Check Price||PC,XBOX,PS4||External - USB||1080p - 30FPS|
|12. AVerMedia AVerCapture HD||Check Price||PC,XBOX,PS4||External - USB||1080p - 30FPS|
|13. Elgato Game Capture HD||Check Price||PC,XBOX,PS4||External - USB||1080p - 30FPS|
|14. Hauppauge HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition||Check Price||PC,XBOX,PS4||External - USB||1080p - 30FPS|
|15. Hauppauge HD PVR Rocket||Check Price||PC,XBOX,PS4||External - USB||1080p - 30FPS|
Best Internal Capture Card For PC
1. Top Capture Card – Elgato Game Capture HD 60 Pro Review
Pros: Gameview, 60 fps 1080p recording, lag-free performance
Elgato is a household name when it comes to game capture cards as they have created a number of them that have enticed the masses. They’re at it again with another capture card that will surely warrant your money. The Elgato Game Capture HD 60 Pro is a handful to say, but it equally has a handful of features that you will truly want in a capture card.
For one, it has an impressive and constant 60 fps 1080p recording. When you’re just using your game console’s streaming feature, you will usually be limited to 720p, which in most cases is still okay. But, if you want a full HD resolution footage, you will truly love the HD 60 Pro. It does this by default, but you can tone down the resolution a little bit on the settings menu.
The HD 60 Pro has a predominantly black exterior with a simple HDMI IN and OUT ports for your game console and PC, respectively. Because this is an internal capture card, it uses the PCI express X1 slot of your motherboard. All motherboards that were released a few years ago should have enough PCIe slots that you can utilize for this capture card.
Aside from the consistent 60 fps recording feature, the HD 60 Pro also has the “Gameview” functionality which allows you to see your footage in real-time without any lags or hiccups. This is perfect if you want to see a lag-free footage of your stream in real-time. You can also record your footage and edit it as you so desire. The software of the HD 60 Pro is pretty straightforward, but it does require some setting up before you can truly enjoy what it brings.
Overall: The Elgato Game Capture HD 60 Pro is a very good game capture card. The only problem is it’s one of the priciest on the market. But, with a good performance and features, you’re getting your money’s worth.
2. Great Capture Card – AVerMedia Live Gamer HD 2 Review
Pros: 1080p 60FPS streaming / recording, beautiful design, everything needed is included in box, uncompressed (lossless) recordings-capable.
The AVerMedia Live Gamer HD 2 is expensive, but it’s for a very good reason: it offers everything you’d need or want. 1080p60 recordings and streaming, uncompressed video recording-capable (if you want them) and an internal design which allows you to avoid pesky USB capture, which can oftentimes be finicky and hard to work with. The capture card supports Windows 10 and will work flawlessly with Ryzen-based machines, and has a very clean, sleek design. AVerMedia clearly poured their all into this capture card when developing it, and the work shines through with passing colors.
3. Also Great – AVerMedia Live Gamer HD Review
Pros: PCI-based card for reduced CPU load, sleek design.
Cons: 1080p 30FPS only, expensive.
The AVerMedia Live Gamer HD is a nice internal capture card that comes with a hefty price tag and a few limiting features. It’s sleek, easy to set up and will work with most streaming/capture software. Its biggest downfall is its limitation of 30fps for game capture, but not many cards go beyond this point. The card offers both HDMI and audio in/out and comes bundled with RECentral to get you started. It may not be the best card on our list, but it’s certainly a fine starting point for anybody looking to break into the internal capture card space.
4. Best 4k Capture Card 2017
Blackmagic Design Intensity Pro 4K Review
Pros: 1080p 60FPS / 4K 30FPS, 8 Channel HDMI Audio, professional.
Cons: Not user-friendly, designed for professionals.
If you’re looking to step up your game into more professional territory, Blackmagic is a name you’ll see very often. Known for their professional hardware and software, Blackmagic’s capture cards are targeted towards prosumers looking to take their streaming to the next level. While the capture card will function perfectly normal as a screen capture for gaming — and excel, arguably — the card is more intended to capture video straight from a high-end camera. Priced around the same as many other offerings on our list, the Intensity Pro 4K is your foray into professional hardware, and a perfecting starting point.
Best External Capture Cards For PS4, Xbox and PC
4. Best Capture Card – AVerMedia Live Gamer EXTREME Review
Pros: Ultra-low latency, Pretty aesthetics, 3.5mm audio and microphone inputs
Cons: Rec 2 software is hit or miss
Just when Elgato takes the crown as the “go-to capture card”, other companies are making their best efforts to sway consumers to buy their products instead. The AVerMedia is a company that is committed to producing amazing capture cards as well. The AVerMedia Live Gamer EXTREME is just one capture card that is worth your attention. Since “Live Gamer EXTREME” seems to be too long for comfort, I will just refer to this capture card as the “LGX” from now on.
Anyway, the LGX sports a pretty black/red form factor. It has pretty good aesthetics and it has a relatively light form factor as well. That being said, this portable game capture card’s main feature is that it can capture, record, and stream content at a solid 60fps at 1080p resolution. And, I have to reiterate that this is uncompressed data, which means that it needs to be encoded for use. You see where I am going with this? The LGX is pretty fast in terms of performance and you get a consistent and reliable 60 frames per second at the Full HD resolution.
Just like the Razer Ripsaw above, the LGX also comes with 3.5mm jacks for the audio input source and the microphone. You can plug in your favorite music player so you can add in some music while you stream and you can also speak via your microphone using the analog input. Do not worry, the LGX is able to save both the audio and your voice recording in separate files for easy editing later.
The AVerMedia Live Gamer EXTREME also supports a picture-in-picture and overlay support and it doesn’t have any lag when you incorporate them into your streams. The LGX is supported by the company’s own software called the “REC 2”. It has basic capture and streaming options, though. It is great for first-time streamers, but seasoned ones won’t get much benefit from it.
Well, if you want to use a more robust streaming software like OBS, for example, you can pretty much do so since it is supported by the LGX. And, AVerMedia is kind enough to include a 3-month subscription to the Xsplit Broadcaster software if you want to use that instead of the Rec 2. The AVerMedia Live Gamer EXTREME has the aesthetics and the performance that can entice people who want to buy and use a capture card.
5. Best Game Capture Device – Elgato Game Capture HD60S Review
Pros: Portable, Various improvements over its predecessor, USB-C Connector (USB 3.0 Interface), Easy recording and cutting through proprietary software, OBS and Xsplit support
Cons: Stream functionality is resource-intensive,
This is a great game capture card from Elgato and although it comes with robust features and functionality, it is not portable as it resides inside your PC. What if you want a reliable game capture card that you can bring anywhere? If that is the case, then you can get the Elgato Game Capture HD60S.
This is actually an improved version of the original HD60. One of its biggest new features is that it now uses the USB 3.0 interface via a USB Type-C connector. Because it uses the new USB 3.0 interface, like the Ripsaw, it doesn’t suffer from lags when streaming because you are using a much faster stream in the form of the USB 3.0 protocol.
That being said, the Elgato Game Capture HD60S sports a small form factor and it has the usual HDMI in and out ports as well as the USB port. It sports a predominantly black design like its predecessor. It really looks nearly identical to the previous version, but the new iteration now has a small “S” on the front.
Anyway, the HD60S has its own software and it is pretty much streamlined that even the novice streamer can understand. Of course, it is not as robust as the OBS or Xsplit Broadcaster, though, you can use these programs if you want. The software is straightforward and you can even add some preloaded overlays or you can even add your own.
Unfortunately, even though the software is easy to use, it is resource-intensive. You will need a fairly good PC if you want to use this game capture card, with having the Intel Core i5-4460 as the minimum requirement. Otherwise, you will have a hard time streaming at a consistent 60fps at 1080p resolution. But, if you’ve got the system covered, everything should be smooth sailing.
If you want more functionality, then you should definitely use either of the popular streaming applications. The Elgato Game Capture HD60S is another great capture card that you can bring with you anywhere. Just be sure that you have a fairly powerful system to accommodate it.
6. Razer Ripsaw – Capture Card Review
Pros: USB 3.0 for faster data transmission, plug and play, 1080p 60fps, great aesthetics
Cons: Not compatible with Mac, requires another streaming software instead of their own
Razer is a well-known brand when it comes to gaming peripherals. The Razer Ripsaw is their take on the game capture card and it is pretty good. The company has been known to have pretty designs and the Ripsaw is no different. It sports a small form factor; a small rectangular box that is predominantly black with a green LED light strip on the front. On the top, you will see the three-headed Razer logo which surprisingly, doesn’t have that usual green color scheme.
At the back, you will find the HDMI in and out ports, a component in port, and a USB 3.0 port so that you can connect it to your PC or laptop. On the front, you will see the LED indicator which lights up red or green depending on whether it is recognized by the Razer Synapse program or not. Just beside it are two 3.5mm jacks for both the audio input source and the microphone.
What Razer did is actually impressive. You can plug in an MP3 player so you can add your own music while you stream and you can also talk using a microphone by plugging it into its respective port. Now, most game capture cards come with their own proprietary software, but Razer is going to utilize either the Open Broadcasting Software (OBS) or the Xsplit Broadcaster instead of the Razer Synapse.
The Synapse only enables the game capture card, but all of the streaming options will be available depending on which software you’re going to use. In terms of performance, the Ripsaw is able to stream at a consistent 60fps at 1080p resolution. It is pretty good and there is little to no lag because it uses the USB 3.0 interface. Another downside of the Razer Ripsaw is that it doesn’t support the Mac operating system, so you’re only limited to using either a Windows PC or laptop. Razer also recommends that the PC/laptop you’re going to use should have at least an Intel Core i5 Haswell processor (4 cores/4 threads).
Despite its shortcomings when it comes to software, the Razer Ripsaw is still a good choice coming from a reputable company.
7. AVerMedia ExtremeCap U3 Review
Pros: Clean design, easy to setup, 1080p 60fps capture.
Here we go. The AverMedia ExternalCap U3 is an external capture card that comes in only a few dollars more expensive than our previous listings and offers 60fps streaming and recording. The card is beautiful in design, easy to work with, uses the faster USB 3.0 interface (as compared to USB 2.0 like most others) and offers high bitrate, high frame rate recording and streaming. The card is expensive, but you get what you pay for here. Plus, like most other AVerMedia cards, it comes bundled with RECentral, which is a decent piece of software.
8. StarTech HDMI Video Capture Device
Pros: Simple to use, 1080p 60fps recording and streaming, USB 3.0 interface.
Cons: Pricey, utilitarian design.
While its name may not be anything to write home about, it the design is underwhelmingly simple, StarTech’s Video Capture Device is exactly what they say it is, and it does this job well. It’s small, it offers only what’s necessary to function as the type of device it is, and you’d struggle to find yourself lost when setting it up. This is, for better or worse, its biggest point. The device almost seems more befitting in an office or server room than a streamer’s den, but sometimes that can be a good thing. The price however, is not. This thing is not cheap.
9. AGPtek HDMI/YPBPR Review
Pros: Affordable, well-built, easy to use.
Cons: Only 30fps at 1080p, requires additional hardware for console capture.
The AGPtek HDMI/YPBPR is a nice little external capture card — or, box — and has many features found on its competitors at similar, as well as higher price points. It has a simple design, simple-to-use physical interface, and doesn’t leave you scratching your head as to where things are or how it functions. Why it may not offer the best capture quality, it will still be plenty more than enough for services like Twitch.
10. Top Cheap capture card – Roxio Game Capture HD PRO
Pros: Inexpensive, simple design, bundled software is acceptable.
Cons: 1080p 30fps max, subpar capture quality, cheap-feeling design.
The Roxio Game Capture HD PRO is a nice little capture card with a small footprint, designed to get you up and running quickly. While its features are limited, the software bundled with it is rather nice compared to competing products, and the aesthetic design of the capture card is unique. As is the norm, don’t expect much and you won’t be disappointed, but don’t let your guard down as this thing may surprise you for its price.
11. AVerMedia AVerCapture HD Review
Pros: Clean, simple design, easy to use, premium-feeling.
Cons: 1080p 30fps max.
Returning to this list once again is AVerMedia, who have their feet planted firmly in the capture card community. Their AVerCapture HD is no exception to the rule that their products are good. With a clean, simple and understated design, the capture card begins to reflect the rise in price over neighboring cards. This money is not wasted, however, as you get a durable, powerful adversary for your streaming. However, it was not able to escape the stranglehold of 30fps maximum framerate. This, at this price point, is the card’s only true weakness.
12. Elgato Game Capture HD Review
Pros: Clean, simple design, easy to use, premium-feeling.
Cons: 1080p 30fps max, price is questionable.
If you look closely, you’ll notice that the Pros & Cons of the Elgato Game Capture HD reflect that of our previously-listed card. Sans for one mark: price. If you’ve ever watched a Call of Duty montage, looked at a streamer’s biography on Twitch, or googled the words “Capture Card” then there’s no doubt you’ve been exposed to the Elgato brand. A mainstay in the capture card community, Elgato is to capture cards what Apple is to phones. High quality, premium, but with a few restrictions and a hefty price tag. The build is clean, setup is incredibly simple, and the card overall touts its premium feeling from head to toe with pride. The card is still limited to 30fps however, and that barrier won’t be broken until prices go a bit higher.
13. Hauppauge HD PVR Rocket Review
Pros: Unique aesthetic, microphone levels display, easy setup.
Cons: 1080p30fps max, price is high.
The Hauppauge HD PVR Rocket, aside from its brand name looking like the written form of a sneeze, is an adorable, powerful little capture… card? The setup is simple, it has a clean design, and it captures your games painlessly. However, its portable nature makes it rather difficult to work with depending on your setup. Like most of the external cards on this list, it uses a standard USB interface for connection, offers HDMI In/out alongside audio, and has nifty little microphone levels display on top. The price, as is the case with many of the cards on this list, may be difficult for many to swallow.
14. Hauppauge HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition Review
Pros: Easy setup, understated design, PS3 gaming cable included for PS3 streaming.
Cons: 1080p30fps max, price is high.
Like its brother the PVR Rocket in many ways, the PVR 2 Gaming Edition takes what Hauppauge did wrong, as well as their questionable choice, and instead approaches the capture card market at a more natural angle. Featuring a design similar to other products, the PVR 2 Gaming Edition is a nice capture card all-around, but its price tag reflects features it simply doesn’t have, such as 60fps recording.
Capture Card Buyer’s Guide (UPDATED)
Simply put, capture cards record the footage from your input source (game console/PC) and it puts it in an output source (a dedicated PC) for streaming and sharing. You not only have the power to record footage and stream in real-time, but you can also edit, convert, and save the recorded footage as well. As previously mentioned, recording and streaming content over the internet would require a lot of CPU horsepower, and that is where the game capture cards come in.
They alleviate the stress from your game console and PC by taking on the brunt of the work. Thus, leaving you with more resources for your games. There are mainly two types of game capture cards: internal and external. Internal game capture cards are placed in the PCIe slot on your motherboard while the external game capture card can be plugged in via the USB port. They do have advantages and disadvantages. An external game capture card is portable, but it is not as powerful as the internal capture card. If you want the best game capture device, take a look at our choices above on this page.
Capture Card Basic Setup
So, how do you set up a game capture card? Well, you will need the following:
- Game console/PC
- Another PC
- Game Capture Card
- A couple of HDMI capture card cables
Usually, you plug your game console via an HDMI cable to the input source on the capture card. You will then use another HDMI cable so that you can plug it into the capture card and ultimately plug it to your PC. Once that’s done, you will then need to install the software of the game capture card. After installing, fire it up and you should be good to go.
So, the biggest question here is should you get a game capture card?
Well, if you’re going to record and stream content from your game console, then yes, a game capture card is definitely a must-have. But, if you’re going to use a computer, then it is not really necessary as computers can record and stream without a lot of problems. All you need to have is a powerful CPU and that’s it. Although game consoles like the Xbox One and the PS4 have built-in recording and streaming features, they are somewhat limited in what they can do. Game capture cards offer more versatility and give you more performance than what is already inside your game console.
With that being said, I will now recommend some of the best game capture cards you can buy.
What to look for when buying a Capture Card?
Game capture cards are amazing if you want to record, capture, or stream content right from your game consoles and or PC. The capture cards I’ve recommended are great, but if you want to buy another one that is not on this list, then you need to be aware of the things that you need to look for when buying a game capture card.
The very first thing you need to consider is what type of game capture card you’re going to get. Are you gunning for a PCIe or internal capture card? Or, do you want more portability and go for an external, USB-powered one?Resolution- Next thing you’re going to want to consider is the resolution that the capture card can support. Every capture card on this list supports
Next thing you’re going to want to consider is the resolution that the capture card can support. Every capture card in this list supports a Full HD (1080P) resolution at 60 frames per second, which is the maximum FPS a game console can output at a time.
3: Ease of Use
A lot of people want to stream their gameplay nowadays and most of them do not have the technical knowledge to fiddle with the different streaming options. You want to have a capture card that is easy to use and has all the features that you want.
Most game capture cards come with their own software which is pretty decent for most people. But, if you want to use a familiar and more robust streaming software like OBS or Xsplit, then get a capture card that has support for these programs.
Game capture cards are a bit expensive and that is why you need to put the price into consideration. The ones that I’ve recommended above might be a bit pricey for some, but rest assured that their quality and feature set pretty much warrants their asking price.
Game Capture Card Tips
To truly bring out the best in every game capture card, you need to know some tips. Here are some of the most useful ones: Always set things up properly- and by this, I mean the physical and on the software side of things. You have to set up everything properly; from the necessary cables and inputs to the software settings. Always make sure to check the settings and fiddle with them according to your ideal setup.
1: Always set things up properly – and by this, I mean the physical and on the software side of things. You have to set up everything properly; from the necessary cables and inputs to the software settings. Always make sure to check the settings and fiddle with them according to your ideal setup.
2: Always Update the software – companies tend to dish out software updates to either fix any bugs and performance and feature improvements. Always make sure to use the latest version of their software. This is also true if you want to use popular streaming software like OBS or Xsplit.
3: Make sure you have a fast and reliable internet connection – When streaming, you not only need to have a fast game capture card, you also need to have a fast and reliable internet connection. For the most part, you’re going to want to have a fast upload speed of at least 5mbps. The higher, the better. Also, the higher the resolution, the higher the internet speed that you’re going to need for a smooth stream.
4: Have a reliable PC – A game capture card does what it says- it captures and records footage from your game console or PC. But, it will ultimately end up to a PC for further editing or streaming. For a hassle-free experience, you want to have a reliable PC. Most recommendations will require at least an Intel Core i5 4th generation processor or higher. You can also use AMD’s newer Ryzen processors if you can afford it. Basically, you want to have a PC that has enough CPU power and you also want to have a considerable amount of RAM as well.
After everything that’s been said, do you really need a game capture card? Well, to reiterate, if you want to capture, record, or stream game console content, then you definitely need to have one. However, if you have a fairly powerful PC, you do not need a game capture card at all since you can directly record game footage using OBS or Xsplit. Streaming has become a mainstream hobby. It is actually a pretty fun experience and it can be addictive as well. You can stream as a hobby and you can also earn money from it as well, especially if you’re the type of person who can entice people to watch your streams.
I hope that this article has helped you get the best game capture card for you.